ACL Tear: Rehabilitation Mobility Physical Therapy Before and After Surgery
An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear is an injury to the knee. Mobility exercises can begin before and after surgery if the pain is not prohibitive. Start a mobility program as soon as possible.
When you tear the ACL, you may feel a sharp, intense pain or hear a loud “pop” and your knee will “give way”. You will not be able to walk, as your injured knee joint will not support your body weight. Usually the knee will immediately begin to swell (within minutes to a few hours).
ACL tears result from:
Twisting your knee while your full body weight in on the foot.
A sudden stop while running.
An abrupt shift in your weight from one leg to the other.
Jumping and then landing on an extended (straightened) knee.
Stretching the knee farther than its usual range of movement.
Experiencing a direct hit to the knee.
About 1 in four partially torn ACLs do not need surgery and can heal with physical therapy (Hospital for Special Surgery) . Work with a physical therapist to develop a mobility exercise program to:
Reduce pain and swelling.
Regain strength and movement.
And return to desired activities.
ACL MOBILITY REHABILITATION EXERCISES:
Knee Flexion & Extension
It is common to have difficulty straightening the leg after an ACL tear. Bend and straighten the knee to keep it mobile and try to improve range of motion. Don’t push it into pain, only do what you can achieve by either sitting, standing or lying down.
Lie on your back and bend the knee ensuring the foot stays in contact with the floor. Slight discomfort may experienced, but not pain. Use a towel or something appropriate to assist in pulling the leg in.
Stretch your hamstring by either sitting, standing or lying down. Take the leg to the limit of its comfortable range until a gentle stretch pulls at the back of the thigh.
This exercise stretches the adductor muscles on the inside of the thigh. Sit on the floor with both legs out straight, as far apart as you can without pain. Lean forwards from the hips until you feel a gentle stretch in the groin area.
Preventive physical therapy programs have proven to lower ACL injury rates. A preventive exercise program should developed to improve balance and strength. Strengthening your core (abdominal, thigh and leg) muscles is key to preventing injury.
Consult your doctor and physical therapist to carefully assess your condition before attempting any anterior cruciate ligament rehabilitation exercises. Each patient and injury will be different and the program should not be painful to perform. Start exercises as soon as pain allows both before and after surgery.
To learn more about treatment options for anterior cruciate ligament tears contact Moriarty Physical Therapy to schedule a free exploratory examination with one of our doctors.