Since I found out about my ACL surgery, I have been reading up on what to expect, talking with friends who have undergone the same surgery and gathering as much information as possible. I want my recovery time to be miraculously fast, so I have been preparing my body the best that I can before going under the knife. I have been eating strict paleo and using essential oils to help aid & prepare my body for the surgery – you do not have to do this, but I highly recommend doing your own research to help prepare yourself before undergoing any type of surgery. Below are lists of Surgery Prep for what to expect, nutrition, using oils, questions to ask your surgeon, insurance and what to prepare for and expect 1 month leading up to surgery all the way through 1 week post surgery. I will be updating this as much as I can as soon as I go in for surgery and making any changes afterwards to add anything I missed.
1 Month Before:
- Began drinking homemade bone broth (grass fed) on a daily basis – I drank 1 quart a day. This is packed full of minerals & nutrients, heals your gut and strengthens your immune system.
2 weeks before:
- Stock up on movies & books!
- 1-2 aromatouch massages a week – this is supposed to help prepare your body for the trauma it is going to go through! (My mom is certified, so she did this for me 1x week about a month before my surgery)
- Tie up loose ends with insurance
- Coverage on you brace, crutches, ice machine, physical therapy, surgery fee, anesthesiology fee, doctors fee, surgery recovery room fee, MRI, etc
1 Week before:
- Begin adding a few drops of lemon/lemon oil to your water – this will help cleanse and detox your body in preparation for the surgery
- Apply a flu oil blend to the bottoms of your feet (before bed) – to help with toxic protection
- Schedule your 1st physical therapy session (within 4-7 days post surgery)
5 Days Before:
- Stop taking all aspirin-containing products, blood thinners, NSAIDs (advil, Celebrex, etc) and vitamins
- Begin buying items that will make your life easier post surgery:
- trash bags, to keep your leg dry when you can begin showering again
- a stool for the shower (optional, not necessary)
- baby wipes to clean yourself – you can’t submerge your leg in water or get it wet post surgery, so a wipedown will have to suffice until you get the go-ahead from your doctor to shower again
2 Days Before:
- Apply a flu oil blend, Frankincense & basil to your knee (or wherever you are having surgery). This will help reduce inflammation in the area, protecting against toxins and bacteria or MRSA.
Day Before Surgery:
- Eat a light dinner
- Do not drink alcohol or smoke 24 hours prior to surgery
- Do not eat or drink after midnight prior to surgery, including gum & mints
- Meal prep/stock up on groceries (if you live alone, don’t have someone to help you around the clock or have a special diet). I heard Pineapple & Tumeric are great for inflammation! (not necessarily together)
- Set up the area you will be laying at for the next week and arrange your house accordingly so you can move around easier (move furniture, remove stuff in hallways, bathroom, etc)
- Stock up on Ice for your ice machine – this is extremely important, as you will be changing out the ice in your ice machine every few hours for the next week or so. [Edit: My PT said to freeze small water bottles and use with a little bit of water instead of ice – this eliminates the need to constantly be changing out the ice all the time/having to store so much ice in your freezer.]
Day of Surgery:
- Bring: Crutches, insurance cards, photo ID, pillow & blankets (for car ride home)
- Do not wear contacts – wear your glasses & bring a case to put them in
- Do not wear any jewelry
- Shower (or do the night before)
- Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes
- Bring a small bag to put your insurance cards, photo ID & pain prescription in – this will be helpful to whoever is going to be picking up your prescription post-surgery
Arrival at Surgery Center:
- Park in rear of building at “Surgery Patient” Parking and enter at the circle drive. The Surgery Institute is on the right when you walk in (These were instructions for where I was getting surgery)
- Register at front desk with insurance card & photo ID
- Fill out paperwork & consent forms
- Meet with nurse & begin health assessment (if necessary – I had my doctor send over my most recent physical, so there was no need for this)
- Change into gown & slippers
- Meet with anesthesiologist/physiologist
- Have nerve block administered (all of my friends that have gotten their ACL repaired said this is a MUST)
- Chat with Doctor before going under anesthesia
- Diffuse Frankincense and a flu oil blend in the room. If they are do not allow (mine did not), make a small spritzer with a few drops of each and 2-3 tablespoons of water and spay your bed and area with the mixture. This will help kill bacteria/germs during/after your surgery.
- Wake up in recovery room – plan to stay for 1-1.5 hours
- Receive written instructions for home care, pain management & follow-up appointment
- Receive pain prescription & physical therapy prescription
- Get wheeled out to car – have crutches & pillow/blankets
- Pick up prescription for pain medicine
- Figure out a way to get up the stairs to your apartment that is on the second floor
Arriving home after the surgery:
- Set up Ice machine
- Depending on whether or not you got the nerve block/you begin to experience pain, take your pain medicine
- Apply Cypress and Basil to the area of surgery. This will increase blood flow and circulation to the area, aiding healing. If there is any excessive bleeding, you can apply Geranium or Helichrysum instead.
- (If you can’t get to the (surgery area) because of cast, bandage, etc., rub on the opposite arm, leg, knee, etc. and the (injured area) will receive 65% of the benefit. This is called Sympathetic Response. The body understands where the essential oil is needed and will send the recovering (surgery area) what’s needed).
- Diffuse Frankincense and a flu oil blend in the room several times per day. If you do not have a diffuser, make a small spritzer bottle with a few drops of each and 2-3 tablespoons of water and spay your bed and area with the mixture several times per day
- As soon as is possible after surgery, start the AromaTouch technique again doing it at least twice over the next week or more. This can help balance your nervous system and reduce the physiological impact of surgery trauma.
The Days Following Surgery (Advice I received from friends who have already undergone ACL reconstruction):
- Ice 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off, 3X, before breaking (Your doctor will give you instructions for the best protocol)
- As soon as the nerve block wears off/you feel your leg, begin quad squeezes!
- Flex your quad & hold for 5-10 seconds. Do 10-20 squeezes every 30 minutes (set a timer!)
- While icing, put pillows under your calf/ankle. Gravity will help pull your knee straight
- If taking the pain killers, you will experience constipation! Make sure you have suppositories/ prunes/gentle laxative tea… something, ANYTHING to help you poop. I was told I wouldn’t poop for a week – fingers crossed this isn’t true!
Questions to ask your surgeon before going under the knife:
- What type of graft will I be getting?
- Patellar, hamstring or cadaver – see the differences here: http://www.aclsurgery.us/patellar-vs-hamstring/ (My doctor recommended hamstring with a little cadaver, before I did any research. If I had done my research beforehand, I would have chosen the same thing, or just a hamstring graft. It’s ultimately up to you on what you want!)
- What type of screws will be used? (mine used bio-composite interference screws – it depends on the doctors preference. I just wanted to know out of curiosity – you can do your own research on what you would prefer)
- List of physical therapy locations
- Will the doctor use stitches/staples/steri-strips? (Mine uses steri-strips, which is best for the least amount of scarring)
- What brace/ice machine will I need after surgery?
- You can use this information to call your insurance to figure out the cost, or look on craigslist to see if anyone in the area is selling their old equipment (I just bought my brace from the hospital & rented an ice machine called game-ready – the ice machine was about $25/week to rent)
- Will the doctor perform platelet rich therapy?
- This is where the doctor takes your blood, removes the plasma and injects the plasma into the surgery site to help speed up the healing process (my doctor does not perform this type of therapy during ACL surgeries, and most insurance companies do not cover it)
- Request if you can get your pain prescription and ice machine the day before surgery. This will help you immensely after surgery – you don’t have to wait at the pharmacy and you don’t have to carry and set up the ice machine when you get home.
Did! I miss anything? Please feel free to comment and add anything 🙂 I hope this is helpful for those preparing for their ACL/knee surgery!
- My own Surgeon (Orthopedic One)
- Friends who have gone through ACL reconstruction
The information I have provided is not intended to be used in place of professional medical advice. This is information that I have gathered on my own through a variety of sources, and if you decide to use/apply any of the ideas from my site, you are taking full responsibility for your actions. This information is not meant to diagnose or to treat any medical condition. Please consult with your primary care physician holistic doctor to diagnose/advise of any medical condition if you have any questions. I am not liable for any damages or negative consequences resulting from any action by any persons reading or following the information on this site.