Will my knee ever be the same after ACL surgery?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

ACL surgery is a common procedure performed to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. While the surgery is generally successful in restoring the functioning of the knee, it is important to note that your knee may not be exactly the same as it was before the injury.

After ACL surgery, it is common to experience some pain, swelling, and limited range of motion. These symptoms are typically temporary and gradually improve as you progress through the rehabilitation process. It is crucial to follow your physical therapist’s instructions and adhere to the prescribed exercises and activities to optimize your recovery.

In terms of functionality, ACL surgery can significantly restore the stability and strength of your knee. Many individuals are able to return to their previous level of activity and sports participation after surgery. However, it is important to understand that there may be some limitations or adjustments necessary.

For instance, you may find that your knee feels slightly different during certain movements or activities. It is not uncommon to experience a feeling of stiffness or tightness in the knee, particularly during activities that involve pivoting or changing direction quickly. This can be managed through ongoing strengthening exercises and proper warm-up techniques before engaging in physical activities.

Additionally, some individuals may experience ongoing mild pain or discomfort in the knee, especially during periods of increased activity or after prolonged periods of rest. This can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as recommended by your doctor. It is always important to communicate any persistent or worsening pain to your healthcare provider to ensure appropriate management.

It is worth noting that everyone’s experience with ACL surgery is unique, and individual outcomes can vary. Factors such as the extent of the initial injury, adherence to rehabilitation protocols, and individual anatomical differences can all influence the final outcome. It is essential to have realistic expectations and understand that while ACL surgery can greatly improve the function of your knee, it may not be exactly the same as it was before the injury.

In my personal experience, I underwent ACL surgery several years ago after a sports-related injury. While the surgery successfully restored the stability of my knee and allowed me to return to my desired level of activity, I did notice some differences compared to my pre-injury knee. There was a slight sensation of tightness and occasional mild discomfort during certain movements, but overall, my knee functioned well and did not significantly hinder my daily activities or sports participation.

To summarize, ACL surgery has a high success rate in restoring knee function, but it is important to have realistic expectations. Your knee may not be exactly the same as it was before the injury, and you may experience some residual pain, swelling, or limitations in certain activities. However, with proper rehabilitation and ongoing maintenance, you can regain a high level of functionality and return to an active lifestyle.