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What Happens If You Don’t Do Rehab After ACL?

What Happens If You Don't Do Rehab After ACL?

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is an important ligament in the knee that helps stabilize and control joint movement.

If you sustain an ACL injury and choose not to undergo rehabilitation (rehab) or follow through with post-surgery rehabilitation after an ACL reconstruction, several potential consequences can occur…

  1. Persistent Instability – Without proper rehabilitation, the injured knee may continue to feel unstable and may give way during physical activity or daily tasks. This instability can significantly impact your ability to engage in sports or even perform regular activities.
  2. Limited Range of Motion – Neglecting rehabilitation can lead to stiffness and a reduced range of motion in the knee joint, which can affect your ability to bend and straighten your leg fully.
  3. Muscle Weakness – Failure to rehabilitate can result in muscle atrophy (muscle loss) in the quadriceps and hamstrings, which are crucial for knee stability and function. Weak muscles can further compromise knee stability.
  4. Compensatory Movements – In response to a lack of stability in the injured knee, you may develop compensatory movements and postures. These can lead to overuse injuries in other parts of the body, such as the hip or lower back.
  5. Cartilage Damage – Over time, untreated ACL injuries can lead to cartilage damage in the knee joint, potentially resulting in osteoarthritis. Cartilage serves as a cushion in the joint, and when it’s damaged, it can cause pain and reduce joint function.
  6. Decreased Athletic Performance – If you’re an athlete, not undergoing rehabilitation after an ACL injury can lead to a decline in athletic performance and the inability to return to sports or activities at the same level as before the injury.
  7. Chronic Pain – Without rehabilitation, you may experience persistent pain and discomfort in the injured knee, which can impact your quality of life.
  8. Increased Risk of Re-injury – A lack of rehabilitation can increase the risk of re-injuring the ACL or injuring other structures in the knee.
  9. Psychological Impact – Dealing with the physical limitations and pain resulting from an untreated ACL injury can have a negative psychological impact, potentially leading to anxiety or depression.

It is essential to undergo rehabilitation after an ACL injury or surgery to restore strength, stability, and function to the knee joint. The specific rehabilitation program may vary depending on the individual and the severity of the injury, but it typically includes exercises to improve range of motion, strengthen muscles, and enhance joint stability. It is strongly recommended to work with a healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist or orthopedic surgeon, to develop and follow a personalized rehabilitation plan to achieve the best possible outcome.