An ACL injury is a tear or sprain in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) that is one of the major ligaments present in your knee. ACL is ligament tissues that hold bones together in knee and keep it stable. In general, the incidence of ACL injury is higher in people who participate in high-risk sports such as basketball, football, skiing, and soccer. With ACL injury, knee may swell, become unstable and too painful to bear.

There are number of risk factors that increase the risk of having ACL injury

  • Being female – due to differences in anatomy, muscle strength and hormonal influences
  • Playing certain sports, such as soccer, football, basketball, gymnastics and downhill skiing
  • Footwear that doesn’t fit properly
  • The use of poorly maintained sports equipment, such as ski bindings that aren’t adjusted properly

 Treatment Options for ACL injury

Depending on the extent of ACL injury, treatment option varies from patient to patient. The nonsurgical treatment may include rest and rehabilitation exercises that help in regaining strength and stability. Proper training programmes are also available that educates the patient how to prevent instability and help reduce the risk of an ACL injury.  The use of a hinged knee brace is also prescribed in some of the cases. Surgical treatment is usually advised in combined injuries (ACL tears in combination with other injuries in the knee).

Stem cell therapy- An emerging treatment modality for ACL tear

With advancements made in stem cell field, there is now another option to be considered that can get you back to you playing ground in less time. Stem cells are naïve cells of body, which have capability of regenerating the damaged tissues. Stem cell therapy procedure is minimally invasive 3-hour process, requiring no general anesthesia and a far less painful recovery.

The stem cells can be harvested from various sources such as fat tissue, bone marrow etc.  With the use of liposuction device, a small amount of fat tissue is typically taken from the lower abdomen Bone marrow can be harvested from the iliac crest that is a rich source of growth factors and stem cells as well. Stem cells are isolated and concentrated in sterile environment for the injections for knees. During the injection, the stem cells are placed into the ligament with image guided techniques. The stem cells and growth factors are then locally delivered into the damaged ligament as well as into other areas of the injured joint space. The results of pre-clinical and clinical trials have provided encouraging evidence of efficacy and safety of stem cell therapies for the treatment of knee injuries.

In some specific cases, surgery may be the treatment of choice, but in others stem cell therapy is emerging as a better option to consider before going for surgery.