Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

My 13-year-old son tore his left ACL. The doctor wants to delay surgery until my son's bones stop growing. Is this really necessary? He'll miss an entire season of baseball this way.

He will probably miss the entire season either way. If the surgery is done, rehab takes several more months after recovery. It's best to listen to your doctor's advice. Studies show that if the growth plate is disturbed, deformities, fractures, and stunted growth of the limb can occur.

A recent report from the University of Texas advises strict use of a brace and reduced activities while waiting for the growth plates to close up. Surgery to repair the torn ACL can be done within a month after plate closure. The patient can continue to maintain motion and strength, but twisting or jumping are not allowed.

A study of 13 teenagers with open growth plates and an ACL tear showed no further damage or injury to the joint while waiting for skeletal maturity when following these guidelines. Delaying surgery will likely protect your son for a lifetime of sports and recreation pleasure.

G. William Woods, MD, and Daniel P. O'Connor, PhD, PT, ATC. Delayed Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction in Adolescents with Open Physes. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine January/February 2004. Vol. 32. No. 1. Pp. 201-210.

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