ACL tears are common injuries that happen to thousands of people each year. They result in impaired mobility and lots of pain. People that choose to skip ACL surgery are in the minority as it’s often the only way to fully recover from a tear. However, having the surgery itself isn’t enough as you also need to know how to recover from your ACL surgery.
ACL Surgery Recovery
Your doctor and surgical team should give you specific directions customized for your unique ACL tear. However, the following guidelines are a general blueprint for the average ACL surgery and follow-up care.
- The First Two Weeks: Your ability to put weight on the repaired knee will be very limited. Plan on using crutches to get around, but also plan on limiting your physical activity. Inflammation will happen a lot, and you may need to keep the leg elevated most of the time. You may be assigned some exercises to do, but they will be very limited in nature and duration.
- Two to Six Weeks: A protective brace might be necessary to keep your knee safe and secure. You might be able to resume driving your own passenger vehicle, if it’s safe and appropriate, during this timeframe. Your physical activity and therapy will ramp up. It might include walking, leg-strengthening exercises, elliptical work, and stationary bicycling.
- Six Weeks to Three Months: Depending on how your medical team and physical therapist feel, you might be able to start jogging somewhere in this timeframe. Rowing, swimming, and cycling are more likely. Pivots and cutting motions are still something you need to avoid.
- Three to Six Months: If you haven’t already gotten eager to return to your favorite sport, you’ll probably be itching to do so by now. Your therapist might let you start doing some sport-specific activities, but don’t jump the gun and do things more than they say or before they give you the go-ahead.
Protecting yourself from future ACL tears will always be a concern and priority moving ahead. Your doctor might ask you to wear a supportive brace for the first year or so after your recovery is deemed complete.
Finding the Right Sports Therapist
If you live in the area, then you might be looking for sports therapy in Ogden or other cities nearby to be a part of your ACL surgery recovery. Utah is a state where sports therapy happens because there are so many active people. Factor in two nationally ranked universities within miles of each other as well. Between skiing, snowboarding, cycling, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, and many other sports and athletics, this state is a mecca for physical activity.
That activity usually results in healthier, stronger people, but it can also mean ACL tears. Fortunately, there are sports therapists here to help. You can start your search like many other professional searches by looking at customer reviews to see who is rated highly. Also, look into things like cost and specific location.
If you’re not sure, you can always ask your sports coach, trainer, or personal physician for a referral. Keep in mind that most sports therapists have certain things they are better trained for than others, but that does mean you can find someone who knows how to help you recover from ACL surgery.
How Long Will Your Recovery Take?
Mayo Clinic states that effective ACL reconstruction that is done in conjunction with a focused rehabilitation typically restores functionality and stability to a patient’s knee. The first few weeks following surgery are a time of trying to just make that knee’s range of motion equivalent to that of the other knee.
While the range of motion might come back relatively quickly, full recovery is typically a nine-month process. Many athletes can’t get back to their beloved sports for at least eight months and sometimes for a full year.
Make Sure You Follow Through
Knowing how to recover from your ACL surgery is crucial to your after-care. Still, you need to actually apply everything that you know. Follow your surgical team’s instructions to the letter, and be patient with your progress. Doing it right can make you good as new, but doing it wrong can not only mean another injury but potentially a worse one than before.