ACL Surgery Recovery: Expectations and Timeline

ACL reconstruction is a very common surgical procedure. Seen most often in athletes, injury to the anterior cruciate ligament occurs when the center your knee sustains an impact or twisting injury, tearing this stabilizing ligament.

Depending on the severity of your injury, your physician may recommend ACL repair.

Here’s what to expect when you need ACL surgery:

The Procedure

Typically, ACL reconstruction is performed in an outpatient surgery center. However, if the injury is severe, you may have to remain in the hospital overnight for observation. Once in the operating room, the anesthetist will administer anesthesia; regional block or general anesthesia. Your surgeon will then make small incisions to accommodate the arthroscopic tools for repair. Through the arthroscopic portals, your surgeon will use a camera to examine the meniscus and other surrounding cartilage of your knee. Once the tear is identified, the repair will consist of either on ACL graft or suturing of the torn tendon, ligament or meniscus.

Recovery

Once discharged, it’s important that you follow your surgeon’s recommendations. Below are a few things of what you need to do in order keep your leg healthy while recovering: Prop up your leg at the ankle or calf on pillows Change the bandages to keep them clean and dry Ice your leg regularly to minimize sweling Perform mobility exercises to prevent blood clot formation

Your surgeon will advise you how long you’ll need to remain immobile preoperatively, Once you’re given medical clearance, you’ll begin ACL rehabilitation, which includes wearing a knee brace and a series of strengthening exercises.


Returning to Regular Activities

Achieving and maintaining full flexion and extension is important. Returning to regular activities depends on how quickly your ACL heals. To avoid re-injury, it’s imperative that you perform the strengthening exercises your surgeon recommended. At the six-week mark, your surgeon will probably have you start light cardiovascular training, such as walking on a treadmill and range of motion exercises.

Above all else, give yourself time to heal after surgery. Even with the technological advances of today, minimally invasive ACL repair doesn’t negate the need for proper follow-up care and rehabilitation. Jump to top