Roughly a quarter of recreational skiers who tear their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while hitting the slopes can be successfully treated without surgery, according to a new study. The study, conducted by researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, appears online ahead of print in the journal Knee Surgery Sports Traumatology Arthroscopy.
"Some patients who tear their ACL while skiing can get away without surgery. Their ligament heals by itself, they will have stable knees, and they will be able to do whatever they want, including skiing," said Robert Marx, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon in the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), who led the study. "It is a huge deal to avoid surgery."
The study found that at six to twelve weeks post ACL tear, results from two tests that involve only the physical manipulation of a knee can identify skiers with a torn ACL who will recover without surgery. Oftentimes, ACL tears from skiing are less traumatic than ligament tears seen in sports that involve pivoting, such as soccer or football, explained Dr. Marx. This is the first study to demonstrate that patients with low-grade ACL injuries from skiing can heal without surgery.
"Patients who tear their ACL during recreational skiing should not rush to schedule surgery right after their injury," said Dr. Marx. "They should wait and be reevaluated at six to 12 weeks unless there is some other obvious reason to do surgery like a displaced meniscal tear or other ligament injuries. Most recreational skiers don't have those, and they may be able to avoid surgery if they wait and get reevaluated."
Dr. Marx conducted the study after noticing that some recreational skiers who came to his office with ACLs that were clearly torn on an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) after a ski accident appeared to have healed ligaments at six to eight weeks.
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|Contact: Phyllis Fisher|
Hospital for Special Surgery