Can I wear a brace instead of having surgery for an ACL injury?

Over 100,000 people undergo surgery for ACL injuries every year. Is surgery absolutely necessary? Or can you avoid it and wear a brace instead?

Mignonne asks:
I tore my ACL 10 years ago. I’m very active, though. I have stopped playing sports, which I love. When my knee feels strong, I have the “one off” game and inevitably injure the knee again. Now, at 49, and after another injury, I resent the fact that I can’t participate in sports. I’ve heard that reconstruction does not always work, in that the knee will always be vulnerable. Of course my age now is against me with NHS. Can you tell me whether braces work and if so, which ones? Would I be able to protect my knee wearing a brace?

In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I discuss who usually does and doesn’t need surgery. I also discuss what type of braces a patient can try and how effective they might be.

Have you suffered an ACL injury and elected not to have surgery? Did you try a brace? If so, how did you do? Please share your experience!

Also read:
Ask Dr. Geier – Wearing a brace to play with an ACL injury
Ask Dr. Geier: Nonoperative treatment of ACL tears

Please remember, while I appreciate your questions, I cannot and will not offer specific medical advice by email, online, on my show, or in the comments at the end of these posts. My responses are meant to provide general medical information and education. Please consult your physician or health care provider for your specific medical concerns.

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david-headshot I am an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist in Charleston, South Carolina.

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