How long will it take to recover from an ACL injury?
The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the most injured ligament in the knee. ACL injury is very common among athletes and / or people participating in high risk or high performance sports such is Football / Soccer, Rugby, Basketball, Skiing etc. Most of ACL injuries are not just the ACL, but also damage or bruising of the anterior cartilage, other ligaments in the knee, meniscus etc which can be correctly detected using MRI scans.
The majority of ACL injuries happen with no contact with other players or object. Most of the time, ACL injuries happen from deceleration after burst and run and changing direction suddenly, awkward landing, sidestepping etc which is mostly out of control play.
Many ACL injuries are also from poor hip, knee and ankle coordination (from bad posture) which increases the risk of wear and tear during sport or even working out in gym.
After you have done your ACL, there’ll be pain and swelling in your knee and it feels very unstable. If it is your first ACL injury, you’ll feel both pain and swelling along with loss of ROM (Range of Motion), unstable or weak knee, unable to walk normally and tenderness along the joint. It completely changes your gait if you don’t treat it properly.
Recovery from ACL injury can be either surgical or non-surgical depending on the depth of the injury itself and also on you.
If you have partial tear (or complete tear) but no symptoms of instability, you are participating in low impact or low performance sports, you live a sedentary life or involves very less manual labor work, or you’re a children. And if you chose to do surgery, doesn’t mean it’ll fix the issue completely, unless you do proper rehabilitation to recover from the injury.
Biggest question we all ask is, how long will it take to recover from ACL injury? or When can I play sports again?
The answer is not that simple. The standard recovery process may take 16 to 24 weeks to be able to function properly. The goal for our physical therapists is to reduce the swelling in pain in first place. After that comes balance and stability of the knee while reducing other posture related issues that may occur during post injury period. Then our rehab trainers take over and works on your knee strength, further balance and stability work, agility, functional strength etc and prepare you for sports again.