The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

After surgery

When your operation is finished you will usually be taken to the recovery area until you wake up from the anaesthetic.  The wound on your leg will be covered by a simple dressing and a bandage will be wrapped around the knee. An x-ray may be performed for your surgeon to review your knee.  When you are well enough, you will be transferred to the ward.

Below is a video about what happens after your operation, and what it’s like to wake up in the recovery room.  

Before discharge you will spend time with a physiotherapist and when your pain is under control you can go home.  It is normal to have some pain, swelling and bruising to your thigh, knee and leg after your operation.

Good pain relief is important to ensure adequate range of movement and prevent stiffness, it is important that you feel comfortable enough to breath deeply, cough and move around.  Before you come to hospital we recommend you have some simple pain relief medication at home such as paracetamol so that you don’t need to worry about getting the shops for the first few days after your operation.

After your operation you will be able to move your knee and weight bear as your pain allows but crutches are generally required for up to three weeks. 

Please use the links below to watch videos about how to use your crutches and more information about wearing a knee brace.

How to walk with your crutches

Wearing a knee brace


Recovery from ACL reconstruction requires a lot of dedication towards your rehabilitation. You should commit to doing your exercises daily and attend physiotherapy on a regular basis for assessment and exercise progression. Rehabilitation after your operation is helped by preparing your knee and surrounding muscles before your operation by doing exercises before your operation. 

See the exercises you can do before your operation on our exercise page.

Driving after your operation

As a general guide, depending on your range of motion and ability to perform an emergency stop, you should refrain from driving for around four weeks. You need to inform your car insurer about your surgery.

Returning to work

Return to office work should be possible after approximately 2-3 weeks. If you have a job that involves heavy physical work you should leave 8-12 weeks before going back to work.