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Author Topic: The swelling, my gosh the swelling!  (Read 716 times)

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Offline MaryPrankster

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The swelling, my gosh the swelling!
« on: April 05, 2013, 03:22:17 AM »
This is my first post so here goes. I had ACL repair surgery 3 weeks ago tomorrow with a hamstring graft and they had a small "flap" of cartiledge to remove from my meniscus. I am allergic to all nsaids so I can't take any anti inflamitories. I've been taking extra strength tylonol and icing  and elevating it as much as possible but I still cannot be upright for more then about 5 min. at a time before the swelling and pain get so out of control that I literally have to stop what I'm doing and sit down. Is this normal? My pt gave me the ok to use one crutch for short distances (I still need both for school due to the extra weight of my backpack and the extra walking) I have full passive extension again and 103 degrees of flexion so there has been some progress but I feel like the pain and swelling is just not getting any better. I have a compression stocking around the knee as much as I can tolerate it. I am a part time college student and have 2 young children so the "just keep off your feet" advice I've been getting from family and friends isn't helpful. Any advice? Is this normal to still be so swollen? I can't stand with full extensions to do one of my pt excercises it is so bad! We are going to Disneyworld in 2 weeks and was really hoping to be able to walk the parks but if I'm anywhere close to as much pain and swelling as I am now, there is no way I will be able to do that. Please help and thank you in advance for any advice you guys give :)
I will ski again, I will ski again, I will ski again.....

Offline Snowy

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Re: The swelling, my gosh the swelling!
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2013, 05:01:11 AM »
Three weeks is very, very early in the bigger scheme of ACL rehab. It's a major, invasive surgery, and pain and swelling for a few weeks afterwards is, unfortunately, to be expected. I still had very significant swelling at three weeks out, although the pain levels were definitely improving at that point. From the perspective of a fellow patient (not a medical expert by any means), your swelling doesn't sound out of the ordinary - especially given how much you're doing - but the pain does sound a bit concerning. I would get it checked out if it doesn't start to settle soon.

The good news is that your extension and flex sound like they're on track, and you're icing and elevating which will help the swelling and pain. The bad news, I'm afraid, is that your friends and family are right. You're doing a lot for this stage of rehab. Lots of walking and carrying heavy backpacks are going to put extra stress on the healing joint and that's almost certainly contributing to the ongoing swelling and pain. If your PT is okay with everything you're doing then it shouldn't hurt your outcome in the long run, but not resting the knee sufficiently during these very early days will slow down the recovery process. Ideally you want to be taking it really easy, apart from your prescribed PT, until the swelling and pain are feeling much more manageable. In reality, of course, this is way easier said than done - life goes on, regardless of knee surgery.

I sympathize enormously with the frustration - I remember that sense of "I should be doing better than this by now!" only too well. Do what you can to rest the knee, and be prepared for the fact that it may take a little longer to settle down given your activity levels. Do go back to your OS and have him check out the swelling, just to be certain there's nothing else going on (always better safe than sorry when you've reached the point of being concerned or worried.)

Take care, and good luck! ACL rehab is a marathon, not a sprint - and it does get an awful lot easier as rehab progresses and you can get back to doing more. These early days are very much the hardest part of it. If it helps at all, just remember that you're going through all of this in order to get back to all the things you love doing with a strong, stable knee that is up to the challenge.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2013, 05:24:32 AM by Snowy »
Mar 11: R Biceps femoris tear (skiing)
Jul 10: ACLr (hamstring autograft)
Mar 10: L ACL rupture (skiing)
Feb 06: L partial ACL tear (kickboxing)
Dec 03: R bone edema (motorbike)
Jan 01: R patellar chip (motorbike)
May 93: R ACL sprain (hockey)
Ongoing: bilateral PFS and OA

Offline dm

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Re: The swelling, my gosh the swelling!
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2013, 04:24:05 PM »
If you're having swelling not just in the knee but the whole leg, you might ask if those teds stockings like they use after surgery might be of use for helping control some of the swelling.

I agree, hiking around a lot on crutches 3 weeks after surgery is bound to cause issues. whenever you do have to go places, you have got to plan to put the leg up, and not leave the foot on the floor, carry a bunch of ziploc bags with you and get ice from cafes or wherever, and use doubled up ziplocs for a throwaway icepack, along with a couple paper towels. I was non weightbearing for 2 months, went to class like this, and I would do the ziploc deal for icepacks. I even went to classes in a wheelchair so I wouldn't slip and accidentally put weight on the leg - too much of a risk having to haul college texts along.

Around the house, use a rolling stool or office chair and do as much as you can while seated.

When you go to disney, rent a wheelchair or scooter and use it, you cannot walk the place, it's too big.
multiple arthroscopies 2/00,3/01,6/01,1/03, 12/07,10/10. chondromalacia, severe medial joint space narrowing following 3 partial menisectomies, chronic pain problems, kneecap problems, OCD lesion, failed mfx.