What You Can Expect After ACL Surgery
After ACL surgery, patients are often advised to move their ankles up and down 10 times, every 10 or 15 minutes. They should continue with the aforementioned exercise for at least two to three days to help smooth out blood circulation and to avert blood clots from forming in their legs. If patients develop acute pain in the back of their calf, they should consult their doctor immediately, as this can be an early indication of blood clots.
Elevate Leg – Patients should keep their treated leg elevated at a minimal angle of 45 degrees. They should prop their leg on pillows or cushions, so that their knee is approximately 12 inches above their heart. This should be done for the first five days after the knee was operated on. If the knee throbs or swells when walking about on crutches, it is advisable to keep the leg elevated. However, do not put cushions or pillows behind the knee, as this restricts movement of the knee. It is best to place pillows under the calf and heel.
Take pain Medicine – During the first several days after ACL surgery, patients will experience some form of pain and discomfort. Always take medications as prescribed by the surgeon. Medications may be over-the-counter painkillers, for instance acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or stronger narcotic tablets.
Bend the Knee – Patients need to slowly straighten and bend their knee. If necessitated, place hands behind the knee for some support when bending the knee. The objective is to accomplish a range of movements of between 0 to 90 degrees before the first post-surgery visit after completion of the operation.
Monitor for Low-Grade Fever – Patients usually develop a low-grade fever of up to 38.3 Celsius, which is common for the first five days after ACL surgery. If the patient’s temperature is higher or lasts for several days, it is advisable to consult a doctor. A doctor is likely to recommend acetaminophen to help lower the temperature.
Remove Bandages – Bandages or dressings are normally taken off a day after surgery. Patients should expect some slight fluid drainage for two to three days. During this time, sterile bandages or dressings may be used and it is imperative that the wound is clean and dry at all times. Patients should take sponge baths until all sutures are eradicated.
Physical Therapy – Rehabilitation is arranged to help restore range of movement to the knee and it normally starts right after waking up from the operation. Patients are encouraged to lift their damaged knee without using crutches or other walking aids during the first week after ACL surgery.
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