ACL knee surgeries have come a long way over the past few decades. What was once a career-ending or life altering injury is now something we can fix and rehab in a matter of months. The words “knee surgery” no longer strike fear in people’s hearts. Now, rather than spending months in a cast, we can have you up and out of bed performing your rehab in days, not months.
We’ve all heard the stories about professional and collegiate athletes flying through their recovery to retake the field or court in record time. While these are great examples of just what the human body is capable of, at MSA we don’t expect you to follow the same timeline as a professional athlete.
What we would like to do is set you up for a successful, steady recovery.
We do this by focusing on several things during the early stages of recovery.
This is the first and most important step in recovering from knee surgery. We have to get your pain under control and the inflammation down. If your knee is hurting, and hurting is a relative term, and stiff, it will be impossible to progress in your recovery.
In order to get your pain and inflammation under control we will use a variety of methods such as : ice (lots of ice), compression wraps, intermittent compression machines, elevation, electrical stimulation and lots of rest. We don’t want you overdoing it too soon, and trust us, there’s no such thing as too much ice early on.
We want you to have full knee extension as soon as possible. Trust us, we know it’s more comfortable to keep your knee bent after surgery, but this can lead to complications down the road. Keeping your knee bent and not pushing for full knee extension can lead to the buildup of scar tissue. This can make it much tougher to get full range of motion back the longer you wait.
We will use range of motion and soft tissue mobilization exercises as well as manual therapy to improve your range of motion. We will also provide you with a list of exercises and stretches to perform at home such as hamstring stretches and calf stretches. We hope to have you at full flexibility within the first week. It can be done!
We want you to have full range of motion in your knee. That means extension, which we’ve already covered, and flexion. A lot of times if you focus specifically on extension, it becomes harder to flex the knee. That’s why we work a two-pronged approach. We will incorporate movements like mini squats and lunges to ensure that you don’t lose flexion while rehabbing your repaired knee.
You need patellar mobility for both flexion and extension. There is a risk of scar tissue forming around the patella after knee surgery. That’s why we will perform soft tissue mobilization and patellar mobilization therapies after surgery. We will also give you a list of exercises to perform at home.
We use neuromuscular electrical stimulation on your quad muscles after surgery. NMES when coupled with traditional quad exercises like squats, leg raises and knee extensions have been shown to not only restore quad strength and function faster but also improve your knee’s range of motion.
We want you off those crutches and walking without a limp as soon as possible, typically in just a few weeks. Nothing can take the place of you moving and using your recently repaired knee. It truly is the best exercise. Our team of therapists will closely monitor your progress and build a timeline that will see you gradually performing more weight bearing exercises. This will help prevent scar tissue from forming and get you back to doing what you love as soon as possible!
This is just the base of the mountain you will need to climb in order to make a full recovery, but you can trust that the staff at MSA will be their to assist you the entire way. Let us help you recover from your knee surgery and get back to being you in record time.