What to Expect after ACL Injury?

ACL injury is a Traumatic, Painful and Life-changer Injury. It is not similar to other injuries where you can take some rest, ice and BOOM ! you are back to sports within couple of weeks. Infact, try doing that and you may really fall back on your nose.

So here’s a suggestion, if you suspect an ACL injury (any degree) consult an expert could be a physiotherapist or orthopedic and rule out ACL injury. This injury takes good 12 months to return back to your sports with 10–30% chances of re-injury if not taken care of properly. THIS IS REALLY FRUSTERATING!!!!!!.

New England Patriots suffered during the whole season as Dion Lewis had non-contact ACL tear. That surely put him out of his game.

So, to make sure you excel your Rehab and reduce the chances of re-injury after getting back to sports, this blog is focused on things to be taken care of during Prehab phase i.e immediately after the injury.

Immediately after the mechanism of injury you will experience:

  1. Pain
  2. Swelling
  3. Unable to move the leg (lack of range of motion)
  4. Difficulty walking
  5. Instability

What to expect in the 1st week?

The objectives during the first week post injury are:

  1. Decrease edema and swelling with RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
  2. Protect the knee with brace, ace wrap, and usage of crutches
  3. Meet with an orthopedic surgeon for evaluation, MRI, and consultation
  4. Meet with a physical therapist to begin “prehab”
  5. Educate yourself regarding surgery, healing times, and rehabilitation demands
  6. Consider your athletic goals and begin mental preparation for a new type of training (rehabilitation and recovery versus performance)

Depending on your sports, athletic goals, and level of play you will be evaluated to determine if surgery is absolutely necessary and, if surgery is needed, how soon it should be scheduled. Typically high school, college, and professional athletes will undergo ACL reconstruction very soon after injury to preserve valuable time post-operatively. The longer you wait the longer you will be out of sport for the coming year.

What to Expect in your Second week?

As you enter your seconds week, you will have reduce knee pain and swelling allowing you to move, walk and sleep better. If you haven’t visited any orthopedic or physiotherapist , this would be the best time to consider it as they will help you to start your prehab.

Prehab Goals

  1. Decrease knee edema and swelling to baseline
  2. Restore full non-weight bearing range of motion
  3. Activate and maintain quadriceps contraction and strength
  4. Maintain gluteus strength
  5. Restore level plane gait mechanics and avoid “quadriceps avoidance walking” (walk normally without a limp)
  6. Provide post-operative education for wound care, exercises, and mental preparation
  7. Maintain proprioceptive awareness (continue to practice balance and control of your leg)

The following exercises would help you to achieve your PREHAB goals.

  1. Static Quad

2) Short Arc Quad:

3) Straight leg raise:

4) Side-lying Hip Abduction:
5) Bridge:
6) Clamshell:
7) Heel Raise:
8) Mini squats:
9) Tandem Walk
10) standing on one leg:

Once the first 4 weeks PREHAB is successfully achieved , your physiotherapist will assess you thoroughly to measure if your are ready for surgery or not.

Post-Surgery intervention and rehab is completely a different ball game. But don’t Panic, Prehab has prepared you enough for thee same.

In order to get the whole PREHAB workout, check ER workout in EndoRush App.


Dr. Mansi Parikh,

Co-Founder EndoRush App