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ACL Series: What Could Go Wrong.

There are a lot of surgeries to repair ACL every year, and I wanted to cover what could go wrong. It is after all surgery, and that comes with risks. Luckily, there aren’t many problems, otherwise, we’d need to rethink how we deal with them.

If you don’t have the surgery then falling from being unstable and not improving after months of rehab is essentially what could go wrong (still not including the future since research is unclear) and you would simply have the surgery.

Sure there are always improvements that could be made, but major issues should not be happening often.

Infection risks after surgery are still a possibility but having reduced the size of the cut over the years has helped with lowering that risk. Having a massive cut exposes you to more infection risk than tiny holes. It also helps that those small holes heal faster than one big cut.

Let’s say the surgery went well. The next phase is how your body responds to the surgery. In a few cases, my client’s body created more scar tissue than what was needed. This makes rehab difficult. On a rare occasion, my client had to go back to the surgeon to have the knee straightened with anesthesia (no surgery).

This is usually rare and rehab goes smoothly.

If everything else goes well, rehab is the last step that could go wrong. While the exercise prescription can go wrong, it is more likely that the exercises were not done. Muscles are very weak because they’ve “turned off” and so it’ll be a process to get those muscles working again.

Exercise sessions are usually done several times a day. This helps to keep the knee moving throughout the day. Pain can stop you from wanting to start. So every few hours you have to force through the pain to get things going. The pain doesn’t last the whole time and eventually, it should feel better to move the leg than to keep it still.

The exercises are meant to push your leg’s boundaries so that you progress.

Not pushing enough, means you don’t progress well. Pushing too much too soon can mean that you compensate for the rest of your body. The body is fantastic at getting you to do what you need it to do no matter how much it has to contort. So while some people find that they increased knee pain if they do something too advanced, many will compensate and find that they are “able” to do it.

Yes, there are other problems and setbacks that could happen but these are the ones that I’ve seen most often.

The next topic I’ll discuss is what is normal after surgery. It seems that most of my clients have the same questions and concerns so I might as well cover them in the series.


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