Surgical Information

Post-Operative Instructions for ACL Reconstruction

(You will receive your customized post-op instructions after your surgery.)

Congratulations! You have just completed the surgical phase and entered the recovery/ rehabilitation phase of your operative experience. In order to achieve the best possible result, active patient participation is extremely important during this period of time. The following instructions are designed to help you achieve the best possible outcome following your surgery.

ACTIVITY: Your weight bearing status is __________________________________________. Crutches should be used to assist ambulation during the immediate post-operative period. You should continue using your crutches until instructed otherwise by your physician. In general, you may discontinue using your crutches when you can perform 10 straight leg raises without difficulty and you can ambulate without a limp. Your brace is to be worn AT ALL TIMES WHEN WEIGHT BEARING during the FIRST 6 WEEKS after surgery. A CPM (constant passive motion) machine will be used for approximately one week after surgery. You should spend a total of 8-10 hours/day in the CPM with the time divided into several 2-3 hour sessions.

DRESSING/BRACE/COLD THERAPY: You will have a large dressing covering your surgical sites when you are discharged from the hospital. You may not remove this dressing. A small amount of bloody drainage on the dressing is not unusual and this can be covered with a clean 4x4 gauze and ACE wrap.

Additionally, you will have a brace and cold therapy unit in place on the outside of your dressing. The brace should be locked in extension at all times except when you are in the CPM machine and when you are performing your home exercise program. You may remove the brace while using the CPM machine, however you must wear the brace when performing the home exercise program (you must unlock the brace in order to do this).

BATHING/SHOWERING: You may not get your surgical incisions wet during the first week after surgery. During the period of time that you must keep your incisions dry, you will need to place a large plastic bag or Saran Wrap over the operative sites and firmly secure the edges with tape.

COLD THERAPY UNIT: A cold therapy unit or ice should be applied to the outside of your dressing at all times during the first 48 hours after surgery, and frequently during the first week following surgery. After the first week, you may consider using your cold therapy unit or ice after rehabilitation sessions or when swelling occurs. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.

POST-OPERATIVE SWELLING: Post-operative swelling can significantly slow your recovery time from surgery. Swelling is markedly worsened when you stand or walk for a prolonged period of time. For that reason, please limit standing and/or walking to 15-20 minutes out of every hour. This will help to minimize swelling and speed your recovery. If you experience significant swelling, elevate your leg and apply your cold therapy unit or ice.

EXERCISE:You should perform your initial post-operative exercises exactly as instructed. Don’t start anything new, and don’t leave anything out. This is extremely important! Failure to perform these exercises may result in stiffness, atrophy, and ultimately a poor outcome. On the other hand, you could potentially cause damage if you do too much too soon. Please perform your exercises exactly as you were instructed!

You may begin the following home exercises the day after surgery. These should be performed 5-10 times every hour when you are not in the CPM machine or sleeping.

  1. Quad sets: push the back of your knee into the bed and hold for a count of 10.
  2. Straight leg raises: lift leg in knee brace off the bed for a count of 10.
  3. Hamstring sets: push heel into bed for count of 10.
  4. Heel slides: sit on a firm surface with your leg straight in front of you. Slowly slide the heel of your operative leg toward your buttock by pulling your knee to your chest when you slide.
  5. Ankle pumps: push back of ankle up and down multiple times to encourage blood flow.

MEDICATIONS: Your post-operative regimen consists of several medications.

For pain, you may take _________________________________________________________________

Pain Medication Tips:

  • Do not drive while taking pain medications.
  • Do not drink alcoholic beverages while taking pain medications.
  • Pain medication should be taken with food as this will help prevent any stomach upset.
  • Often pain medications will cause constipation. Eat high fiber foods and increase your fluid intake if possible. To alleviate constipation, purchase a stool softener at any pharmacy and follow the recommended directions on the bottle.

You should resume taking your normally prescribed medications unless otherwise directed. In addition, you have been prescribed the following medications



SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS: Please contact my office for further instruction if you develop fevers greater than 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit, persistent drainage from your surgical incisions, intractable pain, or persistent numbness/tingling in your leg.

FOLLOW-UP APPOINTMENT: Your follow-up appointment will be scheduled when your surgery is scheduled. If you need to verify or change your post-op appointment, please call 703-277-BONE (2663)

*Please feel free to contact my office at anytime if you have any questions or concerns regarding your post-operative course.