Fewer Prescriptions These Days for ACL BracesIf you injure your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in Maine do you get the same treatment and advice as if you injure it in Arizona? Researchers routinely survey doctors across the natio about their practices for various conditions and illnesses. ACL injury is one of those conditions.
Surveys are updated every five years or so to see if anything has changed. This study looked at the use of bracing for patients after ACL surgery and for patients with an ACL injury who don't have surgery.
Ongoing research still can't show enough evidence to support the use of bracing for ACL injuries. And managed care has decreased payment for bracing. Many patients are paying for the braces out of their own pockets. For these and other reasons, fewer doctors are prescribing braces after surgery.
Doctors are still bracing patients with an unstable knee who don't have it fixed. In these cases, doctors are worried about damage to the joint because of the injured ligament. A torn knee ligament that isn't repaired or braced often leads to early knee arthritis. Many doctors think it's worth it to spend the money bracing if there's any chance these problems can be prevented.
Most doctors decide whether to brace and which brace to use based on the patient's sport or activity level. Overall they are using bracing for ACL injuries and after ACL surgery less often. This is true in every geographical region in the United States.
Laura C. Decoster, ATC, and James C. Vailas, MD. Functional Anterior Cruciate Ligament Bracing: A Survey of Current Brace Prescription Patterns. In Orthopedics. July 2003. Vol. 26. No. 7. Pp. 701-706.
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