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recovery timeline and tips for acl reconstruction surgery

Recovery Timeline and Tips For ACL Reconstruction Surgery

The ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is a vital ligament in the knee, that helps with its mobility. ACL surgery's recovery time can extend to a few months. The initial focus is minimizing edema (excess accumulation of body fluid in tissues) and recovering knee movement. Soon after the surgery, physiotherapy begins, focusing on strengthening the knee joint and improving the range of motion. Patients gradually return to normal activities with the help of their doctor over time. Following post-operative instructions, attending all physiotherapy sessions, and taking prescribed medications are needed for 100% recovery.

What are ACL tears?

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament, commonly known as the ACL, is the centrally located ligament in the knee. When injured, it may be partially torn, slightly torn, or fully torn into two pieces. The knee shows signs of collapsing with a pop-up sound. There will also be swelling and pain.

Knees are made up of bones, muscles, cartilage, and ligaments, and the ACL is known to be one of the prime ligaments as it connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone), and its main function is to control the forward rotation and the movement of the shin bone over the thigh bone.

The Different Types of ACL Tears and Who Is At Risk To Get Them

An ACL tear is a very common injury, especially among athletes in sports like football, soccer, basketball, and volleyball. Also, people in heavy jobs like climbing, jumping, or spinning (pivoting) may get this injury. People of any age can get this injury, and female athletes are more prone to it.

There are mainly three grades of ACL tear injury types when grading them according to severity, namely

Grade One:At this stage, the ligament gets stretched, but it still stabilizes the knee joint.

Grade Two:In this stage, the ligament gets partially torn and is stretched and loose. It is known to be a rare condition.

Grade Three:This injury is the most severe condition where the ligament is torn into two pieces.

It is also essential to understand that the ACL tear accompanies other injuries to the joint capsule, articular cartilage, menisci, and collateral ligaments.

Also Read:Want to Know ACL Surgery Cost in Delhi

What Is ACL Reconstruction Surgery, and When Is It Advised?

The ACL reconstruction surgery is done to reconstruct or regain the knee's strength and stability once the ligament is torn. The leftover parts of the torn ligament would be cleared or removed, and then it would be replaced by a fresh ligament taken from the other part of the patient’s body.

ACL reconstruction surgery is advised in extreme conditions like:

One suffering from severe persistent knee pain

  • The injury causes your knee to buckle or make it imbalanced while doing daily routine activities, like walking.
  • To an athlete for sustaining an active life

Recovery Time for ACL Tear

The ACL tear recovery time in general is a minimum of three to four months. This is a sports injury, so for younger players, it is within this time frame, but if the ACL injury is for a senior player, then the recovery time can extend to six to seven months. It depends on the strength of the muscle and the condition of the injury, which can differ from person to person.

Recovery Timeline for ACL Reconstruction Surgery

Post-surgery The ACL reconstruction recovery may differ from patient to patient, yet the normal ACL tear surgery recovery timeline is nine months. Including the phases of recovery post-surgery, including physiotherapy. It is advised that until the ACL reconstruction has healed 100%, it is crucial to wait and rest with the necessary physiotherapy and rehabilitation.

ACL Reconstruction Surgery Recovery: Timeline

The ACL reconstruction surgery recovery is nine months long, yet it is essential to understand the stages of the recovery during the whole phase.

First Phase: 1 to 2 Weeks

Initially, just after the surgery, the only advice would be to rest, with some self-care, ice packs, compression of the affected area, and knee elevation. This is also known as the RICE method.

The first phase, which is the initial two weeks of physiotherapy and rehabilitation, starts a few days after the surgery once the swelling and pain are lessened. The physiotherapist initiates simple walking exercises for the movement of the knee joint and slowly moves towards strength training exercises. The recovery time would differ from patient to patient.

Second Phase: 3 to 6 Weeks

Most people are able to walk after six weeks post ACL surgery, yet there is slight discomfort in the knee joint while bending. During this second phase, the swelling and pain reduces. Few patients need crutches to walk after two weeks. The physiotherapist focuses more on balance exercises and working on the sense movements of the joints. Also, they introduce basic strength-increasing exercises for the quadriceps, hamstrings, and surrounding muscles.

Third Phase: 2 to 3 Months

During this phase of the ACL tear surgery recovery timeline, the focus is on strengthening your muscles with limited activities and avoiding twisting movements. The best way is to consult the physiotherapist supervising the physical therapy. Yet they would add some light exercises, as forward movement which is essential to control swelling and can affect mobility. Athletes are advised to start with short-span running and jogging activities and gradually increase the exercise time span.

Fourth Phase: 3 to 9 Months

This is the last phase of recovery, where the physiotherapist starts reintroducing more physical exercises, for example, lateral movements or jumping. Gradually, they would keep on adding specific sports-related activities as the muscles and the ACL affected healed on a deeper level. It should be noted that although you feel helpless about not being able to fully start the sports life if you are an athlete or regain the everyday lifestyle you have to have patience. As hurrying can effect badly on the reconstruction area before it is fully healed. This can result in re-injury of your knees.

** It should always be noted that the recovery period has a fixed duration, but a few patients, according to their condition and healthy lifestyle, would differ slightly in this time frame.**

Also Read:Top Orthopedic Hospital in Delhi, India

Essential Tips for ACL Reconstruction Surgery

If you are expecting a fast recovery, then you have to follow a few simple tips for ACL tear recovery to regain your normal activities and life.

Doctor Appointments and Consultations:Never miss any of your appointments with your orthopedic surgeon as they monitor your treatment during this recovery phase. Also, never hide any discomfort you face during this period, as your surgeon can only give you or suggest the right cure.

Physiotherapy:Continue with your physiotherapy sessions, as your therapist will keep you active and sustain muscle strength post-surgery.

Medication:Prescribed medicines given especially for pain should be continued as they would help in decreasing the ongoing post-surgery pain and help in regaining a normal life.

Never Overexert:Although you recover from the surgery, never be overconfident and start with a hectic lifestyle of stressful sports activities. Take everything slowly, with the guidance of your doctor and the support of your physiotherapist.

Why Choose Cure My Knee?

CureMyKnee has expert orthopedic surgeons, headed by Dr. D K Das. ACL reconstruction surgery is one of their expertise, so if you are looking for ACL tear treatment in South Delhi, then this would be the one-stop solution. Cure My Knee assures painless, bloodless, and fast surgery with all advanced technologies to enhance the surgery. During the post-surgery rehabilitation, the whole team of Cure My Knee supports the patient with proper care and physiotherapy for faster ACL surgery recovery time.


How long does it take to recover from ACL reconstruction surgery?

It would take a maximum of nine months to one year. A few patients may also recover within 6 to 7 months.

Will I regain full range of motion after ACL reconstruction surgery?

Yes, but it would need a time frame of around 12 weeks to have a full range of motion. You can start exercises and soft walking after 3–6 weeks.

Can I drive after ACL reconstruction surgery?

It would be best to start driving after 6 weeks with the permission of your orthopedic surgeon and the advice of the physiotherapist.

Can I prevent ACL injuries in the future?

There are a few steps to prevent future ACL injuries:

  • Continue with the regular exercises prescribed.
  • Be careful with your movements.
  • Never exercise when you are fully exhausted.
  • Focus on warming up exercises, strengthening the quadriceps and hamstring muscles.

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