The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the main ligaments that hold the knee bones in place and provides stability to the knee. A torn ACL is a common injury for athletes that play sports that involve jumping, pivoting, and quickly changing directions, such as football, soccer, basketball, and volleyball. A torn ACL usually requires surgery to repair, but most dedicated athletes are able to recover from the injury and begin participating in their sport again. If you're an athlete who has torn your ACL, use the following tips to ensure a full recovery:
Get Plenty of Rest
In the first few weeks after surgery to repair a torn ACL, it is important to get as much rest as possible. During this time it is recommended to avoid bearing weight on the knee that has been operated on, and to keep the knee elevated to help prevent excessive swelling. While you should not bear weight on the injured knee, it is important to complete the exercises and stretches that your surgeon recommends, as they will help maintain flexibility in the knee and prevent blood clots.
Pay Attention to the Incision Site
Keeping the incision site on your knee clean is essential. You will need to replace the dressing and bandages as directed and disinfect the actual incision to prevent infection. It is important to contact your doctor immediately if blood is soaking through the bandages, pus or discharge is coming out of the incision site, you have a high fever, your calf becomes swollen and painful, or if you experience extreme pain despite taking your pain killers as prescribed.
Wear your Knee Brace
A few weeks after your ACL surgery, your doctor will most likely fit you for a knee brace. Knee braces typically have to be worn for several weeks-- even if your knee starts to feel better, don't go against your doctor's orders and stop wearing your knee brace. The brace is essential for providing support and stability for your knee and ensuring that your repaired ligament is able to heal properly.
Take Physical Therapy Seriously
A full recovery from a torn ACL typically requires several months of physical therapy. It is important to put in a full effort and attend all scheduled sessions. Regular physical therapy will help you regain the strength and stability that you had in your knee before it was injured. In addition to the work you put in during your sessions with your physical therapist, don't forget to do your prescribed exercises at home to promote recovery.
Don't Push Yourself Too Hard
As an athlete, it is natural to want to get back to training and playing your sport as soon as possible. But pushing yourself too hard and trying to rush your recovery can lead to re-injury. While it may be hard, taking the recommended time off from sports can help ensure that you don't have additional problems with your knee in the future.
Contact a center like Procare Physical Therapy to learn more.