What to Expect After ACL Reconstruction

If you’ve ever had an ACL injury, you know how painful and debilitating they can be. Luckily, advancements in medical technology have made ACL reconstruction surgery more consistently successful and less invasive than ever before. 

However, it is important to know what type of recovery to expect before making any decisions about major surgery. That’s why our team of orthopedic specialists here at Preva Surgicare - Surgery Center Of The Woodlands in Texas has put together this guide to life after your ACL reconstruction. 

When would you need an ACL reconstruction? 

If you’ve been suffering from pain, weakness, and instability in one of your knees, you may have an ACL injury. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the main ligaments in your knee connecting your shinbone and thigh bone while also helping to stabilize the whole joint. 

Because it’s located right in the middle of your joint, an ACL tear can be debilitating and may require reconstruction. If you play high impact sports or work in a physically demanding job, an ACL reconstruction can help you get back to your normal activities. 

During your ACL surgery

Here at Preva Surgicare, we recommend arthroscopy surgery techniques for most of our ACL reconstructions. Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive way to conduct surgeries on your joints. 

Your provider makes numerous small incisions around your knee and inserts a flexible tube with a camera into one incision. They can then insert small surgical tools into the other incisions to conduct the surgery with minimal bleeding and risk to you. 

Depending on the extent of your injury, your surgeon decides the best surgical technique for your knee. For example, during the most common procedure, they attach a graft tendon from elsewhere in your knee to the ends of your shin and thigh bones. Finally, they close the small incisions with stitches. 

What to expect afterward your surgery

Your ACL surgery is usually completed as an out-patient procedure, meaning no long hospital stays to deal with. You can go home as soon as you recover from the anesthesia after your surgery. 

As with any surgery, the effects of anesthesia can be powerful. You shouldn't drive, operate machinery, drink alcohol, or make important decisions in the 24 hours following the operation. That’s why we require someone else drives you home from the operation who can stay with you overnight. 

Immediately after the procedure, you may have some pain, discomfort, and stiffness. Before you head home, we provide you with information on caring for your wounds, pain relief, and spotting signs of infection. In most cases, we encourage patients to start moving around and putting weight on the leg as soon as possible. 

Recovering from an ACL Reconstruction

For a few days after your surgery, we often recommend a rehabilitation program of exercises for you to follow. These exercises are specific to you and are designed to help you get your full strength and range of motion back in your knee.

Recovery times from ACL reconstruction vary. Many of our patients are able to walk with crutches after just two weeks, and most can return to playing sports after six to nine months.

During your recovery, you can apply ice packs to your knee to reduce pain and swelling. Over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen can also help with this. Always read the patient information for your medication, and contact our offices if you have any questions. 

If you’re still deciding whether an ACL reconstruction is right for you, it’s time to give our orthopedic specialists a call at 281-377-3706 or request an appointment online today.

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