The anterior cruciate ligament (or ACL) is one of the knee’s key structures. It connects the thigh bone to the shin bone and is essential for normal knee function and stability. Injury (a sprain or a tear) to the ACL can cause knee pain, swelling, and buckling; crepitus (popping sound); and limited range of motion.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of an ACL injury, your best bet is to see an orthopedic surgeon, who will perform a thorough evaluation of your injury to determine its severity and the appropriate treatment. If you sustained either a partial tear with knee instability or a complete tear, your orthopedic surgeon will likely recommend ACL reconstruction.
An ACL reconstruction is a surgical procedure in which your orthopedic surgeon will replace the damaged ligament with a segment of tendon, obtained from another part of your knee or from a tissue bank. The goal of the surgery is to restore normal knee function and stability and prevent injury or degeneration to the other structures in the knee.
Read on to get a basic understanding of what will likely transpire during your ACL surgery recovery.
Your ACL Surgery Recovery Timeline
As soon as your orthopedic surgeon determines that you’re ready to go home, they will provide you with detailed postoperative instructions. Make sure to follow these instructions, such as on when it’s safe to put weight on your knee, when to ice your knee, when to change wound dressing, and how often to elevate your leg.
- Zero to Two Weeks Post-ACL Surgery
You may have to ask a family member or a friend to assist you when you go home and do errands for you the first few days thereafter. Expect to skip work a few days up to a few weeks, depending on how physically demanding your job is. First couple of weeks following your surgery entails plenty of rest and care for your incision.
- Two to Four Weeks Post-ACL Surgery
About two weeks after your surgery, your orthopedic surgeon will likely fit you for a knee brace, which you may have to wear for a few weeks. Your physical therapy program, which is crucial to the success of your recovery, will also likely begin at this time.
Your physical therapist will tailor your rehabilitation plan according to your specific needs and goals, employing therapeutic modalities and exercises, which you may have to do with their supervision and at home. These are geared toward helping you restore your normal knee function in as short a time as possible without the risk of compromising the integrity of your operated knee.
Your physical therapist will guide you through exercise routines to:
- Strengthen and improve the flexibility of the main muscle groups that support your knee: the quadriceps and hamstrings;
- Reduce inflammation;
- Gradually increase your knee’s range of motion; and
- Improve your balance and coordination.
Full recovery from an ACL surgery can take up to nine months. If you’re an athlete, you may have to wait up to 12 months or more before you can return to your sport.
When to Call Your Orthopedic Surgeon
If you notice signs of infection, such as the ones listed below, make sure to call your doctor right away:
- Blood soaking through your dressing
- Fever above 101°F
- Pain or swelling in your calf
- Pain that is worsening or not alleviated with medications
- Purulent discharge from your incision
ACL Surgery in Fort Lauderdale, FL
An ACL surgery is a complex procedure that warrants the acumen and expertise of a well-respected orthopedic surgeon like Dr. Paul Meli—one of South Florida’s top orthopedic surgeons.
Dr. Meli has performed thousands of successful minimally invasive procedures of the knee and shoulder, including arthroscopic ACL reconstruction, helping countless patients throughout the region move better and live pain-free lives—so you know you’re in very good hands!
Contact us at (954) 324-7711 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Meli. You may also request an appointment by filling out this form. We look forward to serving you!