Your Timeline for Recovering From ACL Reconstruction Surgery

Man in a wheelchair‚Äč

You rely on your knees for a whole host of normal activities, including standing and walking. It’s difficult to get through your day when you lose the use of one of your knees due to an injury like a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Unfortunately, if your knee bends or twists too far in the wrong direction, the ACL can tear, which causes pain and limits the use of your knee.

Regaining full use of the knee is only possible with ACL reconstruction surgery. The ACL is a complex ligament running vertically through the center of your knee that somewhat resembles a braided rope. When it tears, it’s like a braided rope ripping with its fibers spreading everywhere.

It’s simply too complex to reattach each one of these strands individually to repair the ligament with minimally invasive surgery. Instead, the entire ligament must be removed and replaced with healthy tissue from your body or from a donor. Because of this, it can take several months to fully recover from ACL reconstruction surgery.

Recovery timeline for ACL reconstruction surgery

  • Weeks one to two — During these initial weeks of recovery, you’ll remain in the hospital for a couple of days so health care professionals can monitor your recovery and change your bandages. Physical therapists will teach you how to walk safely using crutches to keep your weight off your knee. After a few days, most people are discharged and can continue their recovery at home. Some people begin physical therapy in these first weeks, but many have to wait until the third or fourth week.
  • Weeks three to four — During this time, most people transition from crutches to walking with a brace for support. Physical therapy begins for a lot of people too. Physical therapy helps rebuild the strength of the muscles around the knee to improve stability and flexibility.
  • First four months — Physical therapy exercises will grow more challenging to further help build the strength and stability of your muscles. By this point, most people are able to walk without a brace.
  • Six months to a year — After six months to a year of physical therapy, your surgeon may declare that your knee is fit enough to resume physically challenging activities like sports or heavy labor.

Visit iRISE Spine & Joint Institute for ACL reconstruction surgery

Did you recently tear your ACL in a fall or collision? Our surgeons at Florida Spine & Joint Institute can reconstruct your damaged ligament to help you regain the use of your knee. Contact our team today for more information about ACL reconstruction surgery or to schedule an initial appointment.