The Non-Operative treatment plan for an ACL injury will depend on the specific circumstances of the injury. Such as the extent of the damage and the patient’s health and activity level sometimes need operative treatment. But, here, we only discuss the non-operative plans. Some common elements of a treatment plan for an ACL injury may include the following:


The RICE[1][2] method is a standard treatment for an ACL injury. It stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. The steps for the RICE method are as follows:

Rest: Stop any activities that may cause further injury to your knee. This includes avoiding sports or other physical activities that stress the knee. 

Ice: Put an ice pack on the knee for 15-20 minutes at a time, many times daily. This will help to reduce pain and inflammation.

The Non-Operative Treatment Plan for ACL injury-Ice.

Compression: Wrap the knee with an elastic bandage to help reduce swelling. Ensure the dressing is not too tight, as this can decrease blood flow to the area.

The Non-Operative Treatment Plan for ACL injury-Compression

Elevation: Keep the knee above the heart level as much as possible to help reduce swelling. Propping the knee with pillows while sitting or lying down can occur. 

The Non-Operative Treatment Plan for ACL injury-Elevation

It’s important to note that the RICE method should apply immediately after the injury. And for the first 48-72 hours after the injury. And also, it’s essential to see a doctor to assess the damage and confirm the diagnosis.

Physical Therapy

The treatment process for an ACL involves a combination of physical therapy[3][4]. And, in some cases, surgery. It usually begins within a few days to a week after the injury. The initial goal is to reduce pain and swelling and regain the knee’s range of motion. This may involve using modalities such as ice, heat, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation.

Quadriceps strengthening: exercises involve strengthening the muscles on the front of the thigh (the quadriceps) to help stabilize the knee joint. It also reduces stress on the ACL. Examples include leg presses, leg extensions, and wall squats.

Non-Operative Treatment of ACL Injury-Quadriceps strengthening

Hamstring strengthening: exercises involve strengthening the muscles on the back of the thigh. It helps balance those muscles around the knee. It also improves knee stability. Examples include hamstring curls and bridges.

Calf strengthening exercises: These exercises involve strengthening the muscles. It improves ankle stability. It also reduces stress on the knee. Examples include calf raises and heel walks.

Proprioception: Activities involve training the body’s sense of position and movement. It helps to improve knee stability. It also reduces the risk of re-injury. Examples include single-leg balance exercises and exercises that involve unstable surfaces.

Plyometric exercises: These exercises include jumping and hopping. It also improves power and endurance in the knee. Examples include box jumps and hurdle hops.

It’s important to note that the recovery time can vary depending on the patient. The severity of the injury required various types of surgery. It can take several months to a year to recover from an ACL injury.


Medication can use to treat an ACL injury to help manage pain and inflammation. The types of medication that may prescribe include

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, help to reduce pain and inflammation. They are available over the counter or by prescription.

Acetaminophen: This medication, also known as paracetamol, can also use to reduce pain. It is available over the counter.

Narcotics: If the pain is severe, these medications are usually only used for a short period. They should use with caution as they can be habit-forming.

Steroids: Corticosteroid injections can reduce inflammation and pain, such as -Triamcinolone or methylprednisolone.

Muscle relaxers: Medications such as cyclobenzaprine or carisoprodol may prescribe. 

It’s important to note that medication is only one part of the treatment for an ACL injury. Physical therapy, rest, and a proper rehabilitation program.

And in some cases, surgery is also an essential component of treatment.


Bracing is often used as part of the treatment process for an ACL injury. The primary goal of bracing is to provide extra support and stability to the knee joint. It can also reduce stress on the ACL and protect the knee from further injury.

Immobilization: A brace is used during the initial phase of treatment. It will use immediately following the damage. This type of brace keeps the knee in an extended position, which can help to reduce pain and inflammation.

Functional bracing: A functional brace may use as the patient progresses in their recovery. This type of brace allows for more movement and weight bearing. It designs to provide support and stability to the knee. At the same time, the patient performs daily activities.

Rehabilitation bracing: During the later stages of rehabilitation, a rehabilitation brace may use. This type of brace allows for even greater movement and weight bearing. It designs to help the patient return to their pre-injury activity level.

It’s important to note the type of brace used and the length of time. It will depend on the individual patient and the severity of the injury. A physical therapist or orthopedic doctor can tell on the best type of brace and how long it should wear.


1. Is it worth performing initial non-operative treatment for patients with acute ACL injury?: a prospective cohort prognostic study

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