New York City — Attention, weekend athletes: Don’t be too quick to agree to surgery for a common type of knee ligament tear.
A study of Swedish amateur athletes — mostly soccer players — found that those who got an ACL reconstruction right away plus physical therapy fared no better than athletes who started out with rehab and got the surgery later if they still needed it.
Of those in the rehab-first program, fewer than half went on to get the surgery within two years, researchers reported in today’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
“It seems that if you start out with rehabilitation only ... you have a good chance of ending up with an equally good outcome as if you had early ACL surgery,” said Richard Frobell of Lund University Hospital in Sweden, an author of the work.
“Maybe we will be surprised that a lot of people actually do not need an ACL reconstruction.”
Frobell stressed that the study did not include professional athletes. They usually seek surgery to get back into action quickly rather than waiting to see whether rehabilitation works.