Generally, a completely torn anterior cruciate ligament essentially requires surgical procedures for treatment. Surgeries are also usually recommended in cases where the patient is an athlete and wants to continue his / her high demanding sport, there is injury in more than one ligament, the patient is young and very active, and there is loss of stability in the knee due to the injury. However, pre and post-surgery rehabilitation therapy becomes pertinent. This is mainly because ACL injuries have a risk factor developing into knee osteoarthritis and a rehabilitation therapy programme negates that risk.
Pre-Surgery Rehabilitation Therapy
The significance of exercises in the pre-surgery period lie in the fact that they help in reducing the pain and inflammation after an ACL injury. Additionally, the exercises help regain motion and strength in the knee after the surgery, while negating the risks of knee osteoarthritis. It also helps prepare the patient mentally for the surgery.
Exercises generally include bridging, glute sets, hamstring curls, heel raises, heel slides, quad sets, shallow standing knee bends, straight-leg raise to the front, and straight-leg raise to the outside. These exercises are done under the thorough guidance of the physiotherapist, in a progressive manner, so that no stress is caused due to the exercises. Additionally, RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and electrotherapy help reduce inflammation and pain, whilst ensuring one’s regain of motion range and joint flexibility.
Post-Surgery Rehabilitation Therapy
After the surgery / the ACL reconstruction, the rehabilitation therapy needs to be resumed as it is critical for full recovery. At this stage, several comprehensive steps, including a wide range of exercises are used to attain full flexibility and motion in the knee while avoiding knee osteoarthritis. Exercises include open-kinetic-chain knee-extension, open-kinetic-chain knee-flexion, and closed-kinetic-chain knee exercises.
The therapy and exercises are easy at the beginning, aimed at removing blood clots and gradually are increased in intensity aimed at restoring knee strength and stability. Weight bearing exercises are added depending upon the patient. The final phase of the therapy increases stress on the knees to a bearable extent. This therapy may take 5-6 months to help the patient be free of any pain and regain complete motion range. Generally, after 12 months of rigorous post-surgery rehabilitation, athletes can return to their heavy demanding sport.
Generally, the orthopaedic surgeon of the patient works with or in coordination with the physiotherapist. An ACL injury treatment that includes surgery is a very long procedure. The treatment starts at the very beginning, right after the injury. It starts with rehabilitation, moves into surgery, and then again ends with rehabilitation. It is a very comprehensive treatment procedure and enables the complete and effective cure of the ACL injury while negating any risk factor at the same time. We at Eva Physiocare are developing rehabilitation therapy programme both before and after surgery, where we coordinate with the orthopaedic surgeon of the patient, including diet therapy and an integrated wellness programme for ACL injury patients and focus on their complete care and cure.