Treatment for ACL Injuries in Children and Teens - Adventist HealthCare

Treatment for ACL Injuries in Children and Teens

Topic Overview

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in children and teens are less common than in adults. But they do occur, especially in teens. An injury that hasn't been treated (or one in which the treatment didn't work) can lead to future knee problems. The knee may become more and more unstable. Over time, osteoarthritis may develop.

Trying rehab and other treatments

A child with an ACL injury can sometimes be treated without surgery to avoid damage to the child's still-developing bones. Your child can try rehab exercises, wearing a brace, and avoiding activities that require jumping or twisting.

Surgery is usually recommended for active children, to keep the knee more stable and to help prevent future problems.

An avulsion fracture is more common in young children. This happens when the ligament and a piece of bone separate from the rest of the bone. It can often be treated with a cast. But it sometimes needs surgery.

Having surgery

You may consider surgery if:

  • The knee is very unstable doing simple daily activities.
  • The knee can't be made stable with other methods.
  • The child has both an ACL injury and a meniscus tear.
  • The child is a serious athlete in sports that require running, jumping, and stopping quickly.

The particular risk of surgery in a child whose bones are still growing is slowed growth. This could make one leg longer than the other. Other risks include a deformed thigh bone. The closer a child or teen is to full growth, the lower the risk of these problems.

Rest after surgery and a long rehab program are very important.

References

Other Works Consulted

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (2014). Management of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries: Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://www.aaos.org/research/guidelines/ACLGuidelineFINAL.pdf. Accessed June 12, 2015.
  • Ramski DE, et al. (2014). Anterior cruciate ligament tears in children and adolescents: A meta-analysis of nonoperative versus operative treatment. American Journal of Sports Medicine, 42(11): 2769–2776. DOI: 10.1177/03635413510889. Accessed June 19, 2015.

Credits

Current as ofSeptember 20, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Freddie H. Fu, MD - Orthopedics

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.

Find a Doctor

Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.

View Doctors

Set Your Location

Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.