How's Your ACL? You may not know if it's bad...

POSTED ON 3/4/2012 IN Regenerative Medicine Education BY Christopher Centeno

loose acl ligament

I've discussed before that we frequently see patients with loose knee ACL ligaments who don't know they have an issue. This is often because the ACL isn't damaged enough to warrant a full surgical replacement of the ligament, so the ligament is deemed fine. However, is it really OK to have a chronically loose ACL ligament? Would you know if you had a loose knee ACL?  Two studies seemed to have answered that question and the results fall right in line with the principles espoused in our medical practice's book, Orthopedics 2.0. Stability is essential for normal joint health and even small amounts of knee joint instability add up to more arthritis. Case in point is one of the studies that looked at MRI's on about 300 patients with known knee arthritis and found that 1 in 6 had ACL ligament abnormalities. These patients with a bad ACL had more severe knee arthritis, likely due to the additional joint instability caused by the loose ACL ligament. The second study saw that about 14% of knee arthritis patients had ACL abnormalities on MRI and again these patients had more severe arthritis. The upshot of both of these studies is that ACL abnormalities are commonly seen on the MRI films of patients who have been diagnosed with arthritis and when a loose ACL is present, the patient has more arthritis. We and others would argue that the increase in knee joint arthritis in patients with a bad ACL is due to increased instability. What's interesting to us is that most of these patients don't know they have a loose ACL. Since we've had good success treating knee ACL ligaments with the injection of everything from proliferants to stem cells, we're very careful to treat all loose ACL ligaments before contemplating knee stem cell therapy. Since a bad ACL is associated with more arthritis, we would also recommend that you have your ACL looked at on MRI and the knee stability checked on exam. If a loose ACL is present, have it treated with injection therapy, as we believe that will lead to less joint arthritis down the road.

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