If you’re one of the unlucky few who require ACL surgery, you’ll want to make sure that you follow your doctor’s post-operative instructions to the letter. There are many things that you can do to ensure a smooth and speedy recovery, but there are also several things that you should avoid.
In this blog post, we will discuss what NOT to do after ACL surgery so that you can make a quick and successful recovery!
The Importance and Benefits of the ACL
The knee joint is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body. It is made up of the ends of the thigh bone, the shin bone, and the knee cap, as well as a number of ligaments and tendons.
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is one of the key ligaments that help to stabilize the knee. It crosses the knee joint in the middle of the knee, originating from the posteromedial corner of the lateral femoral condyle in the intercondylar notch and attaches to the posterior part of the lateral femoral condyle.
The ACL plays an important role in knee stability, particularly when walking, running, or changing direction. It helps to prevent the shin bone from moving too far forward and also provides support for the knee when twisting or turning. A knee with a ruptured or damaged ACL can be very unstable and may give way, resulting in a fall or injury.
Causes of a Torn ACL
There are a number of different factors that can contribute to ACL injuries. One of the most common causes of a torn ligament is muscular imbalances. This can culminate in an injury when the knee is suddenly twisted or extended beyond its normal range of motion, putting too much pressure on the thigh muscles.
Other reasons can be extreme fatigue, being a female athlete (due to anatomy, hormones, etc), or even which sport you play.
The jury is still out on how to predict who will have these prevalent knee injuries. But one thing is for sure, this injury is affecting all levels of sport.
Athletes who Suffered ACL injuries
An ACL injury can be a devastating blow to any athlete, whether professional or amateur. The regular activities that once came so easily are now impossible, and even simple movements can be excruciating while going through the rehabilitation process.
Unfortunately, ACL injuries are all too common in the world of elite athletics. Research studies have shown that certain sports, such as soccer and basketball, put athletes at a higher risk for ACL injuries.
However, with proper training and careful attention to technique, these injuries can be prevented. For athletes of all levels, avoiding an ACL injury should be a top priority.
Many well-known athletes have suffered from ACL injuries. Some of the most famous include:
– Tom Brady: New England Patriots quarterback who tore his ACL in 2008. He missed the entire season but came back and led the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory in 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2021.
– Alex Morgan: American soccer player who helped lead the US Women’s National Team to victory in 2019. As a senior in high school, she suffered a torn ACL and went on to have a prolific career within her sport.
– Derrick Rose: American professional basketball player who was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2009. He tore his ACL in 2012 and missed the entire season. He has since suffered from a number of other injuries but is currently playing well for the New York Knicks.
– Lindsey Vonn: American alpine ski racer who is one of the most successful athletes in her sport. She tore her ACL in 2013 and made a successful return to racing the following year.
-Klay Thompson: NBA player who tore his ACL in 2019. After taking a 2-year hiatus, he went back to court this year and won his fourth NBA Championship.
While these athletes were all able to come back from their injuries and have successful careers, not everyone is so lucky. It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and take the necessary steps to ensure a smooth and speedy recovery.
ACL Reconstruction Surgery
ACL reconstruction surgery is a type of knee surgery that requires careful planning and preparation by orthopedic surgeons.
- On the day of surgery, the patient will be given general anesthesia and then positioned on the operating table.
- The first step of the surgical procedure is to make small incisions in the knee so that the ACL can be accessed.
- Next, the orthopaedic surgeon will use a variety of ACL surgery techniques to repair or replace the damaged ACL with an ACL graft.
- Once the surgery is complete, the incision will be closed and the patient will be taken to recovery.
Recovery from ACL surgery can take several months, but most patients eventually make a full recovery and return to their previous level of activity. The surgery will be different depending on which technique your surgeon uses.
The technique will depend on the type of graft that is chosen. The choices for grafts are either an autograft (from the patient’s own body) or an allograft (from a donor).
Generally, it is recommended that a patient use an autograft due to the literature and effectiveness. The most common choices of autografts are:
-Patellar tendon autograft
-Hamstring tendon autograft
-Quadriceps tendon autograft
Nonsurgical Treatments for ACL Injury
Physical Therapy Program
One of the most common nonsurgical treatments for ACL inury is physical therapy. A physical therapist can help you regain the full range of motion in your knee joint and develop a comprehensive rehabilitation program including a home program focused on strengthening the necessary muscles and reducing pain and swelling to get you back in the game.
Completing extensive physical therapy will help reduce your risk of future injury. They may also recommend physical activity modifications during the first few weeks following your injury to help speed the healing process.
If you have suffered an ACL injury, be sure to consult with a physical therapist to explore all of your treatment options.
While it may be tempting to try to rush the recovery process, it’s important to be patient and follow the recommended timeline. Rushing back to activity too soon can put you at risk for further injury or re-injury.
What I have found going through my own injuries (4 knee surgeries including the repair of both ACLs) is that rushing through the process leads to more imbalance, and likely, more injuries. It is important to feel comfortable, and strong, in order to return better than you were before.
To do this, it takes utilizing different methods of training. It also requires you to leave your ego at the door. Many of the movements necessary to return to elite activity are difficult and require you to basically start from step 0, which many athletes struggle with.
With time and dedication, nonsurgical treatments can help you recover from an ACL injury and return to your normal activities.
Take Pain Medicine
Pain medication is a medical treatment option for pain relief in your first week after surgery. It can be used to relieve pain from a variety of conditions, including ACL injury. Pain medication works by blocking pain signals from reaching the brain. This can help to reduce pain and improve quality of life.
There are a variety of pain medications available, and the best option for each individual will depend on the severity of the pain and the underlying cause. Some common pain medications include acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin. These medications are typically taken orally, but other forms (such as creams, patches, or injections) may also be used.
Injections of pain medication are usually reserved for more severe cases of pain administered by a licensed medical professional.
Pain medication is usually safe when used as directed. However, it is important to talk to a doctor about potential risks and side effects before starting any new medication.
Knee Brace and Ice Packs
A knee brace can help to immobilize the joint and prevent further loss of motion. Another common treatment is the use of an ice pack. Ice can help to reduce swelling and pain.
However, it is important to note that ice should only be used for a short period of time. Also, make sure when using any form of ice that you have another barrier between your skin and ice, cold pack, etc. It is quite common to irritate the skin due to the severe cold, and because of the numbing component of ice, you wouldn’t even notice until it was too late.
These are just a few of the many nonsurgical treatments that are available for ACL injuries. Speak with your doctor to find out which treatment is right for you.
What NOT to do After ACL Surgery
There are a couple of things you need to avoid to make sure you don’t reinjure your ACL and speed up your recovery time. These are the following:
– Do not try to rush the recovery process
– Do not ignore pain or swelling
– Do not miss physical therapy appointments
– Do not avoid full range of motion movements after cleared to do so
– Do not forget to ice your knee
– Do not forget to take pain medication as directed.
– Do not neglect to use a knee brace as directed
– Do not fail to follow up with your doctor.
These are just a few of the many things NOT to do after ACL surgery.
Speak with a doctor before beginning any new treatment and be sure to follow all instructions for a successful ACL surgery recovery. After all, you want to make sure you give yourself the best chance possible of getting back out there and living your life to the fullest!