12th May 2021
ACL Surgery Recovery: 5 Awesome Tips To Get Back on Your Legs FasterDr. Devan Patel, PharmD
Maybe you had a terrible accident, perhaps you landed in an awkward position during a basketball game. Either way, that dreaded 'pop' sound from the knee usually means damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) - it's a scary thing to happen.
Generally, athletes are more prone to ACL tears and damage. Since athletes and sports players require a functioning ACL, doctors often recommend ACL surgery.
During surgery, doctors make small incisions in the area and replace the torn ACL with a piece of the patient's tendon. ACL surgery recovery afterwards involves months of physical therapy, proper diet, and a break from any strenuous physical activity. However, with the proper lifestyle adjustments, you can expect a quicker recovery.
If you’re wondering how you can recover sooner after your ACL surgery, we’ve outlined 5 key tips for a speedy recovery, below.
1. Take Physical Therapy Seriously and Slowly
One of the worst parts of ACL surgery recovery for athletes, in particular, is to not push yourself to your limits. There might be a temptation to walk a little faster than you're supposed to or do more strengthening reps than recommended by your physical therapist.
Doing this will only prolong your recovery time. Besides that, it can lead to more damage and pain. During physical therapy, it's important to follow exactly what your physical therapist recommends. This means a slow and gradual increase in the exercises done during your therapy sessions. If you feel like you're capable of more, ask your PT if it's appropriate to do so
2. Cold Therapy
During ACL surgery recovery, pain and swelling are bound to happen. It's the body's natural response to healing the ACL. Thankfully, it's only prominent in the first week of surgery, but doctors do recommend continual cold therapy throughout recovery. A cold therapy device will help reduce the overall pain and swelling you experience in your knee.
Beyond that, it also assists in tissue healing. Cold therapy allows more blood and lymphatic flow to the injured area which provides the surrounding tissue with an adequate supply of nutrients that the blood carries.
3. Stick with Recommended Pain Medication
The pain and swelling you feel after surgery will cause a lot of discomforts. All doctors prescribe medication such as opioids and other over-the-counter meds to relieve the throbbing sensation in your knee. It's important to follow the exact recommended directions, - no more, no less.
With the pain and swelling regulated, you can gain the strength and momentum to start physical therapy and other exercises sooner. The sooner you can get up and start moving, the quicker you can recover from your ACL surgery
4. Take The Proper Vitamins and Minerals
Our bodies need the proper nutrients and vitamins to heal and recover - it's undeniable. Specific vitamins provide our body with the fuel it needs to repair the torn ACL. While it may not lead to immediate drastic results, you will find your recovery period to be shorter with a good diet in place.
For example, vitamin C has been shown in a few research studies to improve tendon healing after an ACL surgery. Restoring the ACL was found to be much more effective when vitamin C was consumed.
Additionally, vitamins and minerals play a role in healing the wound after ACL surgery. As mentioned before, doctors must make small incisions in the knee to replace the torn ACL. Vitamin C, zinc, vitamin E and l-glutamine for example help speed up the wound healing process.* They either boost our immune system to prevent infection or assist in skin production.*
A supplement like WoundVite has the recommended dose of each vitamin to ensure quicker wound healing and speedy recovery.* It's packed with 21 vitamins and nutrients that play a huge role in wound care and tissue repair.*
5. Take Care of Your Mental and Physical Well-Being
During this time, it's not only important to care about your physical health but your mental health as well. For many athletes recovering from surgery, the yearning to get back to the gym or sports activities is at an all-time high. There might also be the fear of performing at the same level after ACL surgery. This can place a big toll on your mental well-being.
That's why it's important to reach out to your support group during this time. Journaling, spending time outside, even something like meditation can improve your mental health as well. This coupled with the proper diet and sleep will ensure that you have the motivation to continue physical therapy and gain a positive outlook on the next steps.
ACL Surgery Recovery: Takeaway message
There are many ways to quicken ACL surgery recovery. When you take all of these tips into consideration, you'll find that the recovery period will fly by. Like all back and leg related surgeries, while in recovery the shoes you wear after back surgery or ACL surgery are very important. Before you know it, you'll be back on the field running, jumping, and active as never before.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.