Bart's first week post-op ACL

I am 30 years of age and I had the ACL in my right knee replaced with a patellar tendon autograft on Tuesday March 31. So I'm in my first week post-op and I'd like to share my experiences with you.


How did it happen? Soccer of course... about 6 years ago I tore my ACL partially. I managed to go by all these years without surgery, although it gave out on me roughly once a year. In February however, I got off the bus. I was in a hurry, so I jumped out of the door, landed in the snow and fell down immediately. It hurt as bad as what I could remember from 6 years ago. The bus driver and a neighbor were so kind to carry me up our driveway. The MRI a few weeks later showed a pretty messy joint, with bruising on femor and tibia, some meniscus tearing and a completely torn ACL...

I scheduled surgery after our vacation in March and well before we're expecting a baby girl in July... hopefully the recovery would be rapid enough.

Anyway, surgery was on Tuesday. Although this was my first surgery, I was pretty calm and not extremely nervous, knowing that the anesthesia would take good care of me. When I woke up my knee was wrapped up in a brace with a fluid drain sticking out and a connection to the cooling system. I was taken out of the hospital after a few hours.

The same night wasn't too bad as my leg was numbed by a femoral nerve block. The block lasted almost 24 hours, which was really nice. I would advice everybody undergoing ACL replacement to take the nerve block and enjoy it as long as it lasts.

The next day already I was expected in the clinic and have my first PT session. The Dr took out the drain which had filled with fluid overnight and replaced the dressing. The cold pad was also released from the wrapping so I could use it on and off from now on.

At the first PT I was taught some Range Of Motion (ROM) exercises. Apparently, the drain had done its job very well, as my extension and flexion were 0 and 90 degrees right away, without too much pain. Was the nerve block still working a little bit? That night at home though, I felt like my knee was filling up with fluid and the pain started to kick in pretty heavily. The second night and second morning after the surgery for me definitely were the worst in terms of pain, despite taking maximal pain medication (oxycodone).

On Thursday (2 days post-op) after doing the exercises and cooling a lot it started to improve and the third night was a lot better than the night before. On Friday (3 days post-op) I had my second PT and was able to get by on minimal pain killers (Tylenol #3). My physical therapist said that I was doing really well in ROM and gave me a bunch more exercises to regain some muscle strength (calfs and quad).

On Saturday (4 days post-op) I decided not to take any pain meds anymore, as I was dying to be able to use my brains properly again. Not taking the pain meds turned out to be very well bearable while laying or sitting around in the brace (mostly with the cooling system running), although I felt that the pain during the exercises was a little sharper than I felt before. Saturday night I developed a light fever (low-99F measured in armpit) and I had to take a tylenol #3 tablet for that.

It's Sunday morning now (5 days post-op) and I didn't take any pain meds again. Temperature is back in the low-98s (armpit) and the exercises are starting to go smoother. At this point, I feel like I'm off to a fast recovery track.

Good luck to everyone else having ACL reconstruction!

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