Did you suffer an ACL injury? Did your doctor recommend a surgical repair of your ligament? If so, you might be wondering what your ACL surgery recovery timeline is going to be. Though recovery periods are individually based and some people can recover much quickly than others can recover, the typical recovery period using modern medical techniques is about six months. For many people, however, many aspects of life can return in as little as two weeks.
You’re Given Exercises Immediately Out of Surgery
Once your ACL surgery has been successfully completed, you’ll be given a set of exercises that can often be started on the first day after the procedure. By following these exercises, you may be able to significantly reduce your ACL surgery recovery timeline! Though you’ll likely be on crutches after the surgery for about 10 days, you’ll still be able to work on these exercises.
This critical 10 – 14 day period after your surgery focuses on removing the swelling from your knee. Icing the knee, using the RICE model of treatment [rest, ice, elevation, and compression], and riding on a stationary bike are common treatment and exercise options during this period of time. Once the swelling in the knee has been resolved, you’ll be able to advance in your recovery.
Advance Your ACL Surgery Recovery Timeline to 6 Weeks
After you complete the first two weeks of recovery, the next 4 weeks are going to focus on rebuilding the strength of your leg. You’ll be able to drive during this recovery period, but you’ll still likely wear a brace on your knee. You’ll be allowed to walk on a treadmill, lift with elastic sports cords and light weights, and improve your overall range of motion. This is often the most difficult portion of the ACL surgery recovery timeline because it can be quite painful to rebuild leg strength.
The ultimate goal of this portion of the timeline is to recover your range of motion. Until you have a complete range of motion recovered, you will not be able to proceed to the next recovery phase of your ACL surgery.
Advance Your ACL Surgery Recovery Timeline to 4 Months
Between weeks 7 – 16, your next tasks are going to be as much psychological as they are physical. You’re going to have to regain confidence in your knee and that it will be as strong as it was before. This will be accomplished through further strength-training exercises, straight running, and non-impact cardio training, such as with an elliptical machine.
Most doctors will allow jogging to occur at three months. For athletes, this gives them the opportunity to rebuild their endurance to be able to return to their sport, with a doctor’s clearance to return sometimes happening at the 4 month market. The goal in this part of the ACL surgery recovery timeline is to create a pain-free experience while having a full range of motion with the knee.
A full recovery can take as little as 4 months, but it can also progress beyond 6 months depending on the level of injury and dedication to the recovery exercises that are prescribed. Use this ACL surgery recovery timeline so that you can get yourself back on track as soon as possible after you have your successful surgery and see how quickly you can get back on your feet!