Evidence suggests the cure does not always work: about a third of people who have surgery won’t return to their previous level of sports. A quarter of those who return to high-risk sports will re-tear their ACL. These risks are seldom mentioned on websites run by knee surgeons, and they rarely mention the benefits of non-surgical management.
Financial incentives probably play a role in that, says the University of Sydney’s Dr Giovanni Ferreira, who has studied online information on ACL rehab. “But the lack of very decent evidence in the field also plays a role.”
A meta-review by Owen’s team goes some way to changing that. Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in August, it pulls together data from three studies of 320 patients. The researchers found non-surgical management – typically an exercise program to strengthen other muscles in the knee –…