When You Need An ACL Repair

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) repair is a surgical procedure done to fix the torn ligament. The ACL is inside the knee, extending from the femur to the tibia. The injury happens when there is excessive forward movement of the tibia. ACL reconstruction surgery is performed using a graft tendon.

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What to expect after reconstruction

After ACL repair, a patient may feel pain which is part of the healing process. The doctor will prescribe pain medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and monitor vital signs. The surgical site is observed for a couple of weeks to ensure the area does not become infected. Physical therapy is an essential aspect of recovery to ensure the strength of the muscles and mobility are restored. Sometimes, the healthcare provider may recommend a brace or crutches, depending on the condition.

Physical therapy is vital

To achieve a successful knee recovery, rehabilitation helps in many ways. Physical therapy can decrease swelling, restore movement in the knee, and strengthen the muscles. ACL repair and rehabilitation is the key to having an optimal outcome.

Get back to playing

Returning to sports or other physical activity can usually occur once the knee fully recovers after ACL repair. Complete recovery means having no knee pain or swelling and ensuring muscle strength, movements, and balance are restored. Most patients can resume sports activities within 6-12 months.

Consider these factors

Healthcare providers have difficulty deciding when patients can return to sports after an ACL repair. Surgeons must consider intrinsic and extrinsic factors before making the right choice. Intrinsic factors include genetics, type of lesion, knee anatomy, psychological state, and compliance with rehabilitation. Extrinsic factors include the type of graft used, the healing of the graft, and the surgical technique. Recovery speed depends on these factors and the patient’s cooperation during treatment.

When to get active

Outlook after an ACL repair depends on the patient’s medical history, treatment, and healing process. Some patients may return to sports without any risk of future complications and live a normal life. Others may be at risk of complications such as bleeding, infection, numbness, knee stiffness, chronic instability, and failure mechanism. Contact the healthcare provider immediately if one experiences any unusual symptoms after returning to sports.

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