Failure to Return to Preinjury Activity Level after Hamstring Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: Factors Involved and Considerations in Goal Setting.

Recent interest in the return to sports, following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, has focused on the influence of psychological factors. However, many factors contribute to this endpoint. This study aimed to investigate the ability of nonprofessional athletes to return alongside the reasons for failure.

We retrospectively studied 101 postreconstruction patients with followup in excess of 12 months. All patients underwent hamstring autograft anterior cruciate reconstruction. The Cincinnati Sports Activity Scale was used to define activity level preinjury, postinjury, and postreconstruction. Structured questionnaires were used to identify factors in those who did not return to the same level.

Seventy percent of patients returned to their preinjury activity score. Of the 30% of patients who failed, age, reconstruction type, and associated pathology were unrelated. However, reconstruction within 6 months of injury resulted in increased return to preinjury score (P < 0.05). Failure was associated with continued knee symptoms (57%), lifestyle changes (27%), anxiety (27%), fear (23%), and other musculoskeletal problems (10%). Considerable interplay was found between these factors. Failure to return was associated with increased further surgery, but this was successful in only one-third of patients.CONCLUSION: Psychological factors are important (and may require targeted input), but return-to-sport is multifactorial. Ongoing symptoms may prompt further surgery, but this is frequently unsuccessful in achieving return. Patient-specific goals should be sought and revisited throughout the rehabilitation program. Acknowledging psychological barriers, in those aiming to return to the same level, may help achieve this goal. In other patients, success may be return to a desired lower level. Understanding the patient's expectations is important in goal setting.