Ligament tears are common when performing in sports or just when stepping awkwardly. These injuries occur when an individual’s joint is stretched out beyond the normal range, causing the ligament to partially or fully tear.
If the ligament is only partially torn, you will likely be told by your doctor to follow the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation of your joint that was affected. However, if it is fully torn, you may need to have surgery to repair the ligament tear.
Although surgery to fix a torn ligament is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, the recovery process will take a while. You will likely undergo rehabilitation for about six months, but the length of time will depend on the severity of your injury.
Below is the general timeline and what you can expect during ligament tear recovery.
The First Two Weeks After Ligament Tear Surgery
If you work, be sure to inform your employer that you might be out for a week or two. The first two weeks will be the most critical time in your recovery process, since this is when your body is beginning to heal and is, therefore, most vulnerable.
During this period, you will likely experience pain in the affected joint, the adjacent muscles, and even in some nearby tissues. There might also be a buildup of fluid on the joint.
- Elevate the affected joint three to six times a day in order to help reduce swelling.
- Apply cold therapy or a cold compress every three hours during the day. Use a towel so that it does not come into direct contact with your skin, because otherwise you could incur frostbite.
- Do not take off your bandages unless your surgeon directs otherwise.
Two to Five Weeks After the Surgery
In this stage, your doctor might recommend that you wear a brace or other supportive device. You should start regaining your full range of motion at this time.
- Exercise the affected joint periodically throughout the day as directed by your physical therapist.
- Create a schedule for yourself so that you remember to engage in regular therapeutic exercises.
- Eat a nutritious diet in order to facilitate faster healing.
Five Weeks to Three Months Following the Operation
Your ligament and nearby muscles will continue to heal and grow stronger. This improvement will allow you to perform low-impact activities such as cycling and swimming.
- Perform exercises that place gentle pressure on your revised joint.
- Engage in control and coordination activities as well as resistance training.
- Begin sport-specific training if desired.
Three to Six Months After the Surgery
Your physical therapist will show you the basics of protecting your injured area and preventing future injuries while you become more active as before. Remember to wear your brace even if you don’t feel any pain.
Orthopedic Doctors in South Texas
If you are looking for orthopedic care in the San Antonio area, then visit us at the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. We offer various noninvasive and minimally invasive treatments, surgical procedures, and physical therapy as spearheaded by our board-certified physicians.
Reach out to us by calling (210) 692-7400 or book an appointment online. Rest assured that we will provide you with the most effective and supportive medical care so you can get back to doing what you love.