Am I Too Old for ACL Surgery?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the four major ligaments that come together in your knee joint. Located in the front of your knee, the ACL is a common culprit for injuries, including tears. 

ACL tears are common and repairable in young athletes. However, ACL injuries can also become a problem for older patients.

At the Center for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine of Tomball and Kingwood, Texas, specialist Michael L. Blackwell, MD, and his team effectively treat ACL injuries in patients of all ages. 

Here’s what Dr. Blackwell wants his older patients to know about their ACL treatment options, including the potential risks and benefits of surgical treatment after the age of 40.

ACL problems?

Patients most typically injure their ACL while moving around. Sudden changes in motion or direction, or landing after a jump, can lead to ACL tears. You might hear a pop as your ACL is damaged, and your knee may give out on you after the injury. 

The day after your injury, you typically have lingering pain, swelling, tenderness, and joint instability.

If your ACL is damaged, you won’t be able to fully move your knee joint, and you may end up in near-constant pain and discomfort. A Grade 1 sprain is uncomfortable, but a Grade 3 ACL tear can destabilize your knee joint and seriously compromise your mobility. 

ACL tears require professional treatment for full healing, so don’t delay getting in touch with the experts at the Center for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine after an ACL injury.

You may actually be at more risk of an ACL injury after the age of 40 than you were as a teenager, due to natural degeneration and wear over time. 

The fibers that compose your ligaments lose their organization and strength as you age, and cellular activity tends to diminish over the years. This leaves your ACL weakened and vulnerable to injuries.

Treatment options for older patients

Dr. Blackwell supports patients of all ages, from teenage athletes to patients in their 40s, 50s, and above. If you have an ACL injury, he can diagnose your condition and recommend the best treatment options for your individual case. 

You may need an MRI or X-ray to confirm your diagnosis and evaluate the overall health of your knee joint.

Dr. Blackwell typically recommends ACL repair surgery for patients who want to fully restore their knee joint. You may be able to fully heal with less invasive options, like physical therapy and knee bracing, but your knee might still need more gentle treatment after you recover if you don’t opt for surgical repair. 

Many patients prefer to skip surgical treatment and work on adapting, especially after the age of 40. People who have extensive arthritis might not have surgical treatment options. 

However, older patients, including older athletes, can have successful outcomes through surgical treatment, with sufficient motivation, care, and attention to full recovery. Older patients will likely need more time to fully bounce back after ACL repair surgery. 

No matter your age, if you have an ACL tear, sprain, or injury, Dr. Blackwell can advise you on your best prognosis, and help you make the right choice for your current and future needs. Book your appointment with Dr. Blackwell by calling today, or schedule with the online tool.

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