Before having surgery

Before having ACL surgery, you may need to wait for any swelling to go down and the full range of movement to return to your knee.

You may also need to wait until the muscles at the front of your thigh (quadriceps) and the back of your thigh (hamstrings) are as strong as possible.

If you don’t have the full range of movement in your knee before having surgery, your recovery will be more difficult. It’s likely to take at least three weeks after the injury occurred for the full range of movement to return.

You may be referred to a physiotherapist before having surgery. They’ll be able to help you regain the full range of movement in your knee.

Your physio may show you some stretches you can do at home to help keep your leg flexible. They may also recommend low-impact exercise, such as swimming or cycling.

These types of activities will help improve your muscle strength without placing too much weight on your knee. You should avoid any sports or activities that involve twisting, turning or jumping.

Reconstructive ACL surgery

A torn ACL can’t be repaired by stitching it back together. However, it can be reconstructed by grafting (attaching) new tissue onto it.

The ACL can be reconstructed by removing what remains of the torn ligament and replacing it with a tendon from – for example, the hamstring or patellar tendon.