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What to Expect When Recovering from a Torn ACL

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After weeks of planning and preparing, your ACL surgery is completed. Today we have an estimated timeline of what to expect while you recover:

0-2 Weeks After Surgery: Rest

  • After major surgery, focus on taking it slow. To reduce swelling, prop up your leg four to six times per day, and keep your bandages fresh and dry.
  • Prevent blood clots by performing the quad exercises your physical therapist recommends. Working your major muscles now, though painful, will help your leg function better down the road.
  • Perform movements to build and maintain your core, which will help your balance in later rehabilitation.

2-4 Weeks After Surgery: Movement

  • Slowly wean off your crutches and begin bearing weight on your knee. You’ll receive assistance through a knee brace your orthotist will fit you for.
  • Half squats, heel raises, and a stationary bike will help blood circulation to aid in the recovery and increase range of motion.

4-6 Weeks After Surgery: Swelling Reduction

  • More moves will be added to your routine to help increase range of motion, strengthen your legs, and regain full extension. Keep a close eye on your knee during this time to watch for excess swelling in response to the added stress.
  • Work with stair climbers and ellipticals and perform single-leg exercises to increase strength and balance for your entire body.

10-16 Weeks After Surgery: Endurance

  • Build up simple movements into full routines to increase holistic health. Plyometric training will help you reach levels of high activity.
  • Strengthening your ankles, hips, and glutes at this level will assist you as you work to regain full knee flexion.

4-6 Months: Half-Way Point

  • Normal gait pattern is returned. Work to increase core strength and lower body musculature to help achieve full recovery.
  • Half of full knee range of motion should be restored. See your physical therapist if you experience restricted extension of 5 degrees or less.

6-9 Months: Full Recovery

  • Full recovery should be achieved. Check with your physical therapist before returning to a competitive sport with complete effort.
  • Continue strengthening circuits 2-3 times per week, incorporating biking, running, and agility drills to work cardio and flexibility as well.

It’s lengthy, but trust the process. You will resume life as usual! Call for an appointment to work with one of trained staff at Core PT to secure a safe, complete recovery.

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