When we say that someone is experiencing knee pain, or even when we experience knee pain, we do not realize that there are so many ligaments and tendons at work! I mean, there are so many of them that you don't know which one is it! But go to the specialist doctor and he will tell you that basically there are 4 main ligaments making up our knee and giving it the weight bearing strength. One of them is the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). It is important because it prevents the femur (thigh bone) from rotating on to the tibia (shin bone). ACL tears are not unheard of in sportsmen involved in contact sports. It is all a part of the game! Those not in sports, too, can encounter an ACL tear.
Recovery of Torn ACL Without Surgery
At the onset, the symptoms will be the deciding factor whether to have a surgery or not. Recovery from a torn ACL is possible sans surgery only if the damage is not to that extent. To be specific, if there is a complete ACL tear, then there would be no option other than surgery. If the surgery isn't required, then what are the options? Well, there are a number of options. For starters, applying ice on the affected area, will reduce the swelling and inflammation and soothe the pain. Resting the knee and not exerting it is another thing which helps in recovery.
Heat application too can relieve the pain and discomfort. In addition to these, doctor may prescribe NSAID's and pain killers for dealing with pain and swelling. Finally, surgery or no surgery, physiotherapy is a must. It is vital for regaining the range of motion and the weight bearing capacity. What happens is that the hamstring muscles and quadriceps weaken and shut down as a result of knee injury. To get them back on track rehabilitation of the knee has to include knee strengthening exercises. Knee braces and supports are used for facilitating speedy recovery.
Recovery Period for Torn ACL
Again, the gravity of the injury, the symptoms, the age of the patient and the overall health and activity level of the patient has an impact on the ACL tear recovery. If there is a surgery, then it can take anything from around 4 to 6 months (minimum) to a year for a total recovery involving complete regaining of the strength and range of motion of the knee. That is depending on the individual patient.
The bone-ligament grafting done in a surgery itself takes around a couple of months or perhaps a bit more to be fixed to the knee. Then after the injury, there will be a few days when the person cannot do anything. Then slowly after the initial pain and discomfort subsides, the exercises and all can be done. The person can get back to his routine activities in a few weeks, if he takes all the recovery measures. All these factors are a part of the recovery from surgery.
Even when the surgery is not required, the factors mentioned above are significant for recovery. Partially torn ACL, for instance, can take lesser time to heal than a complete tear. But the dilemma in a partial ACL tear is regarding the surgery - whether to do it or not. That, again, will impact the recovery time.
After reading all this, you may wonder if ACL tears can be prevented. Yes, you can avoid knee ligament injuries. Some of the things which can be done to avoid these injuries are - warming up properly before sports practice, having a healthy diet, exercising and by focusing on knee strengthening. Have a speedy recovery and take care!