Your doctor will ask you to rest when you first go home. You will be told to:
- Keep your leg propped up on 1 or 2 pillows. Place the pillows under your foot or calf muscle. This helps keep swelling down. Do this 4 to 6 times a day for the first 2 or 3 days after surgery. Do not put the pillow behind your knee. Keep your knee straight.
- Be careful not to get the dressing on your knee wet.
- NOT to use a heating pad.
You may need to wear special support stockings to help prevent blood clots from forming. Your doctor will also give you exercises to keep the blood moving in your foot, ankle, and leg. These exercises will also lower your risk of blood clots.
You will need to use crutches when you go home. You may be able to begin putting your full weight on your repaired leg without crutches 2-3 weeks after surgery. If you had work on your knee in addition to ACL reconstruction, it may take 4-8 weeks to regain full use of your knee. Ask your surgeon how long you will need to be on crutches.
You may also need to wear a special knee brace. The brace will be set so that your knee can move only a certain amount in any direction. Do not change the settings on the brace yourself.
- Ask your doctor or physical therapist about sleeping without the brace and removing it for showers.
- When the brace is off for any reason, be careful not to move your knee more than you can when you have the brace on.
You will need to learn how to go up and down stairs using crutches or with a knee brace on.
Physical therapy usually begins about 2 weeks after surgery. It may last 2-6 months. You will need to limit your activity and movement while your knee mends. Your physical therapist will give you an exercise program to help you build strength in your knee and avoid injury.
- Staying active and building strength in the muscles of your legs will help speed your recovery.
- Getting full range of motion in your leg soon after surgery is also important.