Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Treatment for ACL Injuries in Children and Teens
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in children
and teens are less common than in adults. But they do occur, especially in
teens. An injury that hasn't been treated (or one in which the treatment didn't work) can lead to future knee problems. The knee may become more and more unstable. Over time,
osteoarthritis may develop.
A child with
an ACL injury can sometimes be treated without surgery to avoid damage
to the child's still-developing bones. Your child can try rehab exercises, wearing a brace, and avoiding activities that require
jumping or twisting.
suggest that the more active a child is, the less likely these treatments
will work and the more likely surgery will be needed in the
An avulsion fracture
is more common in young children. This happens when the ligament and a piece of bone separate from the rest of the bone. It can often be treated with a cast. But
it sometimes needs surgery.
You may consider surgery if:
The main risks of surgery in a child whose bones
are still growing is slowed growth. This could make one
leg longer than the other. Other risks include a deformed thigh bone. The closer a child or
teen is to full growth, the lower the risk of these problems.
Rest after surgery and a
long rehab program are very important.
Shea KG, et al. (2003). Anterior cruciate ligament
injury in paediatric and adolescent patients. A review of basic science and
clinical research. Sports Medicine, 33(6):
April 5, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Freddie H. Fu, MD - Orthopedic Surgery
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.