Should patients retire from sports after tearing their ACL? Lifestyle modification is a complex matter, and the best course of action is rarely crystal clear. The issue gets us thinking about the goals of healthcare in general, even considering deeper philosophical questions with which we’ve all grappled. Is the body to be preserved for its own sake or used to greatest effect? Is it an end or a means? Eat the cheeseburger and fries; life is short! But do the cheeseburger and fries have the potential to shorten life enough that it just isn’t worth it?

Suffice it to say that the matter of returning to sports is one that must be addressed on an individual basis and with great care. If the female basketball player just mentioned does in fact tear her graft and then re-tears a second, or the ACL in her other knee, it may be time to pursue another sport.

Fortunately, however, the vast majority of patients are able to return to their sport after recovering from the surgery.