Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery replaces the damaged ligament with a new ligament called a graft. In most cases, the graft is a tendon taken from your own knee or hamstring. In some cases, the graft comes from a donor.
You will feel tired for several days. Your knee will be swollen, and you may have numbness around the cut (incision) on your knee. Your ankle and shin may be bruised or swollen. You can put ice on the area to reduce swelling. Most of this will go away in a few days. You should soon start seeing improvement in your knee.
You may be able to return to most of your regular activities within a few weeks. But it will be several months before you have complete use of your knee. It may take as long as 6 months to a year before your knee is ready for hard physical work or certain sports. Surgery can help. But even after surgery, your knee may not be as strong as it was before the injury. You will need to build your strength and the motion of your joint with rehabilitation (rehab) exercises.
How soon you can return to sports or exercise depends on how well you follow your rehab program and how well your knee heals. Your doctor or physiotherapist will give you an idea of when you can return to these activities. Most people can jog in about 4 months and run or cycle in about 4 to 6 months. You may need to wear a knee brace when you play sports.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter Y225 in the search box to learn more about "Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: What to Expect at Home".
Current as of: November 29, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
©2006-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.