I'm an Athlete: Will an ACL Reconstruction Stop Me from Playing?

I'm an Athlete: Will an ACL Reconstruction Stop Me from Playing?

ACL injuries are one of the most common sports injuries and tend to occur in sports that involve pivoting, twisting, quick stops, or landing from a jump. Football, soccer, and tennis are sports most likely to cause ACL injuries. 

Every athlete wants to return to their chosen sport as quickly as possible after injury, but it’s critical to know that recovering from ACL reconstruction is a significant commitment.

Orthopedic Surgeon Michael Klassen, MD, specializes in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine and understands an athlete’s desire to regain function as quickly as possible so that they can get back in the game. 

As an orthopedic surgeon, Klassen is devoted to helping you recover from ACL surgery as quickly and safely as possible. It's important that you avoid rushing to return to your sport too soon. Doing so increases the risk of a re-injury that can put you out of the game for good.

While every recovery is different, here's what you can expect with a typical ACL rehabilitation.

Post-op protocol

The typical protocol immediately following ACL surgery involves a week of immobilization, typically with the knee fully extended. This brief week of immobilization gives time for the tendon to attach to the bone and allows you to achieve full extension of the knee quickly after surgery.

Physical therapy usually starts after about seven days. The initial goal is to limit swelling and restore full range of motion by starting rehabilitation exercises. Each physical therapy program is progressive. This means that you will need to pass a series of simple, functional tests before you can move on to the next phase in your rehabilitation program. Orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists develop these tests to ensure that you recover safely.

Returning to sport after ACL surgery

The good news is most athletes return to sport after recovering from ACL surgery. Many factors will determine when you're ready to return to sport. Some athletes can return to the same level of play, while others may need to reduce their level of competition. 

The ACL ligament requires time to heal and to regain strength, and there is a major concern surrounding the potential for re-injury. There will be frequent checks before you're cleared to return to full support.

Most often, a three-phase model is followed before you're cleared to return to sport. The first phase is returning to training at a low level. During this phase, you continue rehabilitation and begin training for your sport at a low level. The second phase is to return to your specific sport at a lower skill level, and the final phase is to return to your sport performing at your previous skill level.

Successfully returning to sport is the number one goal. However, there are many variables that come together to determine when you're ready to get back in the game. A successful return sport requires a multidisciplinary approach that involves your surgeon, as well as a physical therapist, and your sports trainer. Dr. Klassen will work together to help you rehabilitate and return to support after ACL surgery.

To learn more about recovering from ACL reconstruction, contact the office nearest you to schedule a visit with Dr. Klassen. Our office is located in Monterey, California. New and existing patients can also book their requests online today. We’re in your corner and ready to help you get back in the game. 

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