Longevity Personal Training and Exercise Physiology Edgecliff, Lindfield, Marrickville and Randwick regularly see ACL injuries. We are continuing our ACL injury series by outlining the options available if you have injured your ACL and discuss the conservative/non-surgical treatment approach.
Injured ACL options
A ruptured ACL can be treated conservatively (ie no surgery) or surgically using part of another ligament in your body (hamstring and patellofemoral ligament are the most common) or a synthetic ligament.
Who is eligible for the non-surgical route and what does it entail?
Who is able to pursue a conservative treatment path is an interesting and difficult question to answer. When making this decision there are many important factors to consider and specific measures to meet. Some of these factors to consider include:
- How often you perform moderate-vigorous activity with your knee, including pivoting and jumping
- Your age and gender
- If you pass very specific screening measures assessing both physical capacity, state of confidence and level of stability in your knee
- Guidance from an orthopaedic surgeon
Permanent differences in your knee anatomy
A completely torn ligament will never heal, so you will likely always have a level of lasting instability, so you will be relying on muscles for knee stability – you MUST be committed to your exercise program prescribed by a qualified exercise professional.
Prescription for a non-surgical ACL
** Timelines are individualised and specific, you should only begin an exercise program as advised by an Accredited Exercise Physiologist during an in-person evaluation.
Below is a short outline of a rehabilitation program that you would undergo with your Accredited Exercise Physiologist.
~0-6 weeks (Acute)
- Decrease pain and swelling and increase RoM with exercises performed multiple times per day
- Increase activation and strength of hamstrings and quadriceps daily using single joint exercises
- Slowly work to increase weight bearing and restore normal walking and a 60 degree squat with no asymmetry
~6-12 weeks (Sub-acute)
- Maintain RoM exercises daily to achieve comparable RoM to your non-affected leg
- Increase strength in multi-joint lower body movements 3-5 days per week
- Improve your ability to sense your knee angle in space using balancing and joint angle replication practice
~12-28 weeks (Return to basic activity)
- Continue multi-joint strengthening program 3-5 days per week
- Maintain RoM with daily stretching
- Begin low intensity running up to 4 days per week on a flat surface
- Activity specific exercises and single leg landing can be performed 2 days per week
28+ weeks (Return to all activity)
- Maintenance of all training in the return to basic activity phase should be continued to prevent further knee injuries
- An accredited exercise physiologist can help evaluate and correct your movement patterns to alleviate any remaining knee pain/discomfort
- Contact sports should not be participated in without advanced training and preparation
In our next blog, available later this week, we will discuss the surgical approach for ACL ruptures.
If you have been advised to start conservative treatment for your ACL injury speak to the staff at Longevity Personal Training and Exercise Physiology Edgecliff, Lindfield, Marrickville and Randwick by calling 1300 964 002.
Written by Mitchell Hooper