How long is the recovery after ACL reconstruction?
ACL reconstruction is an outpatient surgery, meaning that patients can go home the same day that they have the procedure. Immediately following surgery, patients are placed in a sturdy brace, and instructed to rest the joint, use ice, and to elevate the knee to help promote healing and prevent unnecessary strain on the new ligament. Dr. Williams will prescribe medication to help manage pain while healing to be taken exactly as instructed. Patients are also advised to use crutches to lessen the weight placed on the knee. It is extremely important to follow the protocol given by Dr. Williams, which will specify how long to use the crutches. Dr. Williams typically recommends crutch use for the first week, with a gradual increase of weight bearing thereafter.
The most important step of the recovery process is the physical therapy regimen prescribed by Dr. Williams. This plan will vary slightly for each patient, depending on their goals, health, and injury. Physical therapy begins directly after surgery and will start with gentle flexibility exercises. Eventually, patients can begin more strenuous exercises to increase the strength of the knee. Patients are released to perform some early physical activities 3-4 weeks following surgery. Most patients can anticipate returning to the gym for resistance exercise after 6 weeks. Patient are typically able to start running and jogging at 3 months following surgery. Depending on how well the patient follows Dr. Williams’ recovery plan, they can return to their regular pivoting sporting activities 6 to 9 months after ACL reconstruction.