written by Matthew Henderson, Physical Therapist
If you feel this is potentially a cruciate ligament injury, I highly recommend consulting with a physical therapist ASAP.
PROTECT THE LIGAMENT
Our main objective for ACL sprain recovery is simple - minimize strain on the ligaments. This allows inflammation to settle down and healing to begin.
With that in mind, minimize activities that exacerbate your pain (running, squats etc.) Basically, if it hurts - back off.
ICE OR HEAT
If you experience swelling go with icing over hot packs. This will help with the pain/stiffness and promote healing (info on exercise page below.)
Also begin a targeted ACL exercise program. Make sure you address strength, range-of-motion and flexibility. Luckily you don't have to figure out which exercises to perform, our PT's have done it for you! Just select the exercise option below.
Try to do your exercises a few times a day. You can cycle down as the pain diminishes.
WHAT TO EXPECT
If it is a mild injury then you should see significant improvement within just a few days.
BACK IN ACTION
Once the pain diminishes, VERY slowly ease back into your normal daily and athletic activities.
A WORD OF CAUTION
To be clear, if the ligament(s) are injured beyond a certain extent, full recovery may require surgery...so once again, I highly recommend having a local clinician examine the knee.
NOT IMPROVING FAST ENOUGH
Check back in and I'll connect you with a licensed physical therapist in your area.
And always look on the bright side - you've got knees! Physiobot can only dream. #knees4physiobot
-- Check with your doctor or PT prior to initiating a new exercise program --
Range of Motion
Following a cruciate ligament injury the knee tends to swell, restricting the knee range-of-motion. This exercise methodically and safely address this tightness and ROM restriction.
Short Arc Quads
This exercise targets the end range of knee extension strength. This range often weakens following a knee injury, leading to knee buckling and pain.
The quadriceps are key to activities such as getting out of chairs without pain or difficulty. This exercise strengthens them without adding strain to the ACL.
Strengthening the outer hip to recover from an ACL sprain may seem strange. But research shows strong outer hips reduce knee instability and are an important part of recovery.
This exercise is a conservative approach to both improving hamstrings contraction AND your knee's range-of-motion.
Excessive swelling restricts knee range of motion, inhibits the knee musculature and slow the healing process. Icing quickly and methodically for short periods for the first 3-5 days following injury is extremely beneficial.