Timing of Common ACL Postoperative Milestones

Many patients and healthcare providers have questions regarding the timing of certain milestones after ACL surgery. The following time points are evidence-based, but will vary from patient to patient. These findings are also based on isolated ACL reconstruction, and will be different if additional procedures are performed at the same time (meniscus repair, cartilage restoration, etc).

  • Changing the surgical dressing for the first time
    • 2-3 days
  • Walking  without a limp
    • 29 days (range 13-48 days)
  • Minimal pain (less than a 3 out of 10)
    • 36 days (range 3-141 days)
  • Resolution of knee swelling
    • 47 days (range 8-94 days)
  • Running on a treadmill for 10 minutes
    • 76 days (range 40-140 days)
  • Start of on the field rehab
    • 90 days (range 52-149 days)
  • Return to sports
    • 6 months to 1 year (average 9 months)



  1. Della Villa S, Boldrini L, Ricci M, et al. Clinical Outcomes and Return-to-Sports Participation of 50 Soccer Players After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Through a Sport-Specific Rehabilitation Protocol. Sports Health. 2012;4(1):17–24. doi:10.1177/1941738111417564

Interested in Specialized Sports Medicine Care?

Interested in Specialized Sports Medicine Care?