Cruciate Rehabilitation or Repair

Rehabilitation of an anterior cruciate ligament injury focuses on the short-term restoration of function and the long-term prevention of more serious conditions. For non-athletes, rehabilitation often involves physical therapy without surgery. In severe cases or when a competitive athlete needs to return to professional sports, surgical repair may be necessary. The goals of post-surgical rehabilitation and rehabilitation without surgery are the same: reduce inflammation and restore range of motion in the knee and muscle strength in the knee and surrounding areas. For patients who underwent surgery, physical therapy will begin immediately and may include quadricep co-contractions and a continuous passive motion machine to establish range of motion between zero and 30 degrees (the goal being to progress to 60 degrees before discharge). Within the first two weeks post surgery, most rehabilitation programs will aim to control swelling, achieve full leg extension (straightening), and improve strength and flexibility in the quadricep and hamstring. The goals within the first ten weeks after surgery will be to eliminate swelling completely and restore 120-degree range of motion in the knee. Physical therapy at this stage may include ultrasound, cold therapy, compression, and therapeutic exercises. At six months post surgery, the goal is to have full range of motion and normal strength and power. At this stage, jogging and some sports-specific training may begin. Typically, full sports-specific training won’t start until at least six months after surgery.