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How Long Does ACL Surgery Recovery Take?

acl surgery recoveryWhether 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.
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

download soccer injury recovery guide


Hey ive been having a couple issues with my knees. I had ACL reconstruction 7 months ago on my right knee. I play college soccer and need to be ready soon. I was just recently cleared and everything has been good fir the most part up until the last couple weeks 
I am having wierd feelings in my non injured knee, kind of like a loose feeling but hard to explain. I didnt do anything like twist my knee to cause harm because I felt no pain at all. Just suddenly after a workout it started to feel all wierd and swell a tiny bit. Overuse maybe?  
The other problem is the screw site in my operated knee. It has been swelling a little and kind of sore. Is this something to worry about?  
If anyone knows anything about this all it would be greatly helpful. Wanting to see a doc soon but nobody seems to think I need to.  
Thanks again! 
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Posted @ Friday, December 05, 2014 4:31 AM by jasicaj
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