Ask the Sports Doc: Recovery time

Published 10:17 pm Monday, January 3, 2011

How important is it that I go for a formal physical therapy program after my shoulder surgery? Can I learn from the program and do it at home?

Physical therapy is a very important component in the healing and recovery process after any surgery. A shoulder surgery’s outcome can be only as good as the dedication to the therapy after the surgery. I always stress to my patient that even though you have had a successful outcome from the surgery, the final recovery is highly dependent on the therapy that follows.

Physical therapists are trained to monitor the progress of a patient’s rehabilitation course. They can adjust to how the patient is tolerating the therapy. More importantly, they are able to see some red flags if a patient is starting to fail therapy.

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If you do the therapy at home, you may not realize that you are falling behind and may end up having a poor outcome, which may have irreversible consequences.

How long will it take for my ACL surgery and when will I be able to play sports again?

The surgery itself typically takes about 60-90 minutes.

The rehab course can take up to a year before you are able to play sports without any restrictions.

Immediately after surgery, you are placed in a brace that will stay on for two to three months. During that time, it is important to work on range of motion and strength of the muscles. The brace helps to protect the ACL graft while the healing process occurs.

At about nine months, you may be able to play sports if all your strength is back. You may still need to wear a brace for awhile when you play sports.