Returning to Work and Field after Recovering from Ligament Injury

Ligament injuries can be serious, keeping athletes or individuals off the field for a few weeks or even months. The ligament injury recovery process is gradual, and returning to work or the field happens to be a monumental achievement. 

Following an ACL injury, patients may have to undergo ligament surgery, depending on the intensity of the damage. The recovery process involves careful planning and guided rehabilitation, as physicians recommend certain exercises to overcome the challenges.

In this guide, let’s find out what the ligament injury recovery period presents to patients. Whether a ligament is partially torn or the flexible tissues undergo a complete tear, a methodical approach heals them back to health.

How long does the ligament injury recovery process take?


Several factors determine the ligament injury recovery period. Usually, these include:

  • The severity and type of ligament injury
  • The healing capacity of an individual
  • Rehabilitation protocols
  • Adherence to treatment norms

Following a ligament tear, patients may need a few weeks to as long as nine months to recover, in severe cases. During this period, physicians recommend exercises and RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) therapies for a gradual recovery.

In case surgical intervention is necessary to treat completely ruptured ligaments, patients need to endure a longer recovery period. This period can vary depending on the severity of the damage.

What to expect during the ligament injury recovery period?

In general, the knee ligament injury recovery period takes around nine months following surgery. Check out how the different phases of this process are, as the ligament heals from the damage.

The First Two Weeks

The first two weeks after surgery to repair torn ligaments are accompanied by a lot of pain and swelling. Doctors recommend anti inflammatory drugs, rest, ice compression, and elevation during this phase. Refrain from any activity in the first week following a surgery that can aggravate discomfort or pain.


Within a few days following the surgery, the rehabilitation process commences when the pain and swelling subsides. Your therapist may recommend gentle aerobic exercise or walking so that you can gradually regain your strength. This strengthens the quadriceps muscle and helps the patient regain a 90-degree range of motion.

Once the prescribed medications reduce swelling, doctors may advise discontinuing the medication in the second week. Activities like walking or driving should resume after 11 days after the surgery.

3 – 6 Weeks after Surgery

After six weeks of surgery following knee ligament injuries, most individuals can freely move around. However, it’s advisable not to carry out any activities that require you to flex the knee deeply.

This is a phase when the physical therapist tries to restore balance in the body through exercises. Depending on whether the patient suffered ankle sprains or damaged the ligament connecting the thigh bone to the shin bone, physicians recommend suitable strength training exercises. This helps in restoring the power to the hamstrings, quadriceps, and surrounding areas.

In case of serious injury, make sure not to get back to work and field-related activities too soon. This can increase the risk of sustaining yet another injury.

2 – 3 Months after Surgery

Within two to three months of the anterior cruciate ligament surgery, patients can start engaging in light physical activities as per the recommendation of the therapist. Before taking on heavier exercises, make sure to have limited swelling and a good range of motion.

The therapist may recommend activities involving forward motion, such as biking or hiking. Make sure to avoid activities that require twisting movements of quick turns.

As the posterior cruciate ligaments recover, the patient may engage in short-duration jogging. Gradually, they should proceed to more strength-intensive exercises like longer spans of running.

3 – 9 Months of Ligament Injury Recovery

Now that the patient significantly recovered from the ligament injury, doctors recommend lateral movements like side-to-side shuffles and jumping. This is the phase when patients really get back to sports activities or work after their ligament injury recovery period. A controlled introduction to sports-specific activities is recommended between 3 to 9 months, depending on the intensity of damage.


For instance, athletes or soccer players may start practices like dribbling or light kicking. In the next few months, the therapist will advise more exercises and movement, based on the speed of recovery.

Risks of Returning to Sports or Work too Soon

Since the ligament injury recovery period can take a pretty long time, patients often experience frustration and try to return to activities sooner than instructed. However, this is not something physicians recommend, particularly when the torn ligament gradually recovers. Returning to sports or work too soon after surgery intensifies the risk of a re-injury. Remember, the knee or ankle injury may take as long as nine months to fully recover. Be patient and comply with the doctor’s advice to keep fresh injuries at bay.

According to a study published in 2016, returning to sports activities after 9 months after an ACL injury surgery reduces the risk of further injury by 51%.

As much as 20% of athletes undergoing ligament injuries that require surgery receive reconstruction injuries. So, take guard when it comes to taking quick turns, jumping, or pivoting to mitigate this risk.

Tailored Recovery Plan to Return to Work and Sports

As individuals return to work or sports and take on their responsibilities gradually, it’s recommended to start with lighter activities and reduced work hours. With this approach, patients can prevent overexertion after the ligament injury recovery period.

Slight modifications at the workplace and support may also be necessary. Employees may need to make ergonomic adjustments or use assistive devices. Based on the extent of the injury, doctors may also recommend using modified furniture to heal back to health faster.

At Santokh Hospital, our comprehensive approach to ligament injury recovery ensures a smooth transition back to daily activities. With personalized rehabilitation plans, expert guidance, and ongoing support, we assure a fast and comfortable recovery. Have a consultation with us if you suffered a ligament injury, and we will tailor a recovery plan prioritizing your well-being.