A tear of the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee is one of the most frequent injuries that people of all ages and occupations face. You don’t have to play football professionally like Messi and Ronaldo or step into the ring like McGregor. It’s enough to plan a holiday in the mountains and accidentally fall off a slope or go out for a game of basketball with friends. It’s equally uncommon to suffer an ACL tear in everyday life: take a step, fall badly or land after a jump. Any sudden stress on the knee joint can cause injury. In this article you will learn about post-ACLR rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation after ACL reconstruction: timing and importance of each stage
Recuperation after ACL consists of 5 phases, each with specific goals.
Weeks 1-4: what is important?
To reduce pain and swelling in the joint, improve passive range of motion, regain control of the hip muscles, improve proprioception (relative position of the parts) of the joint, achieve walking without crutches (at the earliest after 4 weeks). The main techniques are:
- massages, which improve peripheral blood circulation;
- general strengthening exercises.
Weeks 5-10: what awaits the patient?
Release from crutches, work on achieving full walking control, increase mobility in the joint. It is important to completely eliminate swelling, regain full range of motion, and improve strength of the hip muscles. The main techniques are:
- therapeutic gymnastics, which aims to smoothly increase mobility in the knee joint and strengthen the extensor apparatus;
- various types of massage (manual, underwater);
- active electrical stimulation.
Weeks 11-16: to rebuild muscular strength!
Improves and recuperates muscle strength functions. No pain. We work on running and other physical activities. We then move on to the next task – increasing muscle endurance to dynamic exercise. Basic techniques:
- physical exercises (free active movements, self-assisted exercises, squats, lunges);
- work on simulators (treadmill, ergometer, rowing machine, etc.)
- various types of massage;
- active electrical stimulation and physiotherapy.
Weeks 17-24: back to long-term static exercise!
Full range of motion, no pain or swelling during and after physical activity. At this stage an individual fitness recovery programme is prepared which promotes the acquisition of a high general fitness. This is followed by a final treatment and recovery assessment phase and control tests.
The transition from stage to stage in the rehabilitation programme is gradual: for example, the transition to stage 2 is made on condition that the objectives set in stage 1 are achieved.