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How Cold Compression Quickly Helps Torn ACL Recovery

27 August, 2015

By Amanda Reynolds

A torn anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is a common sports injury that often results in surgical repair because, as one of the four ligaments found in the knee, it is so important for stabilization in the joint. ACL sprains or tears can occur with physical impact, when quickly pivoting, or when landing incorrectly from a jump.

When the ACL tears, the only option for a full recovery is surgery because the ligament is unable to repair itself. Although it is possible to function with a torn ACL, the instability it creates is problematic for most people who want to perform normal daily functions, including walking.

ACL surgery is typically done arthroscopically and involves grafting tissue to the ligament to give it a framework for reconstruction. Because a new ligament must grow, torn ACL recovery takes a lot of time, patience, and physical therapy.  

Cold Compression and Torn ACL Recovery

The path to torn ACL recovery can be a long one, sometimes up to six months before an athlete can return to sports. However, including cold compression therapy can help a patient return to normal activity much more quickly and with less pain. Some of the ways cold and compression therapy helps speed up the recovery process include:

  • Reduce swelling - Swelling is a natural part of the healing process and it is unavoidable. However, you can help control swelling with cold therapy to slow down cellular processes, and active compression to pump away edema. Reducing swelling quickly after surgery is an important part of torn ACL recovery because it will help you regain range of motion more quickly. As you continue the recovery process over several weeks, using cold and compression after physical therapy sessions can help limit the inflammation you experience after engaging the healing knee joint. 

  • Reduce pain - Virtually all surgeries result in some amount of pain. Although your doctor might prescribe pain medication for use immediately after surgery, the faster you can reduce or eliminate it, the lower your risk of addiction and other undesirable side effects. Cold compression therapy helps reduce pain without medication by dulling nerve endings.

  • Accelerate healing - When ligaments and the surrounding tissues are damaged, a greater amount of cell death occurs. This leads to secondary tissue growth and ultimately a longer healing process. The application of cold slows down cellular metabolism and reduces the overall demand for oxygen, which reduces cell death. At the same time, active compression brings freshly oxygenated blood and nutrient-rich fluids to the knee joint to stimulate tissue repair and accelerate healing.  

Most doctors or physical therapists will tell you to elevate and ice your knee to help reduce swelling. However, if there was a better way that would help you recover more quickly, wouldn’t you want to use it? The Game Ready system provides deep-penetrating cold and active compression in one easy-to-use device.

If you are facing torn ACL recovery, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about including Game Ready in your rehabilitation plan. You can even rent a unit for home use so you will have access to it any time. 

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