After the procedure you will be transferred to the recovery area and then to a surgical ward where you will be looked after by nursing staff. You will be given pain medications to manage your pain and encouraged to elevate your leg to reduce swelling.
A traditional approach of:
Rest – Making sure to keep your knee straight (do NOT put a pillow under your knee).
Ice – 15-20 mins each time.
Compression – Keep the tubigrip bandage in place whilst moving.
Elevation – At rest, elevate the leg above heart level.
It is safe to fully weight bear the knee if pain allows. Most patients use crutches for the first few days. When ready to progress, start by dropping down to one elbow crutch on the opposite arm to the leg that has been operated on and then when able, progress to walking without crutches.
The main goal of ACL reconstruction surgery and rehabilitation is to get you back to pre injury activity level and sports. The success and speed of recovery following ACL reconstruction will largely depend on your dedication to the rehabilitation guide and exercises.
Your physiotherapist will show you the exercises that you will need to do to help recover. It is very important to follow their advice in order to progress through the different phases of rehabilitation.
Managing your pain effectively is vital for regaining mobility. By controlling your pain you will be more able to achieve your goals and see better outcomes.
Once the incisions are fully healed and if there are no complications then hydrotherapy can help aid your recovery. This is usually at least three weeks after surgery. Low impact water exercises can help strengthen muscles with minimal pain. You must avoid any kicking for at least 8 weeks post surgery. Do not return to swimming breast-stroke, butterfly or freestyle until advised by Dr Riazi.
Water walking: Walking in water that is waist high for 5 minutes at a time will help with stability and balance. This can gradually be increased to 30 minutes. Try to walk as normally as possible
Knee raises: Stand with your back to a wall in water that is chest high and keep your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your knee and raise your thigh to waist high and so that it is parallel to the water surface. Then slowly straighten your leg completely and return the leg back to the ground. Repeat 10 times.
ACL recovery time can vary depending on how committed to the rehabilitation exercises you are. Generally it will take at least 9 months to return to competitive sports following ACL surgery.