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YOUR ACL SPRAIN GUIDE

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Your care guide's focus is on practical strategies to reduce pain, improve function, and promote joint recovery. Care strategies reviewed for clinical efficacy with ratings provided.  

 

TOP PRIORITIES

This care guide and related information is educational in nature. Always consult with a medical professional prior to initiating new exercises or trying a new product, drug, or supplement.

 

KNOW YOUR STRATEGY

Clinical Evidence: Strong
If you feel this is potentially an ACL injury, we highly recommend consulting with a clinician. Waiting too long to speak with a professional can limit your ability to recover fully, so err on the side of caution. If the ligament(s) are injured beyond a certain extent, full recovery may require surgery. PROTECT Your 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, avoid activities that exacerbate your pain. BUT KEEP MOVING That doesn't mean to stop moving altogether. Short, frequent walks on flat ground should be performed as tolerated. Research has clearly shown that movement is critical to joint health and recovery. The key is listening to your body. The movement must be at the right intensity to promote healing, but without exacerbating the issue. PRACTICAL TIPS Remain mobile. Go for short, frequent walks as tolerated on flat ground. Start a conservative ACL sprain exercise program (yours is at the bottom of this page.) If something causes pain, back off. Also avoid long periods of sitting, as this will tighten up the knee and make movement more painful. BACK IN ACTION Once the pain diminishes, slowly ease back into your normal daily and athletic activities. Ideally this is done with a clinician to monitor and guide your return to sport rehab plan.

FIND YOUR EXERCISES

Clinical Evidence: Strong

Begin a targeted ACL sprain exercise program. For best results, make sure you address both strength and flexibility. We have given you a head start with an exercise program at the bottom of this care guide. Perform your exercises at least two times a day when possible. You can cycle down as the pain diminishes. Our goal is developing a simple set of exercises you can maintain.

SOOTHE THE JOINT

Clinical Evidence: Strong

Evidence suggests ice can be useful immediately after a sprain occurs to reduce pain and swelling. Heat tends to be best for muscle soreness.

JOINT PAIN TOOLS

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When exploring joint care tools, we recommend trying one at a time. Prioritize based on your greatest concerns (instability, try a brace.) This will allow you to determine what provides the most relief for you.

 

SUPPORT THE KNEE

Clinical Evidence: Fair

The right knee brace can add support, reduce pain and help you remain active. Learn More and View Recommended Braces

RELAX THE MUSCLES

Clinical Evidence: Good

Percussive massage devices use rapid, repetitive strokes to target deep muscle tissue.  Learn More and View Recommended Devices

CONTROL THE PAIN

Clinical Evidence: Fair

TENS units are a drug-free, pain relief option. New models allow for easy home use. Learn More and and View Recommended Models.

REDUCE INFLAMMATION

Clinical Evidence: Strong

Medications to reduce pain and inflammation can be effective. We reviewed the evidence on both topical and oral options.  Learn More

WHAT TO EXPECT

A conservative strategy of exercise and activity modification should lead to noticeable improvement within a few days. Other interventions, such as heat therapy, bracing, massage etc. can sometimes provide more immediate relief. This will be highly variable between individuals. Full return to activity and sport after an ACL sprain can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a year. This will largely depend on the severity of the injury and how quickly care is accessed. Once again, when in doubt, we recommend getting evaluated by a joint specialist.

THE NEXT LEVEL

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KNEE EVALUATION, DELIVERED TO YOU

We love this. An expert Physical Therapist will evaluate your knee in person, at home or work. Insurance accepted. Same cost as in a clinic, no prescription required. 

 

Confirm your condition. Get hands-on care. Review exercises. Learn More

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YOUR EXERCISES

Selected based on your condition match and care profile

Stretches

Hold for 45-60 seconds

1-2 repetitions per session

Perform on each side

Strengthening

10-15 repetitions per set

1 set per session

Perform on each side

 - Consult with a physician prior to trying new exercises -

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