Our Portland-Area Ligament Reconstruction Specialists Provide Comprehensive Care From Consultation to Recovery

Recovering from ligament reconstruction surgery is a gradual process that can take up to a year. Fortunately, Northwest Extremity Specialists is here to help you heal and return to the activities you love as quickly and safely as possible. From accurate diagnosis to personalized surgical interventions and impeccable post-operative care, our dedicated team of Portland-area orthopedic surgeons guides patients through every step of their unique recovery journey. If you’ve suffered a severe ligament injury, contact us to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic specialist at one of our 15 convenient Greater Portland locations.

teen-girl-knee-brace-crutches-PTLigaments are fibrous bands of connective tissue that attach bone to bone, often in joints, providing strength and stability and allowing controlled motion along prescribed pathways. These bands are strong and resilient, but injuries, overuse, and chronic conditions can cause them to stretch or tear, leading to painful sprains, joint instability, and mobility limitations. Though mild sprains typically respond to conservative care, more severely torn ligaments may require surgical intervention. Ligament reconstruction surgery is an effective solution for active patients, alleviating pain and discomfort, restoring joint stability, and improving overall joint function. 

How long it takes to recover can vary by patient, injury severity, and procedure, but you can always count on our Portland-area orthopedic experts to help you navigate the process. 

Recovering From Ankle or Knee Ligament Reconstruction

After an ankle or knee ligament reconstruction procedure, you’re in for a relatively long road to recovery. Though you can typically resume driving and return to work and most regular activities within a few weeks of the operation, regaining complete use of the injured joint or returning to your favorite sport can take several months or up to a year. Here’s an overview of what to expect at each stage of your post-operative recovery.

Immediately After Surgery

Once you’re awake and comfortable, we send you home in a protective cast or brace with detailed post-op instructions and a prescription to help you manage pain after the initial numbness wears off. Following our instructions throughout the healing process is key to keeping pain in check and making a full recovery.

Weeks One and Two

Pain and swelling are common in the first couple of weeks after ligament reconstruction surgery, but applying ice to the affected area for 20 minutes at a time and resting the operated knee or ankle as much as possible can help you manage discomfort. We recommend using crutches when you need to get around the house.

Weeks Three Through Six

By week three, most patients find that any post-operative pain and swelling have resolved, and they can begin walking without crutches. Your podiatric surgeon or physical therapist might advise increasing your activity or recommend specific exercises to help you fully extend and bend your knee, strengthen your leg muscles, and improve your balance. Patients typically reach several recovery milestones during this period, such as being able to move the operated knee or ankle more normally, being cleared to drive, and returning to work.

Months Three Through Six

Months three through six of the ligament reconstruction recovery process involve working with your physical therapist to continue to build strength and reintroduce forward-motion activities like hiking or biking. You might also be encouraged to start jogging short distances and slowly work your way up to running for longer periods.

Months Six Through 12

Six months to one year after ligament reconstruction surgery, most patients enjoy a full return to activity. As you enter the final stretch of your orthopedic recovery journey, continue to work with your PT to reintroduce additional activities and exercises gradually. 

When to Contact Our Portland-Area Orthopedic Experts After Ligament Reconstruction Surgery

Staying in close communication with our orthopedic team is essential to a successful recovery. If you experience unusual swelling, persistent pain, or any unexpected changes in your joint function, don't hesitate to reach out. We also typically see patients for follow-up visits one week, two to three weeks, six weeks, three months, six months, and one year after ligament reconstruction surgery to monitor your progress and promote long-term joint health. 

Common Ligament Injuries and Reconstruction Surgeries 

There are more than 900 ligaments throughout the human body, primarily in the extremities. While almost any ligament can be reconstructed, the most common ligament injuries we address with reconstruction procedures include the following.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Tears 

Located in the knee, the ACL is one of two cruciate ligaments responsible for stabilizing the knee joint, restricting rotational knee movements, and preventing excessive forward motion of the tibia. The most common ligament injury requiring reconstruction, ACL tears are particularly prevalent among girls, women, and soccer, field hockey, football, and basketball players. During ACL reconstruction, your orthopedic surgeon removes and replaces the ligament that connects the thigh and shin at the center of the knee with a graft taken from the patellar tendon or hamstring tendons.

Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Tears

The PCL works with the ACL to hold the leg bones in place and stabilize the knee while allowing it to move back and forth. Hyperextending the knee or suffering a direct blow while the knee is flexed can cause a PCL tear, warranting surgical reconstruction. During the procedure, the orthopedic surgeon removes the ligament connecting the shin and thigh at the back of the knee, replacing it with a graft taken from your body or a donor.

Lateral Ankle Ligament Tears

Twisting your ankle can stretch or tear the lateral ankle ligament. Sustaining a particularly severe twist or repeatedly suffering the same injury can lead to chronic ankle pain and instability necessitating surgery. In a lateral ankle ligament reconstruction or Brostrom procedure, your orthopedic surgeon secures or tightens the ligaments on the outside of the ankle to restore stability.