Q: How soon can I return to sports after ACL Surgery?

Tearing your ACL was not only painful physically, but painful emotionally because you know that this injury will take you off the field for a little while with good recovery. However, you also know that sometimes complications may happen that can delay your return to sports after ACL surgery for some time.

As you probably know at this point, your ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is a piece of strong tissue in your knee that allows you to pivot, and prevents your thigh bone from sliding over your lower leg. You made it through the procedure and are anxious to return to sports after ACL surgery.

First and foremost, ask your surgeon who knows your case and can make the best recommendation. Reading articles of the internet can help lead you in the right direction of what to expect, but each case, surgical outcome and physician’s preference is different. The worst thing you can do is return to sports after ACL surgery to soon to only re-injure your ACL, which may keep you off the field for the rest of your life. With that being said-┬áthe American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) states:

The patient may return to sports when there is no longer pain or swelling, when full knee range of motion has been achieved, and when muscle strength, endurance and functional use of the leg have been fully restored.

The patient’s sense of balance and control of the leg must also be restored through exercises designed to improve neuromuscular control. This usually takes four to six months.

The use of a functional brace when returning to sports is ideally not needed after a successful ACL reconstruction, but some patients may feel a greater sense of security by wearing one.

Return to contact sports after ACL surgery may take a bit longer. Be sure to commit to performing exercises learned in rehab, even after you have finished your sessions, to prevent future ACL damage. Always think- “Strong quads, strong hamstring…”

Good luck in your recovery.

How soon do you think you will be able to return to sports after ACL surgery? What limitations do you have? Share your thoughts below!