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I Have an ACL Injury – What’s Next?

You hear a “popping” sound coming from your knee and it immediately starts to hurt. Within a few minutes your knee is swollen and it hurts to walk on it.

You think you might have hurt your anterior cruciate ligament (“ACL”), so the first thing to do is probably go to a sports therapist or doctor who has experience in dealing with sports related injuries, and verify that you do in fact have an ACL injury.

The knee is a very complex joint, so it’s possible that the injury is something else, even if some of the symptoms would otherwise just an ACL tear.
Assuming you do have an injury, what do you do now?

The next step is to determine how serious of an injury you have. ACL injuries can range from very small tears in the ACL, to complete tears or detachment from the upper or lower ACL terminus.

Depending on the nature of the injury you’re dealing with, your healing and rehabilitation process can vary greatly. Your rehabilitation must be properly matched to the scope of your injury.

If you have a minor ACL injury, you should be able to heal yourself following a standard “RICE” treatment protocol, meaning that you:

Rest your knee and not engage in any strenuous training activity;

Ice your knee several times a day to reduce any swelling that may still exist;

Compression therapy for the entire knee joint; and

Elevating the knee to further help reduce swelling.

More I have an ACL Injury – Whats Next? Details

If your ACL injury is more serious, then you might be forced to undergo ACL repair or reconstructive surgery. After surgery, you can expect a significantly longer recovery period, and won’t be able to get by with just RICE treatment.

Instead you’ll probably need to undergo a comprehensive rehabilitation program.  In order to manage and follow a rehabilitation program you’ll need to seek professional assistance.

Your rehabilitation program might take up to a year, depending on the severity of your injury. A standard rehabilitation program will begin roughly a week or two after surgery.

The first stage will be working on your knee’s range of motion. Surgery will create scar tissue that needs to be broken down; otherwise it can be an additional hurdle to full recovery.

Increasingly harder and more stressful activities will be added to your rehabilitation program over time. Your own perception of your knee’s strength isn’t a reliable indicator of where you are in the rehabilitation progression.

An experienced physical therapist knows how to evaluate the strength and health of a reconstructed knee, and how to adjust your rehabilitation program to match your progression.

Going too fast in your rehabilitation is a serious threat to be guarded against. Putting too much stress on your knee before it’s adequately recovered can set your rehabilitation schedule back weeks or even months.

The goal of rehabilitation is to get yourself back to your former levels of training – rather than simply get through the rehabilitation itself – and using the services of a professional therapist can help you achieve this goal.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • rodney

    I am a marine engineer and injured my knee whilst playing football. Below is how my MRI report reads. Kindly suggest remedial options. I am not in favour of a surgery at the moment as I am ready to give up playing football.

    A plain MR of the left knee joint was performed on high field 1.5 Tesla scanner.

    Normal femoro-tibial and patello-femoral alignment is seen. There is osseous contusion noted in postero-lateral tibial plateau. Rest of the bones show normal marrow signal. The femoro-tibial and patello-femoral joint space and articular margins are normal.
    Grade I strain of LCL is noted. No disruption of the fibres is seen.
    There is near complete tear of ACL from femoral site of attachment. Few remnant fibres are seen.
    The ACL and PCL are normal. The MCL appears normal. The anterior supporting structures, medial and lateral patellar retinacula are normal.
    Medial meniscus is normal. Lateral meniscus is normal.
    Minimal effusion noted.

     Osseous contusion in postero-lateral tibial plateau.
     Grade I strain of LCL is noted. No disruption of the fibres is seen.
     Near complete tear of ACL from femoral site of attachment. Few remnant fibres are seen.
     Minimal effusion.
    Thanks for ur help

  • Ismail Askani

    I am soccer player and sprinter .I injured my knee while playing soccer .i visite many doctors,some said you have to surgery of acl and some saying you have to rest for 1 to 3 month.one of them plaster (bandage) my leg with knee and said he will off this plaster after month,today is 20 daynof plaster and i have not seen any improvements on my knee :( .
    Please suggest me some good treatment i want to recontinue my activities.according to my MRI reports
    MRI right knee
    Bone bruise in the lateral femoral condyle with possible underlying micro fracture.
    Mild joint effusion seen.
    High grade partial tear of ACL at its femoral attachment with midly thickened and buckled posterior criciate ligament however not tear seen.
    Partial tear of the medical collateral ligament at its tibial attachment.
    Subcutaneous edema seen along the postero-medical aspect of the knee joint .

  • Hope

    I tore my ACL playing basketball in January of this year and had surgery February 1. I have been doing physical therapy three times a week but this week I’m doing two times a week now and exercises at home. It is march 22 and I have had almost two months of physical therapy. They used my platella tendon to fix it Cus it was a complete tear. I plan to be back in August for volleyball high school season or at least middle of August. Is that too soon? I work really hard and I’m an athlete and want to be back in 6 months but I’ve heard people say it’s usually 9 months so that worries me but I know it’s important to not return too soon just need some realistic advice and encouragement

  • My name is Ali Ushtar, I had a knee injury on 16th June,2016 while facing a sliding tackle in football,I twisted my right knee..then due to pain ,I got my x-ray done,it was normal,but when late in January2017 I got my MRI done,it stated that I had grade 1 to 2 tear in posterior horns of lateral and mideval meniscus,rest everything was fine, I visited 2 to three doctors ,one of them said that I should go form physiotherapy and two said that I should go for Arthroscopy in this way it would get better,I waited 5 to six months more,by then I was 80 percent fine,then again I twisted my leg while I wrongly jumped,then after a month I got another MRI done ,there was a bit tear in the posterior horns( lateral and medieval)and ACL was not visible,the orthopedic checked through clinical methods and he was doubtful of an ACl tear as well,he recommended arthroscopy,so I have undertaken that now,in which the doctor said that in actual I had a partial tear of ACl so he removed that part and leaving behind the stable or intact part of ACl ,and according to him rest everything was intact and fine including the meniscus……Please tell me how much time will i require to be back to normal and in two months I have to join Military…I have started the rehab process through a physiotherapist,as well …. please do reply with your ideas….

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