The SPECIALIST'S OFFICE > Cruciate ligaments

Is this pain normal after ACL Surgery??


Hi everybody..  it's been a while since I posted- I had my acl recon & medial meniscus repair 4 1/2 weeks ago & overall things seemed to be going good.  That is, until last Thursday- I started to have some serious throbbing pain around the incision for my hamstring graft.  It does not seem normal to me & I am calling my OS about it as soon as the office opens.  The throbbing seems to be at the incision area & all around it is numb (no swelling, no discoloration).. is this normal?  I saw my physical therapst last Friday night when it just hurt and wasn't throbbing. He checked carefully and said it is because last week was my first full week at work & that it's fatigued.. I trust my PT, he's great but now I'm feeling more than a little concerned.. any suggestions?


lelie -

Your knee has recently faced a very traumatic procedure, it's going to be very sore after surgery, even WEEKS post-op. As for the numbness, that is also normal. It is common for people who have had open surgery to experience numbness on the skin surrounding the incision site. That is because the peripheral (I believe?) nerves have been damaged during surgery and need time to regenerate. Some people regain sensation 1-3 years after their surgery, others never fully regain feeling. I had patellar tendon reconstruction in August and I still have no feeling whatsoever on my knee and on part of my shin. It's really annoying, but IS normal.

What kind of strengthening are you doing at PT? If your knee hasn't been used to doing so much work (and you have atrophied muscle), your knee is going to feel very sore and painful. Of course, only you know your body and if you feel as though the pain is a little too extreme, by all means call up the doctor!

In any case, ice and elevation are your best friends. Also, if you have a painkiller (prescribed or not), take it if needed. And most importantly, load up on lots of chocolate! Chocolate used for medicinal purposes has no calories in it! :)

Hope and of this helps, and I hope you feel better!

Best wishes,

Hi Patricia,

Thank you so much for your reply & words of encouragement!  You are right on about what's going on w/ my leg.  Even tho' my PT said the same thing Friday & my doctor confirmed it this morning, it still is worrysome to me & I just appreciate knowing it's all normal.

My PT has me doing step ups forwards & sideways (only 4" steps), the leg squat machine, as well as riding an exercise bike for about 5-minutes at a time.. the kind bike that sits low & only allows for a 90-degree bend (I also had a meniscus repair).  I'm also doing leg lifts- in the sitting position, on my belly & on my side, and also single leg calf raises.  

My doctor wants me in my brace for one more week because of the meniscus repair, and last week when it really began to hurt I was using my brace.  My PT said either brace or crutch was OK but he preferred me to stop using the brace so I could start using my leg more.. I agree.  As long as I am using something at this point, it is ok.  

So, you know that numb feeling on the shin- I hate it!  It feels so strange to shave my leg and I feel as though I cannot put enough skin moisturizer on it.. aaggh.  I hope you get your feeling back soon!! Was your procedure a ACL recon w/ the Patella tendon then?  

I have been icing & elevating the leg, although it never seems to be enough  :-/.  And yes, Chocolate has become a very good friend to me.. I also believe the medicinal qualities in chocolate cancel out all the calories & fat.. even more so when it's premium quality chocolate  ;).

Thanks again, and you take care too!


lelie -

Actually, I've never had ACL reconstruction. I had patellar tendon reconstruction, using my hamstring. I have two lovely screws in my tibia holding my tendon in place.  :o

The thing with the brace is that is pretty much does all the work for you, so I can understand where your PT is coming from by saying they'd prefer for you to use the crutch. However, you wouldn't want your knee giving out, ESPECIALLY if it's feeling very sore; that's when you make a personal judgement call.

Best of luck with everything, and please keep us updated on your rehab progress! :)

Patricia :)


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