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Recovering From Surgical Repair Of A Torn ACL

It only took a second to injure the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in your knee. The orthopedics doctor recommended arthroscopic surgery to do the repair. You'll then move into a recovery period of several weeks to regain full function from your knee. Here is what to expect from the recovery once the repair has been completed.

The Day of the Surgery

Once the arthroscopic repair is complete, you'll be taken to a recovery area to rest while the anesthetic wears off. You'll have two small bandages on your knee where the procedure was done. You'll be given instructions as to how to monitor your knee for any abnormal pain or drainage. You'll also be instructed as to how much weight you can put on your knee during the next few days. This depends on the extent of the repair done by the orthopedic surgeon. You'll be given prescriptions for pain medication and a followup appointment to see your doctor in a few days and then be sent home.

The First Few Days at Home

You'll spend the next few days before your appointment resting your knee. Your doctor may have given you instructions to carefully bend your knee to keep it from becoming still. Otherwise, the use of your leg will be limited while it is healing. While the arthroscopic repair was less invasive, ligaments take longer to heal than other soft tissues because they have less of a blood supply.

After a few days resting your knee, you'll see the surgeon for a followup. If they are satisfied with the healing progress, they will have you begin a program of physical therapy. This is how you'll spend the next few weeks recovering the full function of your knee.

First Phase - Range of Motion

The first phase of physical therapy is regaining the full range of motion of your knee. Your knee will feel stiff from disuse. The physical therapist will start out doing passive range of motion exercises. Here they will move your leg for you through its normal range of motion. The goal is to slowly get the muscles to stretch back out to their normal lengths. The muscles will be weak right now, so it will be difficult to move your knee.

The therapist will monitor your progress at each session. Toward the end of this phase, you'll be able to do active range of motion and move your knee yourself. Regaining the range of motion in your knee will take several weeks. Once you've nearly reached normal range of motion, you'll begin the next phase of physical therapy.

Next Phase - Strength Training

The remaining weeks of recovery focus on strengthening the muscles in the knee. Strong muscles not only help you use your knee, but they protect the knee from future injury. You'll work with resistance machines and may use a stationary bicycle to build up the knee muscles. You'll also begin walking more and without your crutches in this phase.

It will take several weeks to recondition your knee muscles for normal everyday use. If you are active in sports or other physically demanding activities, your doctor will have you spend a few more weeks strengthening your knee muscles to meet the additional demands placed on them.

For more information, contact Northern Care Inc Prosthetics & Orthotics or a similar organization.