- Rep Power
Any tips for knee surgery?
I ruptured my acl and will be having surgery to repair it. Any tips for a speedy recovery? I'm doing loads of physiotherapy to strengthen my leg, and have decent flexion in the knee already.
Consider a long acting nerve block by your anesthesia provider. Ask if they do blocks and also if they can do Continuous Peripheral Nerve Blocks with leave in catheters. Studies have shown significant reduction in opioid needs at home. A non CPNB ie.. Single shot of long acting local anesthetic can last about 16 hrs post-op. A CPNB lasts until the catheter is removed. There is a new local anesthetic, here in the US called Exparel whose effects can last up to 72 hours. Ask your surgeon about this too. I wish you we'll.
I had my ACL replaced 5 years ago with an allograft. My daughter had her right ACL replaced twice in recent years from snowboarding accidents. She had her own hamstring grafted the first time and her opposite knee's patella "harvested" the second time. The recovery time is definitely faster with an allograft since only one knee needs to heal. If you are having your own ligament harvested, our surgeon believes that the patella ligament is better and stronger. I have 3 recommendations post-surgery. (1) Have a continuous passive motion machine hooked up to your knee 24/7 for the first 1-2 weeks. It is important to keep flexing the knee so that the ligament develops the extension and flexion you must have. My daughter did not have this machine with her first surgery (done away at college), and her knee never obtained full extension because she sat on a couch resting the knee on a pillow. (2) Own or rent a cryocuff, which is a water-cooled wrap that encircles your knee to reduce swelling and help with pain. If you do sports, this device is great to own because you can strap it on after exercise to reduce swelling anytime. It costs about $200 but insurance may cover the cost. (3) Go to physical therapy 2-3 times per week for at least 6 weeks. It is important for you to force yourself to exercise and stretch the new ligament, and most people are not good about exercising themselves. The therapist will push you to the point of crying sometimes, which is necessary but you probably won't do yourself. Trust that the therapist knows what your limits should be.
Pre-surgery it is advisable to be in good shape. Having strong muscles will help reduce the recovery time. The muscles in the leg that's operated on will atrophy quite a bit and you'll have one skinny leg and one normal leg for a while. But with physical therapy you can regain most of your muscle mass within a couple of months. Our surgeon does this procedure for many college and pro athletes, and most of them return full-speed to their sports activities within 3 months.
I've never had knee surgery, so I have not tips for you... But I have had surgery, and my advice is to get a good book, some movies, and some ready to eat foods to make life easier for a few days. Try to plan a few things that you will enjoy -- it will help keep your spirits up in the days post surgery. Best of luck to you!