Recovering from an ACL Tear

ACL Surgery: What to Expect During Recovery

About 250,000 people in the U.S. experience anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears every year, suffering with symptoms like pain, swelling, knee instability and decreased mobility. Fortunately, surgery for ACL tear has high success rates and high levels of satisfaction for patients who undergo the procedure, restoring joint function and mobility as well as improving the patient’s own quality of life. And even better – today’s minimally-invasive surgical techniques allow most patients to return home the same day they have surgery, with less postop discomfort and a faster ACL tear recovery process so they can get back to the activities they love. If ACL surgery is in your future, here’s what you can expect during your own recovery.

First month after ACL Surgery

During the first two to three weeks after your surgery, you’ll spend most of your time resting your knee and working on motion to promote healing in the area. You are allowed to put full weight through the knee, but It’s a good idea to have someone available to help you around the house, run errands for you and drive you to your follow-up appointment.

You’ll be given instructions on how to gently move and exercise your knee during this early postop period to promote healing, reduce swelling and prevent blood clots from forming. Initially, movements will be slow and gentle to avoid placing too much strain on the graft. You may be fitted for a knee brace and you’ll need to use crutches as directed. Most patients return to work at about this time, but your activity while at work may need to be modified while your knee heals.

Long-Term Recovery from ACL Surgery

Once the initial period of ACL tear recovery ends and the graft is firmly established, you’ll begin a course of physical therapy focused on restoring complete range of motion, flexibility and strength to your knee joint and the muscles that surround it. Depending on individual factors, you can expect therapy to last for four to six months or sometimes even longer. The amount of therapy during this time period will vary based on your progress. Generally, you will be walking fairly comfortably at 2-3 weeks with in line running allowed at 3 months. Between these time periods you will be gradually increasing your strength. Your specific rehab program will be customized just for your needs and goals so you can enjoy optimal results, and typically, you can expect to get back to all high level within six months.

Throughout your recovery, you’ll have follow-up visits with your Dr. Van Thiel to determine how you’re progressing and, of course, to discuss any concerns you have about your recovery, your activity level or other issues.

Learn more about ACL surgery and recovery.

If you’ve had an ACL injury and ACL surgery is in your future, or if you want to find out what’s causing your undiagnosed knee pain, Dr. Van Thiel can help. As a top knee specialist in the greater Chicago area, Dr. Van Thiel is skilled in treatments aimed at helping patients from all over Wisconsin and Illinois including Rockford, Elgin, Huntley, Dekalb, Crystal Lake, Barrington, McHenry, and Beloit to get back to the active lifestyles they love. To learn more about ACL surgery or to have your knee pain evaluated, call Ortho Illinois at 815-398-9491 and schedule a consultation with Dr. Van Thiel today.


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Patient Stories

Life changing patient stories

Read about Jack a multi-sport athlete, who suffered from a multi-ligament tear in his knee. Read about Abigail who fell and tore her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). Life changing stories of patients healed by Dr. Geoffrey Van Thiel.

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