Orthopedic Associates' Blog


Orthopedic Associates' Blog

How to recover from ACL surgery
How to recover from ACL surgery

By: Dr. Nogalski

Approximately 200,000 ACL-related injuries occur in the U.S. every year. Of those 200,000 injuries, an estimated 95,000 injuries are full ruptures of the anterior cruciate ligament. Professional athletes and rec-league wonders are familiar with the shin-grasping scene of an ACL injury. If you’re lucky, you may experience only a Grade 1 sprain. Unfortunately, many ACL injuries are at least a Grade 2 sprain, which is a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament. Most Grade 2 ACL sprains and all Grade 3 ACL sprains do require surgery.

The recovery period following ACL surgery can be grueling, but the rehabilitation process is worth it. You will probably be given a set of exercises to complete in the recovery room immediately following the surgery. This will encourage good blood flow through your knee to help prevent blood clots.

Your primary concerns in the first two weeks following surgery are to reduce swelling in your knee and to keep the incision area clean. Prop your knee up on a pillow four to six times a day to relieve pressure. Your orthopedic specialist will give you a realistic timeline that you must respect to make a full recovery.

The ultimate goal of your ACL surgery rehabilitation is to regain full use of your knee over time, especially full range of motion. A recent Australian-based study concluded that 71 percent of patients who regained a full range of motion showed no evidence of knee osteoarthritis after five years. (Arthritis Foundation) In contrast, only 55 percent of patients who did not regain full range of motion showed no signs of arthritis over the same period of time. The key to preventing osteoarthritis as much as possible is for patients to continue physical rehabilitation practices until achieving a full range of motion.

Your recovery period may take longer than you’d like, but the reward is worth the pain. You may wonder how much you can trust your new ACL. In truth, you may even fear the same injury occurring again. Follow your orthopedic specialist’s advice and share any concerns along the way.

Recovering from an ACL injury is more efficient than ever. If you have an ACL injury, we highly recommend receiving treatment sooner rather than later. Click here to schedule an appointment with a board-certified physician at Orthopedic Associates.

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