7 Tips To Manage Pain In The First Week After ACL Surgery

The most commonly asked question that people going into ACL surgery ask is about how to minimize the amount of pain they will be in during the first week after ACL surgery. After having had surgery twice and doing many mistakes I have learned a few thing about the process and how someone can best prepare themselves for surgery. My advice to you is to follow the tips below on how to reduce pain after the surgery. Some will work better than others but if you follow the tips below I hope you can experience a not very painful week.

1. Take Medication Regularly

The best thing you can do to ensure that the pain you feel after ACL surgery is minimal is to take your prescribed medication at fixed intervals. By making sure you stay ahead of the pain you will be much more capable of  controlling the level of pain you reach. For me I set a few timers and when they went of I would take the medication, even if I wasnt in very much pain I would always take it to ensure I was staying ahead of the pain. One of the most common mistakes with the medication is not taking the medication at night, this is a problem because when you are woken up by the pain it will be too late and its difficult to get the pain back under control.

2. Ice

Ice serves several purposes after knee surgery including reducing the swelling and helping to control the pain level in the knee. You will likely be using an ice cuff or similar and icing 20min on and 20 minutes off will help to reduce the swelling and pain.

first-week-after-acl-surgery

Ice Helps Reduce Pain In The First Week After ACL Surgery

3. Rest

Its important to make sure you are resting you knee enough, there is a fine line between too much rest and not enough. Make sure that for the first few days you have yourself a comfortable spot around a TV or computer and will be able to rest and relax there.

4. Elevate

The swelling in the knee leads to pain in the knee and its because of this that it is important for us to elevate our knee in the first week after ACL surgery. When it comes to elevation make sure that your knee is above your heart, wheter you are lying perfectly horizonal on a bed or with your back supported on a couch make sure your knee is above you heart. Another item to note with having you knee elevated make sure it is not always bent as this will make it more difficult to increase your knees range of motion.

5. Compress

Although too much compression will eventually cause some discomfort in the knee making sure you knee has some compression will help reduce the swelling and pain. The best way to apply compression ois with the sock you likely got after surgery which applies a constant modest pressure. The other option is with your cryo cuff filled with water it will apply a pressure.

6. Improve Range of Motion

The range of motion in your knee can reduce the pain in your knee the first week after surgery for one main reason and that is that when youre range of motion is low every movement with your knee can cause pain. But, if you are able to increase your knees range of motion than you will not be caused significant amount of pain every time you do slight movements.

7. Begin Walking

Progressing through your ACL surgery recovery and advancing which phase you are in will help reduce your pain. For me I found as soon as I was able to walk in the first week after ACL surgery the pain in my knee greatly reduced.

How much pain should you expect?

The amount of pain I experienced after my first surgery was around a 7 the first night since I was not given medication for an 8hr period. For my latest ACL surgery I was at a 2-3 for most of the first week.

Do you have any suggestions at how to reduce your pain in the first week after ACL surgery?



The Top 5 At Home Exercises
I did that helped get me walking 4 days after surgery

Click Here to see the exercises

Comments

  1. What has been your experience with the pain in the first week after ACL surgery?

    • Jen Conway says:

      In terms of the pain, I am 8 days out from a left knee ACL reconstruction with a meniscus repair as well. The 2nd night the pain was about an 8 bc the femoral nerve blocker finally wore off. I can only attest to the importance of staying ahead of the pain-take all your meds even if you dont think you need them.

      This is my 2nd ACL surgery in the past 20 years and one trick i learned is that often during the night I would be awake with leg cramps, mostly from PT and the 6 hrs/day I am spending in the CPM machine. Drink some tonic water; the quinine in it acts like a natural muscle relaxant. Saved me sleepless nights on more than one occasion.

  2. I had my surgery a week ago today, one more implorant thing to note during the first week– first I completely concur with the staying ahead of the pain idea– take the meds in steady inervals.

    Second– I had… digestive issues with the pain med. Make sure your Doc prescribes a laxative and don’t wait for symptoms to begin to take it. I had a colleague tell me this pre wsurgery and since I never have these issues I didn’t get any medicine and relied on a few doses of metamucil to work its magic. On day 3,4 and 5 I reallly wished I had premeditated this and listened to my colleague… Tip: the pain meds will plug you up–> get the digestive medicine and take it.

    • Thats a great point about the keep you regular drug! Good luck with your recovery.

    • ditto to the lax. Narcotics are great at clogging the system. Colace got me going…eventually, but yeah, that was almost as bad as my knee. Happy healing to all

  3. What pain med should I take? I found from another surgery that the pain med made me sick at my stomach and made me throw up. I have ACL surgery on March 21.

    • Jon Haver says:

      Talk with your doctor about the pain med you took last time that made you sick and they will likely be able to advice you on a suitable alternative. Good luck with your surgery.

    • Hi greg, Im having acl surgury on the 25th and have the same concern. I cant seem to take anything that ends with”set”. ex. percoset. Anything u find out would be greatly appreciated> Good luck

  4. The tourniquet area makes it difficult to go the bathroom…very painful. I would suggest one of those plastic toilet height adjuster thingys…don’t know what they’re called but women definitely need some help there. I agree about setting alarms at night to take meds. Wish I would have known that before my surgery, second night got up to use the restroom and almost passed out. You have to have your leg above your heart to keep swelling down. First day before anesthesia wears off, don’t over do it. You will regret it. Take nausea Med with pain Med to keep from getting sick. Your Dr can prescribe it. Eat salad to help with constipation. These are things that I wish I would’ve known before surgery. Good luck to those scheduled. : )

  5. I am going in next monday or my second time different knee and using my hampstring. Any additional tips?!

  6. Oh man, these tips are great. So this morning I had my left ACL allopathically reconstructed and apparently my meniscus was torn as well. The pain now (14 hrs later) isn’t too bad. What concerns me is the pressure on my leg. I’m about to go to sleep but the pressure from the wrap and leg brace makes my legand feet feel numb and tingly at times. what do you suggest is the best way to have the leg set up during night?

  7. I go in for my surgery next Monday and I’m getting more nervous as it gets closer. The doctor is using my patella and I’ve heard good things and bad things going this direction over the hamstring or cadaver…..any thoughts on which is better?

    • Jon Haver says:

      Robbie…in the end it seems like its more important with the procedure that the surgeon feels comfortable with. If you have the right surgeon and they suggest the patella than I am sure its the right choice. Trying to look at the statistics and determine which is “best” is almost impossible. Good luck with the surgery and let us know how it goes!

  8. Matthew Visser says:

    Hey, quick question.

    I had surgery on June 6th in the morning to reconstruct my ACL using the hamstring graft method. I’m not sure how much pain usually occurs during surgery as this is the first time I’ve had one. Currently I cannot make my leg totalys straight…i say I can rang in motion from 10-15 degrees to 45 or so. The last day or two, when I stand up I have a sharp pain in the back of my knee it hurts from time to time to the middle of my calf and half way up my hamstring. Any remedy for this? What does an infection feel like? Just trying to be proactive.

    • Jon Haver says:

      Hi, hopefully the pain is starting to go away by now but in terms of remedy for the pain in the calf I had the same pain and thought it was because my leg was sitting stationary for too long. It may not be the same for you but maybe if you try and do some passive movements often you will find it helps.

  9. These are all very obvious tips that any surgeon and nurse will tell you. Having gone through two ACL surgeries myself, I discovered using a cold therapy solution (compressed wraps with ice water flowing through) made a WORLD of a difference. I’m now exactly 2 weeks out of my ACL surgery and the swelling has been reduced by over 90% and I’m walking almost normal. It took me over 4 weeks to get to this point after my original surgery with just using ice the old fashioned way. It INFURIATES me that surgeons don’t use this for all patients.

  10. Hi. My husband just had his acl operated on yesterday morning. and they repaired his meniscus as well. he is having alot of trouble with pain . he cant find a good position to sit in that doesnt make his pain worse. his whole leg is throbbing. and now his back hurts :( i feel so bad that i dont know what to do to relieve his pain. do you think elevating his leg higher would help? rigth now he is only using one small pillow. he doesnt want it any higher. and he has the iceman on. the immobilizer that has ice water flowing thru it. he said his pain meds are not working any more,. the stuff from the hosp wore opff last night. but he also has not been taking the meds he was given round the clock either… any suggestions would help! thanks!

  11. Hi Lindsy. I had my ACL reconstruction with meniscus repair one day after your husband. I have had the same problem with severe post op pain as your husband bi suggest to just keep calling his doctor. That’s what I did, and they have been changing my pain mess around all week. Today they started me on oxycontin. I really hope this helps! I’ve also kept the ice machine on all the time while I’m in bed. Good luck, I hope his pain is under control now.

    • hey Jill, I would go straigh back to your doctor and demand not to take oxycontin, there is too much of a risk with the addiction risk. I had acl reconstrctive surgery 6 days ago and the only time when it does not hurt is when im lying down with my leg elevated. Every time i stand up, I feel a huge throbbing causing so much pain from the pressure of the blood flowing back down that i almost pass out. My foot instantly turns purple and red once i try standing up, ITS horrible. but ya i would look into oxycontin first. it has become quite the street drug

  12. I had nerve block administered so I did not feel any pain after the surgery for about 24-48hrs. I did not do much exercise while nerve block was effective because there is a chance of injury since you are unable to feel pain.

    I have also taken narcotic pain med (oxycodone) as prescribed but reduced to half doze in 3rd day and completely stopped on the 5th. Only took IB for another week and and on as needed basis afterwards. Your situation could be different.

    In addition to Oxycodone, I took one aspirin a day as a blood tinner to prevent blood clots after surgery (surgeon’s instructions). It also acts as a pain-killer (minor) as well.

    As for ice, I used gel-packs from Academy and actually frozen peas and corn work better as it takes the shape better. You can re-freeze a couple of times and eat it eventually.

    Keeping it elevated in slightly bent (~15-20 degrees) helped with feet swelling.

  13. danielfowler says:

    acl surgery without nerve blocker. chose to have a piece of my own patella over cadaver parts. took medication when i felt pain and didnt get halfway through the bottle. the pain wasnt as bad as tearing the ACL. some posters sound a little weak with pain tolerance. it was a breeze. the physical therapist did make me cry once, however.

  14. Five days post op. While lying on the bed or couch, pain is about 0-2. Once I move my leg off the couch or bed angled down to the floor, a tremendous throbbing pain starts and lasts for about 5-7 minutes. Once I start walking around a bit it subsides. Has anyone else experienced anything like is? This is my second ACL surgery, and this did not happen the first time (11 years ago). Please, any info would be helpful.

    • This is happening to me too and i am also wondering if this is normal. I just had my surgery 6 days ago, let me know if yo u can how long this went on for you. Did you have to go to hospital again?

  15. Could not stand the pain any longer. Doctor told me to come see him between surgeries ASAP. Went straight there to see him. After he looked at my knee, he realized what the issue was. My residual blood had collected underneath the periosteum (bark of the bone). He has to pull backnthe periosteum in order to drill throu the bone. He recommended to ice my entire shin as well as my knee. After two days, the pain is almost completely gone. I am 10 days post op now, and the last couple ofmdays have been great. Walking without any pain. Adding new exercises and walking backwards. Should be able to drive in a few days.

  16. Tabitha Dillman says:

    I got my ACL surgery yesterday morning and my pain last night was a 9 or 10. It was horrible. It still is. Iv’e been taking pain pills the doctor gave me but they don’t work that good. And suggestions?

  17. Rosemary Hicks says:

    I am 4 days after half knee replacement and just home – feeling down but knowing there are others in the same boat really helps! I have a great deal of pain but the ice pack and exercises are getting the knee moving again. I have hit a bit of depression ( not usual for me and probably from anesthetic still in my system) – hoping the HRT patch will help that! I feel ancient – Best of luck to the rest of you xx

  18. MR Marcus says:

    I had my ACL reconstruction Monday Nov 21, 2011. I stayed on my meds and was recovering fine until Friday I had to go to a viewing and was vertical for a few hours throughout the day. Since then the pain has gotten worse. Whenever I’m up I can feel my leg starting to swell. I have about 20 seconds to get to the bathroom and back before the pain gets too bad. Once I get back to the bed I have to elevate it immediately. It’s now 9 days since my surgery and I’m wondering how much longer this is going to last.
    PS. What everyone says about the laxitive, believe it!!! Castor Oil works great but take it in the morning.

  19. hi, The first couple of days following my acl surgery i suffered very little pain about 4 out of 10 but now 5 days after i now suffer from a sharp pain at about a 9 under my knee on the medial side it hurts this much only when standing and gets worse when i try 2 straighten my leg more. I am worried that maybe this means i have twisted in my sleep or something. Can anybody help?

  20. I am scheduled for ACL surgery on 12.15.11. Reading the posts and speaking with others really have me concerned. The pain levels and the need to be dependent on someone else for everyday functions (bathroom) is bugging me. Being a female and having the need to lower and raise from the toilet is a concern. Any suggestions? I guess this will be a good time to catch up on any reading and sleep I’ve been missing out on?

  21. I had my right knee done 10 years ago and on Friday i am having my left knee done, with Patella graft. I remember being in agony 10 years ago, but i need to have it done so what will be will be. I only have 1 question and it was the only thing that scarred me last time, can i get out of bed and go for a piss, last time i had to lie in bed for 4 days and couldnt go in a bottle so they gave me a catheter which still to this day gives me nightmares

  22. Has anyone here gone the cadavar part route with success? I go to the surgeon this afternoon to deal with my complete acl tear.

    • Hi Trisha,Im also having acl repair and wondering what u did about cadavar hamstring.Im reluctant to use my own because they say u cant bend tight and i need to. (ballet dancer) any info appreciated

  23. Hi all, I had my surgery on the 15th of dec it is now the 21 of dec. The most part of my pain is also advice the very first day start doin your exercises. The surgeons secratary called the next day my wife asked if im posed to be workin it out yet. They told her keep my brace locked where it cant move . I went to my first therapist session thats where the pain was 2 hours of therapy;it is now swelled more and hurts more thatn the day of the surgery. Also for people who have had this done before last night before a rain moved in i had a hurt down deep in my bones. Does this eventually go away and when i do my therapy it is swelled bad is that normal?

  24. ACL reconstruction was done on 12-21-11, so this is exactly 7 days later.

    Due to the nerve block administered, pain was around 2-3 for the first 72 hrs. I was prescribed oxycodon which I started the first night, mainly for sleeping purposes.

    CPM machine was used 6-8hrs a day starting the first night, 0 extension was painful, I found that 20-25 to start the extension was acceptable, and flexion was set to 60. Each day flexion is increased 5 degrees and extension decreased 3-4 degrees. As of today… Extension is at 0 with just a little discomfort and flexion is at 95 degrees comfortably.

    The worse pain for me… Which is current is when I stand up… Blood rushes to the shin and is unbearable. I’m going to try icing the shin throughout the night with the water circulation wrap… And hope for the best… If anyone has a remedy for this, that would be awesome. Thanks

    • Update: icing the shin prior to standing did slighty reduce the pain, would say from 10 down to an 8

      Returned to the doctors office to get the stitches removed and told the doctors about my pain. They didn’t know what the cause was, but said they have had other cases similar… The doctors prescribed me antibotics so well see what happens.

  25. Stuart Hawke says:

    Had my left knee done 9 days ago the swelling has got worse and struggling to walk been for a scan no blood clot just a build up of old blood under my knee contrast throbbing in my calf muscle really struggling with the pain

  26. I had my Acl reconstructed and half of my meniscus removed from my left knee. I was in a lot of discomfort not pain the first couple of days but the worst part was the meds. I was taking hydrocodine every 6 hours and I had really bad side effects. Other than that the pain was moderate.

    • Are you walking without crutches yet? I see no end in sight for the relationship I have with my crutches. I need them just to stand :-(

  27. I had my ACL and meniscus repaired nine days ago, on February 3rd, and I’m still in a significant amount of pain. I have been taking Lortab and Ibuprofen 800 every four to six hours. I have always had a high tolerance for pain, but this is ridiculous. I can still only really get out of bed to use the restroom. I ice several times a day and keep my leg elevated. It kills me to read that some of you were walking by now. I can’t imagine!! I cant even stand with light pressure. I require my crutches at all times, and when I’m up my knee is killing me. It quickly goes from a 6 to a 9-10 on the pain scale as I feel like my entire leg is being tugged on, especially at the knee. The doctor told me I now only have to wear the brace when I’m up and about, but after two days of not wearing it in bed and being in excruciating pain, I put it back on.

    Oh yes, now let’s talk about bedsores. Yes, that’s right, I think I’m getting them!!! My back is covered in welts that I can only assume are from lying or sitting in bed all day long. I didn’t think healthy 38 year old women could get them, but I guess I was wrong!! Have to find a solution for that today.

    In regard to the constipation problem…that got to be a really serious issue for me around days 5-6. A friend suggested something called The Secrets of Psyllium. My son picked some up for me at Trader Joe’s. I think it is just like metamucil but works more naturally. I mix it is my veggie juices or protein shakes. Yesterday I used it in a glass of OJ. It helps a lot.

    Honestly, I’m amazed at how different everyone’s recoveries have been. If I had known it was going to be this painful for so long post-surgery, I think I would have postponed surgery until summer (I’m a teacher). Is go through labor and childbirth twice before I would go through this again.

    • Jolene,
      I had ACL reconstructive surgery with medial meniscal repair on my right knee yesterday, 13 February 2013. I also had ACL reconstructive surgery, no meniscal repair on my left knee back in 14 May 2009. From my understanding and and stories from some teammates who have had both surgeries as well, the recovery processes and protocols are different within the first few weeks because of the meniscal repair.

      For example, when I just had the ACL reconstructive surgery, no meniscal repair, I was:
      1) Allowed to put weight on my knee while I was using my crutches.
      2) I went to rehab the next morning and began working on bending my knee to regain range of motion (ROM).
      3) It was only a 6 month recovery to get back into full contact sports.

      This time around, with ACL reconstructive surgery and medial meniscal repair, I was:
      1) Not allowed to put any weight on my knee, and I won’t be allowed to for the next few weeks.
      2) I did not go to rehab yet, but I have been told that I will not be working on trying to bend my knee anytime soon because of the meniscal repair.
      3) This is a 9 month recovery process instead of 6.

      I hope this information helps, or it draws you to talk to your physical therapist about it. Don’t get discouraged with some of the progress the other patients have made. They’ve had the lighter surgery compared to what we had done.

    • How long did it take you to walk with out crutches after surgery because i had my ACL my medial and interior Meniscal tear when can i expect to walk

  28. I had my acl reconstructed Jan 20th. I am on week 5 out of surgery and week 4 of therapy. I can bend my knee at 115% without the straps and 120% with the straps and 100% straight but I am still in a lot of pain and tightness. I am walking without my crutches but it is tight above the knee. I have partial feeling in my inner thigh. It burns and tingles. I am so over this pain. I have tried everything and nothing seems to help. Does anyone have any suggestions. I’m ready to cut my leg off.

  29. I had ACL reconstructive surgery Feb 21 with a hamstring graft. I had a nerve block so the first day I really did not feel too much. The second day was more painful but still manageable. They’ve given me plenty of meds in case I need them. If anything I am more afraid not to take them then have this huge wave of pain kick in.

    I’m wearing a simmer splint with cryo-cuff and was told that I must leave both on until I go to physio tomorrow. I unwrapped my knee to take the tensor and bulky bandages off. I have dissolvable stitches and sutures. When I saw my knee if was not as scary as I expected it to be. It did feel weird like it was not my knee. Seeing as I’ve had my leg straight in a splint I’m worried about going to physio and having to bend it. Will it hurt? I was told the splint was to help with extension/flexion but I am a bit worried about bending it for the first time. Anyone else have the same process?

  30. I had ACL reconstruction at around 1:00 yesterday and the doctor said he shaved the meniscus down while he was in there. He said it was too large. The doctor used a cadaver hamstring. I was not really given any instructions for after surgery such as elevating, icing or exercising. Anyone have any suggestions? I think I’m in a lot of pain. Not even sure which meds to take in what order as they didn’t give me any written instructions. Wondering how long my leg will be tingly numb from the nerve block too. Any help would be so appreciated.

  31. Ditto for me! ACL recon (allograft) and medial meniscus repair in left knee (2/23/12) and it hurts! I’m on 4-wk weight bearing restrict and limited to 60 flexion. Been to PT twice – has me doing legs lifts and knee bends. It is crazy how hard it is to do the leg lifts…it was so hard to get through 10 when just before surgery I could do 100.

  32. Hi.
    My knee surgery is scheduled for April 5. There are 2 passover seders the following nights which require me to be seated at a table for 3 hours each night. Is this possible? Are you able to sit the first 2 nights? or only lie down?

    • After the nerve block wears off, it’s probably unrealistic that you’ll be able to sit upright.

      Just moving my leg – from elevated to level, for example – is excruciating, and that’s when I’m flat on my back.

    • You will only be able to lie down. I dnt think u will be attending those events.

    • @ David,
      As the Haggadah says, Why on this night, must we recline? Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I’m having my ACL done next week and have already decided that I’m not cooking the seder meal and I definitely plan on having those extra pillows that my grandpa always used to have when I was a kid. Best Wishes

  33. Surgery 2-27-12. 56 yr. old male. Repaired old ACL tear & Meniscus on left knee. Cadavor graft used for ACL. Doctor prescribed up to 2 Hydrocodone every 6 hours as needed for pain. Stayed on top of it for the first 3 days. Made quite a difference. Found out the hard way about the resulting constipation. Thought maybe 1 Senikot plus a daily dose of Metamucil would be sufficient. Bad mistake! Worst and most painful part of the whole thing was the first attempt at a bowel movement. Literally thought about calling 911. Advice to others, take the maximum dose of stool softener, laxative and Metamucil. Beyond that, it’s gone well. Doctor wanted me to work on leg extension and range of motion on “knee bending machine”. Did not want me just lying in bed. Walking with brace and no crutches on third day after surgery. Cryo cold water pump is my new best friend! Down to 1 Hydrocodone every 6 hrs. Today is 6th day after surgery. Leg extension is flat, range of motion on knee bending is a comfortable 75 degrees and walking comfortably for short amounts of time around the house with just an Ace bandage on. Plan on being at 80 degree ROM by tomorrow. Want to be ahead of schedule for first PT appt. on Tuesday.
    Interesting to see the difference of experiences and Doctors orders for the for the posts listed here. Best of luck to all who go through this!

  34. I looked at this site before my surgery on march 1st and was somehow persuaded that the pain meds would take away enough pain that i could be more mobile. Pain is definitely higher than expected. On day 5, my leg started swelling intensely all the way down to my ankle. Ice, rest, elevation, compression stockings made bearable. Ultrasound shows fluid mass no dvt. Walking and rom exercises seem like a pipe dream. Prepared to get aspiration today at orthodox apt

  35. I’m in desperate need of advice from others who have had similar surgery. I’m now 7 weeks in after ACL surgery that unfortunately revealed a micro fracture and meniscus frail that caused me to be unbearing weight for 6 weeks…so the leg lost strength and stability fast. that said, rehab has been going great and pain in my knee is actually Not the problem. I have nerve pain/numbing that in the past three nights has gotten so bad after 9pm that I simply cannot sleep. the pain is Far worse than the knee pains even in the first few weeks, with moments of 8-9 on a scale of 10. I have taken as many as 6 percocet pills in a single night that pretty much just shut my eyes for an hour or so, only to awaken shortly after in severe pain. the numbness/tingling is mostly in the foot, and worst towards the top of the toes. deep rubbing of my lower leg helps, but brings sharp pains in the process. I hear of issues people (rarely) had with blood clots and nerve damage, but so far my Docs have not been able to figure this out. Im worries because it keeps getting worse and I keep missing valuable sleep. I havent had more than a few hours sleep in the past three days so any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  36. I had my surgery on Feb 29,2012 acl reconstruction with hamstring graft and medial meniscus repair, for the first 2 days the pain was horrible when i had to get up to go to the bathroom other than that percocet did a good job of keeping me comfortable. After the fourth day i was just drinking 2 percocets before bed time and through out the day just ibuprofen. I began physical therapy 2 days after my surgery. Minimal exercises to work on my flexion/extensions. Right now im on day 12 and my extensions are 0 degrees and flexion at 99 degrees. But in for a long recovery because i cant weight bare till 6 weeks. My polar care 300 helped manage the pain highly recommend and ice machine when going through this surgery. The only thing Ive had are spasms in the morning that cause a bit of pain when i wake anyone experience this, it happened after about day 8.

  37. Hi everyone, I had ACL reconstruction using my hamstring & meniscus repair 5 days ago. For the last two nights my knee starts to ‘spasm’ which is not painful but is then followed by an agonising ‘cramp’ going up the inside back of my thigh. I’m not sleeping & can’t seem to stop this from happening. Any advice would be gratefully recieved!

  38. I got the surgery in July 2011. The pain the first few days was a 10. I was SCREAMING in pain, the knee would tense up all on its own, it was pure hell. I was fully recoved but about 2 weeks ago in gymnastics, ( doing the exact same trick I that i hurt it on the 1st. Time)and tore it again. I have to get the surgery again and I’m NOT looking forward to it!!

    • My surgeon suggested that 12 months is the required time for full recovery and as much a I would love to go skiing before this, I am prepared to wait as to not cause a rupture of the replaced ACL.

  39. I got the surgery in July 2011. The pain the first few days was a 10. I was SCREAMING in pain, the knee would tense up all on its own, it was pure hell. I was fully recoved but about 2 weeks ago in gymnastics, ( doing the exact same trick I that i hurt it on the 1st. Time)and tore it again. I have to get the surgery again and I’m NOT looking forward to it!! I’m in my teens so I’m still growing, so my doctor used a different method so that he wouldn’t have to drill threw My growth plates, and used a cadavers acl…

  40. I am one week post op from ACL reconstruction surgery. Many of the posts and suggestions here truly helped me prior to surgery and post surgery. Some of the key take always as it relates to my experience. First and foremost, for the first 48 hours post op I had excruciating pain! I am not a “pill popper” but I have to tell you that I took the advice a I’ve and took a Percocet every four hours for the first few days. This allowed me to “stay ahead of the pain” as a poster suggested. Trust me, it’s coming. Secondly , a stool softener (dulcolax) while taking the pain med definitely helped when the time finally came. It may take a few days, as with any pain med and most NSAIDS, so don’t rush it or be too alarmed. Absolutely do not put a pillow under your knee! Lastly, as mentioned ICE ICE ICE!!!! I just started therapy today and I am motivated to get to the next level!

  41. I completely tore my ACL, small tears to my MCL and a small tear to my meniscus there was also severe bone bruising of the tibia, femur and patella.

    I am 12 days post op and have only taken Acetominophen for a headache in the last 2 days. Still have a small amount of pain but its bearable and not constant. More than a few steps of weight-bearing causes a increase in pain but this may be due to the bone bruising.

    I am trying not to be to disappointed in my progress as all ACL injuries are obviously not the same and all surgeries are different but I thought I would be able to walk by now.

    I very rarely take pain medication and can’t take anti-inflammatory drugs. I found the pain unbearable without pain killing drugs and did not hesitate to take what was allowed as the pain increased. I wasn’t a wuss just had significant pain.

    I have found that when I stand my foot starts to swell and turn purple with veins enlarging has anyone else experienced this?

  42. I’m about to ACL repair I’m a 39 yr female
    I’m scare shitless excuse my language. My doc said it would be done with a cadaver graft. He ordered me the ice machine and pretty much I’m schedule for may 30 . I think I’m ok with pain but I’m really not.. I pretty much will be on my own except for my mom and I d t want to put that concern so much on her .. I get all the advice meds meds meds and ice ice ice but now I’m concern about constipation n not. Sing able to go poop :) on my own :(

  43. Hello – had ACL allograft (cadaver) reconstruction on 5/1/12, and tomorrow is my 2-week follow up appt. I was told prior to surgery that I would only need crutches for one week, and at last week’s appointment that I would definitely be off them by tomorrow. I am still nowhere near leaving the crutches behind, although I did walk from my bed to the light switch today without them, which felt like quite an accomplishment. Today is also my first day off of pain meds in addition to a feeble attempt to go to the office. The toughest parts of this experience are the pain, and having to rely on my wife for help. Sleeping is also very difficult – but far and away the worst is when you are walking on crutches and your foot “catches” the ground prior to your intended step – instant 10 on the pain scale. If I knew what this was going to feel like I may have forgone the surgery because my “pre-hab” went so well. Now is a different story though – would love to have a “fast forward” button right about now!!!

  44. Hello. I had surgery yesterday, 5-18-12, I had a left ACL reconstruction with hamstring. Luckily, my meniscus was not torn as the dr. thought it was, so no repair. Yesterday, I elevated and iced and took medication on time and felt great. I was able to put some weight on my leg and walk pretty well. But last night I took of the ice water cuff and woke up this morning with extreme pain. It feels like my leg is twisted and I cannot get comfortable. I took my pain meds, reapplied the ice cuff, and struggled to find a tolerable position and it is finally feeling better, but I feel like I took a step back. It now hurts considerably to put wt on my leg and it seems like I have lost some range of motion. My calf is pretty tender as well. Does this seem normal?

  45. Sorry to hear so many stories of pain especially in the first couple of nights.

    There are anesthesia techniques which can get around this.

    My patients (I am an anesthesiologist) get a sciatic nerve block and a femoral nerve block. In addition I place a femoral nerve catheter so the femoral nerve is continuously bathed in local anesthetic for 48 hours. The catheters are easy to place and are removed by the patients at home. Typically they need about 4 doses of oxycodone (total) over the first three days. During which they are taking regular antiinflammatories – Tylenol and ibuprofen. They also have the ice water system described in a previous post.

  46. Zachary says:

    Hey guys just had my surgery done 2 days ago on my left knee and I’ve been taking the percs every 4 hours as suggested but idk how to go about icing.. The bandage is still covering my knee and the Ice isn’t getting through to it.. Suggestions?

    • I had the same concern, but they basically told me to keep icing that more cold was getting through than I thought. Maybe just keep the ice on a bit longer.

  47. Hey there I think when u having pain taking any meddication such as oxycod can’t bring addiction because the ones get addicted are the ones who take this medication with no pain and that would make them high and not the ones have pain much as after surgery and I have done acl and miniscis surgery yesterday and I wanne just pray and ask god for help to me and those that have pain to get better in jesus name

  48. This was my first surgery of any kind so had a bunch of anxiety going in. I reviewed a bunch of the above experiences to get an idea of what to expect. Frankly a lot of your experiences ‘scared’ me.

    Had my surgery on 8/1. Had ACL replacement (cadaver) and minor meniscus repair. Surgery took ~50 mins, they ran in to no issues. I had asked multiple times about a nerve block but they basically said they would assess my condition in the recovery room to see if I needed one. They decided I was doing fine and did not. I was VERY surprised at the amount of bending that I was able to do even in the recovery room. And ultimately glad I did not get the nerve block as 1st day pain was minimal (maybe 3-4 out of 10).

    Going home things continued to go smoothly. I did take my meds on schedule, but generally I was having so little pain I think I actually over did it about 3 days post surgery which started a little foot/ankle swelling that I had to work back down for a few days. Now about a week and a half post surgery I am down to 1 crutch and able to walk short distances with no crutches. I am totally off the meds (no OTC pain meds either) and am experiencing no pain at all.

    So, just wanted to give a positive story to some of the bad experiences above. Certainly I suggest that folks educate themselves as they always should but my experience thus far has been exponentially better than I anticipated.

    • Forgot to add, that the only real other issue that I hit (and am still struggling with a bit) is sleeping. It is tough to get a good nights sleep since your motion is so limited. It is slowly getting better but be prepared.

      Also, heed all of the warnings to take a stool softener.

  49. Hi I just had the acl surgery on my left knee 5 days ago and find it difficult to stand up I get sharp pain going up and down my lag and it feels like is being squashed but only when I go to stand I can bend my knee laying down is this normal and is there enything I can do to help stop this pain

  50. Thank you, I’ve just been looking for information approximately this topic for a long time and yours is the greatest I have discovered so far. However, what about the bottom line? Are you positive concerning the source?

  51. Just want to add my 2 cents here .
    I had my left knee acl replaced 39 days ago.
    I also had meniscus repaired .
    This was an old injury, 30 year old to be exact. I damaged my knee at 15, and have lived with it until recently. In reality, I need to fix my right acl replaced too, planning for next year. My experience is similar to TJBs, although I did have block done at surgery. No option given.
    Procedure lasted about 2 hours, at least I came out of anastasia then. Whent home an hour later. On crutches. Was told to keep the immobilizer brace until first post op visit, in my case about 5 days. My procedure was on Thursday, and my doctor only had time the following Wednesday. Did not even breake my pain meds. Open.
    First 2 days block was working, after that pain was about 4. Nothing really to speak about. Just took couple of tullenols now and than, mostly at night. Was moving with crutches just fine. First 2 days had to be careful as with the block leg was like a log. By my first visit had almost full extension,and could bend to 90 degree.could also bear most of my weight on the leg (200lb+) was walking mostly with one crotch by week 2 , except outside and stairs. With a walking stick by week 3. Nothing by week 4.
    Now am walking comfortably almost normal, even on stairs I’ll bet carefully. Pt says all is looking good, but there is some small pain and discomfort on the side of the knee, bur I am working on i
    Ice is your friend.

  52. I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here regularly.

    I am quite sure I’ll learn a lot of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

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  1. Reduce Swelling and Pain After ACL Surgery « ACL Surgery Recovery says:

    [...] Management - http://www.aclsurgeryrecovery.net/12/7-tips-to-manage-pain-in-the-first-week-after-acl-surgery/ Reduce Swelling in Knee [...]

  2. [...] 7 Tips To Manage Pain In The First Week After ACL Surgery | ACL …The most commonly asked question that people going into ACL surgery ask is about how to minimize the amount of pain they will be in during the first week after … [...]

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