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.