Post-Operative Instructions

ACL Reconstructions

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


    Elevate your knee with a pillow under the heel, not the knee, to prevent stiffness. The Cold Therapy unit is helpful in reducing swelling, minimizing requirements for narcotics and accelerating return to normal knee function. Follow the instructions given at the time of discharge and use the cooling system or ice full time for 2 days. Do Not Remove the dressing until 72 hours postoperatively. A small amount of bloody drainage on the dressing is common and this can be covered with a clean 4 X 4 gauze and ace wrap. 72 hours postoperatively, remove the dressings, shower, then cover incisions with Band Aids. Do not immerse the incisions in water.


    ______________ weight bearing on the operated leg is allowed. Crutches may be helpful for the first several days. The brace must be worn locked in extension (straight) when walking until the therapist or Dr. Thompson is happy with your straight leg raise. The brace should be unlocked to work on motion.


    Begin exercises the night of surgery. Repeat 10 times 2-3 times a day.

    • Quad sets: Push the back of the knee into bed and hold for the count of 10.
    • Straight leg raises: lift leg in knee brace off the bed for count of 10.
    • Ankle pumps: Push ankle up and down multiple times to encourage blood flow in leg.
    • Hamstring sets: Push heel into bed for count of 10.
    • Flexion: Unlock brace and bend knee as far as possible. Use your hands to help bend the knee. Hold for the count of 10.

    Schedule Physical Therapy to start 3-5 days after surgery. PT protocols for the therapist can be found at


    Motrin 800 mg every 8 hours as needed for pain

    Vicodin or Percocet as needed for severe pain

    Enteric-coated Aspirin 81 mg twice a day for 3 weeks (or another blood thinner may be substituted)

    To minimize gastric upset from narcotics or anti-inflammatory medicine, eat adequate amounts of food.

    Also you may substitute Tylenol or Advil as soon as possible for pain control.

    Increase fluid and fiber intake to ease constipation from pain medicine. Stool softeners (Colace or Pericolace) can also be useful for constipation.


    Your surgeon should be contacted by calling 703-810-5210 Option 3, 24 hours a day for any of the following:

    • Fever greater than 101.5 degrees F for 24 hours.
    • Redness or swelling in the calf that doesn’t resolve overnight.
    • Numbness, loss of good color or coolness in the foot.
    • Severe pain unresponsive to narcotic medication.
    • Severe calf pain.
    • Excessive bleeding or vomiting.

    If you experience difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, or black out, please call 911 and go to the nearest emergency room.


    Your post-operative appointment is scheduled on ________________________________________________________________.

    If you need to verify or change your post-op appointment, please call 703-277-BONE (2663).