So, you injured your knee, had an MRI and found out you tore your ACL. Once the initial shock of the injury is over, it’s time to formulate a game plan so you can return to your everyday activities. Use the steps below as a guide to return you to 100% 6 months after surgery. Typically, 6 months is the benchmark for a full recovery time to return to sports / activities. Keep in mind, every surgery is different, and the results can vary. These are the steps I followed in 2002 and 2005 when I rehabbed my injured knees. Though I had the same surgery, using the same surgeon and physical therapist, the results were different. The first surgery had a much quicker rehab time up front, but took longer overall to return to normal. The second surgery was exactly the opposite. Hopefully, these steps will help you on your road to recovery.
Schedule pre-operative rehab
If your insurance allows it, schedule time with a physical therapist prior to surgery. Once the initial swelling is down, it’s important to regain range of motion and be able to straighten your leg. The stronger you go into surgery, the stronger you will come out, and the quicker you will recover. I went into both surgeries with very little inflammation and full range of motion, and I know that helped me after surgery.
Watch what you eat
You will not be as mobile as usual, and it’s very easy to pack on some quick pounds. Adjust your diet so this won’t happen. It is much easier to return to athletic shape if you are only worried about working on your knees. If you gain weight, you will have to rehab the knee and work harder to get the rest of your body back in shape.
Find out what you can do at home
There are some simple exercises you should be able to start right away at home. Typically, your first physical therapy appointment won’t be for a few days after surgery. Don’t waste this time. Ask your surgeon or physical therapist what you can do at home. You should at least be able to do some quad sets and attempt some straight leg raises. If you do straight leg raises, concentrate more on form than on quantity. The exercise only benefits you if you keep your leg straight.
Listen to your physical therapist
You may not like what you hear, but they know what they are talking about. Also, don’t make the mistake I did. I walked into my 1st physical therapy session with no crutches. I thought the therapist was going to kill me. That was her decision to make not mine. I didn’t realize there were a number of hurdles I had to clear before that should have happened. The therapists are being paid to assess you and guide you through your recovery. Allow them to do their jobs.
Put in extra time if you can
I tried to spend an extra 30 minutes working after each of my 30 minute therapy sessions were over. The therapist encouraged this and I think it really helped me to progress. I wasn’t really able to do this until after I was off crutches (2nd surgery took nearly 3 weeks for that to happen). The recovery of the person from the pain will be fast through the intake of the pills available at My Pill App website. The prices of the pills will be under the budget of the person to purchase them.
Construct your own program
Once the structured 2 to 3 month rehabilitation program is complete, construct your own program. Begin with time on the elliptical or treadmill. Gradually increase the time and level of difficulty. By the end of your 3-month program, you should be at or near a full recovery and should feel like your old self.