5 Tips to Prepare for ACL Surgery

You may have been enjoying a game of basketball with your friends or playing a quick game of backyard football when you heard a pop in your knee. That pop was probably followed by immediate swelling and intense pain. Those are all classic signs that you may have an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

ACL injuries are common, and the surgeons at Mehling Orthopedics are experts in orthopedic care and treatment of your knee injury. Dr. Mehling and Dr. Yufit can answer all of your questions regarding your ACL tear and make a plan for treatment that best suits your lifestyle.

What is the ACL?

Your anterior cruciate ligament is a vital ligament in your knee joint. Along with your ACL, you have a posterior cruciate ligament that works in conjunction with your ACL to move your knee back and forth. Your ACL also provides stability in your knee joint.

When you tear your ACL, you lose some of that stability in your knee, which is usually very noticeable. 

Symptoms of an ACL tear include:

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with one of our surgeons to assess your injury. The sooner a treatment plan is established, the sooner you'll be able to get back to your normal activities.

How to prepare for surgery

If you need surgery for a torn ACL, you may be overwhelmed by the thought of surgery, especially if you don't know what to expect. 

We want you to feel comfortable and prepared, so here are five tips to help you get ready for your upcoming surgery.

1. Ask questions

Knowing what to expect from surgery is half the battle. During your preoperative appointment, be sure to ask any questions that you may have regarding the surgery or your recovery. Make sure you know the risks of the procedure along with the benefits.

2. Take care of yourself

This may be the most important step for you to keep in mind before your procedure. Keeping your body as healthy as possible before surgery can help make your recovery easier and also decrease your risk of problems during surgery. 

Ways to stay healthy before surgery include quitting smoking and eating a well balanced diet.

3. Plan ahead

After surgery, you’ll be non weight bearing for several weeks. This will make it difficult for you to do normal everyday things like cook, clean, and take care of things outside. To make life easier, you can make some meals ahead of time, ask friends and family to help with yard work or the dog, and remove any obstacles in your house that will make it harder to get around.

4. Practice walking with crutches

After your procedure, you won't be able to put weight on your operative leg for several weeks to promote healing of the new ACL tissue. Crutches can be hard to get used to, and it can be difficult to maneuver them on stairs and other areas of your house. Practice using them before your surgery as much as possible to make your recovery a lot easier.

5. Try to relax

Before your procedure, practice meditation or calming exercises to keep your mind at ease. Going into surgery with a clear and relaxed mind can ease your stress and anxiety before and after the procedure.

Recovery after surgery

After you spend some time in postoperative care, you'll be sent home to rest. Our staff will go over your discharge instructions with you before you leave. Following these instructions is crucial for a seamless recovery.

For the first week you can use ice and compression to help with the postoperative swelling. Elevating your leg on pillows may also be helpful. You may have some pain after surgery, so be sure to take any medications that our doctors prescribed for you if you need them.

Recovery time is different for everyone, but it can take up to nine months to fully recover after having your ACL repaired. During this time, you'll most likely be doing physical therapy along with home exercises to regain strength and mobility in your knee.

If you're ready to go over your options for your ACL injury, make an appointment with one of our surgeons or physician assistants today. Contact Mehling Orthopedics at one of our two offices in Hackensack, New Jersey, or West Islip, New York.

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