ACL injuries are devastating injuries. In the most severe form they can leave a knee completely unstable. Even in a mild form a slightly unstable knee will predispose to osteoarthritis long term.
For significant tears the surgical approach of tearing out your existing ACL and replacing it with a graft from one of your own tendons or from a cadaver can be very successful in helping to stabilize your knee. But there are aspects where this approach can be improved upon.
For a few decades prolotherapists have understood the importance of strengthening ligaments to improve joint stability and improve pain and function. More recently advanced imaging technology has enabled needle based injection techniques to treat precise structures such as an ACL injury with a high degree of confidence that the appropriate structure has been treated. A small but growing number of nonsurgical physicians who now fall under the umbrella of interventional orthopedics have started to use PRP and stem cells to treat these injuries with precision. A huge advantage of the Regenexx network is an understanding and focus on treating all the variables that lead to and cause arthritis to progress- cartilage injuries, chronic inflammation within an arthritic joint, tendon and other soft tissue supportive structures, ligamentous stabilizing structures, and neurologic components. ACL tears that are partially torn or fully torn but still with close approximated ends can now be treated with the newer needle based techniques.
The image above shows a patient with chronic knee arthritis who is being treated with the Regenexx same day stem cell treatment protocol. Besides treating her cartilage and joint structures, her mild ACL looseness was treated as well. The picture shows an X-ray image of a precise injection of her ACL at the tibial insertion and femoral trochlear groove origin. In this case the outlining of the structure from beginning to end confirms that the entire structure received treatment.
So how can treating ACL injuries with precise platelet and stem cell treatments offer an advantage:
- Less downtime compared to surgically reconstructing your ACL.
- ACL surgery still leads to faster development of knee arthritis. This is likely in part due to the fact that the surgical ACL is placed at an angle that is not quite precise enough to replicate how your normal anatomy was created. Even a slight deviation from normal can lead to minimal instability and eventually predisposes to arthritis development. Keeping your own anatomy via a needle based approach at least biomechanically keeps that angle at the correct level.
- It’s not uncommon in someone with chronic knee arthritis to also have mild looseness in their ACL on exam, with an MRI that frequently shows a mild chronic sprain or partial tear of the ACL. The traditional approach to treating knee arthritis ignores the ligament stabilizers. By tightening the ACL in someone who has knee arthritis, you’re helping with knee stability and their overall arthritis related pain and dysfunction. This can only be done with an interventional orthopedics approach.
Treating ACL injuries without surgery is a reality.
Disclaimer: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx Procedures have a success & failure rate. Not all patients will experience the same results.