Moderate ACL Tear in a 9 year old boy

by Joy Hardiman
(Hunlock creek, Pennsylvania USA)

Brian & his Dad (coach) watching

Brian & his Dad (coach) watching

Is it possible for my 9 year old son to return to normal sport activities after having a moderate ACL tear. 4 weeks ago during a mini football game he had a knee injury. We took him to the ER and they did an x-ray and said he just had a sprain to wear the immobilizer for one week then follow up with pediatrician for a note to return to football. They assured us at the ER that he had no tear just a slight sprain.

He had pain when it happened but that evening he was fine, walking, bending, he had very little swelling if any at all. One week passed & we took him to his pediatrician and he said no way will he give a note without an MRI.

Well the MRI showed a moderate tear to the ACL. We took him to the orthopedic surgeon & he said to rehab at home with riding his bike or stationary bike. We have been doing both but I feel like we need more.

He said if he can rehab it enough that he would be able to return to sports, possibly by spring for baseball season. Is there more that we can do to help make sure that he will be able to return to baseball & football??? I was told that he may be done with all sports until he is old enough to have ACL surgery maybe 13 or 14 years old. I thought you could not do surgery unless it is completely torn??? As you can tell I am very confused.

My son lives to play sports and I spend every Sunday in tears as he stands on the sidelines of his football games and watches his younger brother play & his dad coach the team. He was the quarter back on his team and he injured his knee in overtime of a game, the play quarterback keeper, he ran out & went to cut up, took a small hit & he went down like he had been shot, before falling you can see his knee pull up. the video blows my mind because it didn't look bad at all.

Brian was told last year that he has the flexabilty of a 90 year old man. We chuckled at that but we do make him stretch daily. If you can give me any advice to get him in shape enough to play sports again I would be forever greatful :)

Desperate Mom (Joy)

Comments for Moderate ACL Tear in a 9 year old boy

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Jan 07, 2013
Interested in more info NEW
by: Miranda

My 12 yr old girl is seeing dr Anderson in Nashville Thursday and we had a MRI to confirm a completely torn acl in a recent soccer game. I know he is the best I am just curious how long recovery we r looking at. She is already riding stationary bike and doing exercise to strength quad muscles before surgery. She is really good at soccer and loves it and I want to continue to support her passion as long as its not going to do damage she will deal with as a grown adult. Any info appreciated. My email is

Jul 09, 2011
ACL Dr Ganley

So sorry to hear about your son's injury. My son, just like yours, is 9 years old and just had ACL reconstructed by Dr. Ganley at CHOP. So the surgery for his age can be done. He injured it playing soccer this past spring. He's recovering very well and just started PT. Just like you it was very difficult for us to watch our son on the sideline while he supported his teammates. You always have the option to do rehab or hold off on the surgery but the chance to have your son play at the same (or close to) the level that he did before the injury. Was a chance that my wife and I took for our son because he loves to play sports and is pretty good athlete. But none of that matters because the ultimate goal for our son was to be a kid again. Best of luck with your child and the decision you will make for him.

Oct 06, 2010
It can be done!
by: Mike

My son has ACL replacement at 9 years old and is doing great almost 2 years later. It is a very difficult recovery but it can be done.

Jan 28, 2009
Anderson / Ganley method
by: Scott


Hello. I saw your post on Sports injury info .com. My son (11) had surgery 4 months ago by Dr. Ganley in Philly using a very similar method to Andersons. I spoke to Dr. Anderson and he recommended Dr. Ganley since he was closer to us. How did your son hurt his knee? How far out is he? Did he start playing sports yet and when did he start? What sports is he playing. How long did he do the rehab for? Thanks for any answers you can give. My son is doing well and I have spoken to a couple of people who have had this method done with very good results and I would like to hear about your situation. Obviously this is a very stressful thing for both child and parent and I appreciate your time. Thanks.

Jan 26, 2009
Allen Anderson
by: Brent

My 13 year old son tore his ACL last Spring. He had it reconstructed by Dr. Allen Anderson in Nashville, TN. Some doctors won't do an ACL surgery on kids that have open growth plates. However, Dr. Anderson is one of the pioneers of a method very much like the adult ACL surgery but it avoids the growth plate. Everything has gone perfect. I would be glad to share more information with you. Email me at if you'd like more information.

Jan 21, 2009
young ACL reconstructions
by: Bart - SII

This is a procedure that can be used to spare the growth plates, although it is very specialized - generally orthopedic pediatricians are the best choices for this type of procedure.

If you have access to such a doctor it can be a good option.


Jan 06, 2009
ACL injury in Child
by: Scott

My son tore his acl, he is 11 now. He had surgery 4 months ago and is doing well in rehab. He had a Transepiphyseal physeal sparing surgery with Dr. Ganley at Children's Hospital in Philly. There are many procedures that can be done on a young child with open growth plates, so they don't disturb the growth of the legs that will provide the stability the knee needs to allow your child to return to sports. Rehab is touch and your child has to be motivated to do it. Dr. Kocher of Boston's Children's Hospital, Allen Anderson of Tennessee and Dr. Ganley in Philly are 3 very qualified doctors that do surgeries on children with ACL issues.

Oct 14, 2008
acl tear
by: Bart - SII

Different surgeons will have different philosophies regarding management of "partial" tears. Most of the time though, given the nature of the ACL, you either tear it or you don't - a partial tear likely means that you lose the function of the ACL and the knee is no longer stable.

At 9 years old, I think it is definitely too young to do a reconstruction. The growth plates are still open, the muscles and tendons are not developed and mature.

I do think that rehab is a good idea, and that if he can get back to sports without pain or problems, that should be ok. At that age, muscle function may very well be able to stabilize his knee. I would talk to your doctor about a referral for therapy, or at least some other exercises to work on in addition to the stationary bike.


Click here to add your own comments

Return to Sports Injury Answers - Knee Ligaments.