How Long Does It Take to Recover from an ACL Tear?

ACL recoveryThe anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four ligaments that support and stabilize your knee. An ACL tear is a common injury among athletes like football and soccer players as well as runners and tennis players. If you experience an ACL tear, the first thing you might be concerned about is how long it will take to recover.

How Do I Know If I Have an ACL Tear?

Most people who tear their ACL know it right away because of the unpleasant popping sound the knee makes during an abrupt turn or twist. This is often followed by pain and swelling, stiffness, and a sensation of instability. If you believe you have torn your ACL, it is important to stay off your leg so you can prevent further damage and make an appointment to be evaluated.

Treatment for ACL Tears

ACL tears can be treated non-operatively for certain people who do not desire to return to athletic participation. This treatment option includes physical therapy, swelling reduction, and possibly an ACL-specific brace. The majority of patients with ACL tears end up having surgery for an ACL reconstruction, especially if you are an athlete who wishes to return to your sport. Without an intact ACL, multiple studies show that you are much more likely to have future meniscus tears and cartilage damage due to the continued instability.

If you have surgery, then there are multiple graft options, and Dr. Burrus uses them all. Hamstrings, patellar tendon, quadriceps tendon, and allograft (cadaver tissue) are all good options but should be tailored to the individual patient.

How Long Will It Take to Recover?

If you undergo an ACL reconstruction, then the full recovery time (in other words, the time it takes to be released to full sports participation), is 6-9 months. The postoperative course involves a lot of work with a physical therapist and possibly a brace upon returning to sports.

If you are experiencing symptoms of an ACL tear, a consultation with an orthopedic specialist may be the first step towards diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. Dr. Burrus is an experienced fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon who is dedicated to providing high-quality, specialized holistic care. Call 512.477.6341 or fill out the form on this page to schedule an appointment.