Female athlete putting on a knee brace

Tips for Returning to Sports After an ACL Repair

Though primarily associated with sports injuries, ACL tears (tears of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee) can also occur in slip and falls and car accidents and during recreational activities. Because such injuries cause serious pain and greatly limit mobility, they can bring your athletic pursuits and active lifestyle to a grinding halt. Nonetheless, with proper care and rehabilitation, you can fully recover from an ACL tear, and the physiatrists at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine are dedicated to helping you do so as efficiently as possible.

Understanding the ACL Ligament

The ACL is a vital ligament in the knee that attaches the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone), providing stability and preventing excessive forward movement. ACL injuries commonly occur during sports activities that involve sudden stops, pivoting, or changes in direction. Basketball, soccer, football, and skiing are some of the sports with a high risk of ACL injuries.

Diagnosis of ACL Tears

If you suspect you have an ACL injury, seeking prompt medical attention is critically important. Fortunately, our doctors are excellent diagnosticians who use cutting-edge diagnostic imaging equipment (e.g. CT and MRI scans, ultrasound). 

Once we know the nature and extent of your injury, we will know whether or not you require a surgical repair. Either way, our physiatrists can be extremely helpful. If you can heal properly without an operation, we will provide all necessary treatment; if you need surgery, we will refer you to a highly respected surgeon and offer you pre- and post-surgical therapies designed to speed up your recovery process. 

Treatment Options for ACL Tears

One thing every individual with an ACL tear needs is patience. Although some patients with ACL injuries do recover in as little as 3 months, many patients take 6 months to a year to be fully healed. Much depends on your age, overall health, and activity level at the time of the accident. One thing is for certain our holistic therapeutic methods provide you with the best chance of speeding up the healing process with a combination of the following:

  • Knee braces and/or crutches as needed
  • Physical therapy, to restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion, and to address muscle imbalances that may have contributed to your injury.
  • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, to speed your recovery
  • Corticosteroid/analgesic injections, to relieve pain and inflammation at the site
  • PEMF (Pulsed Electromagnetic Field) therapy, to increase blood flow to your cells 
  • Acupuncture, to relieve pain and inflammation, and increase circulation
  • Viscosupplementation (injections of hyaluronic acid) to lubricate the knee joint

We will also educate you on ways to strengthen your surrounding muscles and avoid future knee injuries.

Tips for a Safe Return to Sports

Returning to sports after an ACL repair requires patience and commitment. Here are some tips to ensure a safe and successful comeback:

  1. Follow Your Rehabilitation Plan: Stick to your physiatrist’s recommendations and attend all scheduled physical therapy sessions. 
  2. Gradual Progression: Avoid rushing back to your sport. Gradually increase the intensity of your training to minimize the risk of re-injury.
  3. Use Proper Protective Gear: Wear appropriate braces or supports to provide additional stability to your knee during sports activities.
  4. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any signs of pain or discomfort. If something doesn’t feel right, consult your physiatrist immediately. Remember that overworking your body will slow, rather than accelerate, healing.
  5. Stay Active: Engage in low-impact activities during your recovery to maintain overall fitness and prevent deconditioning.

Contact Our Experienced Sports Injury Doctors Today

Do you fear you have an ACL tear? As soon as you contact Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, you will know that you have come to the right place to find out and be properly treated. We are committed to using our knowledge and expertise to promote effective healing. The sooner you get in touch with us, the sooner we can diagnose the problem and get you up and running again.