ACL Surgery Arthritis: 2/3rds of Teens Who Get ACL Surgery will Get Arthritis by Age 30

By /

It seems like a right of passage. A young athlete blows out a knee ACL ligament and that event turns into a surgery to replace the ligament. However, what about ACL surgery arthritis? In other words, does operating on the ACL cause arthritis? After years of treating patients in their twenties and thirties with severely arthritic knees after a teenage ACL repair, it’s interesting to see recent research out of the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine meeting that supports the concept that kids are getting arthritis after these surgeries.

The study data presented at the meeting suggests that teens who undergo anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction may be at long-term increased risk for knee arthritis. The research group evaluated 29 patients aged 12 years to 16 years who underwent surgical reconstruction for ACL tears. At a mean follow-up of about 14 years, they found that the operated knees had significantly more arthritis compared to the other non-operated knee. Specifically, two thirds of the kids had arthritis in the ACL surgery knee by the time they were 26-30 years old. How did the other knee that wasn’t operated on fare? Only 14 percent had arthritis. Yikes!

Why would these young men and women be getting knee arthritis at such alarming rates? While it may come with the initial injury, my belief is that we have enough evidence that the surgically replaced ACL has few of the properties of a normal, healed ligament.  In fact, it has much less position sense, the artificial reconstructed ACL is at a steeper angle than the original, the newly discovered ALL ligament remains lax and the knee remains unstable in rotation.

The upshot? This study supports what we see in the clinic. Teens that get knee ACL surgeries don’t fare well as they age. Their knees tend to frequently get arthritis by their late twenties. As a result, given that we routinely see MRI evidence of healing using a precise injection of stem cells into the damaged ligament fibers, we now only recommend surgery for patients who either fail this procedure or have an ACL tear that is not a candidate for the ACL stem cell procedure.

Learn about Regenexx procedures for knee conditions.
Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

If you have questions or comments about this blog post, please email us at [email protected]

NOTE: This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

Get Blog Updates by Email

We do not sell, or share your information to third party vendors.

By submitting the form you agree that you’ve read and consent to our Privacy Policy. We may use email, phone, or other electronic means to communicate information about Regenexx.

We will provide information to help you decide whether you want to schedule an evaluation with a Regenexx Physician.

Insurance typically covers evaluations and diagnostic testing (if recommended). Most insurance plans currently do not cover Regenexx Procedures.

Copyright © Regenexx 2021. All rights reserved.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Address

9035 Wadsworth Pkwy #1000
Westminster, CO 80021

Phone

*DISCLAIMER: Like all medical procedures, Regenexx® Procedures have a success and failure rate. Patient reviews and testimonials on this site should not be interpreted as a statement on the effectiveness of our treatments for anyone else.

Providers listed on the Regenexx website are for informational purposes only and are not a recommendation from Regenexx for a specific provider or a guarantee of the outcome of any treatment you receive.

LinkedIn
Email
TO TOP