How long does it take to recover from ACL surgery?
Many weekend and professional athletes are eager to get back in the game following an ACL or knee reconstruction. However, it’s important that you give your knee time to recover, stabilise and heal so that you can safely return to sport without causing re-injury to the knee.
Most people will require a recovery period of six to eight months. Depending on the injury, the individual and the desired outcomes, other patients require a recovery period of 12 months or more.
Why is the recovery period so long?
The recovery time for an ACL tear is long due to the biological changes that the graft needs to go through to re-incorporate into your knee. When the graft is removed from your hamstring, patella or quadricep, the cells within it die. The collagen in the tissue helps the graft cells to re-populate, therefore strengthening your new ACL.
This process takes time. Remember, your ACL is one of the most important ligaments in your knee, so it’s essential that you give it enough time to heal, become stable and for your knee to feel normal again before returning to your previous level of activity.
What does the recovery process involve?
Recovery from your ACL injury will include physical, emotional and psychological components. The journey involves several stages of physiotherapy and cold and compression therapy, each with recommended activities that will help you to heal faster and return to normal activity.
Rehabilitation for your knee starts almost immediately after your surgery. On the day after your surgery, your physiotherapist will help you to walk again using crutches.
As your ACL surgery recovery progresses, you will learn more exercises and increase the intensity of your physiotherapy. When your physiotherapist thinks you are ready, he/she will give you the go-ahead to return to an appropriate level of sport.
While the process can be challenging, committing to your recovery plan and following your surgeon and physiotherapist’s advice will help you to recover and get you back in the game faster.
Where can I find out more about the recovery process?
One of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley’s top Orthopaedic Surgeons, Dr Stuart MacKenzie has created a free guide on ACL injuries, including what you can expect from the recovery process.
1 May 2018
Published by Default Admin