Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury (Discharge Care) Care Guide
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Aftercare Instructions
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Discharge Care
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Inpatient Care
- En Espanol
An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury is a partial or complete tear of the ACL. The ACL is a ligament in your knee that connects the tibia (shin bone) to the femur (thigh bone). Ligaments are strong tissues that connect bones together. The ACL stops the tibia from sliding too far forward and keeps the knee stable.
AFTER YOU LEAVE:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medicine may decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine can be bought with or without a doctor's order. This medicine can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your primary healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow the directions on it before using this medicine.
- Pain medicine: You may be given a doctor's order for medicine to take away or decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Care for your ligament injury:
- Rest: Rest your joint so that it can heal. Return to normal activities as directed.
- Ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover the ice pack with a towel and place it on your injured ligament for 15 to 20 minutes every hour. Use the ice for as long as directed.
- Compress: Ask your primary healthcare provider if you should wrap an elastic bandage around your injured ligament. An elastic bandage provides support and helps decrease swelling and movement so your joint can heal.
- Elevate: Keep your injured area raised above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease or limit swelling. Elevate the injured area by resting it on pillows.
You may need a knee brace to limit your movement and protect your knee. You may need to use crutches to help decrease your pain as you move around.
You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength in the muscles that support your knee and decrease your risk for loss of function.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or orthopedic surgeon as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Contact your primary healthcare provider or orthopedic surgeon if:
- You have a fever.
- Your symptoms are not getting better.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- Your toes are cold or numb.
- Your knee becomes more weak or unstable.
- Your pain has increased, even after taking your pain medicine.
- Your swelling has increased.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.