Sunday, July 20, 2008

Week 7 & 8 - ACL Surgery Recovery

Recovering from ACL surgery seems to be different for everyone judging by my observations and by my own experience since I've had both knees fixed. On my first week of physiotheropy i was able to ride the excerise bike with no problems. Recently, i was observing another patient at the physio clinic who also had her ACL repaired over 8 weeks ago and she was still having difficulty peddling. She had to raise her hip off the seat every time her repaired leg was at the top of the peddling cycle. One thing to keep in mind when you're reading my blog that if you're about to go through with the ACL surgery, your progression may be a bit longer than what i'm experiencing and reporting.

Now, since my last post i've had a routine follow up appointment with my surgeron. It was July 8th and lasted about 5 minutes. It wasnt really informative as he just moved my leg around to make sure my knee joint was tight and he seemed pleased with my progress. I've got another follow up in October where i'll get x-rays to make sure everything has healed nicely. I mentioned some minor discomfort in my patella but he didn't seem too concerned at this point since it was only around the 7 week point.

In Physio at week 7, in addition to the routines i've described in my previous posts, i started doing some forwards running in the Swimex pool which was more challenging than the backwards running I've been doing. Outside of the pool, I've added some zig-zag walking patterns with the exercise bands rapped around my ankles doing about 40-50 steps forwards and backwards and then side to side. Also, I've added some hip raises where i lye flat on the floor with my knees bent and holding a ball in between my knees. you slowly raise your hips above the ground so that your body is in a straight diaginal from your knees to your head while at the same time, squeezing your knees together. All these exercises are great for strengthening your hip muscles. The stronger your hip muscles are, the more weight they can handle and the less pressure on your knees.

That was it for week 7. This past week which would technically be week 8, i spent with my wife in Punta Cana - Dominican Republic so i don't have much to report. I took my exercise band with me, used the gym at the resort and did a lot of swimming to keep my knee going. I've been told that i'll be starting Plyometrics soon at physio so i'll report on that at the end of the week.

Sorry, no pictures this week. Thanks for reading my ACL surgery recovery blog.


  1. I am going under the knife to have my ACL repaired in August. Is there a reason that you did not go with a cadevar? How long after surgery were you able to walk without crutches? I signed up for a motorcylce course (before injury) which starts 2 weeks after my surgery. Based on your experience do you believe this is premature? This is the 1st sight I've found that has given me a look at what I can actually expect after surgery, thank you!!!!

  2. No real reason why we didnt go the cadevar route. The surgeon and i didnt really discuss that option in much detail. My first ACL surgery in 1999 was also done using my patella and i havent had any trouble with it so we decided to use the same process. Being in Canada with the lousy health care system, i think if we went with the cadevar option, im almost certain it would have delayed my surgery date more.

    I was able to walk without crutches at one week however, walking was still a bit limited. i could not walk very fast and you have to be careful that nobody bumps into you if you're walking in a crowded area. I was able to drive my car after the second week. Its an automatic car but being its my right knee, it was still a little difficult switch from the gas to brake pedal...and also to press down on the brake pedal. The first time i had the surgery on my left knee it took a bit longer, maybe 3 weeks to get off the crutches. Everyone is different. I saw a few people struggling with walking and getting their range of motion back at the physio clinic. I would probably have to say that at 2 weeks you will most likely have difficulty with the motorcycle. If you need to put your leg down quickly for any reason, you'll probably just flop over. You might want to postpone it a month or two at least.

    My advice is to keep your leg strong now. do a lot of cycling and leg strengthening exercises.

    When you have your surgery, you will probably be walking on crutches that day. dont be afraid to bend your knee. Dont just lie down and sit still. Move the knee joint as much as you can to help prevent any scar tissue from forming (it will be a little painfull). The doctor will probably give you some exercises and movements you can do that day. Make sure you follow his/her instructions right from the start. It will make for a quicker recovery. Most importantly, go to physiotherapy least twice a week and follow their instructions.

    Thanks for your comments. Thats exactly why i started my blog.
    Good luck with your surgery. let me know how it goes.

  3. Interesting weekly notes... I agree with you in the sense that body metabolism and physical condition differ from person to person.
    I had my ACL surgery 7 weeks ago (today entering in the 8 week range) and at week 5 I started to add 10 seconds soft jogging at the treadmill. Practically no pain and some sore muscles next - which is acceptable and understandable because they are weak. Now, at week 8 (I already had my workout this morning) I'm at 8 repeat of 30 seconds jogging in my 15 minutes treadmill walk.
    I feel that preparation prior to surgery is extremely beneficial in the recovery phase. In my 2 weeks prior to the surgery I played soccer twice / 2-3 hours weekly, worked out 3 times a week, and eat very healthy (BBQ chicken, vegetables, no rice, cereal, protein drinks, not oil or fried stuff, etc)....Of course, I have been playing soccer for more than 20 years and more than ten years working out every week. My doctor is impressed with my recovery (I'm 45 year old man), but keep telling to BE CAREFUL and "LISTEN TO MY BODY" ... There where day in week 5 that were painful during my exercises.
    I agree 100% with your statement about start moving and flexing the muscles as soon you wake up! I remember that the first thing I did in the recovering room was to move my toes and soft flexion of muscles, twisting around my ancle, etc....with pain, but worthy....



  4. I had acl surgery 8 weeks ago and am progressing very well. I am kind of shocked though that my thearpist has not added any light jogging or any zig zaging in my thearpy routine. I am able to go full speed on exercise bike and able to walk 4 miles each day no problem. I have ROM to 125 degrees and she seems to think that I am not proressin quick enough which i find hard to believe. I am not sure why the progression is so slow but I am getting really bored with the same exerecises at therapy at this point. Has anyone had any similar experience at therapy. I am 28 years old and a very active individual and am very anxious to start building back up to my old work out routine

  5. I'm at week 8 post op. I had a hamstring graft and was out of bed walking on crutches 5 hours after the op - not bad considering I had a spinal block! Key to this was continually moving knee and using Cryo Cuff whilst in hospital bed. My 3 weekly gym sessions now consist of 30 minutes on bike with weight, cross trainer for 15 minutes and treadle for 20 minutes plus various machine and floor leg exercises for approx 30 minutes. I won't try jogging for another few weeks, just concentrate on building up muscle strength and maintaining flexion. And of course use Cryo Cuff after every session. I walk without a limp and with weekly physio sessions feel my knee getting strong. I'm age 53 female and determined to return to competitive sport in 6 months. Watch this space!

  6. I'm at 8 weeks today of my ACL repair and can walk well, but still have some pain near the inside top area of my patella, anyone else having pain still? It's not constant, I have good days and not so good days on walking, but in general I'm doing well. I had the cadaver and was walking on my leg the 2nd day, driving by week 4 with no problems, and doing 1hour workouts with biking, walking on treadmill, and weight training by 5 weeks.

  7. Hi,

    I am at 7 weeks post-op, with a patella tendon graft done on my left ACL. My surgeon and PT say that I am progressing well - but it is hard to gauge without comparison, so thanks for this blog. I was walking without crutches probably at 2 and a half weeks, but still with a limp. I returned to work after a month off and feel like my progression has slowed dramatically as I don't have as much time to dedicate for physio. Around the 6th week I was able to go to work with relatively little pain and do day to day activities. My knee around the incision site is still kind of numb, but I hear thats normal because of the nerves they cut during the operation. There is also still some swelling around the knee, but is almost back to normal. I still have not been able to reach full knee extension (straightening your leg), but is very close to 0 degrees. In terms of flexion, I can almost touch my heel to my bum. My workout routine now consists of gym exercises (weights), cardio and home exercises. I was able to return to the gym after 5 and a half weeks. I began doing interval training on the stationary bike which is really good for cardio and strength - but is somewhat sore when I come off the bike after just 15 - 20 minutes (I guess that is normal). I am also very determined to return to sports after 6 months.. hopefully I am on the right track?

  8. How long did it take you to straighten out your leg? I'm coming up on my 8th week post A.C.L. patella surgery and I still haven't been able to fully straighten it out or get full range of motion. Help?

  9. taryn,

    i believe i was able to straighten leg after first week maybe second. do exercises like crazy(push urself).... youll get there. im currently 8 wks post op, started light joggin with minimal pain. hammy graft, hammy feels very weak still imo.
    best of luck!

    1. I am coming up to 8 weeks post op, i have got some pain in the back of my knee what feels to be inside the back of my knee. I was just wondering if you had any pain? its not all the time, just when i extend my leg fully?

  10. I think everyone differs in their recovery rate.

    I'm a male in his mid forties and certainly past his physical prime, had a hamstring tendon graft 7 months ago, and I could lightly pedal a stationary bike with resistance on low within a few days after surgery (even though you probably should not do this that early). I was walking without crutches but using a high quality hinged knee brace and a limp in about 2 or 3 weeks, and got almost full range of motion (albeit a bit stiff) back within a few months. It's just the luck of genetics.

    I think the range of motion is the most important of all physio exercises and you should work hard to get that back.

    Although some doctors discourage it I have used a hinged knee brace and still do for more rigorous physio. It gives me more confidence to push it more and faster. It certainly hasn't impeded my recovery.

    My knee still does swell up after working it or if I tweak it a bit. Also, apparently it is very normal for the knee to swell up after a physio workout and to make funny pops and grinding noises for the first year up until the new ACL fully remodels.

    The key is to push but don't push beyond what you feel comfortable doing. Always do things under the advice of a qualified physio or your doctor.

    At the same time, you have to push a little. Sitting around is the worst thing you can do. You have to earn your new ACL.


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