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Phase II: 0 to 2 weeks after surgery

ACL Surgery RehabilitationFor the first two weeks after your ACL surgery, you will need to concentrate on regaining range of motion and on minimizing the amount of swelling. You should ice and elevate your knee as much as possible, and avoid spending time on your feet. Your doctor may give you a special pair of socks, called TED hose, that will help the swelling to go down. These socks may itch and drive you crazy, but they can significantly speed up the process of removing the swelling. You will require crutches for some period of time after your surgery. The amount of time that you spend on crutches depends on your doctor's rehabilitation plan and how well you are doing.

By the end of this period of time your wound will have healed and you should be able to move your knee from full extension to ninety degrees of flexion. Each doctor and physical therapist has their own schedule and routine for ACL rehabilitation exercises to restore the motion to your knee and the strength to your quadriceps muscle. The following exercises are some of the more common ones. Many rehabilitation programs will have you performing a set of these (or similar) exercises every hour that you are awake. Each of these exercises should be done gently and gradually, and you should not push yourself to the point where you are in a significant amount of pain.


Knee extensions -- This exercise helps you to restore range of motion. Place your heel on object like a telephone book so that your heel and calf are not touching the bed. Remain in this position for five to ten minutes.

Quad sets -- This exercise helps you to maintain your strength and your range of motion. Keep your heel elevated as in the knee extension exercise. Begin by tightening the quadriceps muscle and holding it for ten seconds. Repeat ten times.

Straight leg raise --This exercise helps you maintain your quadriceps strength. Start with your leg flat on the bed. Begin by tightening your quadriceps, as in the quad sets exercise. Then lift your leg off the bed until your heel is approximately eighteen inches off of the bed. Lower your leg back down and relax for five seconds.

Heel slides -- This exercise is for ROM. Begin with your knee flat on the bed and slowly bend your knee until it is just slightly uncomfortable. Hold your knee in this position for ten seconds, and then relax by straightening your leg. Rest for ten seconds. Repeat ten times.

Each of these exercises is illustrated in Phase I: preoperative period.



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