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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Oct 14, 2015
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by: Anonymous

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Jun 01, 2011
7 days after op
by: stevo france

same thing acl tear after op drainage tube for 3 days then left hospital 2days with brace of now 2 days later dont need crutches walking but still swelled up exercise daily

Apr 25, 2009
My first week after ACL
by: Bindy

Hey Bart I am sitting here on my 4th day after surgury bored out of my brain from watching mindless TV. I had a dirt bike accident about a year ago and although I did alot of damage to my knee it did not bother me and I could do normal sporting activities such as wakeboarding. I was convinved to go for the reco as the doc said I would need it eventually and my knee has started to grind alot.

It was interesting reading about your reconstruction as it differs somewhat from mine. I went into surgury on Tuesday (is now saturday) and am doing really well. My op went for about 1.5hours and when I woke up I had pretty bad pain at first as my block had not worked. They took that out and pumped me full of drugs. Within 2 hours I had no pain and have not taken any pain killers since. The nurses took my obs for that night every hour and although my blood pressure dropped to about 80/30 I was doing well. My doc sent me home at 10am the next morning with instructions to jab myself every day with a needle so not to get any blood clots.

On the 3rd day I was able to get rid of the crutches altogether and am now just using my brace. I was given some floor exersises to do but will not go back to the doctor or physio until day 10. I am ever so pleased with how everything is going although am a bit nervous as to why I don't feel any pain at all. I must admit after standing for about 15-20 min it does tend to feel a bit tight and so I elevate it for a while. THe most painful thing so far is the needles I use everyday as they sting for a while. Australia seems to treat reco's pretty lightly, we don't get overly too much info and no wiz bang machines oreven a drain.... The only thing I am dissapointed about is the lack of information I was sent home with which has resulted in looking on the net for instructions.

Let us know how everything is going now....

Apr 08, 2009
first week drawback
by: Bart's update

Well, I was very positive on the first five days when I wrote the first part of this story. On the sixth day post-op, however, I developed some localized oedema around my shin. Man, that hurts! It really fires up when I'm standing upright. It feels like all the fluid in my leg accumulates on my shin. I can feel my heart painfully beating in that area. It also looks terribly red.

So, this issue is lasting for a couple of days now, and it really keeps me from doing any standing exercises. Luckily I am able to do all the ground exercises, so I'm trying to prep my muscles as far as I can until the day comes that I can stand upright again. The rest of time I'm just cooling a lot with my leg elevated.

As positive as I was the first five days, the first serious drawback has already arrived... hopefully recovery runs smoothly from now on...

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