During this football season, we’ve seen a few football players go down with an ACL tear and hear that they are “out for the season.” So what happens between the time we see them go down and return to play next season? Most likely, they have had surgery and are following a rigorous ACL rehabilitation designed by their physical therapist.
Their physical therapist probably had a few general goals in mind when they designed the football player’s program:
- Restore player to prior level of function
- Strengthen quadricep and hamstring muscles
- Increase range of motion and functional stability
- Return player to the field
- Decrease player’s risk for future injury
If you are personally familiar with a “pop” in the knee followed by pain and swelling, then you can go to the ORTHOKnox orthopaedic clinic in Knoxville, Tennessee, or Athens, Tennessee for a diagnosis. You can even visit the Knoxville ORTHOKnox orthopedic clinic without an appointment with orthopedic urgent care. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon is available to diagnose and reconstruct your ACL after a tear, and the on-site physical therapists can design and help you implement a rehabilitation plan, so you can get back to your prior level of function as soon as possible!
GENERAL ACL REHABILITATION PROGRAM
With the above general goals in mind, your physical therapist will perform an evaluation and discuss your personal goals with you to design a rehabilitation program that is specific to you. We have outlined a general exercise program below that ranges from 3 to 6 or more months. Your specific plan will vary according to your injury and goals, but the physical therapists at ORTHOKnox are determined to work with you to get back to your sport, work, or daily life as soon as possible.
- Immediately After Surgery
- Reduce swelling with RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
- Restore extension range of motion with stretches
- Regain quadricep control with exercises (calf raises, straight leg raises, quad sets)
- Walk with crutches
As your swelling goes down and range of motion begins to return, your new goal may become to normalize your gait.
- As You Progress After Surgery
- Add cardio (stationary bike)
- Increase stretches
- Add partial squats, step ups, and bridges
- Add lateral step-overs for balance
As your gait normalizes, your next goal may be to avoid post-exercise pain and swelling.
- About 6–8 Weeks
- Add more cardio (elliptical, swimming)
- Increase strengthening and functional strengthening
If you are no longer experiencing pain or swelling and have a normal gait, then your training may become more specific to your fitness or return to sport goals.
- About 9–12 Weeks
- Your PT will determine if you can demonstrate quadricep and hamstring fitness
If your quadricep and hamstring strength is sufficient, then you may be clear to return to your running and fitness programs during months 3 to 5. Most PTs will recommend avoiding full practice, full contact, and full play until after 6 or more months post-surgery, depending on the progress.
GETTING TREATMENT FOR AN ACL TEAR
With its on-site physical therapists, board-certified surgeon, and Urgent Orthopaedic Care that is available without an appointment, ORTHOKnox has got you covered. For more information about how ORTHOKnox can treat your ACL tear, call (865) 251-3030, or fill out our easy-to-use online appointment request form. We look forward to hearing from you!