7 Tips to Make Recovery After ACL Surgery Easier

Surgery of any kind is nobody’s idea of fun, and I understand that. To boot, an ACL surgery offers its own set of unique challenges that will tap your creativity. Rest assured, however, that with a little planning and a lot of patience, you’ll be back on your feet in no time.

To help ease your journey to a better knee, I’ve pulled together seven tips for your mind, body, and soul during the weeks and months that you’re laid up.

Pre-game planning

Depending upon the extent of your surgery, you may be confined to crutches or a brace for several weeks or months while your ACL heals. During this time, you’re going to have to rely on outside help to give you a hand with your daily routine. From driving your car to mowing your lawn, figure out which tasks you’ll need help with and plan ahead of time to get them covered.


Navigating life on crutches is difficult, even in your own home. Here are a few simple suggestions that will make your life easier:

There are many more things you can do in advance that will work better with your daily routine so take some time before your surgery to think through what will help you most around the house.

Work it out

Sticking to your post-op physical therapy, both during your visits and at home, is one of the most important components of a successful recovery. I work with the physical therapists to come up with a plan that’s tailored to your needs and goals, so your adherence to this plan is crucial. The true goal of any physical therapy is to help you strengthen your knee gradually in order to prevent re-injury.

Fuel up differently

Before your surgery, stock your kitchen with healthy foods that are easy to eat and to prepare. Remember, you won’t be exercising as much, so foods that include lean proteins and pack the most nutrients are best, such as chicken, fish, vegetables, and fruits.

In addition, I recommend high fiber foods to keep your system flowing. Constipation after surgery is not uncommon, especially when you’re less active and taking medications, so put more apples, berries, peas, and bran on your menu.

I also recommend that you steer clear of caffeine and alcohol during this time as they may interfere with your medications and your ability to navigate with crutches.

Your knee should be idle, not your brain

Odds are you’re an active person, which is what got your ACL into trouble in the first place. Plan on substituting your normal activities with more sedentary ones that will keep your brain occupied. Catch up on reading, try meditation, or pick up a new hobby to help you pass the time. Think of your ACL surgery recovery as the perfect vacation to tackle some of the more nonathletic pursuits you’ve always wanted to try.

A close watch

While I usually repair your ACL arthroscopically, remember, it’s still surgery. Monitor your knee afterward to ensure that there aren’t any complications. For example, if you’re experiencing moderate pain for more than several days, fever, or excessive swelling, please call me. The sooner we tackle the issue, the better.

Patience is more than a virtue

I can’t stress this last point enough. Patience can mean the difference between getting you back on the field, the trail, or the links, and spending more time in my office. As much as I enjoy seeing my patients, I’d prefer you take the time to heal properly to avoid re-injury or complications.

Knees are extraordinarily complex joints and if you push them too hard, and too early, during your recovery, you may pay the price down the road. So, follow your instructions to the letter and resist the urge to “test” your knee out before it’s time.

For more tips for a better ACL surgery recovery, feel free to call us or use the online booking tool to schedule an appointment.

Dr. J. Michael Bennett

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