ACL tears are possibly the most traumatic sports injuries for athletes, as rehabilitation can take the better part of a year before the athlete is fully recovered and able to play their sport once again. However, medical technology has advanced to the point where successful recovery from an ACL injury is far more common than it’s ever been before. Athletes are coming back just as strong as they’ve ever been from their injuries and resuming their playing careers.
Here is an idea of the timeline you will experience while going through rehabilitation after surgery:
- Phase one (first two weeks after surgery): During these couple of weeks, the primary point of emphasis is going to be controlling inflammation as much as possible. You will try to get your range of motion to a full extension and approximately 90 degrees of knee flexion. You will likely use crutches for at least seven to 10 days, but should go until you are comfortable without them. During this time, you will undergo patellar mobilization to prevent your kneecap tendons from shortening or contracting, which would restrict your motion.
- Phase two (two to six weeks after surgery): At this point, you can begin strengthening your ligament and leg once again. Use weights and sports cords, gradually building up the amount you lift. You should also be able to push your knee to a full range of motion, though you should continue protecting the graft from stress as much as possible. You may also begin using treadmills, step machines and elliptical machines to improve the knee’s endurance.
- Phase three (six weeks to four months after surgery): During this time period, you should continue improving your overall confidence in your knee, and progress in strength, power and proprioception. This is where preparation for returning to your sport begins in earnest. At approximately three months, you will be allowed to begin jogging and running straight ahead.
- Phase four (four to six months after surgery): Depending on the type of sport, you might be able to return. You should have full range of motion in your knee without pain and with sufficient proprioception and strength, and be engaged in advanced lifting exercising. Where you are in this phase depends on your overall level of activity and competition in your sport.
- Phase five (after six months): You should no longer have any soft tissue or range of motion issues. You must receive clearance from your physician before you return to full participation in your sport, as the goal is to return safely and comfortably. Going forward, you should be aware of potential limitations due to your injury and surgery, and should strive to maintain strength, endurance and proprioception in your knee. Bracing may be recommended during athletic activity moving forward.
This is a brief outline of what you can expect as you recover from an ACL injury and surgery. For more information about rehabbing sports injuries in Brampton, contact Paramount Physiotherapy & Sports Injuries Clinic today.