Early recovery from various types of injury has been a concern amongst the active individuals of the sports industry. Accordingly, a torn anterior cruciate ligament and ACL surgery recovery has been reported to be a quite painful and expensive process.
As per the estimated recovery timeline, a person who has undergone ACL surgery can take approximately 6-9 months to recover, which has to be accompanied by the slow and continuous rehabilitation programme. Accordingly, experts have suggested that with the planned physiotherapy and another rehabilitation programme, a person can be able to strengthen his muscles locally and regain independence.
Read on further to learn more about how to heal faster post ACL surgery recovery.
What is ACL Surgery?
Anterior cruciate ligament is a connection, extended from the thighbone towards tibia that is commonly known to be as shinbone. The primary function of ACL ligament is to keep knee joints functionally active.
The damage associated with ACL surgery recovery can put a lot of pressure on knees, which may further result in extensive pain while walking. For athletes, torn ligaments can have a major impact on their professional as well as personal lives.
If the ligament is slightly damaged due to excessive strain, it may heal over the period of time due to excessive physiotherapy and training undertaken with expert’s guidance. However, in the case of the ligament that is completely torn, its replacement with fresh and healthy tissue is the only option to regain functional attributes.
How does ACL surgery take place?
During ACL surgery recovery, a tendon is obtained from some other parts of the body and is replaced with the torn ligament. While placing the graft at a right place, a surgeon will drill two holes – one above the knee and another below the joint. These holes act as a tunnel on which the graft is being fitted to be a sort of bridge, upon which the new ligament will grow.
It can take several days to many months for the growth of a new ligament. However, the ACL surgery recovery can be enhanced at a faster rate, if the guidelines are being followed properly.
Tips to heal faster at a recovery
The process of recovery can be accelerated through the implementation of certain lifestyle habits, such as:
Although obvious, getting enough rest during the ACL surgery recovery is the key for faster healing.While resting, the body turns on itself on a recovery mode, allowing all the vital tissues of the body to be functionally activepost ACL surgery recovery. Though many people tend to get back to their day to day routine immediately post-surgery, it is generally not advisable due to excessive stress that can be imposed on the torn ligament when in an active state.
Cold therapy, also commonly known to be as cryotherapy, is characterized with the application of ice packs, ice baths, various cold therapy systems or incubation in the cryotherapy chambers, immediately after the injury. Experts have advised thatapplication of ice immediately helps to reduce swelling, subside inflammatory effects in the body by lowering the temperature, restrict the flow of oxygenated blood towards the site of injury and delay cellular metabolism; in order to allow faster ACL surgery recovery.
The primary aim of this therapy is to reduce the flow of oxygenated blood and control the immune response in the body. This is achieved to further reduce swelling, and control pain. Thus, medical specialists support the fact that elevating injured areas above the level of the heart may facilitate restriction of blood flow; and hence, suggest to keep injured legs elevated by using pillows while the patient is comfortably sleeping. It is a good idea to reduce swelling and further helps in faster ACL surgery recovery.
Certain steroidal medications are available – like NSAIDS, that can be helpful in reducing the inflammation and ineffective pain management. However, the patient has to be careful in following guidelines prescribed on the leaf before consuming the same. Long term consumption of steroidal medicines can cause a number of side effects, that are either short terms like mood swings, weight gain etc. or long term that associated with damage to the important internal organs. And hence, experts recommend limiting the consumption of steroidal medications.
Application of pressure immediately post-injury helps restrict the flow of oxygenated blood flow towards the site of injury. This, in turn, is helpful to delay the cellular response towards the injury, and hence control pain, swelling as well as inflammation. The compression can be applied either through the available different types of bandages, like a static bandage, elastic bandages etc. or with the help of compression devices. However, it should be noted that the pressure applied for compression has to be optimum to prevent further complications and decrease the recovery timeline.
How to reduce swelling for specific injuries for faster ACL surgery recovery.
Although the body creates an inflammatory response which is consistent throughout the body, immediately post-injury, specific actions implemented without any delay can minimize swelling.
For foot injuries, elevation therapy, cryotherapy, and compression through elastic bandages can be helpful in reducing swelling and minimize pain.
This can be taken care similarly as with foot injuries. Patients may also consider wearing an ankle brace to apply consistent static compression and help redirect excess fluid.
Swelling in knee injuries can limit the movement of the individual to a great extent and it is quite frustrating. In the case of lack of mobility, application of consistent pressure through crutch, cane as well as another assistive device can be helpful in keeping pressure off the leg and facilitate faster recovery.
Rehabilitation: Post ACL surgery recovery
Rehabilitation is an essential and integral part of the ACL surgery and is generally identified to be for two to six months depending upon the rate at which the patient is recovering. As per the goals and physical requirement, a doctor can suggest a specific rehabilitation approach like core specific programmes to regain physical strength and stability, injury specific programmes to help allow faster recovery or sport-specific programmes.
When to seek an expert’s medical advice?
If the patient raises any concerns related to healing or infections, such as:
- Blood oozing out through bandages
- Fluid-filled discharge through surgery incisions
- Pain or swelling in the lower extremities of the foot
- Consistent unbearable pain
Although ACL surgery has been proven to be fast and effective, the recovery time is variable depending upon individual body type. Hence, it is always better to allow ACL surgery recovery at its own pace without stressing too much.