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Arthroscopic Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction


Arthroscopic anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction is surgery to replace your torn 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.



  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your 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.

Call 911 for the following:

  • You have sudden shortness of breath or chest pain.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • Your stitches come apart.
  • You fall on your knee.
  • You have pain in your lower leg.
  • Your leg or toes feel numb, tingly, cool to the touch, or look blue or pale.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have severe pain in your knee or trouble moving around, even after you take your pain medicines.
  • Your wound is swollen, red, or draining pus.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


Keep your knee raised above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease or limit swelling. Elevate your knee by resting it on pillows.


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 wound for 15 to 20 minutes every hour. Use the ice for as long as directed.


Rest your joint so that it can heal. Return to normal activities as directed.


Ask your healthcare provider if you should wrap an elastic bandage around your injured ligament. Compression provides support and helps decrease swelling and movement so your joint can heal.

Physical therapy:

A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

Support devices:

  • A knee brace may be used to limit your movement and protect your knee. The brace will be locked in a straight position after surgery. Keep your brace locked while sleeping and when you put weight on your leg. You may be able to unlock your brace to do physical therapy. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about your knee brace.
  • Crutches may help decrease your pain as you move around. Crutches help decrease strain on your knee. Use crutches as directed.

Wound care:

  • Keep your bandage and stitches clean and dry. Do not remove the bandage over your wound or get it wet unless your healthcare provider says it is okay. Ask when you can bathe. Do not trim or shorten the ends of your stitches. If the stitches rub against your clothing, you can put a soft gauze bandage between the stitches and your clothes. Do not pull off any thin strips of medical tape that were placed over your incision. As they start to peel off, let them fall off by themselves.
  • Wash your hands. Always wash your hands before and after you care for your wound to prevent infection.
  • Change your bandage and clean your wound as directed. Ask for help if you cannot reach your wound.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to return to have your stitches removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Learn more about Arthroscopic Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction (Discharge Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.