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4 benefits of seeking physical therapy before ACL surgery

Physical Therapy Before ACL Surgery
3 minutes, 58 seconds

When you hear someone talking about their ACL, they’re referring to the anterior cruciate ligament in their knee. It is one of two ligaments that keep the knee joint stable during movement. This ligament can become strained or torn during physical activity and cause significant knee pain. It’s a common injury in athletes. Some cases require surgery to repair the ACL, which can be done by grafting a tendon from the patient’s own hamstring or from a deceased organ donor’s hamstring. The tendon is placed in the knee to replace the damaged ligament and eventually restore stable movement to the knee.

How can you prepare for your ACL surgery?

  • Prepare your home — One of the first things you can do to prepare for surgery is to anticipate your new routine at home after your operation. You’ll likely want to move items around your home so they’re easily accessible and don’t cause you further aggravation of your knee. Physical therapists are great resources for this: They’re able to make recommendations to help you prepare your home for after your surgery. A therapist can bring your attention to things in your home that can be adjusted to make you more comfortable.
  • Come up with a recovery goal — You can also prepare for ACL surgery by creating a recovery goal or desired outcome. Doing so will help you work toward a specific outcome after your surgery and give you something to focus on and build on throughout your recovery.
  • Go to physical therapy — Going to physical therapy is a great way to prepare for your ACL surgery. Physical therapy can provide several benefits to patients who will soon be going through a major procedure. To learn more about the specific benefits, keep reading below.

What are the benefits of getting physical therapy before undergoing ACL surgery?

  • Alleviating pain — Physical therapy can help alleviate some of the pain you might be feeling before your surgery. PT also has the potential to help you manage your pain after ACL surgery too. A therapist will guide you through movements that can reduce stress and possibly even pain in the knee while teaching you how to manage your pain post-op.
  • Reducing inflammation — Going to physical therapy can also result in reduced inflammation around the knee before ACL surgery. Reducing inflammation before surgery can help lower the chances of complications like infection occurring.
  • Building strength — Going to a physical therapist’s clinic before ACL surgery can build strength in the knee and the supporting areas of the knee including the hamstrings and quadriceps. This can reduce the muscle loss that will occur after surgery, increase strength after surgery, promote a speedier recovery, and increase the chances of a successful ACL surgery.
  • Improving surgical outcome — Each of the benefits listed above contributes to improved chances of a successful outcome from surgery. This means that physical therapy can effectively boost your chances of quicker recovery, restored knee mobility and limited pain.

What kinds of exercises will physical therapists have you perform before your ACL surgery?

  • Hamstring exercises — One type of exercise you’ll perform is hamstring exercises. There are a variety of movements that can target the hamstring muscles, but you’ll typically be using movements that will strengthen the muscle and support the tendons in that part of your body. 
  • Quadriceps exercises — Another type of exercise you’ll perform are quadriceps exercises. The quadriceps are connected to your knee and will also need to be strengthened before your surgery to support the knee and the tendon that will be regenerated in the event a graft is taken.
  • Knee extension exercises — Knee extension exercises are another type of exercise that you’ll most likely perform during PT. The point of these movements is to improve the range of motion in the knee.

These are just a few generalized exercises that you’ll typically be asked to perform during your physical therapy sessions. The goal of each exercise is to gradually boost your knee’s range of motion, flexibility and strength before your surgery. By doing so, you may be able to expect better results from your surgery, and an even faster recovery process. Pre-surgery physical therapy can make a significant difference if you are about to undergo an ACL procedure. Not only this, but a physical therapist will be able to help you address any issues that arise after surgery too, like knee popping. If you’re still feeling hesitant about PT or have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to a physical therapist near you.

Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch physical therapy to prepare you for your ACL surgery

Physical therapy can improve your chances of a successful ACL surgery. At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. 

Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can guide you through the physical therapy you need to prep for ACL surgery. 

Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. 

Come find help for your injury or chronic condition today!

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