How can physio help an ACL reconstruction?

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll be starting to see a pattern in these topics, and how physiotherapy can help.....

Basically if something hurts, or it doesn't move enough, or it moves too much, physiotherapy can help! (A bit like gaffe tape and WD40, but for the human body....)

Todays topic is all about a common injury we see in football and netball players, that can be season-ending, or even career ending if it occurs in a professional athlete.

What is an ACL rupture?

This means rupture of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL). This is where one of the main ligaments deep inside your knee is ruptured, or completely torn, which leaves your knee relatively unstable.

How does it happen?

Often an ACL rupture happens during a sudden change of direction when playing sport, or from a contact injury such as when you're tackled from the side, with force pushing your knee inwards while your foot is fixed to the ground. This will often also cause damage to the meniscus, which is a structure that helps to absorb shock in the knee.

Is surgery required after an ACL rupture?

In a young, fit patient that wants to get back to a pivoting sport e.g. football, hockey, soccer, netball, then surgery to repair the ACL is generally required. If your goal is to return to swimming, bike riding or golf, you may be able to reach a reasonable level of function without needing surgery. Either way, your physiotherapist will play a big role in rehabilitation.

How can physio help an ACL reconstruction?

In the first few weeks after your injury, your physiotherapist will assist to reduce swelling, and keep your knee moving as much as possible. This includes addressing muscle guarding, and managing the inflammation associated with the rupture.

If surgery is not required, your physiotherapist will work very closely with you to reduce pain and swelling, then re-train your leg muscles through strength, balance and proprioception training to stabilise the knee, and help you get back to your the activities and sport you love to do.

If surgery is required, your physiotherapist will teach you about pre-operative rehabilitation, which involves strengthening your leg before the surgery happens, plus give you a head start on exercises and advice for post-operative recovery.

Your surgeon will tell you when you can start physiotherapy after surgery.

After surgery, your physiotherapist will provide treatment, advice and exercises over the following stages:

  • Early recovery: reducing swelling and inflammation, regaining full range of movement in your knee

  • Mid-stage recovery: focus on strength, balance and gradual return to function

  • Late-stage recovery: build up strength, agility and work on sports-specific skills including running, jumping and cutting activities.

Your physiotherapist will guide you through each stage of your recovery, and although exact timeframes differ from person to person, and knee to knee, the recovery timeframe from an ACL rupture where surgery is required is generally 6-12 months.

Have you ruptured your ACL?

Or are you concerned you might have damaged it?

Our physiotherapist can check your knee stability, and if needed, send you for imaging. Book Online to see one of our physiotherapists now.


Also check out:

Aspire Physiotherapy

18 Partridge St

Glenelg SA 5045

8376 8816

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