What NOT To Do After ACL Surgery

What NOT to do After ACL Surgery

What-not-to-do-after-acl-surgery

What-not-to-do-after-acl-surgery

After having my second ACL surgery, I thought I knew everything to know because my first ACL recovery was an absolute success – That couldn’t have been anymore wrong. My second ACL recovery taught me a lot about what NOT to do after ACL surgery. Here are some factors to be aware of:

What not to do after ACL surgery? Do NOT over exert yourself

  • The first thing I seem to notice with people doing after ACL surgery is getting over-ambitious towards their knee recovery. The only things you can really work on is your range of motion, level of inflammation and stimulating your vmo muscle – the tear drop quad muscle.

What not to do after ACL surgery? Do NOT take too many painkillers.

  • Simply put, follow the instructions that doctor recommends when using painkillers such as Vicodin and NSAIDS (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Taking too many painkillers can lead to overdosing and potentially killing yourself. My recommendation would be to take your pain meds 30 minutes before performing your physical therapy exercises in the first weeks after surgery to help cope with the discomfort and pain. “Addiction to narcotics generally takes months of use. addiction will not occur during the first weeks after surgery. ” Read more on managing pain.

What not to do after ACL surgery? Do NOT sleep with your knee bent.

What not to do after ACL surgery? Do NOT over ice your knee.

  • Do NOT ice your knee for longer than 20 minutes at a time, WHY? Icing your knee for longer than 20 minutes can damage your nerve endings surround the knee. It’s essential to ice your knee at least 3-5 times daily, especially after physical therapy.

What not to do after ACL surgery? Do NOT overcompensate your uninjured knee.

  • The risks of overcompensating with your uninjured knee often goes unheard of due to elaborate focus on rehabilitation of the injured knee after ACL surgery. When recovering from knee surgery it’s natural to shift your body weight over to your uninjured knee to protect your surgical repaired knee while it heals. However, overcompensating your uninjured knee can lead to serious consequences. When shifting your weight on your uninjured knee, it places a lot of stress which can lead to such injuries as tendonitis, hip-pointers and even tearing a ligament down the road. It’s best to have an equal weight distribution by standing properly on both legs, if allowed, and to use equipment such as a cane.

What not to do after ACL surgery? DO NOT neglect your uninjured knee.

  • When you’re recovering from ACL surgery, it’s important to focus on your uninjured knee during rehab as well. Your physical therapist will have you exercising both of your knee’s to ensure a strong and healthy recovery. A typical fallacy is that since the athlete didn’t tear their other knee, they believe their knee is already strong and does not necessarily need to be rehabilitated. This point is normally wrong because an athlete almost never focus on strengthening the knee muscles, which is normal because they don’t understand the importance and benefits of doing knee specific exercises. With this in mind, be sure to give your uninjured knee the undivided attention it deserves during your 6-9month ACL recovery.

What not to do after ACL surgery? Do NOT disregard your compression stockings.

What not to do after ACL surgery? Do NOT play the victim.

  • It’s normal to ask yourself, “Why me?” but if you’re your becoming a burden to others on a consistent basis, it’s time to change your thought process. In the first weeks, it’s a struggle to do normal everyday things by yourself, so it’s great if you have someone there to care for you during this time. However, it’s important that you do your part and to not take advantage of the person that is helping you.

What not to do after ACL surgery? Do NOT lose track of your insurance coverage.

  • It’s important to check with your physical therapist and insurance company to see how many sessions you have, otherwise you’ll be left like myself with no coverage 5 months in and going from $10 a session, to $200 a session. It’s necessary to utilize your coverage more during the the first weeks after ACL surgery. Towards your 4th to 6th month of physical therapy, you can space them out to visiting 1-2 times a week – depending on the number of insured sessions – because there will not be as drastic of healing and recovery your knee would during the first weeks, which means you can perform these exercises on your own at your local gym or at home if you have the necessary equipment.

What not to do after ACL surgery? Do NOT lose focus by doubting yourself.

  • The best advice I could give on this topic is to stop worrying about getting hurt and start focusing on getting better. If this is your first recovery from ACL surgery, it’s natural to be very cautious about re-injuring your knee. It’s great to be aware of this, but your mind should be focused on taking the right steps – pun intended – to having a safe, healthy and successful recovery.

What not to do after ACL surgery? Do NOT neglect your hips.

  • When undergoing acl surgery, you will experience muscle atrophy( muscle loss) in your legs and glutes. Due to this, your hips will feel weak and out’ve sync with the proper mechanics of your hips motion. Give your hip exercises 100% of your focus because improper hip mechanics can cause you to re-tear your ACL. Read more on hip exercises.

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13 Responses

  1. Javier says:

    Hey, i had an ACL surgery about 4 months ago. I go to rehab and i do my exercises regularly until about 2 weeks ago. 2 weeks ago i played basketball with some friends and honestly i didnt feel much discomfort until now. It is staring to bother me a little bit. When i get of my bed or when i stand up from sitting down i feel some discomfort in my knee. Should j be worried? Please reply. Thank you.

    • egrabin says:

      Hmmm,

      Is there any swelling present?

    • egrabin says:

      Actually,

      I just read that you’re recovering from ACL surgery and you played basketball 4 months after? That is certainly a NO-NO. You are still far from being fully recovered. It takes at the very least 6-9 months until you’re cleared for activity. Did your physical therapist clear you to play sports?

  2. Sean says:

    Hello Javier,

    The absolute last thing you should be doing 4 months after ACL surgery is playing basketball!!!!! Basketball demands a whole lot of lateral movement, starting and stopping, planting your feet and changing directions; all things that put a tremendous amount of stress on your ACL. I’m not sure how hard you were going, but most professionals don’t return to the court in less than 8 months! There are many, many other things you can do to strengthen your muscles with steering that new ligament to the max. Basketball is not one of them! I don’t know if I’d be worried, but if the pain persist, I’d see the orthopedist again and have him check it out.

  3. Sean says:

    Hello Javier,

    The absolute last thing you should be doing 4 months after ACL surgery is playing basketball!!!!! Basketball demands a whole lot of lateral movement, starting and stopping, planting your feet and changing directions; all things that put a tremendous amount of stress on your ACL. I’m not sure how hard you were going, but most professionals don’t return to the court in less than 8 months! There are many, many other things you can do to strengthen your muscles without straining that new ligament to the max. Basketball is not one of them! I don’t know if I’d be worried, but if the pain persist, I’d see the orthopedist again and have him check it out.

  4. Bre says:

    Hello. My name is Bre and I am 15. On December 21st I had ACl and meniscus surgery along with a donor tendon added to my mcl to tighten it. I am able to fully straighten my knee but am having a hard time getting my knee to bend. The pain was excruciating when my pt first bent it far. My family and friends keep telling me I need to get my knee to bend or else I’ll be put under sedation and the doctor will bend it for me. I’m worried that this is going to happen although I am trying my best to make sure that it does not. Is there any less painful and easier way to make my post-surgery process easier? Thank you.

    • egrabin says:

      Hello Bre,

      What week are you at right now? There isn’t really an easy way to get your knee to bend without going through pain. So my suggestion would be to take your pain meds and once they’re in full effect, start doing your Range of Motion exercises. Essentially, sitting upright and using a towel to pull your knee closer to your butt. Continue to do these types of exercises and stretches 3xDay

  5. Mark says:

    Great blog thanks! I had acl with cadaver, mcl stitched, and lateral and medial meniscus cleaned up (wasn’t torn). I’m at day 12, and on day 9, I was doing great and pt and I tried to do stationery bike, but was painful so we stopped. My kneecap area had hurt ever since and the top of my leg where one of guides went hurts as well (IT band). PT thought everything was normal, maybe just pushed it too much because I was feeling Good. Any thoughts? Thanks!

    • egrabin says:

      Hello Mark,

      Sounds like you may have just pushed too hard. It’s a fine line when pushing yourself in the early stages. Try not to push yourself too hard in the early stage as your acl needs time to be fully secured into your knee bones. It won’t be an issue with ROM stretching, but be sure to ask your PT about letting your ACL end points grow into your bones

  6. John says:

    Hey! Im 7 days post surgery and not doing that great. When im lieing down with my leg elevated, I feel great. As soon as i stand up, blood rushes into my leg and it litterally turns dark purple. The pain is insane and it stays painful until im able to sit back down and elevate it. Is this just part of the recovery or should i be worried about a blood clot or something?

    • egrabin says:

      Hi John,

      It seems to be normal, however, i’m not confident in my response to your inquiry. I suggest asking your doctor and physical therapist. Continue doing as your physical therapist/doctor are suggesting. If you haven’t done anything to cause what’s happening, I wouldn’t worry a lot about it, but do be aware and consult with your doc. It is definitely normal to be in a lot of pain and to have bruising as such. Continue to ice and compress your knee and keep an eye on it.

  7. Keni Kawaleva says:

    Hi my name is Keni i am 6 weeks post acl surgery using hamstring and also meniscus clean up. I have been going great full extension and nearly full flexion and doing all excercises including bike. Now 2 days ago in the morning I went for a light ride with no pain however woke 2am that night in pain in the front of the knee. Im still having pain now when flexing and extending. Feels like meniscus or patella tendon. There is a little swelling not much. Do you have any ideas? Have i just pushed to hard? I actually jus had my 6wk check up yesterday and had some pain but it was more under the knee cap and the surgeon said as rehabing it may have been pulled off track but like i said now my pain feels like meniscus or patella tendon.

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