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ACL reconstruction: Two weeks post Op

Updated on March 1, 2014

So its been a little over two weeks since My ACL reconstructive surgery and meniscus repair, and boy am I feeling it. Here is what you can look forward to in you second week post op if you are lucky enough to be having ACL surgery.

ROM Brace

The range of motion brace that I am required to wear is a killer. It’s a specially made brace that limits your range of movement within a particular joint (The ne for me). My range of motion has been limited to 90 degrees flexion and 0 degrees extension. The 90 degree limit for flexion is the annoying part, as I am still unable to straighten my leg to zero degrees anyway.

It seems that when you are forced to not do something, you want to do it even more. Hence the fact that I can't bend my knee past 90 degrees makes me desperately want to bend it further. Its like having your knee locked in a mini prison, and there is nothing you can do but ride out the sentence.

A standard range of motion brace used to limit the range of motion of the knee joint
A standard range of motion brace used to limit the range of motion of the knee joint

The other annoying thing about the brace is that I am unable to walk or stand up without wearing it at all. This means that every time I want to walk around the house, I have to be wearing the brace. You are allowed to take it off when icing it and resting, but if you then feel like going to the toilet, bad luck chuck, put on the brace. Your lying in bed without the brace and need a drink of water? saddle up and get that brace on partner or you’re not going anywhere. Want to have a shower? well, pull up a stool because you can’t stand up in the shower, and have a garbage bag for the brace so you can keep it dry and put it on after you shower.

The brace isn’t all doom and gloom however. Without the brace you would be confined to a chair all day, completely unable to move around, so it is worth it, just a minor inconvenience.

Muscle atrophy

My goodness, has the atrophy in my legs been horrific. This was to be expected, as when your muscles remain switched off for such a long period of time your body begins to get rid of unnecessary muscle mass. Over the course of two weeks, my legs would have lost somewhere between 80%-90% of total muscle mass. When my operated leg is placed against my healthy leg, the difference is extremely apparent. My operated leg is extremely thin, and misshapen from the brace. What does remain is high deposits of fat.

The road to regaining the muscle is going to be long and arduous, with my only exercise being bearing my weight on one leg, super tough I know.

Muscle atrophy

What percentage of muscle atrophy have you experienced?

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Physiotherapy

The physiotherapy so far has been fairly painful, with the main aim to achieve full extension of the knee joint. Because there has been excessive swelling within the knee joint, it is very hard to fully straighten my knee, and I have to push the extension everyday, to much discomfort.

Since surgery I have had to see the physio many times, and have regular appointments every 4 or 5 days to make sure that my leg is healing correctly and the exercises are effective. The Physio has also given me compression bandages that are to be worn all day. If you are having surgery, be prepared to say goodbye to your circulation, as when you wear them you will not be able to feel your feet or toes at all.

Movement

Since I have had the Range of movement brace fitted, I have been able to walk around the house without a crutch. However, when walking long distances, such as around school, I have to use a single crutch to support my weight because if I walk around for too long, I will get large amounts of swelling at the end of the day.

An example of muscle atrophy in the biceps, which is the same principle in all muscles.
An example of muscle atrophy in the biceps, which is the same principle in all muscles.

Pain

In regards to the pain, it has subsided significantly. The first week was excruciatingly painful, and I required painkillers all the time. However with the leg exercises and gradual healing of the tissues and bones, I have seen a massive decrease in the amount of pain that I have been experiencing. The only thing is that when you sleep the slightest movement can upset your knee capsule, and will result in you waking up.

I have found that sleeping on your side with a pillow in between your legs is the best way to reduce that amount of pain that you experience and the amount that you are able move your legs. Since the surgery there has not been one night where I was able to sleep through the night in its entirety without the use of painkillers.

However i would advise caution when using painkillers such as endone and paladin forte as they are extremely addictive and using them for prolonged periods to induce sleep can lead to addiction.

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