How much bed rest is required after ACL surgery?

et me discuss the simple conclusion: taking a one-month leave is recommended first, and then looking at each individual’s specific situation. We need to go through some simple processes before and after ACL reconstruction surgery: it takes an average of about 1 week from the day of hospitalization to smooth discharge after surgery, and it usually takes 2 weeks from surgery to wound healing. So we know that It takes 2-3 weeks from the day of hospitalization to the smooth healing of the wound. I generally require patients after anterior cruciate ligament surgery to wear an “adjustable brace” for about 3 weeks to protect the reconstructed “new ligament.” These two time periods overlap, adding up to about 4 weeks or about 1 month. Therefore, most patients undergoing anterior cruciate ligament surgery ask for a leave of absence from the company, unit, or school for 1 month.

Rest: 0 to 2 weeks after ACL surgery

You may need someone to help you when you first go home from ACL surgery and expect to be out of work a few days to a few weeks, depending on how physically demanding your job is.

For the first couple of weeks after surgery, you will need to rest and care for the incision site.

  • Prop your leg — at the calf or ankle — on a couple of pillows four to six times a day. This helps reduce swelling.
  • Keep the bandages on your knee clean and dry.

You can usually move your knee right after surgery, but it will be painful. Your doctor will give you some exercises you can do to keep the blood flowing in your leg and help prevent blood clots. It is important that you work on quad sets. Quad sets will assure your knee is fully straight and you won’t develop a contracture later on. Your doctor will also send you home with medication or advice for managing pain.


So, is it possible to shorten the one-month leave cycle? It is entirely possible to:

  1. Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery is a minimally invasive surgery. The surgical wound is relatively small, there is little bleeding, and the wound infection rate is very low. Therefore, patients do not need to worry too much about the surgical wound. Do some surgery when the wound is not completely healed. Mild activity or even work is completely feasible;


  1. Early postoperative activities are carried

out under the protection of the “adjustable brace,” so patients should not worry too much that the new ligament will tear or fail;

  1. When patients are discharged from the hospital, we will bring some anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs to everyone. These drugs can help relieve postoperative pain, so patients do not need to worry about postoperative pain. 
  2. For every patient undergoing anterior cruciate ligament surgery, as the chief surgeon, I will guide the postoperative rehabilitation actions and encourage them to walk on the ground. Therefore, subjectively, patients should take active rehabilitation exercises to strive for an early return to normal living conditions.

However, most patients take rest and sick leave for more than 1 month, and some even use it for more than 3 months. This is because:

  1. Most patients cannot change their wound dressings by themselves, and generally, they can only choose to go to the hospital to change their dressings. It is very troublesome if the wound gauze/accessories become loose due to excessive activities;
  2. Most patients use the knee brace as a “plaster” and regard it as a “static” protective device. The protective effect of the knee brace will only be real when walking on the ground and doing functional exercises. Reflect. 
  3. Due to the natural resistance to “painkillers,” patients will choose not to take them, preferring to endure a little pain.

This kind of pain will reduce the number of postoperative rehabilitation exercises and patients will need more rest;

  1. Rehabilitation treatment is a very professional subject. Many patients do not fully understand and pay attention to it. .

In addition, each patient is different in age, physical condition, knee joint health, work requirements, exercise requirements, tolerance to pain, etc., and there will inevitably be some problems in the process of surgery and postoperative rehabilitation. Unexpected situations happen. Therefore, I suggest that most

domestic patients take 4 weeks of leave during the entire operation and postoperative recovery cycle, and at the same time, prepare for 2-4 weeks in case of special circumstances.

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