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Initial treatment for an ACL injury aims to reduce pain and swelling in your knee, regain normal joint movement and strengthen the muscles around your knee.
You and your doctor will then decide if you need surgery plus rehabilitation, or rehabilitation alone. The choice depends on several factors, including the extent of damage to your knee and your willingness to modify your activities.
Athletes who wish to return to sports involving cutting, pivoting or jumping usually pursue surgical reconstruction to prevent episodes of instability. More-sedentary people without significant injury to the cartilage or other ligaments usually can maintain knee stability with rehabilitation alone.
Whether or not you have surgery on your knee, you'll need rehabilitation. Therapy will include:
A torn ACL can't be successfully sewn back together, so the ligament is usually replaced with a piece of tendon from another part of your knee or leg. A tendon graft from a deceased donor also may be an option. This surgery is usually performed through small incisions around your knee joint. A narrow, fiber-optic viewing scope is used to guide the placement of the ACL graft.