Tearing your ACL is a significant injury. In most cases, the best treatment is surgical intervention to perform what is called an ACL reconstruction. The torn ACL ligament is reconstructed using either a portion of the patients own tissue or a donor. Harvesting an ACL graft from a person's own body is called an Autograft. Harvesting an ACL graft from donor tissue is known as an Allograft. The Pros and Cons of each graft type is discussed on Graft Choices in ACL Surgery pages.
Again, the best option for treating an ACL tear is an ACL reconstruction. Many people can and do lead “normal” lives without having their ACL fixed. The decision whether to have or not to have your ACL injury corrected is determined by many factors. These factors include but are not limited to: your active lifestyle, your desire to return to a specific activity level, your age and the type and/or amount of other damage to your knee. It must also me stated that you must know the added risks of future injury to your knee if the ACL injury is not corrected.
If a person chooses to try and return to activities following an ACL injury without having surgery, there are a few things to keep in mind. A joint is only as strong as the muscles that support it. A good rehabilitation program is vital to any type of recovery from an orthopedic injury. A person who is ACL deficient runs a significantly increased risk of doing more damage to their knees. Remember the ACL is the major stabilizer of the knee, and extra movement within the knee joint can damage other structures such as the meniscus or the articular surfaces of the femur or tibia.
Below are some pictures from a surgery showing a torn then reconstructed ACL.
The photo on the left shows a torn ACL. You can see where the ligament has torn away.
The photo on the right shows the graft in place. This is the patient’s new ligament.