In a recent study appearing in the British Medical Journal, researchers sought to provide a 5-year follow-up comparing the need for and results of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery with physiotherapy. The study raises questions as to whether it was feasible to determine that an operation to address the injury would not be needed in the long term, says Richard Frobell, PT, PhD, researcher, associate professor at Lund University, clinician at the orthopaedic department, Helsingborg Hospital.
A recent news release reports that half of the patients who were randomly assigned to not undergo reconstructive surgery have had an operation within the 5 years since following symptoms of instability.
According to Frobell, the results suggest that there was no increased risk of osteoarthritis or meniscal surgery if the ACL injury was treated with physiotherapy alone, compared to if it was treated with surgery.
“The new report shows there was no difference in any outcome between those who were operated on straight away, those who were operated on later, and those who did not have an operation at all. The message to medical experts who are treating young, active patients with ACL injuries is that it may be better to start by considering rehabilitation rather than operating straight away,” Frobell emphasizes.
The release notes that the research group’s next step is to move to the third part if the study, which will follow up with patients 10 years after ACL injury.
Source: Lund University