In this segment of Recovering From Injuries, knee injuries can be career-ending for some athletes. Spraining or tearing ligaments in your knee can be a long road to recovery. The ligaments in your knee consist of your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL). The most common knee injury is tearing the ACL. Typically athletes get surgery once they tear their ligaments to repair them, either by using a cadaver or apart of another tendon or muscle. Once the surgery is complete, there is usually a 6 to 9 month recovery period. If you are set on recovering in a short amount of time, here are some recovery steps to follow.
Follow the Doctor’s Orders
Your surgeon will give you instructions on how to recover from your surgery. This usually entails what medication to take and the appointments for follow-ups you must attend. You will likely be referred to a physical therapist for treatment to regain the strength in your leg. The first night after surgery will be painful, once the medicines and anesthesia from the surgery wear off, you will want to start taking the correct dosage of medication your doctor prescribes. You will want to rest your leg, ice, keep it elevated, and also keep your leg in the brace given to you. Your knee brace will be locked at a certain angle, preventing you from bending it. You will want to keep your leg in this position for the best results.
Physical therapy is a crucial step in recovering from a knee injury. Not only does it teach you how to reuse your knee but it also helps strengthen all the surrounding muscles to ensure another injury won’t happen. It is common for knee injuries to occur again to an already injured knee so it is very important to regain your strength. Your physical therapist will set up an exercise program altered to match your age, surgery, health, and fitness level. The exercises will change and increase once you adapt to your current program.
Extensive Physical Therapy
Slimming the time down so your recovery is closer to the 6-month mark may require more than just the basic physical therapy. Physical therapists may work on your mobility and stability but they don’t necessarily focus on the sport you are trying to get back to. If possible, have your therapist create a regime that includes aspects of pivoting, jumping, and running much like the movements you will be doing in a game situation. Having your knee relearn the actions to make you successful can be frustrating and it does take time. Which is why having extensive physical therapy can help.
Though working hard and being dedicated during this time is essential, so is rest. You don’t want to overwork your newly created ligament. It could lead to another tear if you do not have the proper rest. Getting enough sleep will promote healing and repair of the tissues. Make sure you are getting the recommended eight hours of sleep each night. After each physical therapy session, it is helpful to elevate, ice, and compress your knee. This can avoid swelling and prevent pain from occurring during the night.
Recovery periods do depend on the person. Rehabilitation relies on you to take care of your body and follow the instructions of your doctor and therapist, You want to make the process as quick as possible, but you must listen to your body. You may need to slow down if you start feeling pain and feel weaker instead of stronger. Let your doctor and therapist know if you are experiencing any sort of discomfort because it may lead to a worse injury in the future.