I completed my first week of physical therapy this week. While I have made great progress in this week alone, I still have a lot of work to do until I am fully healed. Right now, I am five weeks and five days out of surgery and I am entering a time where my new ACL graft is going to be at its weakest point. Weeks 6-9 usually are when the ACL graft is at its weakest point. I’m not really sure why this is, but I know it has something to do with blood circulation…or something like that.
In therapy this week, I was given a list of exercises to do. I am supposed to do them while I am at therapy and also when I am at home on days I do not go to therapy. This week, I went to therapy on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday and each day I felt that I made substantial improvements. On my second visit on Tuesday, I did the hamstring curl with five pounds. At my third visit on Thursday, I did all of my mat exercises with four pounds strapped to my quad. (The reason why it was on my quad and not my ankle is because my graft is still not strong and extra weight around my ankle can cause it to stretch or pull the graft). Right now there are two key areas I am working on, my range of motion and strengthening my leg. Currently, I still do not have full range of motion. By this time with my previous surgeries I had full range of motion, but seeing as how this is a revision surgery the recovery process is slower and not even guaranteed. Yikes! I am pretty upset that my leg won’t straighten all the way yet. I am still missing several degrees when I sit on the floor, and I am missing even more when I try to walk on it. I am worried that it will be perpetually bent. As far as my strength is concerned, unfortunately, those first four weeks after surgery did a number on my right leg. I loss so much muscle mass in such a short time.
On my days off from therapy, I either do my exercises at the gym or in the pool. At the gym I make sure that I do at least 30 minutes of cardio on the bike first. And now I can finally push myself on the bike and add resistance. It is such a relief to finally be able to get in a real workout and break a sweat now. It really is amazing how quickly you get out of shape. I am able to do eight miles on the bike in 30 minutes and it is exhausting! Slowly, I am going to get back to where I was at in cardiovascular shape. Hopefully then once I start running it won’t be too difficult to start all over again.
There still is quite a bit swelling in my right knee, but as you can see it is starting to go down. I can faintly see the outline of my patella now, especially at the top of the knee, which is a pretty big improvement because before I had this large mass of swelling on the top of my knee. Also, in this picture you can see the atrophy continue. My right calf and thigh are substancially smaller than my left ones. To help the swelling I am doing heat and cold therapy multiple times a day plus taking an anti-inflammatory. For the heat and cold therapy, I heat for 15 minutes, followed by ice for 15 minutes and I repeat this about 2-3 times per sitting. Hopefully the swelling is gone in a few weeks because once it is gone I know that my range of motion will improve.
Finally, I am being proactive about my scars. Daily, I am applying Neosporin and vitamin E oil to the incision points. Also, when I go outside to the pool area, I make sure that I liberally apply sunscreen to my knee. Seeing as how these are new scars, too much time in the sun will cause them to turn a dark purple red color, and I won’t let this happen.
- Monday – Physical therapy
- Tuesday – Physical therapy
- Wednesday – Pool exercises
- Thursday – Physical therapy, upper body weights
- Friday – 7 miles on the bike, exercises at the gym
- Saturday – 8 miles on the bike, exercises at the gym
- Sunday – Pool exercises and upper body weights.