Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer is facing a longer and more rigorous rehabilitation after a second surgery to repair a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). The typical recovery time for athletes after ACL repair surgery is about eight months, but because this is the second surgery for Palmer (he first tore his ACL and underwent surgery and rehab in 2006), the time frame could be longer.

ACL Revision Surgery

acl-revision-surgeryWhile not especially common (re-tear rates for a repaired ACL tend to range between 2 to 7 percent), re-injury of an ACL is always a possibility. Also known as ACL revision, athletes like Palmer can still have a successful outcome and return to their sport after completing a course of physical therapy and rehabilitation after revision surgery. At 34, Palmer’s age will also be a factor in his recovery. His situation is also rare in that re-injury occurred nine years after the initial tear and surgery. Palmer’s surgery reportedly went well, with little sign of cartilage damage, which is always a possibility after a knee injury and surgery.

Surgical techniques and technology have made many advancements in the decade since Palmer underwent his primary ACL surgery. In the case of professional athletes, rehabilitation plans can be particularly aggressive to ensure that the knee heals properly and is strong enough to return to physical activity in the required timeframe. While Palmer is hopeful that he’ll be back at work by July 1st, experts believe that anywhere from 9 to 12 months may be a more realistic timeframe for revision ACL recovery.

How Does ACL Revision Surgery Work?

An orthopedic surgeon like Dr. Millstein will determine the best course of action for each ACL injury on a case-by-case basis, since each patient’s circumstances and injuries are unique. Once the anterior cruciate ligament is torn, it has to be repaired with a graft, which uses tissue from another part of the patient’s own body, or from a donor. In Palmer’s case, his first surgery was performed using an allograft (tissue from a cadaver donor). For his revision surgery, surgeons opted for an autograft instead, which comes from tissue from Palmer’s own body. Palmer is optimistic about his prospects and is ready to face the recovery process head on.

“I’m mentally prepared,” said Palmer. “I’m mentally strong and I’m going to grind this thing out. I know the mindset you need to take, and that’s the one-day-at-a-time thing, and it’s baby steps and it’s doing calf raises and small, little incremental movements and all these little tedious things that you don’t feel like are doing anything but you have to do them. But you have to do what they tell you to do.”

Have Questions About ACL Surgery In Los Angeles?

Contact Dr. Eric Millstein today for a consultation at 310.595.1030, or schedule an appointment online.