Anterior Cruciate Ligament is a band of tissues that connects the thighbone, shinbone, and patella or the kneecap and stabilizes your knee. ACL strains or injuries may be caused due to sudden movement, quickly changing direction during running, or landing wrong after jumping. Soccer players, or sportsperson engaged in basketball, football, tennis, volleyball, or gymnastics and athletes are more prone to getting ACL tear or injuries. People with ACL injuries experience knee swelling, pain along the joint line, and trouble standing or walking. The doctor may order x-rays to check for any fracture, MRI to evaluate the ACL, and may go for arthroscopy to diagnose the actual condition of joints and extent of ACL injury.
If your ACL is damaged slightly, your doctor will provide you anti-inflammatory medications and recommend getting expert physical therapy. Based on the extent of damage and your activity level, you will require ACL surgery when your ACL is poorly torn and you cannot walk properly as your knee gives way. When you consult a doctor for getting ACL reconstruction surgery in Philadelphia, your doctor would usually do an arthroscopic surgery that is minimally invasive and causes less scarring. It would take about an hour in which your doctor will remove all the damaged tissues and graft a tendon at the right spot. After surgery, you would require your knee to rest and wear a brace for joints protection.
Besides taking prescription drugs and pain medications, your doctor will recommend physical therapy exercises after ACL reconstruction surgery to strengthen muscles and ligaments. You will recover completely in 9-12 months and engage in sports again.
Your physical therapist will devise a tailored treatment or rehab program that will reduce knee pain and swelling, maintain mobility of the kneecap, and strengthen quadriceps and hamstring muscles. If you have injured your ACL that requires surgery, you should get physical therapy for at least three weeks before its surgery. Wearing a knee brace will protect your knee during this period. Patients with stiff, swollen knees before they undergo surgery are likely to experience trouble regaining full range of motion after surgery.
Here is a checklist of physical therapy exercises before and after ACL reconstruction surgery. However, you should only engage in the exercise program if your doctor recommends for the same:-
- Quad Sets and Straight Leg raises
These exercises aim to improve the functioning of the quadriceps and strength of the hamstring.
- Heel slides and stationary bicycling
These exercises help in restoring the range of motion in knees like bending and straightening fully.
- Hamstring sets and Curls with a resistance band
Doing these exercises will strengthen your hamstrings, which should be pain-free. If you feel pain during the training, you should stop it and discuss it with your physical therapist.
Besides this, you should do hip strengthening exercise and neuromuscular training to prepare you well for ACL surgery.
Post ACL surgery, your physical therapist will get you into a personalized rehab program that will help you walk after the third week of surgery and completely recover after 4-6 months of the surgery.
The complete rehab process will be in four phases, the length of which will depend on how your knee responds to the treatment plan and how soon you recover.
So, make no mistake to choose any physical therapist with dubious credentials. Find and rely only on a licensed, experienced physiotherapist for getting excellent services.