“When can I play ball again?” It’s a common question athletes ask after they have anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, surgery. We understand your desire to get back to the field or court and help usher your team to victory. Yet, going back too soon can cause serious damage to an already fragile area of the body.
Dr. David Junkin at Ani Medical Group in Hazlet and Old Bridge, New Jersey, can help you get back to top condition as soon as possible. He is an expert in repairing ACL tears and uses nonsurgical means whenever possible. When surgery is necessary, you can count on him to reconstruct your ruptured ACL and return you to your sport healthy and ready to compete. When you do return to sports, there are some things you should know.
Timeline for returning
Over the last few decades, there have been some amazing advances in procedures that address sports-related injuries. We have gone from open surgery to arthroscopic surgery. In the past, it could take a year, or more for an ACL tear to heal. With new technology and procedures, recovery takes a minimum of 6 months. That time includes physical therapy and a period of resting the injured knee.
We know this sounds like a long time and may mean the end of a sports season. However, with ACL surgery, recovery and rehabilitation are necessary to avoid reinjuring the knee and possibly causing greater and more permanent damage. As the knee heals and becomes stronger, you can talk to Dr. Junkin about what needs to be done so you can return to the field.
Regain strength before returning
After the initial recovery, there may be more work to do in order to restore complete range of motion. As you begin to be able to move your knee normally, you’ll need to be evaluated for weakness or loss of muscle mass. Reinjury is your greatest risk, at this point. Injury to your ACL and surgery to correct the damage is a serious event in an athlete’s life.
Depending on the sport, chances of reinjury can be quite high. A full-contact sport increases the risk of a new injury. Take the time to heal and make sure to follow your rehab instructions before you jump back into the game.
Studies show your overall health has a direct impact on your ability to fully recover after ACL surgery. Previous knee injuries, of course, can impede your ability to regain full use of the joint. Prior surgeries to the ACL may result in a permanent place on the sidelines.
It’s not uncommon after this type of injury and corrective surgery for patients to develop osteoarthritis, which can impair your ability to move easily and, therefore, increase your chances of reinjuring your ACL. Our physicians take into consideration the type of athletics you’re involved in before clearing you to play.
Most ACL surgeries are successful, and athletes are able to get back to the game in a matter of months. A thorough post-op recovery period followed by sport-specific rehab improve your odds for a champion’s return to the field.
Whether you run up and down the football field or around the bases, ACL surgery is the best chance you have of getting back out there. Our caring and compassionate physicians and support staff will help you heal completely.There’s no need to live with the pain. Contact us today.