Pre Surgery Checklist

Here is my definitive pre ACL surgery checklist. Before your ACL surgery you need to get everything in place. In order to prepare for the surgery and give yourself the best chance at having a successful surgery here is what I recommend you do make sure you have.

The checklist below is broken down sequentially to make it as easy as possible for you to prepare for ACL surgery.

A few weeks before surgery:


In my opinion the items below should are absolutely necessary for ACL surgery recovery.

o Cryo Cuff – Aircast Cryo Cuff Knee System with Cooler

o Soft Ice Packs – Chattnooga Colpac

o Crutches – aluminum crutches

Aircast Cryo Cuff

Aircast Cryo Cuff used for ACL Surgery Recovery this time!

– Entertainment

You will be sitting a lot over the next few weeks so I highly recommend getting some entertainment items.

o TV Series – Top TV Shows on DVD

o Movies – Most Popular Movies

o XBOX – XBox 360 Stuff

o Books – Amazon

o IPad (thanks for the present!) – Apple iPad 2

– Food

o Healthy meals are important as you will want to sit and eat

o Throw out bad food and buy some good snack food(nuts/fruit etc)

– Exercise

o Before surgery it is important to do some PRE ACL Surgery Rehab

o Exercise bands are helpful for surgery

Days Before ACL Surgery:

– Pain Killers and Medication For Surgery

o Fill your prescription

o Pick up some other painkillers – Tylenol Extra Strength

o MUST – Laxative and Colace are important because of the pain meds – If you dont want to go the prescription route – Metamucil Apple Crisp

– Clothing

o Comfortable clothing should be handy…baggy & comfortable shorts

– Set Up Home Base

o Set yourself up on a couch close to the kitchen, TV, computer, books and medication with lots of pillows and blankets. This “Home Base” will likely be where you spend most of your days and nights.

Day Of ACL Surgery

– Don’t eat from midnight the night before and only drink water

– Ensure someone can accompany you to and from the hospital

– Remove all jewelry and nailpolish

– Don’t apply lotion or perfume

– Bring your paperwork

– Bring your crutches

– Ensure you have your painkillers

– Mark your knee with a Sharpie(no need for a mistake!)

– Wear loose and comfortable clothing

– No contact lenses

Let me know if you think of anything else I should be including and I will update this page.

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

Click Here to see the exercises


  1. Hi Jon
    How are you?
    It’s comforting to see that you could walk 4 days after the surgery without the crutches, but was it painful every stepl? I am going to have ACL reconstruction + meniscal debridement in 9 days time and am so scared.
    You said “set yourself close to the kitchen, TV, computer, books and medication….”. What about lavatory? Should it be at the same floor level to the set base? Can the leg be bent when you sat on the toilet?
    Thanks in advance of your help.

  2. Lee Whitfield says:

    Please explain how/why one uses the soft colpacs in addition to the game ready/aircast cryo-cuff knee system.
    Thank you.

  3. hello. my name is ashley and ive just gotten back my MRI results and they say i have a tear in my ACL & meniscus. im very nervous since this is my first time ever having a ingury this serious and i have an appointment with the surgent tomorrow. And can ANYONE give me their feed back on personal experinces and things they found helpful to know!!??? that would help a lot and make me feel so much better. (both positive AND negitive experinces are great) email me your helpful info at thanks alot!

  4. I’ve been researching ACL injuries so much since my injury and I am terrified about my surgery on the 18th. I’ve never been injured before nor have I had surgery. This site has been very helpful in many ways and has also calmed me down a bit. Thank you!

  5. I had surgery for MCL, ACL and meniscus. I tore the PCL as well, but they left that because they were afraid of the stiffness I had prior to surgery. I rehabbed for 12 weeks hoping to get the MCL to heal but it never did. I was so lucky to have found your site and so many others prior to surgery. I had my ice machine, CPM, shower chair, lift toilet all in place as well as things like a bag for showering, wet wipes, etc… I actually have been getting around pretty well. Go to rehab, out to dinner, etc… Three weeks in. Being on the CPM is limiting as far as getting out too much because I’m trying to get on that as much as possible. Your site has been so helpful. I am only at about 90 degrees flexion but I am working diligently on it. I am 58. Got on a bike and can’t circle around yet but can go back and forth. I did buy one before surgery to have at my house for rehab. Got a good one on CL’s for little money. Another previous ACL patient:). Rehab, rehab, rehab… That’s our life for a couple months and I know from pre-surgery it was so helpful to have gotten the lay of the land so to speak. I knew immediately what I had to do and started the night after surgery with quad sets. Thanks Jon for this site. It’s been so helpful. Also, Knee Geeks is another good site and there’s lot’s of UTUBE videos you can watch as well to see other’s in the same boat!

  6. Oh and when you get an aircast machine, get the large, the one for the shoulder. It will cover most of your knee vs. the one for the knee. This made a huge difference as I got some icing for the back of the knee this way. You can use it on your shoulders later if they get tight from the crutches or playing on your IPAD. I am now able to dangle my leg on my computer chair and put weight on it. I wasn’t able to at first because I had holes drilled for chondraplasty.SP?

  7. Hi, I tore my mcl and acl on June 29th playing softball. I just had acl surgery Sept. 13th. My advice is to take your time before jumping into surgery, it’s something that doesn’t need or helps to be rushed. I went to what I would call pre-hab (PT) for 10 weeks and was very diligent about doing my exercises and stretching on my own. It helped so well that I was able to play a couple more games of softball (with a brace on) before surgery. I had regained all range of motion and had no issues with strength and my mcl had healed on it’s own. Now that I have had surgery, I can only say that I couldn’t have put myself in a better position for a full and problem free recovery, I know it will still take time to heal but the road will be much smoother. All the items Jon had list are musts!!!!

  8. Jon:

    Great site! It really helped get me prepared for my surgery! I tore my right ACL in mid-August playing squash. After the MRI confirmed the tear, I scheduled surgery. In the meantime, I was able to get a second opinion from a friend who is an orthopedic surgeon. He was not in a rush to operate as the MRI showed the ACL partially intact. Seeing as I am a very active 46 year old, I decided to have the allograft procedure.

    I had surgery just two days ago, 10/17. I was fully prepared for the worst. I had a spinal with sedation and it was a breeze. I had far more anxiety than I should have. When I was in recovery, surgeon came in to tell me that ACL was only about 25% torn so he did NOT perfrom the allograft. He just cleaned up some cartilage. At first I was quite relieved but now I am a bit concerned. While I am happy that I am back on my feet and not in need of taking any prescription pain meds, I am concerned that my doctor has unnecessarily left me with a compromised ACL.

    Has anyone else experienced this? At what point will a surgeon typically avoid the ACL reconstruction? Should I expect to return to “normal” or will the damaged ACL always be weak? I never anticipated NOT have the ACL reconstructed so now I am in quite a quandry!

  9. Alfonso Garcia says:

    Hi, so happy to have found this website to get a little perspective on other peoples side of an acl injury… I tore my Acl and minor tear in lateral meniscus playing baseball during a pickle (which is a sudden change of direction) thata when I heard the infamous pop we all are very familiar with. So now I’ve been in limbo to which option to go with either the hamstring autograft or the patellar autograft?I’m learning to the patella graft because I’ve heard it is stronger in the long run and heard the hamstring graft is very popular. Would like to hear some feedback?

  10. Listen guys, I am a 14 years old rugby player (like Jon) and I have to say, because I had acl surgery 2 days ago and I am currently hospitalizaded, that the recovery will be hard but each day you will feel more happy to fell your leg brand as new! Thank you for all your help Jon, but I think you are rushing the things up a little :S Walking without cruches in the first week?! I would’nt do that. But the rest is all very correct and well explained!

  11. Mike Schotters says:

    Hey, I have surgery on june 26th for acl and mcl. I am pretty scared as I have never even broke a bone or been in for any kind of surgery. My doc says he wants no weight bearing and in straight brace for two weeks? I am on my feet with a brace know and seem to be regaining strenth and flexablity daily with pt. Any insight in to the procedure and how things go would be good as I have quight a bit of anziety about the whole thing.