Limiting the risk of osteoarthritis after anterior cruciate ligament injury: are health care providers missing the opportunity to intervene?

Review written by Dr Christina Le info

Key Points

  1. Healthcare professionals who treat patients with an ACL injury do not consistently discuss osteoarthritis with their patients.
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It’s common knowledge that sustaining a knee injury increases the risk for developing post-traumatic osteoarthritis. For example, an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture is associated with an 8.2-fold increased risk of developing knee osteoarthritis (1) and up to 50% of individuals with an ACL rupture report symptomatic osteoarthritis within 8-15 years of injury (2). Furthering this problem, is that the majority of injured individuals do not recall discussing osteoarthritis with any healthcare professional after ACL reconstruction (3).

To reduce the burden of osteoarthritis, we need to understand what healthcare professionals are communicating to their patients about this joint disease. This must be uncovered if we hope to develop and implement real-world osteoarthritis prevention and management strategies for individuals who have experienced an ACL injury. The objective of this study was to understand what physiotherapists, physicians, and orthopaedic surgeons tell their patients with an ACL injury about their osteoarthritis risk.

Up to 50% of individuals with an ACL rupture report symptomatic osteoarthritis within 8-15 years of injury.
For all the healthcare professionals out there, and particularly physiotherapists, we must do a better job at educating our patients about osteoarthritis after injury.


A survey was sent to Canadian physiotherapists, sports primary care physicians, and sports orthopaedic surgeons who treat non-elite athletes with an ACL injury in 2017. The customized survey was designed by a physiotherapist/osteoarthritis researcher and revised by orthopaedic surgeons, physicians,

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