Although the procedure itself is often done on an outpatient basis, recovering from ACL surgery is a longer process. After it has been repaired, the anterior cruciate ligament needs time to heal from the trauma of surgery. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to accelerate healing.
4 Ways to Speed Up ACL Surgery Recovery
A return to normal activity can take four to six months for most people, but of course every case is different. If you are an athlete, it can take even longer to return to your previous fitness level. It is important not to do too much too soon or you risk injuring the tissue again. Always consult with your doctor, but consider these tips for a faster recovery:
- Keep it cold - Cryotherapy is proven to help accelerate the healing process. It does this by reducing metabolic activity on the cellular level, which helps limit tissue damage and frees up more oxygen for healing. You will also get the benefit of reduced pain, which may help you limit the amount of analgesic medication required after ACL surgery.
- Use compression - Although static compression is beneficial for reducing swelling and edema, you can achieve more therapeutic benefit with active compression. Because it mimics the body's natural pumping motions, active compression helps improve lymphatic drainage and circulation of blood and oxygen, both of which help stimulate tissue repair and help you heal faster.
- Elevate your leg - Elevation is particularly useful in the first weeks after surgery when you have more excess fluid in the knee joint. It is important to support your leg with a pillow or other soft object at the ankle or foot and not under the knee joint as this can actually hinder your recovery.
- Start physical therapy as soon as possible - The faster you can fully straighten your leg, the faster your recovery will be. Full joint extension is one of the primary indicators of recovery and typically the main focus of rehab after ACL surgery. Work with your physical therapist to set realistic goals for your recovery and to learn exercises that will help you get there.
The Game Ready cold and compression therapy system comes with specialized wraps to fully envelop the knee joint and the surrounding area. This provides an advantage over ice packs because you get better coverage and the therapeutic cold penetrates deeper. Because the system constantly circulates cold water through an ice reservoir, the target temperature remains the same throughout the session, which is proven to provide better results.
The active cold and compression that the patented system provides helps remove edema and reduce swelling so you have less discomfort during the recovery process. If you're ready to try Game Ready after your ACL surgery, ask your doctor about it or locate a provider near you.
What is your ACL surgery recovery goal?