The anterior cruciate ligament makes one of the four ligaments that hold the knee bone together. In some cases, injuries to the ACL may require surgery and physical therapy to restore strength, motion, and enhance mobility. The healing process can take up to six months, although this varies among patients.
Typically, physical therapy to heal an ACL after surgery happens in four phases, which are divided into weeks. Here we look at these phases and what you should expect as you go through the healing process.
Phase 1: Helping the Knee to Heal
Phase 1 takes place during the first week after surgery. Here the focus is on regaining mobility while preventing damages to the quadriceps (thigh muscles). You also learn how to use crutches to walk on different surfaces.
To help improve mobility, a doctor may introduce you to gentle exercises that can aid you to bend your knee to a certain degree. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation is also used in this phase to enable the quadriceps to contract.
Phase 2: Walking Independently
The second phase happens between the second and the third week, and this is where you lose your crutches. During the second week, your doctor will help you to strengthen the muscles and regain control of your quadriceps. You will also engage in simple exercises to strengthen the hamstring muscles.
The third week will see you walking normally, for the most part. This is also the stage you begin to engage in more advanced exercises to strengthen the hip joint as you improve your mobility.
Phase 3: Regaining Strength
Through the fourth to the eighth week, therapy will emphasize >becoming stronger so that you can move from walking to jogging. From week four through week six, you will be required to do exercises that improve balance, such as squats and lunges. As you move towards the third week of this phase, you will graduate to more engaging exercises to further enhance stability.
Week seven and eight are a time for you to intensify your exercises. Your doctor will also assess the performance of the knee to ensure it is healing alright. If you do not experience pain by now, you can begin to jog.
Phase 4: Returning to Normal
This is the stage where you are almost done with your therapy; from the eighth week, you can begin running while assessing your capability to go back to normalcy. Your doctor can also give you the go-ahead to resume sports or intense activities, of course, depending on how strong and healed the knee is. Within the eight and twelfth weeks, your knee should be okay and perfectly functional.
Working with a physical therapist is a sure way of recovering from an ACL injury within the shortest time possible.
Why Choose Gustavel Orthopedics for your ACL Surgery?
At Gustavel Orthopedics, we will take care of you to help you resume normal duties after an ACL surgery. Please contact Dr. Gustavel for ACL consultation and any orthopedic-related issues.