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How Can I Recover After ACL Surgery?

What is ACL?

The ACL or Anterior Cruciate Ligament is one of the four ligaments of the knee joint. In the human body, the knee joins the thigh with the leg and consists of two joints - one between the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone) and the other between the femur and the patella (knee cap).

The ligaments are like tough elastic bands of fibrous tissue that holds the knee joint together and create flexibility in the knee joint.

Why does one need ACL Surgery?

ACL reconstruction surgery is needed when there is a tear in the ACL due to injury. ACL injury may occur due to playing sports which require pivoting and sudden change in direction of movement like cricket, football, basketball, tennis, badminton and others or it can occur in people who ride two-wheelers frequently where they need to turn their vehicles with support from one foot. Patients often report that they heard their knee "pop" while playing sports or riding a bike.

When the ACL tears it usually doesn't heal by itself, in fact, it's one of the few body parts that doesn't heal by itself. The only solution is a reconstruction surgery.

Watch Dr Ramesh Chandra Katragadda, our expert Orthopedic Surgeon explain in detail about ACL reconstruction surgery.

What is the procedure to perform ACL reconstruction?

In ACL reconstruction, the torn ligament is removed and replaced with a piece of tendon from another part of the knee. This surgery is performed through small incisions around the knee joint.

Why is ACL reconstruction recommended?

If a patient has an ACL tear, every time they walk down the stairs, jump or play sports, the patient feels like the knee will buckle and sometimes the knee does buckle. An ACL reconstruction is recommended to get back to full fitness, not just settling for being able to walk. It's highly recommended for sports persons or athletes as they can get back to playing sports after a few months of the surgery. It is also recommended for people who have a normal level of activity after the injury because there are chances of reinjury if the ACL tear is neglected.

Recovering After ACL Surgery

If the patient has had an ACL reconstruction procedure, they can begin walking the next day of the surgery. Before the patient is sent home, they are made to practice walking with crutches, and the surgeon may ask them to wear a knee brace or splint to help protect the graft.
Our expert surgeon gives patients specific instructions on how to control swelling and pain after surgery. In general, it's important to keep one's leg elevated, apply ice to one's knee and rest as much as possible. Some medication will be prescribed and must be taken according to the instructions,

Patients must follow the surgeon's advice on when to ice the knee, how long to use crutches and when it's safe to bear weight on the knee. Patients are also instructed when they can shower or bathe, when they should change dressings on the wound, and how to manage post-surgery care.

Progressive physical therapy after ACL surgery helps to strengthen the muscles around the knee and improve flexibility. A physical therapist will teach the patient how to do exercises that they will perform either with continued supervision or at home. Following the rehabilitation plan is crucial for proper healing and achieving the best possible outcomes.

Successful ACL reconstruction paired with focused rehabilitation can usually restore stability and function to the knee. Within the first few weeks after surgery, the patient should strive to regain a range of motion equal to that of their opposite knee.
Usually the patient can walk on the next day, climb stairs after 40 days of the surgery, go for a jog after 2 months and ride a bike after 4 months of the surgery.

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