An ACL injury is one of the most serious injuries an athlete, or any person really, can face. When athletes were asked what injury they fear the most, the top two answers were a concussion and a torn ACL. This specific injury is very serious, but there are some treatment methods that a knowledgeable physical therapist could help guide you through the healing process.
What is an ACL?
An ACL is a vital ligament of the knee that helps stabilize your knee joint. It connects the femur (thighbone) and the tibia (shinbone). An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear is an injury that may occur from playing sports or living an active lifestyle.
An orthopedic surgeon usually examines patients after an ACL injury to determine whether surgery is needed to repair the ligament. Although most people who suffer from ACL tears undergo surgery, there is a chance of avoiding surgery by going to physical therapy. Physical Therapy is a vital element of recovery, as you can set up appointments with your BC + PT physical therapist both before or after surgery.
Physical therapists play a significant role when patients want to restore knee function. A physical therapist helps patients minimize swelling, recover their range of motion, restore mobility, and enhance the overall strength of the hamstring muscles and quadriceps.
Non-Surgical Treatment for an ACL Injury
If the patient won’t undergo surgery, seeing a physical therapist is an ideal treatment option for ACL tears. In this situation, your physical therapist focuses on strengthening your knee muscles. Therapy aids your hamstrings, quads, and other knee muscles to perform the heavy lifting needed for everyday movement.
As you strengthen your muscles, proceed cautiously to avoid hurting your knee. Your BC + PT physical therapist will work with you and monitor your progress to help you avoid over use. Practicing therapy alone for an ACL injury should depend on several factors - and your physical therapist will give you advice and the specific exercises for your individual injury.
Knee surgery might be necessary for moderate to severe ACL tears to allow the ligament to heal fully. Health experts recommend visiting a physical therapist for pre-surgery preparation and post-operative rehabilitation.
Consulting a physical therapist before ACL surgery (pre-rehabilitation) may offer numerous benefits. Therapy will help condition and strengthen the muscles around your ACL before surgery, allowing for quicker recovery.
PT exercises will condition the patient’s leg despite discomfort and loss of mobility following an injury. An experienced physical therapist can help restore the knee’s range of motion and minimize swelling, which is crucial for full recovery after ACL surgery. They’ll also work on the stability and strength of your thigh and hip to aid with knee movement. Doing therapy before surgery will also help enhance mobility and function. Your therapist will monitor whether you’re performing the exercises correctly and safely to eliminate the risk of further injury.
ACL reconstruction is the process of performing surgery on a torn ACL. After your surgery, you will be sent to a physical therapist to aid your recovery. Luckily, the physical therapists at BC + PT can see you both before and after any surgery!
You’ll do gradual exercises until you recover fully. These exercises will focus on improving your knee strength and overall flexibility. Besides regular therapy sessions, you might also need to consider some home exercises. Following the personalized rehabilitation program your therapist creates for you will encourage proper healing and recovery. Your physical therapist will help you attain personal milestones in moving and walking again.
The BC + PT therapists are highly trained specialists who can offer ongoing care for people with orthopedic injuries. If you have experienced an ACL injury, or any other type of injury, give us a call today or fill out this form to jumpstart your healing process!