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ACL Repair (Anterior Cruciate Ligament)

When the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, a knee is likely to become instable. The ACL provides stability to the joint and prevents the upper leg from sliding forwards the lower leg. Though in some cases Physical therapy of the muscles surrounding the knee is sufficient to regain stability, in most cases a reconstruction of the ACL is necessary to prevent further damage. This is done arthroscopically by donating part of tissue into the original ACL position.

After Surgery

Arthroscopic ACL knee surgery is often performed on an out-patient basis. Here are some things to remember about what to expect, as well as some helpful hints during the recovery process immediately following the procedure:

  • After ACL reconstruction surgery, it is normal to have swelling and discomfort in the knee for several days following surgery. Apply ice bags to control swelling. Ice should be applied 20-30 minutes at a time, every hour or so. Be sure to protect your skin with a thin cloth. Icing is most important in the first 72 hours, although many people find that continuing it lessens their post-operative pain.

  • If you had a nerve block during arthroscopic knee surgery, the local anesthetic may keep your leg numb for several hours. You will be given a prescription for pain medication when you are discharged from the hospital.

  • Keep the leg elevated. This will prevent swelling and help decrease pain. The leg must be elevated higher than the level of your heart.

  • Perform very minimal post-knee surgery exercises until you begin physical therapy rehab. Pumping your ankles up and down is an example of what to do. This should be done several times an hour to keep the blood circulating in your leg and to help prevent blood clots from forming.

  • Keep the post-op dressing clean and dry. It becomes wet or too tight because of swelling leave the bandages in place for at least 2 days, You may shower then, but keep the incisions dry for the first 10-14 days. Do not wet your incisions directly (no bathing or swimming) until at least 2 weeks post-op.

  • The sutures are absorbable and do not need to be removed.

  • Dr. Parikh would like to see you back in the office 10-14 days after surgery. If you do have your first post-op visit scheduled, call our office to make one.

  • Start your arthroscopic knee surgery post-operative rehabilitation/physical therapy within 4 weeks. Your physical therapy program is key to a successful outcome. A separate prescription will outline the protocol. It often helps to call before surgery to make an appointment with your physical therapist.

  • Be in the care of a responsible adult.

  • Abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages and from smoking.

  • You may eat a regular diet, if not nauseated. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids.

  • Plan to take a few weeks off work.

Rehabilitation after ACL knee surgery can be a lengthy process involving a limitation of activities, physical therapy and rest that will need to take place for a period of months. Specific rehabilitation will vary according to each patients needs and you must adhere to your own protocol as established by Dr. Parikh and your physical therapist. You will be fitted with a knee brace that is locked into full extension.You will need to wear this brace whenever you are walking.You may take off the brace day and night the first few couple of days to support the knee when sleeping and at rest.

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