About the author:

Howard J. Luks, MD

Howard J. Luks, MD

A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon in Hawthorne, NY. Dr. Howard Luks specializes in the treatment of the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. He has a very "social" patient centric approach and believes that the more you understand about your issue, the more informed your decisions will be. Ultimately your treatments and his recommendations will be based on proper communications, proper understanding, and shared decision-making principles – all geared to improve your quality of life.

18 comments on “Physical Therapy Following an ACL Reconstruction : Expert Series #3

  • I am currently a junior in highschool and play volleyball and basketball. I tore my acl mid December during a basketball game an got it repaired December 22. I was wondering what exercises I can be doing to insure a speedy and strong recovery. I would like to be completely prepared for volleyba season in the fall. Is it possible to be playing a sport again four months post op?

    • Four months is pushing it. You should Google the MOON protocol for an ACL reconstruction and have a PT or Trainer guide you.

    • varies by graft choice, meniscal injuries, etc. Some at 4 weeks, some not until 8 weeks or more. No rush to get back to running. All the recent research actually shows we should hold off on running longer due to persistent inflammation months after surgery.

  • My son had acl repair early October 2015. He’s just been given the all clear to start running. Is it realistic for him to be able to return to rugby next season. He is 20 and plays a high level of rugby. His rehab so far has been on track. Is there anything specific he should be doing or be aware of for the future?

    • I really can’t comment on when your son can return to sports. There are many criteria and tests he needs to pass before he can be released to sports. The MOON protocol and the MOON group in general discuss this at length in their articles.

  • My 14 year old daughter tore her ACL playing soccer on 10/11/15. Her growth plates were still open so we were referred to Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. She had surgery on 11/13/15. The surgeon did a transphyseal ACL reconstruction using a hamstring graft. Prior to the surgery she did a lot of prehab and was in very good shape going into surgery. She had full range of motion and no swelling. She started PT seven days post op, going three times a week for 8 weeks, and at 9 weeks went down to two times a week. Her PT is saying that she is not really benefiting from PT anymore and will stop going at 20 weeks post op. We are scheduled to see the surgeon at that point. I should mention that on the days she does not have PT she does her home PT program, and she was released to run on the treadmill. Her surgeon told her to run every other day, increasing in 2 minute increments each time. She is up to 30 minutes with no pain. My question is what does she do next? I understand that the healing process takes time. We aren’t trying to rush her return to play. The last thing we want is for her to re-injure her leg or tear the other ACL. She feels so good that it is becoming difficult to keep her from doing things that she hasn’t been cleared to do. I have not been able to find a PT who does sports specific therapy in the rural area we live in. There are athletic training/sports enhancement type places, but they are run by an athletic trainer versus a PT. I’ve read about certain testing criteria that are used to assess progress, but neither the PT or the surgeon have utilized any of these tests so far. My daughter loves soccer and basketball. We want to position her for the safest and best return to competitive sports. I feel that I cannot get specific information from either the surgeon or the PT pertaining to what she can and can’t be doing at this point. Or what and when the next step is for her. At 12 weeks the surgeon said she was a full month ahead of what he would expect. Any insight you can provide would be appreciated.

    • It’s really up to your surgeon. Neuromuscular training, landing, jumping mechanics, etc are critical to avoid re-injuring the same knee or tearing the ACL in the other knee. Your surgeon will put her through a bunch of tests to see if she’s ready to progress.

      Good Luck

  • Hello, I am 20 years old, and Im schedule to have surgery in june, I would like to know your point of view and which graft to use; donated or my own?

  • I am 15 going 16 and i tore my acl and meniscus. Is it possible for me to figure skate 5 months after the surgery? Will i be able to execute movements such as jumping up and landing on one leg with the landing knee bent?

    • probably not … but that will be up to your surgeon and therapists to decide

  • Thank you for writing such a thorough description of what to expect post surgery, and truly how long it may take. I am female, age 34 and my knee is terribly worn… Meniscus, MCL partial and ACL full tear as an athlete at 13, surgery at 24 when other meniscus tore and now have sustained a second, 2 part repair after ACL became essentially non-functioning at an unknown or un-remembered point in time (cartilage transplant was needed first and was successful). I am hoping this time the PT is more agressive, as it was minimal for surgery in 2006 performed in rural ND. I think this is the second comment alluding to a possible disparity in knowledge and methods due to location….thoughts?

  • First thank you for writing this it is very helpfull for me, Im 17 and a senior in high school and want to heal my injury as best as possible. I completely tore my ACL and just had surgery 2 weeks ago I was put in an immobilizer for a week while icing my knee and using a passive motion machine I just got a new brace the one i think i will use for the rest of my recovery (dont know the term/name for it). But my problems is the physical therapy my parents insurance was switched with there new jobs and doesnt really pay for much and after the xrays MRI and sugery money is a little tight and I dont know if we will be able to pay for pt what can I do?

    • Perhaps you can talk with your school’s athletic trainer. You also have the option of meeting once with the physical therapist who can show you what to do on your own. That works for many who have issues with the cost of PT.

      Good Luck

  • Hi my name is Cathryn I am 16 years old and I tore my meniscus is my left knee last May and had surgery on it. Then I went back to playing basketball in July and on the second day of the tourney I tore my acl in the right leg. I had surgery the last week in July and have had to sit out of volleyball but now that basketball is coming back I really want to play. So in two weeks I will be getting my brace so I can start playing but Im worried I will mess it up. Lately I have been running and working out but my knee has been making some really weird popping noises and it feels loose. I don’t know what to do because if I ask my doctor or physical therapist he might not let me play in two weeks and I really dont want to lose my spot on varsity.Please reply and give me an honest opinion. Thanks.

    • Cathryn,
      Even in best of circumstances you would not be allowed to return to basketball yet. 4 months simply isn’t enough time. There’s no way your knee or your psychological well being (doubt, fear,etc) is ready. There are well described tests to determine when people can attempt to return to sports. No one would pass them at 4 months. Returning to sports now means that you would stand a very high risk of tearing your new ACL. Plus, if the knee feels loose now I would get another opinion to be sure the ACL is working well.

      I’m very sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it takes at the very minimum 6-9 months before the best rehabilitated athletes can return to play after ACL surgery. A brace will NOT protect you.


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