Each year, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries strike up to 200,000 Americans. These knee injuries can affect anyone, but athletes are particularly at risk. If you've torn your ACL, you're undoubtedly wondering when you can return to your sport — or even if you'll be able to return at all.
Today's advanced surgical treatments are geared to restoring knee function, allowing athletes to get back on their feet sooner and stronger. The most important thing is to seek orthopedic care as soon as possible.
Our team of top-rated orthopedic physicians at MidJersey Orthopaedics customizes ACL treatment to each patient's specific needs and goals, including your preferred sport. If ACL surgery is on the horizon for you, here's what you can expect when it comes to resuming training and play.
ACL surgery overview
The ACL is one of four key ligaments that allow your knee to move and sustain your weight. Rapid changes in direction or pivoting motions are the most common causes of ACL tears, but falls and other contact accidents can also cause them.
Partial tears are those that don't go all the way through the ligament, whereas full or complete ACL tears do. A torn ACL often causes discomfort, knee instability, and limited range of motion in the joint, especially with certain knee movements.
Conservative treatment may be appropriate for some ACL injuries. However, athletes and other physically active individuals will almost certainly require surgery to repair or reconstruct the ligament with a graft using a tendon from another portion of your leg or from a cadaver donor.
Our team may recommend waiting a few weeks after the initial injury to reduce inflammation before undergoing surgery. Physical therapy will be required for several weeks following surgery as part of your recovery.
Returning to practice and play
There's good news if you're concerned about your ability to return to physical activity: Most people who have ACL repair surgery return to sports successfully. Some patients may need to restrict their training or activity to protect their knees.
Your physical therapy and rehabilitation plan includes activities to help your knee recover in a way that allows you to move normally while also meeting the demands of your sport.
After ACL surgery, most patients regain normal or near-normal knee function. In most cases, it can take 8-12 months for your knee to be healthy and strong enough for you to return to your sport. However, returning to sports following ACL repair or reconstruction is dependent upon a number of factors, including:
- Your age
- Your chosen sport
- Your level of participation
- Your general well-being
- The extent of your ACL injury
- Other injuries or pre-existing conditions
Our doctors work closely with each patient to assess whether returning to sport after ACL surgery is the best option or whether you should restrict or alter your activities to protect your knee and avoid further injuries.
Top-quality care for ACL injuries
Don't let an ACL injury keep you from doing what you love. The key to getting back on your feet — and back to the sport you enjoy — is to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Call MidJersey Orthopaedics to schedule a visit with one of our providers, or book an appointment online now to learn more about ACL treatment at one of our four locations. We have offices in Flemington, Bridgewater, and Washington, New Jersey.