Phone: 973-940-3166
Fax: 973-940-3170
Billing: 570-386-2366

Your Game Plan for Recovering from ACL Surgery


It’s no fun being sidelined by an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. But a realistic understanding of what recovery entails can help you prepare for the process of getting back to the activities you love.

Here’s an overview of what to expect during recovery:

Prehab: Your doctor may suggest you start physical therapy even before surgery to strengthen the muscles that support your ACL. At least one study suggests that going into surgery with that baseline of strength can improve outcomes.

0 to 2 weeks. You’ll go home the same day as your surgery, but don’t plan on doing much. Ideally, you’ll have someone at home to help you out for the first few days.

You will have to stay off the affected leg, so you’ll be walking on crutches. You will need to prop your leg frequently to reduce swelling. Plan on using lots of ice.

Also, be sure to keep your bandages and the incision site clean to prevent infection.

Your rehab will start immediately, with exercises to prevent blood clots and straighten your knee so that you maintain full range of motion in the future.

Expect to be off work for a few days, or possibly longer, depending on how physically demanding your job is.

If you’re doing well, you may be able to start putting weight on the affected leg a week or two after the surgery.

2 to 6 weeks: Although recovery times vary from person to person, around this time, you should be off crutches and be strong enough to drive. You may be fitted with a brace. You’ll start working with a physical therapist if you haven’t already.

The therapist will work with you on activities to regain strength and range of motion. You’re likely to be using light weights or sport cords and working out on a stationary bike. Follow your therapist’s instructions carefully. Doing either too much or too little can jeopardize your recovery.

6 weeks to 3 months. You will continue physical therapy, and at this point, you’ll probably be able to take part in low-impact sports like rowing, swimming, and cycling.

3 to 6 months. The end is in sight. You may be able to start light jogging at this point. You’ll continue working with the physical therapist to strengthen the muscles supporting your knee. He or she will also teach you exercises that you should continue indefinitely to avoid another injury.

6 months on. If your rehab has gone well, you will be able to return to your previous level of activity. Your doctor may want you to continue wearing a brace for a few more months.

With a combination of patience and hard work, you should emerge from ACL surgery strong and ready to take on the world!

For more information about this procedure, please call Specialty Surgical Center today to speak with a representative. We would be happy to schedule a consultation with one of our physicians.

Specialty Surgical Center is located in Sparta, New Jersey, and our staff consists of board certified- surgeons and anesthesiologists performing procedures in Orthopedics, Sports Medicine, Spinal Care, Podiatry, Urology, Pain Management, ENT, Hand Surgery, Lithotripsy, Brachytherapy, GYN and Laser Surgery.

For more information about Specialty Surgical Center, call 973-940-3166 or visit our Contact Page.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.