Why is your knee still swollen after ACL surgery?

If you are more than 6 months into healing from an ACL surgery and are still frustrated by ongoing swelling, limited mobility, and pain, you are not alone.

Most recoveries from an ACL surgery go well beyond the 6-8 month mark, but it’s important to understand why this is and how you can help facilitate a fast and safe recovery that gets you back to playing your favorite sports and activities.

Like most surgeries, the body views an ACL surgery as a trauma or injury to the body, and as a result, has to go through a phased healing process as your body incorporates the new tissue from your grafts. The first phase can last for 6-10 weeks and is right after the graft is initially placed. During this time you want to take it easy and may wear a brace.

Phase 2 can last 10-20 weeks and this is when the graft becomes weaker as the body starts to deposit collagen and elastin1, connective tissues and proteins that serve as the building blocks of our bodies. The body must break down the graft in order to repair it.

The third phase is a strong phase, which happens after 20 weeks when the graft begins to heal and collagen depositing stops. This can take anywhere from 8 months to a year.

If your knee is still swollen this is likely because of the metabolic and cellular processes required for re-depositing collagen and elastin. Swelling, or inflammation, is part of the body’s natural healing mechanisms. Remember that your body is going through major healing that requires a lot of energy and resources for repair.

You may also experience more inflammation and swelling as your progress through a physical therapy program. This is because as you incorporate more complex movements, there is torsional stress on the knee that can affect the ACL.

Close-up picture of the pain of a male runner, using two hands to hold his head to indicate the point of injury.

You may also be experiencing a weakening of surrounding muscles like the quads as you heal, which also causes swelling.

While you might be ready to throw in the towel with your physical therapy and jump right back into sports, research shows that sticking with it for more than five months post-surgery can significantly improve healing time as well as reduce the risk of re-injury when you get back to your favorite activities.

In fact, one study2 found that about 7 percent of people will experience re-injury with the ACL repaired leg within the first two years of surgery. There’s also an 8 percent risk of tearing the non-injured leg due to biomechanical compensations of the injured leg.

A physical therapy program of rehab two times per week for the first eight months, and then reducing to 1-2 times every other week for up to a year post-surgery can allow your physical therapist to address concerns you have and help guide you through a sports protocol3 that includes balance, plyometrics, and functional activities.

But there’s more to healing beyond physical therapy. If you are experiencing swelling months after an ACL surgery, eating an anti-inflammatory diet, icing the area frequently, wearing a bandage or wrap, and focusing on certain herbs that can naturally reduce swelling and pain can be great additions to your rehab.

Final infograhic - reduce acl swelling

Turmeric extract is one such remedy that has been proven to help reduce inflammation3 associated with knee pain and injury. This is because of the active component in turmeric, curcumin, which works by reducing certain inflammatory markers in the body. When taken in therapeutic doses of 1500 mg a day at a 95% concentration of curcumin, turmeric extract can help provide anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and pain-relieving benefits throughout the body.

Let me tell you a quick story about one of my clients, Adam who twisted his knee playing indoor soccer since he was wearing outdoor soccer cleats on artificial turf.

Physical injury concept. Attractive African runner with athletic body wearing black running shoes, sitting on steps on concrete stair, clutching injured knee in excruciating pain depicted in red color

After undergoing surgery for a torn ACL and meniscus, Adam still had pain and inflammation that was affecting his quality of life and the ability to play his favorite sport. Looking for a more natural inflammation relief solution, Adam tried Active Atoms turmeric alongside his physical therapy and in just two weeks, he noticed significantly less swelling, pain, and inflammation in his knee.

Over the past seven years as a physical therapist, I discovered that most of my clients wanted to stop taking Ibuprofen and switch to natural alternatives, but they didn’t know what could be as good as Ibuprofen.

After months of research, I found out that turmeric extract, not turmeric root has been shown by studies to improve knee function, reduce pain, and improve joint health. These benefits were similar to Ibuprofen but without the harmful side effects.

I went on Amazon looking for a good turmeric supplement to recommend to my clients and realized that many of those companies were very misleading in their advertising by claiming they had a potency turmeric when in reality, they filled their capsules with cheap and less effective turmeric powder. This was the moment I decided to launch Active Atoms.

I believe Active Atoms Turmeric Extract is the highest potency turmeric supplement available to promote a healthy inflammation in the body so you can increase your odds of a successful meniscus recovery.

Learn more about our Active Atoms Turmeric today and join our free meniscus tear and knee arthritis Facebook support groups to connect with others who have been where you are.

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