What to Expect After ACL and Meniscus Surgery

what to expect after knee surgery

Both your ACL and menisci play crucial roles in supporting your knee and allowing for full mobility. Unfortunately, these ligaments can get damaged. This is particularly common among athletes.

Surgery may be  necessary to correct the injury. That said, you should know what to expect after knee surgery, and be prepared to patiently wait before getting  back out on the field or start running again. There will be a recovery period, and how long after knee surgery you can walk with proper gait mechanics or restart everyday activities will vary case by case.

You may have questions if you are planning to undergo ACL and/or meniscus surgery in the near future. How long does it take to heal from knee surgery? How long after knee surgery can you walk? What can you do to optimize your recovery?

The following information will help you better understand what to expect after knee surgery. It will also help you understand what steps you can take to ensure your recovery is as comfortable and quick as possible.

Easing Concerns About What to Expect After Knee Surgery

First, it’s important to know that undergoing this form of knee surgery does not mean you won’t be able to play your sport ever again. Studies indicate that 83% of athletes return to their sport after undergoing ACL surgery.

However, you need to be careful during the recovery period to boost your odds of staying healthy if you do start playing again. Heeding the advice about what to do after knee surgery from your physical therapist and any other specialists working with you is crucial. Asking them how long does it take to heal from knee surgery may help your peace of mind but doesn’t actually help you build back muscle and start walking again. Instead, do the exercises your physical therapist shows you and follow the rest of the instructions provided by medical professionals.

what to expect after knee surgery - post-op

Give Yourself Enough Recovery Time

How long it takes to heal after knee surgery will vary from one person to another. On average, it takes athletes six to nine months of healing before they can start playing again.

During this time, you’ll participate in a rehabilitation program with a physical therapist. Often, these sessions will focus on building quad muscles after knee surgery and focus on strengthening the rest of your leg. It’s very important to attend all scheduled visits. Studies show that the recovery period for patients who do undergo rehab programs is significantly shorter than that of patients who neglect such programs.

In the meantime, while you won’t be able to start playing sports again immediately following your surgery, you should be able to start walking again fairly quickly. If you're wondering how long after knee surgery can you walk correctly with proper mechanics, it usually takes two weeks or so to start being able to move around with ease. However, you should always consult with your physical therapist if you’re ready to start walking without an assistive device – don’t make the decision on your own.

What to Do After Knee Surgery Includes Caring for Your Entire Self

You’ll optimize your recovery if you take care of your own body during this period. Knowing what to do after knee surgery doesn’t just relate to your leg; it’s a full-body healing process. That means eating well, getting enough sleep, and avoiding activities that could place added stress on your body.

While you can – and likely should – practice certain rehab exercises on your own, it’s important to work with a qualified physical therapist who can determine which exercises are safe for you. Working with an expert makes it easier to know what to do after knee surgery during each stage of the healing process.

what to do after knee surgery - exercises

Being Patient Can Decrease How Long it Takes for You to Heal After Knee Surgery

It can be frustrating when an injury keeps you out of the game. It’s important to to keep building quad muscles after knee surgery and strengthening the rest of your leg. Start walking or running too soon, and you risk injuring yourself all over again.

You’re much better off in the long run if you can remain patient. By heeding the advice of your physical therapist and physician about everything from how long after knee surgery can you walk to what to expect after knee surgery, you’ll boost your odds of successfully playing again in the future.

If your surgery is coming up (or if it’s already passed but you still don’t have a physical therapist), use the BetterPT website or BetterPT app to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist in any location without a doctor prescription.

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