POST-OP FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – ACL
When can I take the dressings off my surgical site?

ACL Reconstruction: The dressings should be left in place for 5 days.
Shoulder Arthroscopy: The dressings should be left in place for 5 days.
Hip Arthroscopy: The dressings should be left in place for 5 days.
Knee Arthroscopy: The dressings should be left in place for 2 days.

You can leave the steri-strips in place until they fall off or remove at 10 days.

When will my stitches be removed?

All of your stitches are absorbable – there are no stitches to be removed.

When can I begin to shower?

Once you have removed your dressings, you can shower normally.
Leave the steri-strips in place and pat dry after the shower.

DO NOT SOAK THE SURGICAL SITE (i.e. no bath, Jacuzzi or pool).

When can I begin to bath or go in a pool?

You can bathe normally after your wounds have been checked at your first follow-up appointment.

How will my pain be managed after surgery?

It is normal to have some discomfort for several days after surgery. During surgery, local anesthetic will be instilled into your surgical site. This will wear off in 6-8 hours. You may also have been given a nerve block prior to surgery which will help with post-op pain and will wear off in about 12 hours. You will receive pain medications in the recovery room as needed, and you will be given prescriptions for pain medicine to take at home. As your pain decreases, you can switch to Tylenol or Ibuprofen.

What prescriptions will I be given?

You will be provided with a prescription for two medications:

Celecoxib (Celebrex) –you should take this as regularly as directed for 5 days.
Oxycodone –you can take this as needed, as directed for 7-10 days.

As your pain decreases, you can switch to over the counter pain medication.

My surgical site has been hurting since surgery, is this normal?

Yes, it is normal to have discomfort at your surgical site for several days after surgery. You may notice increased pain as the local anesthetic and/or nerve block begin to wear off.  Your pain should slowly decrease in the days following surgery.

There is some blood showing through my dressings, is this normal?

Yes, it is common to have some spotting through the dressings following surgery. An additional dressing to reinforce over the area will resolve the issue.

The area around my surgical site is swollen, is this normal?

Yes, it is common to develop some swelling around your surgical site post-op. For knee and hip surgery, elevating the leg and pumping your ankles up and down will decrease swelling. You should also use an ice pack for 20 minutes every hour while awake for the first 72 hours post-op. If swelling persists beyond one week, you should contact the office.

There is some bruising around my surgical site, is this normal?

Yes, it is common to develop some discolouration or bruising in the areas around your surgical site.

There are some areas of numbness around my surgical site, is this normal?

Yes, it is normal to experience some areas of numbness. The size and severity of the numbness will diminish with time.

What should I be doing in the first couple of days post-op?

You should limit your activity in the first 72 hours post-op. You should use an ice pack for 20 minutes every hour while awake for the first 72 hours post-op. For knee and hip surgery, elevating the leg and pumping your ankles up and down will decrease swelling.

ACL/Knee arthroscopy: You can begin some home exercises before attending your first physiotherapy session including:

1. Gently bending and straightening the knee ten times, three times a day.
2. Straight leg raises ten times, three times a day.

Shoulder arthroscopy: You can begin some home exercises before attending your first physiotherapy session including:
1. Elbow and wrist range of motion exercises.
2. Shoulder gentle pendulum exercises.

Will I be wearing a brace after surgery?

In most cases, no brace will be used post-operatively. If a brace is used, specific instructions will be provided to you.

Shoulder arthroscopy: You have been provided with a shoulder immobilizer, use this immobilizer at all times for the first two weeks post-operatively. You may slip the arm out of the immobilizer to perform your daily exercises.

Should I alter my diet in any way following surgery?

No, you may resume a regular diet following your surgery – drink plenty of fluids.

Will I be using crutches after surgery?

ACL/Knee Arthroscopy: Yes, you will require crutches following surgery, however you may weight-bear as tolerated with the crutches. You should bring your crutches to your surgery, or they can be purchased from the hospital. Some surgical procedures will require more strict weight-bearing instructions.  These will be made clear to you prior to discharge on the day of surgery.

Hip Arthroscopy: Yes, you will require crutches following surgery, and will limit weight bearing to toe-touch weight bearing.

You should bring your crutches to your surgery, or they can be purchased from the hospital.

When can I start walking again after surgery?

ACL/Knee Arthroscopy: You may weight-bear as tolerated with the use of crutches immediately following surgery. Your physiotherapist will assist you in determining when your leg is strong enough to walk without crutches. You may have stopped using your crutches by the time of your first follow-up visit. Some surgical procedures will require more strict weight-bearing instructions. These will be made clear to you prior to discharge on the day of surgery.

Hip Arthroscopy: At the time of your first post-operative visit you will be informed when you can discontinue use of the crutches.

When should I start physiotherapy?

You are expected to start your physiotherapy in the first week following your surgery.  Your physiotherapy should be underway before your first post-operative visit.  You can begin some home exercises before attending your first physiotherapy session.

Will I receive a physiotherapy prescription?

Yes, you will be provided with a physiotherapy prescription which will provide instructions to your physiotherapist and may outline all the phases of activity progression.

When can I start driving again after surgery?

There is no specific date to begin driving. You may begin driving once you feel that you will be able to drive safely. This means being able to react quickly without being impaired or distracted by your surgical site and being able to respond without hesitation.

My muscles seem to be shrinking and seem to be very weak, is this normal?  

As your muscles are not being used normally after surgery, it is very common for them to reduce in size significantly in the days/weeks following surgery.

When can I fly after surgery? Are there any precautions I need to take?

It is recommended to avoid flying in the first two weeks after surgery.  If you need to fly soon after surgery, please discuss with the surgical team.

Is there any metal in my arm/leg? Will it set off a metal detector, in the airport for example?

Metal may be used as part of your surgical reconstruction.  Typically the amount of metal used is not sufficient to set off a metal detector.

If I have problems post-op, who do I go see (you, my family doctor, the emergency room etc.)?

If you have questions following surgery, you should contact our office.  If you are over the age of 18 and have a medical emergency, you should proceed to Mt. Sinai Hospital or your local Emergency Room.  If you are under the age of 18, and have a medical emergency, you should proceed to the Emergency Room at The Hospital for Sick Children or your local Emergency Room.

I’m feeling very tired and nauseous post-op, is this normal?

It is normal to have less energy in the 1-2 weeks after surgery.  The nausea will resolve with time, and once you are able to stop your prescription pain medication.

I just had knee surgery, what’s the best position to have my knee in at home?

When at rest, you should aim to keep the leg straight.  You can bend it to do your exercises and physiotherapy, but your goal should always be to work on getting the knee straight.

Should I put any creams on my incision/scar to help it heal?

You do not require any special creams to help your incisions heal.  Please avoid any creams prior to having your incisions checked by the surgical team, as this may increase the risk of infection.