How Long Does A Torn ACL Take To Heal After Surgery?


Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) surgery is a minimally invasive procedure in which a torn ligament is replaced with a tissue graft that mimics the natural ACL. While the patients may return home on the same day as surgery, healing after ACL surgery is not a quick process. Patients require significant rehab or rehabilitation to get back to their normal lives. Though the ACL recovery journey is different for everyone, it may take up to six months to completely recover post-recovery.

Here, we’ll discuss various ACL rehab phases and the recovery time it takes to get back to normal. Ready? Let’s get started!

Post-ACL Surgery

Right after the ACL surgery, there is a wound on the knee held closed with stitches. After around three weeks of surgery, a medical professional will remove these stitches or they will disappear naturally. Make sure to keep your wound clean or it may cause infection. Besides, if there are any bruises or swelling around the knee, they will go away in a week or two. 

What Is ACL Tear Rehab?

Rehabilitation after ACL surgery is a well-developed process that consists of different phases of post-operative recovery until a patient gets back to normal routine activities or a sportsperson returns to play.

Below are the different phases of ACL tear rehab. Different healthcare providers may have some specific protocols; however, the whole process is divided into phases. Furthermore, each phase has appropriate goals the patient needs to meet before moving to the next step.

Rehab Phase 1 (Immediately Post-ACL Surgery) Week 0-2

During the first few days after ACL surgery, the goal is to reduce swelling and provide comfort to the patient. The doctor may recommend some motion exercises for full knee extension along with the use of crutches, frequent ice application, etc. 

After a week of recovery, they will start you on gentle aerobic exercises. In fact, some PTs even recommend using stationary cycles to improve motion and strength.

Rehab Phase 2 (Week 3-6)

During phase 2 of rehabilitation, there is more focus on muscle straightening around the knee rather than knee extension. When the body achieves normal motion, one can start sport-specific activities. At this stage, the knee motion should be normal and swelling should be almost gone.

Rehab Phase 3 (Week 7-12)

Early sports activities, like outdoor cycling or light jogging, can be started after seven to twelve weeks of ACL surgery. However, make sure to avoid pivoting sports, like basketball, football, etc. Athletes can start jumping rope or shuttle runs, though.

Rehab Phase 4 (3-6 Months)

Phase 4 of rehabilitation could be a bit tough for ACL patients. They may ‘feel’ normal but may not be ready for exaggerating sports activities. Thus, the focus of Phase 4 is on stimulating exercises. For example, jumping and landing safely in some specific ways. Later, one may add sports drills into the rehab plan.

Rehab Phase 5 (6 Months or more)

Depending on the type or extent of injury, his phase may take up to six months or more. The major emphasis is on sports-specific activities only under the guidance of a physical trainer or sports practitioner. Consult an orthopedic surgeon to know if you can return to sports or need to wait.

So, How Long Does It Take To Heal From ACL Surgery Completely?

Well, recovery from ACL surgery takes time and patience. A proper rehabilitation plan combined with physical therapy and an orthopedic surgeon’s consultation plays a crucial role in the recovery process. Apart from this, the severity of the injury, your commitment to the rehab plan, and the sports activities you engage in are important factors that decide the healing time. 

Follow your doctor’s recommendations and give your body some time to recover completely so you can return to play safely. Talk to the best ACL surgeon in Chandigarh to know more about ACL surgery and recovery plan.