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7 Ways to Optimise Recovery Time After ACL Surgery

24th May 2021

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) surgery is generally performed to replace a torn ACL – a major ligament in your knee. It’s a common injury among people who play sports that involve sudden stops and changes in direction. 

The surgery involves using a graft made of a tendon, either from your own body or donated by others, to reconstruct your injured ACL. The procedure is a minimally invasive one and you’ll likely go home the same day. 

However, recovering from ACL surgery takes time – a full recovery can take up to 12 months or longer. Therefore, doctors or surgeons will usually recommend the patient to begin physical therapy a few weeks after the surgery. 

In this article, we discuss some of the best ways to recover quickly after ACL surgery and things to keep in mind during your recovery.

What are the best ways to recover quickly after ACL surgery?

As rehabilitation is a crucial part of a successful recovery, you will need to dedicate your mind, body, and soul to follow your rehabilitation plan. That way, you can achieve the best possible outcomes while your new ligament heals properly.

Also, consider your ACL surgery recovery time as a test of your patience. Because if you rush through your rehabilitation plan, it can cause the graft to stretch or worse, rupture. Here are some tips to make your recovery period a less anxious one.

  1. Work with your doctor on recovery goals

Your ultimate goal after the surgery is to recover properly to avoid another ACL surgery. So, discuss with your doctor about managing your symptoms and regaining pain-free knee strength and function. Also, talk to your doctor about the best strategies to reach your goals and what you can expect with recovery after the surgery.


  1. Manage your pain levels

Some pain and swelling are common after surgery, especially around the surgical area. For this reason, your doctor may recommend icing your knee and elevating your leg to help reduce swelling. Take your prescribed medication when you feel the pain and before your physical therapy exercises.


  1. Use assistive devices

As physical therapy is crucial to the success of your ACL surgery, you may be asked to wear a knee brace and rely on crutches for a few weeks after the surgery. Your recovery plan will generally focus on restoring your knee’s range of motion and strengthening your muscles and ligaments. The exercises can be painful at first so discuss with your doctor or therapist about managing the pain.


  1. Start slow

Returning to your normal activities can take several weeks to months. For people who are eager to return to their active lifestyle, following your ACL rehabilitation plan is your best bet at quicker recovery. Make sure to ask your doctor when it’s safe to return to your daily activities, driving, work, sports, or other leisure activities.


  1. Caring for your incision

Caring for your incision is more tedious than a normal cut. Follow all instructions for covering and dressing the wound, keeping it dry always and during your shower. Avoid soaking the wound until your doctor clears it. At your follow-up visit, your doctor will remove the stitches. Inform your doctor if there’s anything unusual about your wound.


  1. Follow your rehabilitation plan

Physical therapy is crucial to restoring your knee’s functional strength and range of motion. Your physiotherapist will teach you ways to use your knees and strategies to prevent future ACL injuries. Depending on your lifestyle, the exercises may be adapted to strengthen and stabilise your knee while reducing stress on your knee.


  1. Inform your doctor of unexpected symptoms

As with any surgery, there are risks associated with ACL surgery. If you have a fever or your knee is swelling more than normal, inform your doctor instantly. You should also contact your doctor if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath or your leg feels cool to the touch. This may indicate a blood clot in your leg.

Things to keep in mind during ACL surgery recovery time

The purpose of your recovery after your ACL surgery is mainly to allow your new ligament to heal properly and minimise the chances of further damage to your knee. Otherwise, you risk another ACL surgery which can be a costly and lengthy recovery.

The following are some things you should keep in mind during recovery:

 Don’t push past your body limits. You may be tempted to go back to performing your daily activities or playing sports but you need time to regain functional strength and restore your knee’s range of motion. Take this recovery period as an opportunity to focus on your body and learn about physical strength.

 Always warm up and cool down properly. There’s a reason why warm-ups and cool-down exercises are performed. It’s to stretch your joints, muscles, and ligaments to a certain extent to reduce further injuries during your rehabilitation exercise.

 Get enough rest. Many people tend to disregard this and head back to doing what they want to do instead of resting. When you put too much stress on your knee, it can cause problems and affect your recovery progress. Getting ample rest is essential to your recovery. 

An ideal ACL recovery is one that allows you to carry out your daily activities or play sports without pain. Therefore, you should allow yourself sufficient time to recover following surgery as there is an optimal downtime for your body to heal.

At Spire Orthopaedic Centre, everyone should be cared for and healed holistically in comfort without having to travel to different locations to seek medical and surgical help and rehabilitation support. 

With a combined facility for collaboration between physicians, physiotherapists, and surgeons, you will experience a seamless service from diagnosis to treatment and rehabilitation, that’s tailored just for you at our clinic.