Undergoing and Recovering from ACL Surgery

Wednesday, February 05, 2014 10:55 AM

skiierFor an athlete there is nothing worse than suffering a sports injury that takes him/her out of competition. While some injuries require more rest and rehabilitation than others, those who undergo surgery for an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury need to take it slow before heading  back into play.

In most cases, ACL surgery is done through small incisions, or arthroscopic surgery, rather than open surgery. Not only does this help reduce scarring and decrease recovery time but it can also help reduce complications and risks. Often the surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, meaning the patient won’t have to spend even a night in the hospital. Outpatient surgery doesn’t make recovery any less serious, however. 

Patrick Birmingham, MD, Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine at NorthShore, shares his tips for ensuring a safe and speedy recovery from ACL surgery:

  • Follow your doctor's orders. The last thing you want after you’ve undergone surgery is to suffer from an infection. Make sure your incision stays properly dressed, clean and dry to reduce this risk.  Don’t submerge under water until your doctor says it’s OK.
  • Be vigilant about your physical rehabilitation schedule or routine. It may take months or up to a year to return to some of the same activities you were involved in prior to your surgery. Be sure to stay in close contact with your physical therapist and don’t forget to do any recommended exercises at home, too.
  • Don’t be afraid to rest. If you are sore, remember to ice and elevate. Don’t push yourself beyond your comfort level. You should be able to manage your pain, and when you can’t, rest.  It’s also very important to get restful sleep because this will aid your recovery as well.
  • Follow instructions carefully. The tendon graft can take from six to twelve weeks to heal, so all of the post-operative instructions should be followed to protect the graft.

Have you had ACL surgery or know someone who has? 

 

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