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ACL Injury Recovery

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ACL Injury Recovery - Introduction

ACL Injury recovery time is needed after any ACL ligament tear, or mild sprain.

It takes time to fully recover from an ACL knee injury.

Not allowing proper time for ACL rehabilitation and strengthening will cause the ACL injury to be easily aggravated, happening over and over again.

ACL soccer injury will need proper time to heal, combined with ACL rehab exercises to strengthen the injured ACL ligament before returning to the game and training.

Proper ACL injury treatment will depend on how severe the actual sprain, or tear of the ACL ligament is.

My personal advice from experience is to STOP playing if there is even a slightest chance that a knee injury has occurred.

Get off the field and apply ice to the knee. Once the body core temperature goes down, the extent of the injury can be assessed.

Playing any sport, running keeps the body warm and the injury may feel less severe than it really is, fooling the athlete into playing through minor pain.

By staying on the field and playing through this minor knee pain, the injury may get a lot worse than it originally was, needing a lot more time to recover than it originally would.

If an athlete feels like there is a slightest chance that their knee could be injured, STOP playing and trust your body by stepping off the field immediately and applying ice to the knee.

ACL injury recovery through RICE Method (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) and taking anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling can be used towards any mild sprain. 

Full range of motion in the knee and strength training is recommended before returning to any sport or activity.

Additional support to the knee should be applied by compressing the knee with a knee brace when walking. This will accelerate the healing process.

ACL surgery rehabilitation is different than minor strain or pull of the ACL ligament. 

After the surgery, Doctor will work out a plan with the athlete for post surgery treatment and rehabilitation.

ACL Injury Recovery - GRADE I

First degree ACL knee injury is caused by a sprain that causes small stretching of the ACL ligament, causing pain when the ligament is touched or the knee is fully bent.

  • 1 - 2 weeks break from training or running.
  • Minor swelling may occur so use of anti-inflammatory medicine can help with swelling.
  • RICE Method (Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate) will help accelerate ACL injury recovery time.
  • Knee exercises listed at the top of this page will help with strengthening the ACL Ligament, improving mobility and range of motion.  
  • First degree ACL injury rehab will keep an athlete away from the sport for about 2 weeks, however if the player comes back to training or playing with decreased range of motion and pain still present, ACL injury may get worse and sideline player for months instead of weeks.

ACL Injury Recovery - GRADE II

Second degree of the ACL knee ligament injury occurs when there is a more severe sprain or impact to the front or back of the knee. This causes the ACL ligament to stretch to the point of tearing some of the ligament fibers.

Second degree ACL Injury will follow with more severe pain at the moment it happens, but the pain shortly goes away in most cases.

Swelling and instability of the knee is the main indicator of the second degree ACL sprain.

  • Second degree ACL injury rehabilitation will require the use of a hinged knee brace when walking during the early stages of the injury (first 2 weeks).
  • Knee brace adds additional support to the knee, allowing the player to bend the knee with the support of the knee brace, also cutting the recovery time shorter.
  • RICE Method (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) to speed up recovery.
  • Use of anti-inflammatory medication to help with swelling.
  • Doing knee exercises once the pain subsides will help with the mobility and strengthening the injured ACL ligament.
  • Athletes can return to their sport once the pain and any instability in the knee are gone.
  • Grade II ACL injury recovery time is 4 - 6 weeks, and in some cases longer.

ACL Injury Recovery - GRADE III

Grade III ACL ligament injury happens with a more severe sprain or impact to the front or the back of the knee, causing a complete tear of the ACL ligament tendon.

Pain, bruising and swelling can be expected, with the inability to walk or step on the injured leg after an athlete suffers Grade III ACL injury tear.

In many cases, surgery is required to fix the torn ligament tendon for complete recovery.

  • Use of crutches or a knee brace is recommended during the first 1-2 weeks of the injury.
  • Immobilizing the knee should not last more than 1 week, because early range of motion will help in the healing process.
  • Once the athlete is able to bend the knee, start using the stationary bicycle to return range of motion.
  • Walking with progression to jogging should be started as the pain subsides and allows to do so.
  • Use of hinged brace after one week is very helpful to keep the knee stable, especially during the early stages of ACL injury rehab.
  • Use anti-inflammatory medication to help with swelling.
  • RICE Method treatment is recommended to speed up recovery (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate).
  • After 4 weeks, the knee should start feeling better and it will be time for knee exercises listed at the top of this page.
  • Athletes will need 3 - 6 months before returning to their sport, and should only return when there is no pain in the ACL ligament area. Recovery time can sometimes go longer depending on the athlete and doctors input.

For more information on ACL knee injury and treatment visit Different Knee Injuries and Rehabilitation.

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