Life After an ACL Tear

If you’ve torn your anterior cruciate ligament, better known as your ACL, you may be wondering what your life will look like after you’ve gotten treatment. An ACL tear can be a frightening injury, but with proper treatment and guidance, you should be able to return to most activities. 

If you have an ACL tear, Dr. J. Michael Bennett can give you a thorough evaluation and explain your treatment options. 

Treating your injury

Some ACL tears can be treated with physical therapy and rehabilitation, while others may require surgery to repair or reconstruct the ACL. Either path has its challenges. 

Nonsurgical treatment

If your ACL tear is not severe, Dr. Bennett will discuss nonsurgical options first. You may be able to help your knee heal by putting ice on it, wearing a compression wrap, and keeping your foot elevated.

You may also need to undergo a rehabilitation program, which will likely consist of strengthening and stretching exercises. At the least, you will likely have weekly appointments with a physical therapist for 3-6 months.

Surgical treatment

If your injury is severe or doesn’t respond to nonsurgical treatments, Dr. Bennett might recommend surgery. Surgery to repair a torn ACL involves removing your damaged ACL and replacing it with a tendon to give your knee improved stability. 

You may want to do some planning before your procedure. For example, if your home has stairs, you may need to set up a sleeping area on the main floor. Also, since you won’t be able to drive while wearing the brace, you may need to arrange for some help with transportation. 

Recovering after surgery

In the first days after ACL surgery, the goal will be to control the pain and swelling. Our staff will provide you with detailed care instructions, but the main thing to know is that you’ll need to rest, elevate your knee, and probably wear a brace. 

You’ll likely be able to begin using crutches and doing gentle range-of-motion exercises within 3-5 days after surgery. The first couple of weeks is considered the first phase of rehabilitation. 

The second phase usually begins 3-12 weeks after your procedure. You’ll begin to work more on exercises that will improve your range of motion, strength, and balance. 

Phase three is usually 3-6 months after your surgery, and it may include jumping and landing and other exercises. You will likely also be allowed to return to some low-risk activities, such as jogging or swimming. 

Life immediately after an ACL tear can be uncomfortable. But, with proper treatment, dedication to recovery, and time, you should be able to return to your normal activities and resume your life mostly as it was before your injury. 

If you have questions about ACL treatments and recovery, book an appointment online or over the phone with the office of Dr. J. Michael Bennett today.

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