A torn ACL can completely change anyone’s way of life. The injury is extremely devastating and can affect a patient’s way of life for the rest of their existence. Approximately 60% of athletes that return to their respective sport after a torn ACL never get back to their full capabilities. That is a huge problem for athletes that need to use their bodies in order to make a living. Normal individuals also have trouble returning to the day-to-day activities that they love after ACL reconstruction surgery.
You may not actually need surgery for your ACL to heal on your own. Healthcare professionals are quick to recommend surgery as it is standard for the industry. Pushing the boundary is the exception to the rule.
Do You Need Surgery?
Recently, surgeons have recommended patients receive ACL reconstruction as soon as possible after they are diagnosed with a ruptured ACL. They are attempting to negate the long term effects of having a torn ACL, such as osteoarthritis and arthritis. They may be well intentioned, but their efforts could be leading patients to receive unnecessary surgery. The problem is that there are other avenues that patients should explore before receiving such a drastic surgery.
Recovery time is one of the biggest obstacles when considering surgery. Professional athletes are almost guaranteed to be out for at least a year while they recover from surgery. Even if it is just a partial tear, the recovery time is generally between three to six months. Getting back into shape for everyday life is extremely time intensive effort. Surgery should be considered a last resort.
However if the ACL is completely torn and retracted, surgery may be the only option. If you are lucky and that is not the case then surgery may not be necessary. In fact, physical therapy can be enough to get your knee back into working shape.
One study showcased that surgery may not be necessary for more than 60% of patients with a torn ACL. 121 young, active adults with torn ACLs were chosen for the study and split into two groups. Both groups were put through an intense physical therapy program designed to heal their ACLs. After 10 weeks, one group underwent ACL reconstruction surgery. The other group did not receive surgery unless it was deemed necessary.
In the delayed surgery group, 36 only needed physical therapy in order to return to their normal activities. For the patients whose ACLs were not healed, there is still hope. They do not need to resort to surgery in order to get back to their optimal activity levels. Stem cell therapy could help patients where physical therapy was not enough.
There are a number of new procedures that are being developed that use stem cells as the main method of healing, including ACL ruptures. Stem cells can completely rejuvenate the ACL. They work by encouraging the ACL to heal itself without the need for surgical intervention.
A study completed in 2018 showed how promising stem cell therapy as a surgical alternative is. 29 patients with different grades of ACL tears were given stem cell and platelet-rich plasma instead of surgery. 77% of patients showed a significant improvement in objective measures of ACL integrity after 9 months. After 2 years, 72% of patients self-reported that their ACL still had a significant improvement. That is a huge deal. Stem cells are a real alternative to surgery and this study only further confirms the treatment’s promise.
The cost of stem cell therapy compared to ACL surgery is negligible. Patients and healthcare companies can enjoy the cost savings of avoiding an expensive surgical procedure. The recovery time is also drastically different compared to surgery. Humans are not the only ones who are being treated with stem cell therapy to avoid surgery.
Man’s Best Friend
There has even been some research into using stem cells to help various animals. One animal in particular is dogs. Dogs can tear their ACLs just like their human counterparts. A torn ACL for a dog can ruin their quality of life. They love to run, walk, and play. Stem cell therapy could help them regrow their ACL and back to chasing the mailman. Who wouldn’t want to help man’s best friend and get them back into running shape?
One veterinarian has used stem cell therapy to treat 24 dogs who had torn their ACLs. Of the 24 dogs, only one dog needed further surgery. The other 23 dogs had full recovery and did not need surgery at all. The dogs should not develop arthritis and will enjoy the benefits of a fully healed ACL.
Helping dogs live their best lives is a noble cause. Stem cell therapy can help man’s best friend get back on all four paws well before surgery would. The pain they will experience from stem cell therapy will be nothing compared to the recovery from ACL surgery. Dogs can go back to enjoying their carefree lives and walking through the park to their heart’s content.
Am I a Candidate?
There are many different factors that go into deciding if stem cell therapy is the right choice for a patient and their recovery. Generally, most patients are good candidates for stem cell therapy.
You should consult with a medical professional to determine if you are a proper candidate for stem cell therapy. Even if you are not a dog person, stem cells can make a huge difference in recovering from a torn ACL. Stem cells could get you back into action without all of the pain of surgery and rehab.