Getting Back In The Game: Physical Therapy After An Anterior Cruciate Knee Injury

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If you have suffered an anterior cruciate knee injury during a sporting event, you are not alone. With over 100,000 people suffering from a rupture or tear of this knee ligament every year, this is one of the most common traumatic knee injuries in the United States. Options for treating an ACL tear or rupture include physical therapy, surgery, strength training, rest and ice. If you believe you have torn your ACL, it's important to have your condition assessed by a medical professional right away to avoid further damage to your knee joint.

Knee Instability Occurs with an ACL Injury

Your ACL is responsible for giving your knee stability when you walk or run. If this ligament is torn or ruptured, your knee joint will become unstable. While a slight tear may heal on it's own, a complete rupture will require surgery to repair the ruptured ligament. When the injury first occurs, you will be asked to use crutches for several days and apply ice to help the swelling go down. If you use the crutches longer than a few days, you will risk weakening the muscles in your leg. While it's possible to walk with a torn or injured ACL, your knee can potentially collapse because of the instability. Work with your treatment provider to determine how your ACL injury should be handled.

Physical Therapy After ACL Surgery

If you had a complete rupture of your ACL, your physician will want to repair the ligament so that you can get back to playing sports without risk of further injury to the area. Although ACL surgery rarely requires an overnight stay in the hospital, the total recovery time from surgery to getting back to the playing field can take six months or more. While you will go home on the day of your surgery, you will need to work closely with a physical therapist to strengthen your knee and improve your range of motion. You can expect to walk with crutches for about two weeks, or until you feel stable enough to walk without a device to help you balance.

Follow all of the recommendations provided by your physician and physical therapist (like those at Orthopedic Rehab), and maintain the prescribed exercise routine you have been given. By carefully following the instructions provided to you, you will strengthen your knee and have the best chance at getting back to the ability you were at prior to the injury