When you begin your Healing Joints program, our initial treatments for an ACL injury will focus on decreasing pain and swelling in the knee. We may recommend rest and mild pain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), to help decrease your symptoms.
You may need to use crutches until you can walk without a limp. Most of our ACL reconstruction patients are instructed to put a normal amount of weight down while walking. Our Physical Therapist will treat swelling and pain with the use of ice, electrical stimulation, and rest periods with your leg supported in elevation.
Our Physical Therapist may apply treatments such as electrical stimulation and ice to reduce pain and swelling. We then gradualy add exercises to improve knee range of motion and strength to help you regain normal movement of joints and muscles.
Our Physical Therapist will have you begin range-of-motion exercises right away, with the goal of helping you swiftly regain full movement in your knee. This may include the use of a stationary bike, gentle stretching, and careful pressure applied to the knee by the Physical Therapist. We will also give you exercises to improve the strength of your hamstring and quadriceps muscles. As your symptoms ease and strength improves, we will guide you in specialized exercises to improve knee stability.
Our Physical Therapist may suggest use of an ACL brace. This type of brace is usually custom-made and not the type you can buy at the drugstore. It is designed to improve knee stability when the ACL doesn't function properly.
We often recommend an ACL brace when the knee is unstable and surgery is not planned. As mentioned, a torn ACL that isn't corrected often leads to early knee arthritis. There is no evidence that an ACL brace will prevent further damage to the knee due to wear and tear arthritis. The ACL brace may help keep your knee from giving way during moderate activity. However, it can give a false sense of security and won't always protect the knee during sports that require heavy cutting, jumping, or pivoting. Our Physical Therapists will often recommend wearing a brace for at least one year after a surgical reconstruction, so even if you decide to have ACL surgery, a brace is probably a good investment.
Although the time required for recovery varies, nonsurgical rehabilitation for a torn ACL typically lasts six to eight weeks. You can return to your sporting activities when your quadriceps and hamstring muscles are back to nearly their full strength and control, you are not having swelling that comes and goes, and you aren't having problems with the knee giving way.
If you undergo surgery, you will probably be involved in a Healing Joints progressive rehabilitation program for about four to six months after surgery to ensure the best result from your ACL reconstruction. At first, expect to see our Physical Therapist about two to three times a week. If your surgery and rehabilitation go as planned during the first six weeks, you may only need to do a home program and see our Physical Therapist every few weeks over the four to six month period.
At Healing Joints, our goal is to help speed your recovery so that you can more quickly return to your everyday activities. When your recovery is well under way, regular visits to our office will end. Although we will continue to be a resource, you will be in charge of doing your exercises as part of an ongoing home program.
Healing Joints provides services for Physical Therapy in Edison & Parsippany.