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6 Items to get before ACL Surgery

Preparing for ACL surgery can seem intimidating, if not overwhelming.  Here are a few suggestions on items you should have to help your recovery go smoothly!  Some of the following may be provided by the hospital, but it is a good idea to check with your medical team before surgery to ensure you have access.

Ice

Ice and cold packs can help reduce inflammation and pain following surgery, so it’s a good idea to have some available wherever you will be recovering.  Cold therapy machines are commonly rented for use after surgery. This unit functions by continuously running cold water through a cuff you secure around your knee and some options even provide intermittent compression to your knee to further reduce swelling and pain! Consider keeping 10-15 mini water bottles in your freezer to use with the cold therapy machine.

Loose Clothing

You may be surprised by how difficult it is to pull on a pair of pants or shorts without being able to bend your knee very much or stand on one leg. Make sure to have enough loose, comfortable clothing so that changing does not become a daily struggle.

Shower equipment

Getting into and out of the shower will require some maneuvering early in your recovery, and items like a shower stool and bath mat can help you bathe more safely. Take a look at the set-up of your shower beforehand to decide what you’ll need. Does the tub have a lip? Is it slippery or angled? You can also place a chair just outside of the tub so that you can get undressed while sitting and transfer from the chair into the tub.  Other bathroom items to consider include a removable shower head, grab bars and a toilet seat riser.

Trash Bags

You will be instructed to keep your incisions dry during the early phase of recovery to promote healing.  Make sure you have trash bags big enough to cover your knee while you bathe. You can purchase a more expensive leg cover from retailers, but many individuals prefer to use a standard trash bag.

Snacks

Stocking up on small snacks such as apple sauce or pudding are important so that you do not take your pain medication on an empty stomach.  Consider choosing some food items that are high in natural fiber (i.e. pears, avocado, oat bran) to prevent constipation due to the medication.  You should be getting around 25-30 g of fiber per day to help you have regular, quality bowel movements, but few individuals actually get enough.

Support

Although not an item, identifying your support team and their schedules is important before surgery.  You may need to rely on others to cook, help you change, and help you bathe. You should identify people you trust whose schedules allow them to help out. This could mean a few people, especially in the first few weeks, helping out at different times so that you do not attempt a task that is unsafe before you know your limits. You should also ensure that whoever is helping you bathe is physically fit enough to help transfer to the tub and back up without losing balance. 

Another thing to consider before surgery is how you want your recovery space to be set up. Consider removing carpets or objects that you could trip on and having a set place to keep your medication and a snack. If you live in a place with multiple bathrooms, you should think about which will be easiest to use with an assistive device (i.e. crutches or walker) and has the best shower and toilet set up. With the proper preparation, you will be able to focus on your recovery.

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