An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear is a knee injury that can occur from playing sports or from leading an active lifestyle. In fact, it is one of the most common types of knee injuries, with more than 200,000 cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
If the ligament is only partially torn, then it can usually heal on its own; but if the ACL tear is fully torn through, surgical repair is usually necessary. An orthopedist will determine the best type of treatment after evaluating your injury. In almost all cases, physical therapy is a critical part of treatment and rehabilitation for an ACL tear.
Nonsurgical Treatment for an ACL Tear
ACL tears that are mild can be treated with physical therapy. These exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles supporting the knee, especially the muscles of the upper leg: the quadriceps in front and the hamstring muscles in back.
Your physical therapist will likely explain the RICE method for helping your torn ACL to heal more quickly:
Be sure to follow your therapist’s recommendations, particularly about how to properly ice the area and proper compression techniques, so that you do not cause frostbite or circulation problems, respectively.
Physical Therapy and ACL Surgery
For moderate to severe ACL tears, knee surgery may be necessary in order for the ligament to heal fully. Physical therapy is often recommended for pre-surgery preparation as well as post-operative rehabilitation.
Pre-surgery physical therapy exercises focus on bringing down the swelling and on strengthening the leg to prepare for the operation. In addition, it helps patients recover more quickly after surgery and lessens difficulty when straightening the leg.
Rehabilitation after ACL reconstruction surgery usually involves wearing a knee brace, temperature therapy and stretching, strengthening, and range-of-motion exercises. Your physical therapist will show you how to continue performing the exercises at home. You will notice that the affected knee will be able to bear more and more weight.
Alleviating Pain and Restoring Full Function in the Knee
Pain is a concern following any kind of surgery, and physical therapists are also trained in the use of different modalities that help to alleviate pain. These therapies include heat therapy, cold therapy, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound.
After successful pain management and a restoration of knee strength, normal function, and range of motion, your physical therapist can proceed to teach you more rigorous exercises of the knee as appropriate. For young athletes, this includes running and jumping exercises.
Physical Therapy for a Torn ACL in Austin, Texas
Your physical therapist is your ally during rehabilitation from a knee injury, and they will help you achieve personal milestones in walking and moving again. They are knowledgeable and highly skilled specialists who can provide ongoing care for patients with orthopedic injuries.
Our physical therapists at Endeavor Physical Therapy & Wellness provide mobility treatment for injuries and health conditions. Our services include pre-op consultation and therapy as well as post-op physical therapy. Our goal is to reduce your pain, restore the normal function of your knee, and assist with your return to a normal life.
If you’ve injured your ACL while at work, our workers’ compensation program is designed to help you through the process of recovery. If you have any questions about our physical therapy services or would like to schedule a consultation, call Endeavor today at (512) 284-7192 or request an appointment now via our online form. We look forward to hearing from you and getting you back in step!