How Long Does ACL Rehab Take?

ACL Injury Recovery

ACL rehab can vary significantly with the length of time it can take one individual vs. another. Moreover, the type of graft used and surgeon preference can affect your healing timeline. Additional surgical procedures performed along with the ACL reconstruction, such as meniscus repairs or cartilage repairs, can also affect how fast you progress.  

image of anatomy of the kneeAnatomy of the knee
Exactly how long the ACL graft takes to heal completely is often open for debate. Since certain sports and activities will place a higher demand on the ACL, more healing may be necessary before full sports participation. Most orthopedic physicians agree that a minimum of six months is needed before returning to competitive sports. However, because of the potential risks of re-injury, most recommend waiting seven to nine months.  Working with a physical therapist during ACL rehab will help strengthen muscles around the knee.

Read these articles to learn How to Prevent ACL Tears or to learn about the Anatomy of the Knee.

How Long Does it Take to Fully Bend Your Knee After ACL Surgery?  

image of physical therapist working with patient in ACL rehabPhysical therapy will help with the range of motion for your knee

Full knee flexion after ACL surgery is typically achieved gradually over time, with about 90 degrees of knee flexion reached by the end of week one post-op and full knee flexion achieved by week 4-6. When the patient can control their range of motion progression, their perceived fear of pain is reduced, and their motion often comes back easier.

How Long are You Non-weight Bearing After ACL Surgery?

Your body is most vulnerable the first two weeks after surgery is critical during the recovery process. ACL surgery is a traumatic experience for your muscles, ligaments, and other tissues, which is why the body responds with inflammation. During the period immediately after ACL surgery, an individual may experience elevated pain and swelling around the knee joint. 

The ACL rehab process starts right after the surgery. During this time, your ability to bear weight on the affected leg may be limited, so plan on using crutches and restrict your mobility for at least 7-14 days after surgery. Even though individuals may use crutches for the first 1-2 weeks after surgery, they will begin to bear weight as tolerated while still using the crutches for added support and transition to full weight-bearing status. Once the patient feels comfortable/stable without the crutches for added support, they can begin to ambulate independently at their tolerance, which typically takes place in the first 2-4 wks after surgery  

How Soon Can You Walk During ACL Rehab?

Patients typically walk unassisted for short periods within the first 2-4 weeks after ACL reconstructive surgery. After approximately 8-10 weeks, patients should be able to walk briskly. After 12-16 weeks, they can consider implementing light jogging and eventually more advanced plyometric exercise. Working with your physical therapist on a home ACL rehab will ensure a more positive outcome.

Can You Recover from an ACL Surgery in 6 Months?  

Yes and no, if an individual’s previous level of function was not that high to begin with, and they are not attempting to get back to any specific sports activities, then the answer is yes. However, when it comes to returning to sport, very few if any, athletes are ready to return to sport at six months. Furthermore, the duration of time it takes to regain range of motion, build sufficient strength, power, force absorption/production, complete a return to run a program, and eventually, a customized and well-structured return to sport program is much greater than six months. Additionally, multiple studies have found that athletes who go back to sport nine months after surgery have a much higher risk of re-tearing their ACL. That's why ACL rehab is key to recovery.

Read this article to learn more about ACL Surgery.

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Knee Doctors in Jacksonville

Many types of knee injuries can occur. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage can be strained and sprained. It is really important to have your knee pain properly diagnosed by an orthopedic physician. JOI Rehab also has 12 Physical Therapy locations, which can certainly help you on the road to recovery. With over 90 Rehab Clinicians trained in providing you with the highest quality of orthopedic care.  For an appointment, please call 904-858-7045.

To schedule an appointment for physical therapy at one of the 12 JOI Rehab Centers, please call 904-858-7045.

JOI MD's now offer quick fracture care. Make an appointment by calling (904)JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below...

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