Common Questions Patients Ask Orthopedic Surgeons About ACL Reconstruction

Each year in the United States, an average of 200,000 people suffer from an ACL tear, according to the National Institutes of Health. If you are one of these people, a treatment option to consider is ACL reconstruction surgery. Learn more about this procedure and how renowned San Francisco orthopedic surgeon James Chen, MD, can help.

Man puts knee brace on as part of recovery from ACL reconstruction surgery

How Long Will It Take to Recover from ACL Reconstruction?

It can take between six to nine months to recover from an ACL reconstruction. This time includes the initial healing time after surgery and a period of rehabilitation and physical therapy. Physical therapy is essential for the healing process because it restores knee strength, range of motion, and flexibility. It also improves the overall function of the knee.

You will need to use crutches for about two weeks after the procedure. You can then start using a stationary bike. For about six weeks, you will need to wear a knee brace.

Exercises like jogging can start after four months, and other activities, like shooting baskets, can begin at six months. You can expect a full return to sports in eight to ten months.

Is ACL Reconstruction Considered a Major Surgery?

ACL reconstruction is major surgery and will require the same preparation as other major surgeries. You will need to stop certain medications, quit smoking, and take other necessary steps. San Francisco knee doctor James Chen, MD, will provide all of the necessary information for this preparation.

ACL reconstruction requires general anesthesia, and you will need to spend a night at the hospital for monitoring.

How Much Function Will Be Restored After My Surgery?

An experienced surgeon like Dr. Chen can give you the best chance at restoring most of your knee function, but the outcome can depend on many factors, including your overall health, your commitment to physical therapy, and more.

Dr. Chen can talk through the kind of expectations you should have for your individual case.

What Can I Do to Support My Healing After the Procedure?

As you recover from your ACL reconstruction procedure, San Francisco orthopedic doctor James Chen, MD, will request that you follow a few tips to promote your healing process.

Elevate your leg for the first three to five days after surgery but don’t put pillows behind the knee because it limits motion. Instead, prop the leg up on cushions at the heel and calf to elevate the knee above your heart.

Take your pain medications and any other drugs Dr. Chen prescribes exactly as he recommends. If he prescribes a brace, wear it for the hours Dr. Chen tells you.

Get plenty of rest! Rest can allow your body to start healing. During the first week or so, you may also need to use ice to help with any discomfort. Avoid blood-thinning medications and supplements, including:

  • Aspirin

  • Ibuprofen

  • Fish oil

  • Vitamin E

You will also need to start bending your knee. At first, you may need to place your hand behind the knee to help it, but this should improve. Another important exercise during the first week after surgery is to lift your legs without assistance while lying on your back.

You need to keep up with your physical therapy schedule. Don’t miss sessions, and do home exercises as needed.

However, don’t work on your quadriceps early because it can stretch the graft. The best exercises to strengthen the quadriceps while ensuring the hamstrings protect the graft are riding a stationary bike and doing leg presses with light weights.

Patient-Centered Care from a Renowned San Francisco Orthopedic Surgeon

Dr. James Chen can offer personalized treatment plans for all of his patients. He provides quality care using the latest technologies at his state-of-the-art facilities. He is also dedicated to his patients, ensuring they get enough time with him to ask questions. With his years of experience providing help for ACL injuries, you know you are in excellent hands when you turn to his clinic.

Learn more about the services Dr. James Chen offers in San Francisco, CA, by scheduling a consultation today.


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