Joint awareness and return to pre-injury level of activities after ACL reconstruction in athletes vs non-athletes

Eur J Orthop Surg Traumatol. 2023 May;33(4):819-827. doi: 10.1007/s00590-022-03208-z. Epub 2022 Feb 4.


Purpose: The outcome of arthroscopic anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) in the non-athlete population is under-reported. The study aimed to compare the functional outcomes of ACLR in the non-athlete and athlete population by patient reported outcome measures (PROMs)- International Knee Documentation Committee score (IKDC), Lysholm knee scoring scale, Forgotten joint score (FJS-12) and return to pre-injury activity level. The study also correlated the FJS-12 score with other commonly used PROM's (IKDC and Lysholm).

Methods: This was a prospective comparative study including patients undergoing ACLR. Patients were divided into two groups. Group-1 (non-athletes) and Group-2 (athletes, defined as those with pre-injury Tegner activity level > 5). Demographic profile, management of associated meniscal injury, perioperative and midterm complications were noted. All patients had 24 months follow-up. Knee laxity assessment by pivot shift test, functional outcome scores (Lysholm and IKDC) and FJS-12 were assessed preoperatively and postoperatively at 12 and 24 months.

Results: Group 1 and 2 included 69 and 47 participants, respectively, (total 116 patients). The mean age of group 1 was significantly higher than group 2 (33.1 ± 8.0 vs 25.0 ± 4.9 years; p < 0.005). There was no statistically significant difference in PROMs and FJS-12 scores between the groups at any follow-up. Return to pre-injury Tegner activity level post-ACLR was 88.4% (n = 61) and 46.8% (n = 22) in group 1 and 2, respectively (p). The ceiling effect in FJS-12, IKDC, and Lysholm scores were achieved by 9.3%, 19.5%, and 34.7% of patients (n = 116), respectively, at 2-year follow-up. The ceiling effect of FJS-12, Lysholm, and IKDC scores between the groups at final follow-up was not statistically significant (p = 1, p = .524, p = .09, respectively).

Conclusion: The functional outcome of ACLR was comparable between athletes and non-athletes. FJS-12 has a lower ceiling effect and better discriminatory power than Lysholm and IKDC scores. FJS-12 score can be satisfactorily used in ACLR to observe and monitor changes in patient satisfaction and outcome.

Level of study: II, Prospective comparative study.

Keywords: ACL; Athletes; Forgotten Joint Score-12; Patients reported outcome measures (PROMs); Return to sports.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries* / surgery
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament* / surgery
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / surgery
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult