• June 8, 2023

Pre-Operative ACL Rehab Leads to Better Outcomes

pre-operative ACL positive energy physical therapy

Pre-Operative ACL Rehab Leads to Better Outcomes

Pre-Operative ACL Rehab Leads to Better Outcomes 1024 683 Positive Energy Physical Therapy

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the most important ligaments in the knee joint. It provides stability during physical activities such as running, jumping, and pivoting. Injuries to this ligament are common among athletes, especially those participating in sports that involve sudden stops or changes in direction. Pre-operative physical therapy is essential to helping patients prepare for surgery and optimize their recovery process.

The primary goals of any pre-operative ACL rehab protocol:

  •  Reduce swelling,
  •  Restore full range of motion, and
  •  Increase muscle strength and stability around the knee joint

These objectives are achieved through a combination of exercise, manual therapy, and patient education. Recent research suggests that people who attain full range of motion, good quadriceps and hamstring strength, and minimal swelling prior to surgery have better outcomes than those who don’t, up to two years post-surgery.

The pre-operative ACL physical therapy program usually begins with a thorough evaluation of the patient’s knee joint. The physical therapist will assess the patient’s range of motion, strength, and overall functional abilities. Based on the findings, the therapist will develop an individualized treatment plan that addresses the patient’s specific needs.

The first phase of the pre-operative ACL rehab involves reducing pain and swelling.

This is achieved using modalities such compression, elevation and education on how to protect against painful activities. The physical therapist may also recommend specific exercises that can help reduce swelling. Exercises can range from ankle pumps and quad sets to low impact aerobic exercises, such as cycling.

The next phase focuses on restoring range of motion.

During this phase, the physical therapist will help the patient improve their mobility through a combination of graded movement exercises and manual therapy techniques such as joint mobilization and soft tissue mobilization. The patient will also be given specific exercises to perform at home to further enhance their range of motion.

Increasing muscle strength and knee joint stability

Once the patient has regained their range of motion, the focus shifts towards increasing muscle strength and stability around the knee joint. This is done through a variety of exercises that target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. Strength exercises should progress in parallel with the clinical condition of the knee. As the pain and swelling settles, and the range of motion increases, strength exercise can progress to include weighted exercises and low-level plyometric drills, such as hopping.

ACL Patient Education

Finally, the pre-operative physical therapy program includes patient education. The physical therapist will teach the patient about the ACL injury, the surgical procedure, and what to expect during the recovery process. The patient will also be given specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, goal setting for return to sport activity and education on any post-operative restrictions.

In conclusion

Pre-operative physical therapy is an essential component of the ACL rehab protocol. It helps patients prepare for surgery by reducing pain and swelling, restoring range of motion, and increasing muscle strength and stability around the knee joint. By achieving your pre-operative ACL rehab goals you can optimize your recovery process and achieve better outcomes.

Schedule an appointment with a Positive Energy physical therapist for the pre-operative ACL rehabilitation.