The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is the ligament of the knee that provides stabilization to the joint. It runs from the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shinbone), crossing in front of the knee joint. The ACL provides approximately 85% of the restraining force to prevent forward movement of the tibia on the femur and limits rotation between these bones. A torn ACL cannot heal without surgery.
When an athlete tears their ACL, it is a career-threatening injury. For weekend warriors, it is no less distressing. A torn ACL limits your mobility, whether or not you’re a professional athlete. Many people who tear their ACLs are young and active, which means that they will require surgery in order to regain full use of the knee.
After an ACL surgery, it is important to manage the pain in order to ensure a comfortable recovery. There are a few ways to do this, and the best method may vary depending on the individual.
Let’s discuss how to manage pain after an ACL knee surgery.
Pain Management After ACL Surgery
Patients will receive detailed instructions after their operation from their surgeon and nurses. Below are just some of the methods for pain management used after ACL surgery:
- Medication – One way to manage pain is through medication. Over-the-counter options such as ibuprofen can be effective for milder forms of discomfort, while prescription medications may be necessary for more severe pain relief. You will likely be given strong medication immediately following surgery and a decreased dosage in the days and weeks that follow.
- Ice Therapy – Applying ice to the area can help with pain and swelling. Apply a cloth-covered ice pack for 10-20 minutes at a time several times per day, especially during the first few days after surgery.
- Elevation – Keep the affected leg elevated whenever possible. This prevents swelling and speeds up healing. Keep your leg up when sitting or lying down.
- Compression Stockings – If your doctor gave you compression stockings, wear them until you are instructed to stop.
- Crutches – Try to avoid putting all your weight on the affected leg, as it will make it hurt more. Your doctor may prescribe crutches to help you get around for the first few days.
- Physical Therapy – Another way to manage pain after ACL surgery is through physical therapy exercises. These help improve the range of motion and strengthen the muscles around the knee joint, which can ultimately lead to less pain overall. Physical therapy should always be approved by a doctor or physical therapist beforehand in order to avoid doing any exercises that could potentially further damage the knee joint.
ACL Surgery in North Dakota
The Bone & Joint Center has three board-certified and fellowship-trained knee surgeons as part of our team – Dr. Brian Dahl, Dr. Timothy Bopp, and Dr. Joe Carlson – who can provide expert care for your ACL injury. Our facility not only offers diagnostic and treatment services but also physical therapy and rehabilitation services. We employ more highly qualified therapists than any other orthopedic practice in North Dakota and have several locations across the state. To schedule an appointment with one of our knee surgeons, call our office today at (701) 946-7400 / (866) 900-8650 or use our convenient online request form.