ACL Reconstruction Surgery: 2 Years Post-Op

Holly B. is an active professional in her late twenties who spends her free time playing recreational flag football and league basketball. She shares her experience with us as she explores the world of sports.

It’s been nearly two years since my ACL surgery and I thought it would be helpful for anyone considering ACL repair or who is currently recovering from ACL surgery to share my progress. Well, what I’ve learned is that ACL recovery varies greatly from person to person. From my own experience and opinion, it depends on two factors: your body and your effort.

Honestly, I haven’t done too much in terms of getting back into sports since my ACL reconstruction surgery. Real life took over – work and parenting – so I didn’t have as much time to devote to recreational sports. Ideally I think I would continue strengthening the muscle area around my knee before returning to sports to help stabilize the joint. I’d also feel more comfortable returning to sports with an ACL knee brace. It would help give me peace of mind that I’m lowering my risk of re-injury and it would provide support to my knee.

Could I start playing basketball and football again? Yes, I think so with some training. Overall I’ve healed up nicely – I’d say that my body rebounded well, but I haven’t put any effort into getting back into physical activity. That’s probably the only thing that slowed my progress.

Here’s some situations from my friends who have had ACL surgery:

  • Man in his early 20s – He put lots of effort into his ACL recovery in order to return to playing sports. He now wears an ACL knee brace and was back to playing sports within his first year. In fact, he started light running again around four months post-op… I’m not sure his doctor would have liked that!
  • Woman around my age in her late 20s – She tore her ACL around the same time I did, and she’s started working out consistently and is fairly active. Her recovery was slower… I think my body rebounded more quickly, but that she put more effort into physical therapy.
  • Woman in her early 40s – I actually met her in my basketball league and knew she had tore it at some point because she was wearing an ACL knee brace. She had some amazing movement at point guard. I wouldn’t have guessed her age based on how she was moving. I found out later it had only been a few years since her tear… and she actually tore hers playing flag football in the same recreational league that I participated in!

So as you can see, ACL tear recovery can have a wide spectrum of results. I think for most people, if you put the effort toward physical therapy and returning to sports, that you’ll be back before you know it! Follow your doctors’ guidelines and you’ll be just fine.

ACL Reconstruction Surgery: 5 Months Post-Op

Holly B. is an active professional in her late twenties who spends her free time playing recreational flag football and league basketball. She recently tore her ACL and will be sharing her experiences with us as she works towards getting back into sports.

It’s been 5 months since my arthroscopic knee surgery in August to repair my torn ACL. I’m doing well considering I’m probably not the most diligent person when it comes to physical therapy (don’t follow my bad example!).

Here are some things I discovered about recovering from ACL surgery:

  • Your quad muscle (the muscle in your thigh) really weakens FAST! Most of the past few months have been trying to re-strengthen this muscle.
  • Going down stairs is harder than going up stairs. I knew I was getting stronger once I could walk down stairs normally instead of 1 step at a time.
  • The muscles around your knee really affect how it moves. The last part of my recovery is to continue to strengthen these muscles so that I don’t have any patella tracking issues.

It’s been a little scary because sometimes I feel like my knee doesn’t move the right way. This is mostly due to the weakened muscles around my left knee. The key is that I need to keep working out, keep visiting my physical therapist, and to stay motivated in the New Year!  If you’ve torn your ACL or are recovering from ACL surgery, check with your doctor for the best treatment options for your situation.

P.S. Cycling on a stationary bike at the gym has been a great addition to my physical therapy as well.  Talk with your therapist to see if it’s something you can add to your routine.

ACL Reconstruction Surgery: 3 Weeks Post-Op

Holly B. is an active professional in her late twenties who spends her free time playing recreational flag football and league basketball. She recently tore her ACL and will be sharing her experiences with us as she works towards getting back into sports.

I’m not sure what I expected after ACL surgery… but well, I definitely expected much worse. I guess I am one of those lucky individuals that got away with little to no pain. Prior to surgery, I heard horror stories from friends who said they were laying in bed in agony for the first week after repairing their ACL.

I guess this goes to show that every person is different, and I’ve also found that rehabilitation varies from person to person. My doctor is keeping me on crutches for another week, whereas some only have you on them for 2 weeks. However, he doesn’t have me wearing an ACL knee brace. My friend who had ACL surgery earlier this year was given a knee immobilizer for the first month after surgery.

In short, here’s how my first 3 weeks post-op have been:

Week 1 – Pop painkillers the first few days, just in case. Lots of ice, elevation and television. Boring, but rest was critical to healing. It helped keep the swelling down and allowed my knee to start healing. The doctor said the most important thing was to be able to straighten my leg, so I started working on that.

Week 2 - Stitches come out. I had blood blisters near my incision, which isn’t common but it’s not unusual either. Numbness near the knee is normal as well, and should go away with time. My ankle started hurting a bit and was all bruised due to the swelling. Started physical therapy which honestly was not too bad because I had been working on extending my leg.

Week 3 - Steri-strips (super sticky bandages that hold the incision together) fell off and my blood blisters healed. My physical therapist has me working on stretching and strengthening my thighs and quads, and we’re working on bending my knee (flexion).

If you’re having ACL surgery soon, keep in mind that every person goes through a different experience. Hopefully this helps with some of your expectations! I still plan on getting an ACL knee brace once my recovery gets me closer to playing sports again. So far I’m happy with how I’ve been coming along.

P.S. Have someone place bottles of water around the house – it’s very difficult to carry a glass of water when using crutches!