Over 100,000 people undergo ACL reconstruction for a torn ACL every year in the United States alone. Most of them want to return to a sport or some type of exercise. If you don’t play a sport at a high level, do you need surgery for a torn ACL. In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I address that question.

I’m 20, and I’m not a professional athlete, but playing sports is my hobby. I have torn my ACL. I’m confused whether to undergo surgery considering the side effects ACL surgery has. What’s ​the best decision I can make right now?

The challenge with an ACL injury is that the knee can become unstable. The knee can buckle or give way when you land from a jump or plant your foot to change directions.

If you play a sport or do a type of exercise that involves cutting, pivoting, landing or changing directions, it can be next to impossible to play with a knee that buckles when you make those moves. Plus, when your knee buckles, it’s likely that you do more damage to your knee, such as injury to the meniscus or articular cartilage.

Who needs surgery for a torn ACL and who doesn't?

If you don’t play a sport or do an exercise that involves landing or changing directions, it’s possible you might not need surgery for a torn ACL. In this video, I discuss this idea in more detail.

Also read:
Can I wear an ACL brace instead of having surgery for an ACL tear?
Why is age a factor for deciding to have ACL surgery?

Please remember, while I appreciate your questions, I cannot and will not offer specific medical advice by email, on my website, on my podcast, or in social media. 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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