Deciding to have surgery

The decision to haveknee surgery will depend onthe extent of damage toyouranterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and whether it affects your quality of life.

If your knee doesn't feel unstable and you don't havean active lifestyle, you may decidenot tohave ACL surgery.

However, you shouldbe aware that delaying surgery could result in further damage to your knee.

One study of people with ACL tears found that their risk of damaging the injured knee increased by 1% for every month between the injury occurring and surgery.

Things to consider

When deciding whether to have ACL surgery, the following factors should be takeninto consideration:

  • your age older people whoaren't very active may be less likely to need surgery
  • your lifestyle for example,whether you'll be able to follow the rehabilitation programme after having surgery
  • how often you play sports you may need to have surgery if you play sportsregularly
  • your occupationfor example, whether you do any form of manual labour
  • how unstable your knee is if your knee is very unstable, you're at increased risk of doing further damage if you don't have surgery
  • whether you have any other injuries for example, your menisci (small discs of cartilage that act as shock absorbers)may also be torn and may heal better when repaired at the same time as ACL reconstruction


If necessary, children can also have ACL reconstructive surgery. However, as they're still growing, the procedure is likely to be modified to ensure that the growth areas aren't affected.

It's a trickier operation and may need to be carried out by a surgeon with a special interest in childhood injuries.

If surgery isn't possible, a brace and refraining from sports until the child is fully grown may be an alternative.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 29 Nov 2016