If you’ve never torn an ACL before, then you might only know the term from professional sports injuries. The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the four primary ligaments in your knee. It connects the tibia to the femur through your knee. Fortunately, recovery is possible, and there are things you can do to speed the process up.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, healthcare providers assess ACL tears on a three-tier scale:
- Grade One: The ligament is stretched but can still stabilize your knee joint when you stand up or move around.
- Grade Two: This is a rare situation where the ligament is stretched and has been loosened but it is also partially torn.
- Grade Three: These severe injuries are when the ligament is physically torn into two different pieces.
ACL tears don’t always happen alone. They might be accompanied by other injuries to:
- Articular cartilage
- Collateral ligaments
- Joint capsule
Don’t wait for your doctor to diagnose your ACL injury before starting treatment. You can’t know for sure it’s your ACL until you are checked out, but you’re likely to hear and feel something pop out of place and be in serious pain.
Follow the RICE treatment protocol:
- R: Get rest.
- I: Apply cold treatment to the affected knee.
- C: Use compression to expedite internal healing.
- E: Elevate the leg.
Do these things until you can see your doctor. At that point, follow their directions for care.
Once you are officially diagnosed, you’ll have to make a decision about surgery. ACL tears do not heal by themselves.
People who aren’t that active in their lifestyle might opt to forego surgery. However, if you want to be able to do all the physical activities you could before you got injured, then you’ll need to opt for surgery.
Once the surgery is done, you’ll need to know what to do post-surgery:
- Be Patient: The anesthesia will wear off eventually, but everyone is different. Have someone around all the time until it does.
- Wound Care: ACL surgery can be minimally invasive, so don’t worry right now about scars that might heal over time. Do make sure you keep your incision clean to prevent infection.
- Take It Easy: You may not feel great for a while. Be sure you eat and drink enough, and keep up with your basic personal hygiene. Be prepared for some time off from work.
- Call With Questions: You’ll head out of the hospital with information about your recovery, be it online, paperwork, or both. Call your doctor or nurse with any questions you have about things you don’t understand.
- Drink Lots of Fluids: Drinking enough was already mentioned, but it’s worth repeating for a torn ACL. Hydration prevents muscle spasms that could slow down your recovery.
- Stay Humble: A torn ACL is a very humbling experience. The end goal is literally being able to stand on your own again, but for now, you need to contact friends and family anytime you need help.
Your post-surgery might actually feel worse than you did before the surgery. Just remember that you’re in the end game.
Several hundred thousand ACL tears happen across the country every year. Given that, quite a bit is known about recovering from them, such as how long it takes. The average recovery time after surgery is between eight and 10 months. Having said that, some people are able to recover in just six months with the help of Arrowhead Clinic walk in chiropractors.
A torn ACL was once something that might end a professional athlete’s career, and even everyday people need healthy ACLs for stability in their knees. Recovery from a torn ACL has come a long way, and several NBA stars have made full comebacks of their own. Follow in their footsteps by using this information to recover quickly and fully.