ACL injuries are common amongst athletes as they end up damaging their knees while indulging a bit too much in the games. So, to know more about ACL Surgery Rehabilitation, Whether it is partial or complete, an ACL tear can be immensely painful and often restricts the patient’s mobility. While getting yourself treated is essential, following the proper rehabilitation procedure to restore your knee’s mobility is equally important.

ACL stands for the anterior cruciate ligament. It is an important ligament located at the centre of your knee, allowing your shin bone’s rotary. It connects your shin and thigh bones, facilitating smooth and steady knee movement. Experienced most commonly by athletes, ACL tears occur when you suddenly halt while running, land awkwardly after an ambitious jump, or end up twisting your knee.

A 2022 research shows that 1 in every 3,500 people in the US suffer from an ACL injury. The cases have been rising amongst the Indian youth as well. Orthopaedic surgeons from Saqsham Ortho, a Gurgaon-based collective of doctors, have been witnessing a surge in the need for ACL surgery over time. Along with being excruciatingly painful, these injuries can significantly impact the patient’s mobility.

Most ACL injuries occur to athletes, so the desire to recover entirely and get back on the field is immense. Thanks to minimally invasive procedures like arthroscopy, orthopaedic surgeons have been able to send their patients on a faster road to recovery after ACL tears.

However, the end of a successful ACL surgery does not imply that the patient will return to their everyday life. All orthopaedic surgeons recommend extensive rehabilitation for 12 to 16 weeks to ensure holistic recovery after ACL surgery. If you or any of your loved ones have recently been under the scissors, never make the mistake of taking post-surgical rehabilitation for granted.

Why Is Rehabilitation Important After ACL Surgery?

Let us have a look at a few significant benefits of rehabilitation that are often overlooked by patients as they leave the hospital after ACL surgery:

Regaining Complete ROM

It is practically impossible for an athlete to return to the field without regaining their knees’ complete ROM (range of motion). Extensive post-surgical rehabilitation helps them turn their knees and move effectively, restoring their mobility.

Muscle Strength And Proprioception

Rehabilitation after ACL surgery is not limited to improving the patient’s bone health. The therapies and exercises during this period also help you regain muscle strength, making them capable of handling your body’s load as you return to your everyday life.

If you are an athlete, proprioception will be essential in rehabilitation after your ACL surgery. Proprioception refers to being aware of your body and its position. After ACL surgery, patients are likely to lose this sense as their mobility comes to a halt and their legs are tied with bandages for too long. As you rehabilitate, you start ‘feeling your legs’ again as you return to normalcy.

Reducing Re-injury Risks

Because your ACL surgery is successful does not mean your ligament has become rock-solid again. Like any other part of your body, it takes time for your ACL to heal itself and your knees to function normally completely. A lack of organized rehabilitation makes your knees prone to re-injury.

If you are an athlete, do not return to the field without elaborate rehabilitation sessions supervised by your orthopaedic surgeon and physiotherapist. Even a slight twist or undue pressure on a partially healed ACL can reverse the treatment and injure you again.

Reaching The Optimum Functional Level

The ultimate goal of post-surgical rehabilitation is to take your injured knee to its optimum functional level. Whether you are an athlete or not, exercising and easing your knee into operation typically allows you to extract its best performance after surgery.

How To Make Recovery After ACL Surgery Easier?

As you continue with your post-surgical rehabilitation, you will need to navigate through some pain and discomfort to obtain the desired results. However, here are a few essential tips that can make your recovery after ACL surgery easier:

Be Mindful Of The Swelling

You are bound to experience some swelling after your ACL surgery. Please keep track of this swelling and do your best to control it throughout the rehabilitation procedure. Being your body’s response to trauma, uncontrolled swelling can make your joints stiff.

The best way to tackle swelling is through the RICE approach. This involves treating the condition with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. You can also wear a Tubigrip sleeve on your knee to keep swelling under control.

Focus On Full Knee Straightening

Restoring your knee’s complete straightening (making your knee completely straight) is often the key point of focus for doctors and physiotherapists during rehabilitation. Once you have pain and swelling under control, repeat your extension stretch exercise multiple times daily. A knee that isn’t fully straightened may develop a limp, permanently affecting mobility.

Bend Your Knee Without Hesitation

Compared to straightening your knee, bending is much easier as a rehabilitation exercise. However, patients are often apprehensive about ACL reconstruction getting affected by extensive knee bending. Rest assured that this is not the case. Performing knee bending exercises throughout the day improves your knee’s overall mobility and helps you recover faster.

Do Not Let Your Quads Get Wasted

Especially if you are an athlete, you should focus on getting your quadriceps back on track as you recover after ACL surgery. They are the muscles located in the front of your thigh and your body’s biggest group of muscles. These muscles are the first ones to get wasted away, affecting your performance as an athlete.

It is essential to start working on your quads from the first day of rehabilitation. The best exercise during the early rehabilitation days is straight leg raising. If there are no complications, do as many straight leg raises in a day as possible to keep your quadriceps healthy.

The Final Word

ACL tears are painful and require immediate medical attention. Your knee recovery is in your hands once you leave the operation theatre and back home. Ensure you get help from your surgeon and physiotherapist during post-surgical rehabilitation to fix your ligament completely and outperform yourself when you hit the field with twice the vigour!