Recovering from ACL surgery can be challenging, especially for people who are used to being active. Staying off your feet, getting ample rest, and actively participating in physical therapy may sound like simple tasks, but when you actually have to do it for weeks or months, you might find your commitment slipping.
Knowing what the most common ACL surgery recovery mistakes are can help you avoid them in the first place. If you are aware of the ways that the healing process can be slowed or hindered, you can take steps to make sure you don't fall into these familiar traps.
Avoid These ACL Surgery Recovery Mistakes
As you prepare for your ACL surgery, think about the recovery process and how you can make it go as smoothly as possible. An important step is to watch out for these mistakes:
- Don't wait too long to start physical therapy - In most cases, your doctor will start you on physical therapy the day of the the surgery. This is surprising to many people because it seems counter-intuitive, but the sooner you start moving your knee joint, the faster it will heal. Of course, there is a limit to what you can do, so always follow your doctor's instructions closely.
- Don't worry about flexion - The knee joint has two movements: flexion when you bend it, and extension when you straighten it. After ACL surgery, extension is actually more important than flexion, especially in the first days and weeks after the procedure. The faster you are able to achieve full extension, the more quickly and completely your knee will heal. An increase in flexion will naturally occur over time, especially if you stay committed to physical therapy, but if you don't regain extension early in the recovery process, you may never be able to.
- Don't do too much - While it is important to start doing physical therapy exercises almost immediately after ACl surgery, doing too much too soon can hinder your healing progress. Do exactly what your physical therapist recommends and don't push yourself to do more, even if you don't feel pain or are not struggling with the exercises.
- Don't ignore swelling - Tissue swells after trauma (like surgery) as part of the healing process. It's a perfectly natural response and you should expect some of it, but too much swelling will have a negative effect on your recovery. Excessive swelling can limit range of motion and contribute to additional pain and discomfort. Use active cold and compression therapy to reduce swelling and edema, lessen pain, and slow down cellular metabolism for a more effective healing process.
The Game Ready active cold and compression system comes with specialized wraps to get the most cold penetration. Knee wraps are available for both static therapy and for use with continuous passive motion machines. Find a provider near you to get started with Game Ready today.
The muscles and joints in your lower extremities are important for daily living, but many people take this for granted until they experience pain or swelling. A swollen knee is not only uncomfortable, it can also prevent you from going up and down stairs and limit your desire or ability to walk. This can be very disruptive to daily life and should be addressed as soon as possible to help prevent further damage and allow you to quickly get back to normal. Knee swelling can be caused by a range of factors including:
- Diseases like arthritis
- Athletic injuries like sprains and strains
- ACL or MCL surgery
- Falling or receiving a blow to the knee
Regardless of the reason for your swelling, you want to get rid of it as soon as possible because it can limit range of motion and contribute to additional pain.
How to Use Cold Water Therapy for Knee Swelling
- Control the temperature - The best way to delivery cold water therapy is to ensure that the temperature remains constant for the duration of the session. Ice water baths or cold packs will warm up because they draw heat from your body to reduce the temperature of your tissues. Although this is the desired effect, the rising temperature of the cold delivery mechanism reduces the impact of the therapeutic cold over time. The solution is a cold water therapy machine that circulates water through an ice reservoir to continually maintain the desired temperature.
- Get thorough coverage - The body is full of contours and angles that can make it difficult to achieve full coverage with ice packs. Using cold wraps to enclose the entire area ensures that the therapy will be more effective because the cold can penetrate deeper and the affected tissues will receive therapeutic cold from multiple directions.
- Add compression - Active compression enhances the therapeutic effects of cold therapy by removing edema, improving lymphatic drainage, and increasing the flow of oxygen to damaged tissues. Active compression also contributes to better coverage and deeper cold penetration.
Game Ready offers cold water therapy machines that combine the benefits of adjustable wraps, temperature control, and active compression to help you recover faster. Whether you are an athlete that needs regular sessions to improve workout recovery or an individual who plans to have knee surgery, Game Ready can help you get back on your feet faster. Find a provider near you to get started today.
How do you currently receive cold water therapy?
A torn ACL is a painful and inconvenient injury, especially for athletes. Fortunately, ACL surgery makes it possible to repair the damaged tissue, usually with a graft from another ligament in your own body. Arthroscopic surgery leaves few external scars, but the muscles, ligaments, and other tissues in the knee joint need time to recover fully from both the injury and the surgery.
It is important to allow enough time for your ACL to fully heal after surgery. Fortunately, many people find that they can return to normal activity within several months, but a full recovery timeline can take up to a year, especially if you want to return to high-impact athletic activities.
4 Tips for Healing Faster After ACL Surgery
If you want to speed up the recovery process, the following tips can help you heal faster and more comfortably:
- Rest - Although it may seem obvious, getting ample rest really is one of the best things you can do to help your body recover more quickly. In addition to staying off the affected leg, getting enough good sleep and not doing as much as you normally do in a day allows your body to allocate more energy for repairing tissues.
- Cryotherapy - Recovery from ACL surgery includes a certain amount of swelling, especially in the few days immediately after the surgery. While some swelling is normal, and even helpful for the healing process, too much of it contributes to pain and limits range of motion. Using ice packs on your knee can help reduce swelling, but unless you continually add new ice packs to maintain a constant cold temperature, you won't be getting the most from cryotherapy. An active cold therapy system that circulates cool water will allow the cold to penetrate deeper and last longer.
- Compression - In addition to the swelling that comes after ACL surgery, you might also experience edema, or excess fluid, surrounding the knee joint. Compression bandages can help limit this undesirable effect, but an active compression therapy system will yield better results. By actively pumping excess fluid away from the knee joint and bringing fresh blood and nutrients to the healing tissues, active compression contributes to a faster recovery.
- Physical therapy - Your doctor will likely recommend that you work with a physical therapist to learn exercises for strengthening and stretching the muscles and tissues in and around the knee joint. Follow their instructions closely and be careful not to do too much too soon.
The Game Ready active cold and compression therapy system is designed to help you heal faster. A specialized wrap that fully surrounds the knee allows therapeutic cold to reach the deepest tissues, while active compression continually circulates fluids. If you have an ACL surgery scheduled, talk to your doctor about using Game Ready during your recovery, or find a provider near you today.
What is your ACL surgery recovery plan?
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee is essential for maintaining stability in the joint. Because it is so important to everyday function, when it becomes damaged or torn, surgery is often the recommended course of action. Although the surgery itself is fairly routine, it does take some time for the body to recover.
Following a few tips during ACL surgery recovery
can help you heal faster and get back on your feet more quickly.
Seven Tips for ACL Surgery Recovery
- Avoid infection - Keep the surgical incisions clean and dry and monitor for fever. If you have a persistent fever after surgery, let your doctor know right away.
- Get plenty of rest - The body needs energy to heal, especially after surgery or an injury. Make sure that you get enough quality sleep, and while you're awake don't exert yourself too much, especially in the first week.
- Eat well - A nutritious diet rich with healthy foods will help ensure that essential nutrients will be available for your healing tissues.
- Elevate your leg - In the first few days after surgery, elevating your leg will help keep swelling down.
- Use ice and compression - Cryotherapy helps reduce inflammation and pain, while compression helps remove edema and also contributes to inflammation control. Ask your doctor or physical therapist if they have equipment available during your ACL surgery recovery. Specialized wraps that provide active cold and compression therapy are more effective than ice packs and compression bandages.
- Manage your pain - Cold and compression will help reduce pain after surgery, possibly even eliminating the need for pain control medications. However, if you do still have pain, work with your doctor to develop a pain management strategy that works for you.
- Do physical therapy - As your ACL heals you will need to rehabilitate it and the surrounding tissues. Your physical therapist will likely recommend exercises like ankle flexion, gentle knee bends, and other activities that will help strengthen and stretch the muscles around your knee. It is important to follow your therapist's instructions closely, which includes not overdoing it too soon.
All of these tips will help you speed up ACL surgery recovery, especially the use of active cold compression therapy. Before you have surgery, ask your doctor about the Game Ready active cold compression system to help you reduce pain, inflammation, and edema.
The system comes with an adjustable knee wrap that is designed to conform to your body. The wrap has a dual-chamber system that allows cold water and air to consistently circulate at the same time. This simultaneous application of cold and compression is proven to be more effective than ice packs alone. If you want to learn more, get in touch with us today.
Are you ready for your upcoming ACL surgery?
Most people, especially athletes, want to get back on their feet as soon as possible after ACL surgery. One of the most commonly asked questions after surgery is how long it will take to recover. Although it varies from person to person, the average recovery time is about nine months to one year.
Recovering from ACL Surgery
For many people the recovery timeline includes the following phases:
- 1-2 days - Immediately after surgery your body will be focused on recovering from the trauma of the procedure.
- One week - Many people are mobile within one week, typically with crutches or other assistive devices.
- Two weeks - If you follow the recommendations of your doctor and physical therapist, you may be able to walk without crutches while wearing a supportive brace.
- Three weeks - As your range of motion improves, you might be able to manage some stairs and be able to flex your knee for long enough to drive for brief periods of time.
- Two months - If you continue regular strength and flexibility training, you should be able to introduce light, low-impact exercise into your routine.
- Three months - At this stage in your recovery you could be close to your pre-surgery strength level, but that does not mean that you have fully recovered.
- Nine to twelve months - If you have continued rehabilitation exercises and avoided activities that could damage your knee again, you may be fully recovered after nine months. Individuals who have not committed to a regular rehab schedule may take up to twelve months to fully recover from ACL surgery.
Factors that Influence ACL Surgery Recovery Time
The average recovery times are just a rough indicator of what you can expect, but you can take certain steps to speed up the healing process and accelerate your recovery. Several factors play a role in ACL surgery recovery time:
- Inflammation - In the weeks following ACL surgery, your body will exhibit a natural inflammatory response. This will result in pain, swelling, edema, and other uncomfortable symptoms that can impact your recovery. Keeping your leg elevated, getting plenty of rest, and cold compression therapy are the keys to reducing inflammation and allowing the healing process to run its course more quickly.
- Activity - Finding the right balance between rest and activity plays a role in how fast you will recover from ACL surgery. In the weeks after surgery, it is important to get enough rest so that your body can heal more quickly. The more energy you expend on daily activities, the less your body will have to devote to repairing itself. After the initial healing phase, you will want to introduce gentle activities that will help you strengthen the muscles around your knee and keep the ligaments and other connective tissues flexible. Working with a physical therapist is the best way to ensure that you strike the right balance.
- Nutrition - Your body needs nutrients to repair itself, and the healthier you eat, the faster you will recover. Focus on maintaining a balanced diet so your body has what it needs to heal.
If you want to integrate cold compression therapy into your ACL surgery recovery, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about Game Ready. You can find a provider
near you or rent your own system while you recover.
Have you had ACL surgery? How long did your recovery take?
Anybody who has ever had surgery can tell you to expect some pain and swelling. Unfortunately, this is true whether you have a simple ACL surgery or a complicated knee replacement. Swelling after ACL surgery
is not only common, it is almost guaranteed.
Why Does Swelling Occur After ACL Surgery?
The human body is a remarkable system that uses many different mechanisms to keep you healthy. One of the more important mechanisms is the inflammatory response. Whenever your body suffers some trauma, whether it is an insect bite or a surgical incision, your body responds with inflammation.
Why does it do this? Inflammation occurs to help protect your healthy tissues from further damage, and to help the injured tissue repair itself. The inflammatory response includes five tell-tale symptoms:
- Loss of function
Depending on the severity of the injury, you will experience each of the symptoms to varying degrees. Although it is necessary to repair the torn tissues in the knee, ACL surgery is essentially a trauma to your body, so its natural response will be inflammation, which almost always includes swelling.
How Can I Reduce Swelling After ACL Surgery?
Since you know that you can expect to have some pain and swelling, you can take steps to minimize these unfortunate side effects of ACL surgery. Planning your ACL surgery recovery
in advance is the first step in speeding up the healing process, minimizing discomfort, and getting back on your feet faster.
Active cold compression therapy is a proven technique for reducing swelling after ACL surgery, or any other injury. The reasons that this type of therapy is so effective include:
- Active cold - Reducing the temperature around your knee joint has the effect of slowing down cellular metabolism. This means less cell death and fewer damaged cells that will need to be replaced. Slower cellular metabolism also reduces the need for oxygen in healthy cells, which means that there is more oxygen available for the tissues that are healing. Active cold allows you to maintain a consistent temperature, which means the therapeutic cold can penetrate to deeper tissues and have more impact on swelling in the entire joint.
- Active compression - The inflammatory response often includes excess fluid, which contributes to swelling after ACL surgery. Active compression helps pump away this excess fluid, giving you greater range of motion and reducing the amount of swelling that occurs in the knee.
- Adjustable wraps - A specialized wrap that includes both active cold and compression is the best way to get the benefits of both of these important therapies. Wraps that conform to the knee joint ensure that the most surface area will benefit from cryotherapy, and that the active compression will occur in all the areas surrounding the knee joint.
The Game Ready active cold compression system will help you reduce swelling after ACL surgery. Talk to your doctor about finding a system in your area, or rent your own system while you recover. Contact us to learn more or find Game Ready near you.
Whether you need ACL surgery as the result of a sports injury or from another type of accident, the recovery timeline
is similar for most people. A full recovery can take six to nine months to return to your pre-injury condition with full range of motion and stability in the knee joint.
The path to recovery involves several stages, each with recommended activities for helping you heal faster and return to normal activity. The more closely you follow your doctor's instructions, the more likely you are to speed up the recovery process.
The Path to ACL Surgery Recovery
Although full recovery takes several months, many people can return to low-impact activities within weeks after ACL surgery.
- Recovery starts immediately - Your body will start healing the day of your surgery, and you can help it by actively participating in your recovery. You will learn strengthening and stretching exercises that will help you regain range of motion in the knee joint and ensure that you return to normal activity as quickly as possible. You can help speed up the healing process in the first few days after ACL surgery with cold and compression therapy. Cryotherapy helps reduce pain and swelling, while simultaneous compression enhances the benefits of cold therapy and helps brings freshly oxygenated blood and vital nutrients to the damaged tissues.
- Most healing happens within weeks - As ACL surgery recovery progresses you will learn more exercises and increase the intensity of your physical therapy. You can continue cold and compression therapy through this phase, especially if you continue to experience swelling. Your doctor may also recommend a knee brace to immobilize the joint and control the angle of flexion in the knee.
- Full recovery takes time and patience - The months after initial ACL surgery recovery can be challenging, especially for athletes. Although the pain and swelling will go away relatively quickly, you must limit your activity until the tissues in your knee have completely healed. Adding too much activity or increasing the intensity too much can lead to re-injury or prolong the recovery process unnecessarily. Work with your physical therapist to find the right balance of activity and rest in the months after ACL surgery.
Although ACL surgery recovery can be challenging, most people make a full recovery and return to normal activity, especially if they remain committed to physical therapy. Adding cold and compression therapy during the early stages of recovery can also help speed up this timeline.
If you are interested in adding cold and compression therapy to your ACL surgery recovery, find a Game Ready provider near you today.
Have you had ACL surgery? How long did your recovery take?
One of the best ways to ensure that you make a speedy and full recovery after ACL surgery
is to include cryotherapy as part of your rehabilitation plan. Cryotherapy is simply defined as the application of therapeutic cold to an injury. The effects of this therapeutic cold are many, and like other types of therapy, there are techniques you can employ to ensure that you get the most from your efforts.
Why to Use Cryotherapy After ACL Surgery
Cryotherapy is proven to have the following benefits:
- Pain reduction - When you apply cold to any part of your body, the nerve fibers in the area reduce their activity, which lessens your perception of pain, providing an analgesic effect. Cryotherapy also has the effect of reducing muscular activity, which also contributes to a reduction in pain.
- Swelling control - Swelling is a natural part of the inflammatory response that your body will go through after ACL surgery. Although a little swelling is normal, and in fact beneficial, too much swelling can impede the healing process and be uncomfortable for you. Cryotherapy reduces swelling by causing your blood vessels to alternate between dilation and constriction, removing the excess waste and fluid that contributes to swelling.
- Edema reduction - Vasoconstriction and vasodilation also contribute to edema reduction with the same pumping effect that helps control swelling.
- Faster healing - All of these factors combine to contribute to an overall faster healing process. Being in less pain will allow you to comfortably perform the exercises that your physical therapist recommends, and the healing effects of cryotherapy will help you get back on your feet faster.
Enhancing Cryotherapy After ACL Surgery
One way to employ cryotherapy is with the use of ice packs. Although this has been an effective method for decades, modern technology has made major strides that allow you to enhance the benefits of cryotherapy.
One of the drawbacks of ice packs is that they heat up over time and become gradually less effective. New cryotherapy systems use an ice reservoir and a constantly circulating flow of cold water to provide a consistent application of therapeutic cold. In combination with specialized wraps that cover the entire area around the knee joint, you benefit from deeper-penetrating, longer-lasting cryotherapy
Adding active compression to cryotherapy enhances all of its benefits. Active pumping helps remove excess fluid while bringing even more fresh blood and fluid to the damaged tissues to stimulate faster healing.
Game Ready uses patented technology to provide simultaneous active compression with the application of consistent therapeutic cold. Ask your doctor about using Game Ready after ACL surgery or find a provider
Have you tried cryotherapy for other injuries?
One of the most common side effects after ACL or MCL surgery is swelling. This is a result of your body's natural reaction to trauma and is an essential component of the inflammatory response. Inflammation actually helps your body heal, but too much swelling can be uncomfortable and impede the recovery process.
So how do you reduce swelling after knee surgery? The traditional method is RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), and although this is effective, there is now a better way.
How to Reduce Swelling After ACL or MCL Surgery
The best way to safely reduce swelling after knee surgery is with active cold and compression. Although ice packs are useful, they warm up as heat from your body transfers from your skin to the ice pack. This makes the therapy less effective over time. Static compression is also beneficial for swelling, but it also comes with some drawbacks.
Active Cold Therapy
Cryotherapy is a proven method for reducing the pain and swelling that is associated with knee surgery. The ability to maintain a constant temperature throughout the session enhances the healing effects of the therapy and helps reduce swelling in the following ways:
- Reduction of cellular metabolism - The application of cold slows down the metabolism of your cells, which means that they consume less energy and do not have to work as hard to survive. It also reduces local swelling in cells and other tissues.
- Reduction of excess fluid - Edema, or excess fluid in the body contributes to swelling. Applying cold to the area helps reduce the build-up of this fluid.
- Vasodilation and vasoconstriction - When cold is applied to an area, the underlying blood vessels go through several cycles of dilating and constricting, which helps improve the flow of blood and other fluids, contributing to the reduction of swelling.
Active cold improves all of these cryotherapy benefits by constantly circulating cold water through a patented system and keeping the temperature consistent.
Active Compression Therapy
Static compression is used to reduce edema and swelling, but active compression is a much more effective method for achieving the same effects. Game Ready uses active pneumatic compression to pump air through a specialized wrap that fits around the entire knee joint. This active pumping mimics the body's muscular movements to remove excess fluid and bring fresh blood and nutrients to injured tissues.
The combination of active cold and compression in the Game Ready system can help you reduce swelling after MCL or ACL surgery. You can use this system both immediately after surgery to control pain and swelling, and throughout your recovery.
If you are interested in introducing active cold and compression therapy to your knee surgery recovery, consider renting a Game Ready system. Find a provider near you to learn more about Game Ready and how it can help you reduce swelling and pain.
How much swelling did you experience after knee surgery?
ACL surgery is like any other type of surgery in that your body suffers some trauma from which it must recover. The recovery process varies with each individual, but one thing you can count on is experiencing some pain. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the pain and even make your recovery faster.
In most cases, ACL surgery is scheduled in advance, so you have some time to prepare both mentally and physically. As you prepare for your surgery, consider how you can integrate each of the following steps into your recovery.
5 Steps to Reduce Pain after ACL Surgery
- Rest - Your body needs energy to heal itself. The more you allow yourself to rest, the more energy you make available for the healing process. It's especially important to rest the affected knee, especially immediately after ACL surgery when the healing tissues have the most work to do.
- Cryotherapy - Cold temperatures applied to damaged tissue help reduce pain and swelling. Using cryotherapy after your ACL surgery will help the healing tissues in your knee repair themselves faster with less pain.
- Compression - Edema, or the excess build-up of fluid, contributes to pain and discomfort after ACL surgery. Applying uniform compression around the knee joint can help reduce this fluid build-up. Active compression takes this benefit a step further by pumping fresh blood to the area, which helps contribute to faster healing.
- Healthy Living - The best thing you can do for yourself after ACL surgery is maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially throughout the recovery process. Giving your body the nutrients it needs and getting ample rest will help you heal faster and therefore reduce the amount of pain you are likely to endure.
- Physical Therapy - When you are able to re-introduce motion, typically a week or two after surgery, working with a physical therapist can help ensure that you regain full range of motion with minimal pain. Although it is important to improve strength and flexibility in the knee joint, too much activity can actually slow down the recovery process.
Of course, your doctor may prescribe pain medications, especially for the few days after ACL surgery when pain is typically at its highest. Always follow your physician's recommendations and maintain an open dialogue with them throughout the recovery process.
If you want to avoid or reduce the amount of pain medication you are likely to need, talk to your doctor about cold compression therapy. The Game Ready System provides active compression in combination with cold therapy to reduce pain, control swelling, and help speed up the recovery process. If you're getting ready for ACL surgery, locate a Game Ready provider near you.
How do you plan to help manage pain after your ACL surgery?