8 Important Things to Know About Your ACL Reconstruction Surgery Recovery!
1. First of all, this is your individual journey. Do not compare your healing and progression to other people. Everyone’s body is different in how it responds to trauma and tissue damage.
2. Your progression during ACL reconstruction rehabilitation is not just dictated by how far out of surgery you are. Many people think that just because they are 3 months out from surgery that they can start jogging. You have to work hard in each phase in order to progress to the next phase of rehab. For example, before you start your jogging progression, you have to demonstrate good strength, balance, and range of motion before your physical therapist starts you on a jogging interval progression.
3. Before you go back to playing your sport, you SHOULD have return to play testing that includes strength, jump/hop, and balance testing along with psychological readiness to return to play testing, and quality of movement testing. Some surgeons and physical therapists do not make this a part of their protocol, BUT, if you want to go back with less of a chance of re-tearing your ACL, research* supports the use of return to play testing.
4. Do not expect to go back to your sport until 9-12 months after your surgery. Some surgeons will promise you 6-9 months but research* shows it is better to wait until at least 9 months (and pass your strength testing) in order to decrease your risk for re-tear.
5. You will have some pain after your surgery and throughout your recovery. BUT, your physical therapy does NOT have to be aggressive or painful in order for you to regain your motion and strength in a timely manner!
6. Now that you have injured your ACL and have had surgery, you will have what we like to call “souvenir” pain occasionally in your future. It is normal for your knee to occasionally feel stiff or sore for a day or two not just during your immediate recovery but for the rest of your life. You might need to modify your activity level or take a day off from your exercise routine in order to keep your knee healthy and happy.
7. You have had ACL reconstruction surgery now so it is recommended that you see your workouts and activities as part of your “rehab for life.” Continuing to work on your range of motion, strength, balance, and agility will keep you not only healthier in the long run but may assist with limiting your pain episodes down the road.
8. Just because you got cleared to return to play your sport does NOT mean that you can go back to playing a full game right away. Your physical therapist should outline a progression back that typically allows for lower intensity participation initially (non-contact, non-reactive drills to start), then progresses you back to full, 100% participation when you are ready. Your physical therapist should be in close communication with your coach, parents, and athletic trainer to make sure everyone is on the same page and is looking out for your health!
If you have any further questions about ACL injuries or ACL rehabilitation, please contact Omaha Physical Therapy Institute (OPTI)! OPTI specializes in ACL reconstruction rehabilitation and has a satellite clinic inside of the Omaha Sports Complex that allows for top quality return to sport physical therapy!
Your Comeback Story Starts Here!