Have a surgery coming up to repair your torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament)? Then you must know that there is more to post ACL surgery recovery than just getting back on your feet!

Even long after you have stopped using the support of crutches or other assistive devices, your body continues to be in the healing mode. Apart from being careful with your movements, you are also required to stay up-to-date on the ACL recovery timeline and things you can do to keep the rehabilitation process on track.

Of course, you have your doctor guiding you at every step of the recovery and providing you with specific recommendations basis your unique situation. Still, it would not hurt to follow the below-given timeline & recovery tips. They’d only prove effective in helping you recover quickly and safely.

The ACL surgery recovery time:

Although the ACL surgery recovery time varies from patient to patient and can take you anywhere between six to nine months before you return to your pre-ACL injury condition with a full range of motion and stability, here’s a rough timeline:ACL Surgery Recovery Timeline

ACL surgery recovery time in the first two weeks:

The first two weeks during the ACL surgery recovery time are the most crucial as your body is most vulnerable and susceptible to pain and inflammation. A build-up of an excess of fluid around the joints and swelling are some of the most common problems people experience during this time. Therefore, as the first step towards rehabilitation and healing, you may be asked to perform a certain set of exercises by your physiotherapist on a daily basis. Since the affected leg is still weak, you must limit your mobility to the minimum.

ACL injury recovery time tips:

  • Keep the affected leg elevated & apply therapeutic cold every two hours
  • Dangle your leg over the edge of a bed or chair for knee flexion
  • Do regular gait training to enable removal of clutches

2-6 weeks after ACL surgery:

Around this time, you should be able to bear weight on both the legs and be able to walk around with the help of crutches or a support device. But you still need to be extra careful and limit your movement as your tissues are still under the healing process. Any kind of pressure or exertion can result in wear and tear and lead to an escalation in pain and swelling. A planned and specific exercise plan, as suggested by your physiotherapist, will help you regain full range of motion at this stage.

ACL injury recovery time tips:

  • Perform walking exercises for 15-20 minutes
  • Practice leg strengthening exercises like squats, leg presses & hamstring curls
  • Introduce stationary bicycle and elliptical training

6 weeks-3 months post ACL surgery recovery time:

By this time, your healing process must have reached advanced stages and your knees and legs should have become stronger. As a result, you may be asked by your physiotherapist to perform low-impact activities like swimming, cycling and jogging on a daily basis. If your therapist thinks you are ready, he might also ask you to begin light sports training while continuing with your strength and lateral training exercises such as lunges and side steps.

ACL injury recovery time tips:

  • Continue with strength exercises & begin sports-specific training
  • Practice flutter-style swimming strokes
  • Regularly perform lunges & side steps

3-6 months post ACL surgery:   

You are finally nearing complete recovery and ready to return safely to your pre-surgery lifestyle. All the more reasons for you to remain proactive in preventing future injuries. Athletic training and other strengthening exercises, as recommended by your physiotherapist, must be continued to support the connective tissues in the knee joint and the overall healing process. As a precautionary method and depending upon your condition, your doctor may ask you to use a supportive brace for a year or two after the ACL surgery while performing low-impact activities.

  • Slowly & steadily return to your activity routine
  • Introduce jumping & agility training
  • Try to perform single-leg plyometric exercises

Since post ACL surgery recovery timeframe is a long and arduous one, here’s what you can do to make it less painful.

  • Be strict about post-op instructions: It is important to adhere to every instruction given to you by your surgeon and physiotherapist for a speedy and effective recovery.
  • Choose a highly trained physiotherapist: A well-trained and experienced physiotherapist can be the key to your quick and complete recovery post ACL surgery. An expert physiotherapist will assist your condition and recommend a personalised recovery plan. A physiotherapist will also support you in suggesting strength exercises that will help you reach a complete range of motion, improve your balance and get you back up on your feet in the fastest time possible. Looking for expert home-based ACL recovery physiotherapy for yourself or a loved one? HCAH has the best-certified team of expert physiotherapists who offer customised and outcome-based treatment and recovery plans. They are equipped with the right kind of expertise and techniques to treat an ACL surgery patient from the comfort and safety of their home. To book an appointment or for a free consultation, you can call toll free 1800-102-4224.
  • Ensure proper nutrition: Eating nutritious and healthy food can speed up the healing and recovery process of the body post ACL injury surgery. A diet that is a mix of lean proteins like chicken and fish, dairy, green leafy vegetables, and fresh citrus fruits is ideally recommended.
  • Regularly perform exercises: Even when you are through with your prescribed physiotherapy sessions, it is important to continue performing these exercises as part of your daily routine for at least a year or two. It will help diminish the risk of future injuries besides addressing your strength and mobility issues.
  • Get adequate sleep: The more you rest and sleep, the higher will be your chances of speedy recovery. Besides sleeping promotes faster repairing of the tissues.

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