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One ACL Tear Is Disappointing; A Re-tear Is A Problem

ACL tears in young athletes are becoming more common, and surgery to rebuild a new ACL is also increasingly common. If you happen to be a young athlete with an ACL tear, the thought of needing surgery, a lengthy recovery, and time away from your favorite sport activities can be truly disappointing.

Technical advancements allow us to do the surgery with accuracy, avoid growth disturbances, and with a very favorable outcome in about 90% of teenagers and adolescents. But some people will re-tear the new ACL, requiring what is called “revision ACL reconstruction.” The unfortunate reality is that the results from revision surgery are not as good as the original surgery. The failure rate is about 20%, which is a real problem for those athletes needing the second surgery.

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Two Great Reasons To Do ACL Injury Prevention Warmups

There is convincing evidence that major factors contributing to noncontact ACL tear risk include improper mechanics when landing from a jump or when rapidly changing direction. Training programs to reduce this risk have focused on improving landing mechanics and improving strength imbalances. Typically, these programs are incorporated into a team warm-up.

Two recently published scientific studies show that ACL injury prevention warm-up programs are very effective in reducing the risk of getting a noncontact ACL tear, and these programs lead to improved athletic performance. These are two really great reasons to utilize ACL injury prevention warm-ups for your sport.

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Exciting Early Results: ACL Scaffold Repair

Our current best ways to treat a torn ACL is a surgical procedure called a “reconstruction”, where a substitute tissue (a “graft”) is used to replace the torn ACL. Tunnels or sockets are drilled in the bone, so the bone essentially grows into the new tissue and makes a new ACL. 

ACL surgery has improved substantially over the last 30 years, with generally excellent results. But there can be issues related to the bone tunnels potentially causing growth disturbance in young athletes, and issues related to the removal of the graft. A new type of ACL repair using stitches and a biologic scaffold to enhance healing is showing very exciting early results. If this ACL repair technique proves itself in larger clinical studies, we can expect it to be an excellent option to avoid tunnels and grafts for some ACL tear types.

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