Getting Active Again After an ACL Tear

Your knee is a complicated structure and one of the largest joints in your body. It contains bones, ligaments, cartilage, tendons, and other components that can become injured as a result of trauma or overuse.

One of the most common knee injuries occurs when the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is torn or ruptured. The ACL, which runs diagonally in the middle of your knee, helps control your knee’s movements, providing stability when you walk, run, or jump.  

An ACL tear is a sports injury that may occur in athletes and other people who play high-impact sports such as basketball, soccer, and football.

If you experience a torn ACL and require surgery, you may worry about getting active again. But the good news is that with the proper rehabilitation program, you’ll be back on your feet again before you know it.

The expert team of physical therapists at Prolete Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine wants to share some important information about getting active again after an ACL tear.

Immediately after surgery

When you go home from the hospital after ACL surgery, you’ll receive full instructions about how to take care of yourself. These instructions vary based on the type of procedure you received. Be sure to follow your discharge instructions exactly in order to ensure proper healing.

Soon after your surgery, you start performing gentle exercises to help start the return of motion to the knee and help blood flow within your knee, ankle, and leg. These exercises help prevent the formation of blood clots.

You may require crutches or braces to keep your knee positioned correctly while healing begins.

Beginning your rehabilitation

Within a day or two of surgery, you’ll begin a course of physical therapy starting in the hospital and/or your home. Your physical therapist works with you to do exercises that build strength and improve range of motion in your knee, thigh, and leg. 

You begin slowly, with very gentle exercises to increase your range of motion and strength. Once range of motion and strength is at a level that allows you to leave the house, you will begin more intense physical therapy at an outpatient facility such as Prolete Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine. This accelerates the healing process utilizing more equipment and hands-on techniques from trained professionals. 

We are one of only a few facilities in Connecticut that has an Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill. When using the Alter-G anti-gravity treadmill, the weight of your body decreases allowing you to start weight-bearing exercises sooner than you normally would. This means you’ll be able to start walking and eventually running, earlier in the rehabilitation process. 

Your physical therapist is specially trained to guide you through an exercise regimen that rehabilitates your knee, minimizing pain while increasing functional movement and strength.

As you regain strength

As the course of outpatient physical therapy continues, your physical therapist will advise and guide you on activities that may be similar to your previous physical activity such as walking and running as you regain strength and function. Following your physical therapist’s instructions, you will optimize your knee health for a full return to function and/or play without risk of re-injury.

Depending on your age, fitness level, and post-treatment knee condition, you may be advised to avoid certain sports temporarily as you continue the rehab of your knee.

Don’t wait to have a sports injury checked

If you suspect you have an ACL tear, are experiencing knee pain,  or any other type of sports injury, it’s important to have your injury evaluated by a professional. To schedule a consultation with one of our doctors, contact our office or make an appointment online today. 

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