ACL is the acronym for “anterior cruciate ligament,” but don’t rush to memorize this medical term. Most people understand that the ACL is an important part of the knee. Actually, it is one of the four main ligaments in your knee and it connects the femur and the tibia. Even though the ACL is small, it provides a significant body function, bringing stability and control to each knee. When a person tears his or her ACL, reconstruction surgery may be necessary.
Physiotherapy is often prescribed for postoperative ACL rehabilitation with the intention of returning a patient to optimum health as quickly as possible, without doing damage to the knee reconstruction. This is the number one goal of postoperative ACL physiotherapy. However, there are additional goals and benefits of physiotherapy.
Take a look at how physiotherapy contributes to the ACL healing process in significant ways.
Lessen Pain and Inflammation – If you recently had ACL surgery or are coming up on the procedure, you are probably tired of the pain you experience every day. While surgery reconstructs your ACL, a physiotherapist is able to equip you with techniques that will lessen pain and help you fully heal. For instance, immediately following surgery, your physiotherapist may advise you to ice and elevate your leg to decrease inflammation. Then, you will slowly move into light exercises that will also help reduce pain and swelling.
Increase Your Range of Motion – Early exercises may concentrate on increasing your knee’s range of motion. Resting your knee post operation is critical to your health, but this may cause stiffness that only strategic stretching, flexing, and extending can solve.
Regain Strength and Positioning – Once you have a good range of motion again, your physiotherapist may guide you in more intense exercises that help you regain strength. This will ensure the muscles in your knee do not atrophy while you are going through the healing process. As you regain strength, you may be introduced to the term “proprioception”. According to James Knowles, a doctor of physiotherapy, “Proprioception is your body’s sense of positioning in space. After most surgical procedures, proprioception needs to be re-trained so one can protect their knee and reduce the risk of re-injury.”
It is common for a time limit to be set on postoperative physiotherapy, but that doesn’t mean the work is done. You are probably eager to return to physical exercises that go beyond daily activities like walking, sitting, light lifting, and more. Physiotherapists can help you excel in the rigorous activities you want to pursue so that you do not reinjure your ACL.
Your ACL is a big deal. And an ACL tear that requires surgery is a pain. Not only does the injury cause pain, the recovery process can be painful too. Physiotherapy offers the best option for natural pain elimination. It also provides a safe and constructive way to return to an optimum state of health.