Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Post-Operative Information

Weight Bearing and Recovery:

You will use crutches to help you ambulate. You will have a removable soft brace that will allow your knee to bend but not straighten completely. If it feels tight, either loosen or remove it. Do not worry if you reapply it and it seems to fit differently. An exact fit is not required. You will also have a pad on your knee attached by plastic hoses to a cooler filled with ice water and a pump. This “ice machine” pumps cold water to your leg, helping to decrease pain and control swelling. You should wear it full-time for one week.

You will go home on the day of surgery. At home you should elevate your operated leg on the equivalent of four or five pillows. If your dressing is bloody, don’t worry. This is common as the fluid used to inflate your knee leaks out of your knee tinged with blood. You should schedule a visit to our office on the day after surgery. At that time we will change your dressing. We will also schedule another office visit for three or four days later, at which time your staples will be removed and steri-strips applied. These tapes stay on for eight more days. After that time you may shower, but you must keep the incisions dry until then. We will also schedule a physical therapy visit immediately following your second office visit.

At your therapy visit, the therapist will teach you to walk weight bearing as tolerated. He will also begin you on range-of-motion exercises. Do not perform any exercises on your own until after you have been properly instructed by the therapist. You will gradually increase the weight you put on your operated leg and decrease the amount you put on your crutches. In time you will progress to using only one crutch (the one on the opposite side from your operation). Most patients progress to the use of no crutches between the second and fourth post-operative week. You should have full extension (straightening) and 90 degrees of flexion (bending) by the end of the third post-operative week. We will begin strengthening exercises for your knee later. At eight months you will usually be ready for unrestricted activities including sports.

Pain Control:

You will have hydrocodone with acetaminophen unless you are allergic. Take these as directed on the bottle. Do not take aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), or glucosamine after surgery without discussing it first with Dr Prodromos, as these medications may slow healing. The ice machine is also very effective for pain control.

Diet:

You may eat whatever you wish. Do not push yourself to eat if you feel nauseated. It is important to drink a moderate amount of fluid. Many patients do not have much of an appetite for 24 hours after the surgery. As long as you are consuming fluids (Gatorade, clear non-caffeinated soda or chicken broth are best) this is not a problem. Your appetite should gradually return.

Body Temperature – Fevers:

Your normal body temperature of 98.6 may increase normally by one degree in the evening. Thus, a true fever is usually over 100 degrees. Fevers are normal after surgery due to chemicals released by bleeding. Fevers in the first four post-operative days do not indicate the presence of an infection. Fevers over 100 degrees after the first four post-operative days may indicate infection. Infection is exceedingly rare after arthroscopic surgery. If your fever is over 101 degrees you may wish to take Advil or Tylenol if you are excessively hot, but in general the Tylenol (acetaminophen) in your pain prescription will provide sufficient temperature control. If your temperature is over 100 degrees on or after the fifth post-operative day, call me.


  • American Academy of Regenerative Medicine
  • American Board of Regenerative Medicine
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  • Rush University Medical Center
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