This video answers the question: will my partial ACL tear heal on its own? The short answer is probably not. This is because of the lack of blood flow to the ACL. So ACL partial tears are going to be treated similar to a complete ACL tear in that you can either get surgery to have it repaired or leave it and treat it non-operatively with physical therapy and rehabilitate the knee for strength.

Whether you choose surgery or to rehabilitate the knee without surgery is going to depend on a number of your own personal factors such as your activity level and the extent of your ACL injury. You should know that there is a 30% chance of that partial tear progressing into a complete ACL tear. If you would like to learn more about the healing of partial ACL tears read Zach's blog here.

November 2023 update!

This original video was posted on YouTube on October 25, 2021. However, since this video was posted there is new research that suggests that ACL partial tears and ACL full tears can heal!! To learn more about ACL partial tear healing read this blog from the University of Melbourne in Australia. This current blog is not going to discuss the possiblity of ACL healing, we will cover this in a future blog. Also this research article published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine on November 16th, 2023, outlines the details of the cross bracing technique and how it did allow ACL tears to heal. Keep in mind that the information that Zach is providing in this video is still relevant but there is new research that shows that the ACL is capable of healing. Dr. Stephanie Filbay, a senior research fellow in Health, Exercise and Sports Medicine at the University of Melbourne, is the world's leading experts in the area of ACL healing and you can read more about her and her work on her website.

Listen to Zacharie Holmes, a physical therapist, talk about "will my partial ACL tear heal."

After reading this blog and watching this video you may be a bit confused. Does a partial ACL tear or a full ACL tear heal or not? New research shows that an ACL tear can heal under the right rehabilitation conditions and dpending on where exactly the ACL tear is. We will delve into this topic further in a future blog where we will disucss ACL tear healing and the cross bracing technique.

Read all 6 of Zach's blogs here!

If you are recovering from an ACL injury or ACL surgery and need daily exercises and rehabilitation guidance download our Curovate physical therapy app from the links below. Curovate provides daily video guided strengthening exercises, the ability to measure knee range of motion, in-app chat with a physical therapist to answer your surgery and recovery questions and educational blogs and webinars.

If you need further customized assistance during your ACL recovery check out our Virtual Physical Therapy page to book your 1-on-1 video session with a physical therapist.

Get it on Google Play Document

Other Blogs Related to ACL Injury


1. Acl rehabilitation: Re-injury and return to sport tests. Physiopedia. (n.d.).

2. Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries | Michigan Medicine. (n.d.).

3. Anterior cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury. Physiopedia. (n.d.).

4. Barrack, R. L., Buckley, S. L., Bruckner, J. D., Kneisl, J. S., & Alexander, A. H. (1990). Partial versus complete acute anterior cruciate ligament tears. The results of nonoperative treatment. The Journal of bone and joint surgery. British volume, 72(4), 622-624.

5. Can an acl tear heal without surgery? Gustavel Orthopedics | Sports Medicine | Orthopedic Surgery. (n.d.).

6. Daniel, D. M., & Fithian, D. C. (1994). Indications for ACL surgery. Arthroscopy: The Journal of Arthroscopic & Related Surgery, 10(4), 434-441.

7. Diermeier, T. A., Rothrauff, B. B., Engebretsen, L., Lynch, A., Svantesson, E., Senorski, E. A. H., ... & Musahl, V. (2021). Treatment after ACL injury: Panther Symposium ACL Treatment Consensus Group. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 55(1), 14-22.

8. Evans, N. A., Chew, H. F., & Stanish, W. D. (2001). The natural history and tailored treatment of ACL injury. The Physician and sportsmedicine, 29(9), 19-34.

9. Fayard, J. M., Sonnery-Cottet, B., Vrgoc, G., O’Loughlin, P., de Mont Marin, G. D., Freychet, B., ... & Thaunat, M. (2019). Incidence and risk factors for a partial anterior cruciate ligament tear progressing to a complete tear after Nonoperative treatment in patients younger than 30 years. Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine, 7(7), 2325967119856624.

10. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, March 6). Acl reconstruction. Mayo Clinic.

11. Pujol, N., Colombet, P., Cucurulo, T., Graveleau, N., Hulet, C., Panisset, J. C., ... & Djian, P. (2012). Natural history of partial anterior cruciate ligament tears: a systematic literature review. Orthopaedics & Traumatology: Surgery & Research, 98(8), S160-S164.

12. Sonnery-Cottet, B., & Colombet, P. (2016). Partial tears of the anterior cruciate ligament. Orthopaedics & Traumatology: Surgery & Research, 102(1), S59-S67.

13. Tjoumakaris, F. P., Donegan, D. J., & Sekiya, J. K. (2011). Partial tears of the anterior cruciate ligament: diagnosis and treatment. Am J Orthop (Belle Mead NJ), 40(2), 92-7.