Returning to Sports After ACL Surgery

Returning to Sports After ACL Surgery

As many as a quarter-million Americans suffer anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries every year, according to the CDC. While ACL injuries can happen to anyone, they’re especially common among athletes.

If you’ve torn your ACL, you’re probably wondering how quickly you can return to your sport — or maybe even if you can return. 

Thankfully, today’s surgical techniques are designed to restore knee function so athletes can get back on their feet faster and stronger. The key is getting the right care as quickly as possible.

At Centennial Medical Group, our team tailors ACL treatment to each patient’s needs and goals — even their choice of sport. If ACL surgery is in your future, here’s what to expect and how quickly you can plan on getting back to your active lifestyle.

ACL surgery: When and how it’s done

The ACL is one of four important ligaments that hold your knee together, helping it move and supporting your weight. ACL tears typically occur with sharp changes in direction or pivoting movements, but they can also happen from falls and other impact injuries. 

Tears that don’t go through the entire ligament are called partial tears, while tears that go all the way through are called full or complete ACL tears. A torn ACL typically causes pain — with certain knee movements especially — knee instability, and reduced range of motion in the joint.

While conservative treatment might be OK for some people with ACL injuries, athletes and other active people almost certainly need to have surgery to repair or reconstruct the ligament using a graft. The graft is usually a tendon taken from another part of your leg or from a deceased donor.

Most surgeons recommend waiting a few weeks after the initial injury before performing surgery to allow inflammation to subside. After surgery, you can expect several weeks of physical therapy as part of your recovery process.

Returning to sports

First, if you’re worried about being able to return to physical activity, there’s good news: Data show most people undergoing ACL repair can successfully return to sports, although some may need to modify training or activity to protect their knees. 

What’s more, about 90% of patients achieve normal or nearly normal knee function after ACL surgery.

Your physical therapy and recovery plan features activities designed to help your knee recover in a way that supports normal movement as well as the demands unique to your sport. 

In most instances, you can expect a minimum of 9-12 months before your knee is healthy and strong enough for strenuous physical activity. 

That said, the decision to return to sports after ACL repair or reconstruction depends on a variety of factors, including:

Our doctors work closely with each patient to determine whether returning to sport is the best decision following ACL surgery or if you might need to modify your activities to protect your knee and prevent future injuries.

State-of-the-art care for ACL injuries

Don’t let an ACL injury keep you sidelined. Early treatment is the key to getting back on your feet — and back to the activities you love. To learn more about ACL treatment at our Las Vegas, Nevada, practice, call Centennial Medical Group or book an appointment online today. 

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