This past few years the evidence that knee ACL surgery is needed for torn ligaments has continued to erode. In the meantime, the concept that a knee ACL tear may be able to be helped with an injection of the patient’s own stem cells has been pioneered by our research group. Here I highlight another college football player who we’ve been able to help avoid knee ACL surgery.
The concept that a knee ACL injury that fails physical therapy requires surgery seemed ingrained in the American consciousness. This seems to have happened because we hear about star athletes who get these procedures. Having said that, there are an increasing number of research studies that support that these knee ACL surgeries don’t help as much as we’ve traditionally thought. For example, one recent study found no differences between athletes who had the surgery versus those who didn’t. Other studies have shown that young athletes that get the surgery end up with arthritis at a surprisingly young age. In addition, position sense difficulties with the surgery are very common (meaning there’s a general lack of coordination in the leg). Finally, a very high number of athletes re-injure that side or the other knee ACL soon after surgery.
I’ve blogged in the past on other college football players with knee ACL injuries who we have helped. Recently we saw a different 20 year old college football player who had shredded his knee ACL. Rather than getting into allot of details, the images above speak for themselves. He underwent the Regenexx-ACL procedure which is a precise injection of his own stem cells into the torn ligament using our unique protocol. The image on the left shows an ACL which is light in appearance and wavy, which means it’s a torn ligament. The image on the right from 3 months after the procedure shows a tight and darker ligament. The radiologist also noted the improvement in his report. While the patient will now likely need some touch up shots, based on the MRI and his reports of feeling much better, he’s likely well on his way to getting back on the field without surgery!
The upshot? Based on the extensive clinical experience we’re now gaining with this technique, for many patients we believe ACL surgery is a thing of the past. While some ACLs are too far gone for this therapy, most patients seem to be able to dodge the surgical bullet!