When You Should Not Drive After Acl Surgery
Firstly, do not drive yourself home after ACL surgery as your reaction times are likely to be impaired. Arrange a lift home from the hospital such as through a family member or friend.
As a general rule you should not drive a car for 48 hours after an anaesthetic or if you are taking narcotic pain medication.
In the coming weeks post-surgery, if you are wearing a brace or cast on your right leg then it goes without saying that this is going to impact your reaction times driving a car.
It is fairly obvious that you should not be driving under those circumstances where your ability to brake in the car is restricted.
Narcotic pain medication can make you feel drowsy and groggy and therefore you should not drive if you are taking this medication during the daytime.
Preference would be to take the pain killer medication at night to help you sleep.
Before you drive after ACL surgery check your car insurance policy
It is also advised that you check with your car insurance company prior to driving your car in case there are periods of restriction after knee surgery written into your insurance policy that you may not be aware of.
Riding In A Car To And From The Therapist
The next time that I got in a car was for my first visit with the offsite physical therapist at the beginning of the third-week post surgery. From this point on I rode in the larger SUV, which made it easier to get in and out of the front seat.
In the beginning, I always had to use my arms to support my leg while I bent it to get in and out of the car. I was able to straighten my leg out once I got in the car and I often did ankle pumps and some flexion on the ten-minute ride to the therapist.
I did not have my first follow up doctors visit until one month after the surgery so my trips in the car were limited to going to and from the physical therapist 3 times a week.
Taking A Road Trip In A Car After Knee Replacement
My first big trip took place 9 weeks after TKR. Every 45 minutes or so I would stop and get out of the car to walk.
I shared driving with my wife and let her drive the portion of the trip that took us through Los Angeles. We always try and drive through Los Angeles on Sunday morning but the traffic in LA can be bad at any time due to an accident and I did not want to be driving in stop and go traffic braking constantly with my right leg.
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When Can You Return To Work
The decision to return to work is multifactorial, and depends much more on the patient than the doctor. Specifically, the time to return to work depends on the type of surgery you had and the nature of your work. For example, simple knee surgery may result in 1-2 weeks away from work if you work in an office with little walking demands, or 8-12 weeks away from work if you have a heavy manual job that involves a great deal of walking, lifting and climbing.
Dr. Boyle will provide you with recommendations regarding specific work restrictions, according to your surgery and the likely impairments that you will experience post-operatively. We will provide you with an ACC work certificate, work cover insurance certificate, or generic work certificate, outlining these recommendations. Sometimes, ACC or your health insurer will assign special rehabilitation and workplace assessors to help with your transition back to work. Please keep your employer regularly informed regarding your recovery, and work with them to assess when you can return to work under Dr. Boyle’s recommended restrictions.
Should I Apply Heat Or Ice
While in the hospital and for several weeks after surgery, ice is most helpful to keep down swelling. In the hospital you should have ice applied to your knee at least 2-3 times daily. At home the most convenient ice bag is a bag of frozen peas that will conform easily to your knee and can be frozen. A warm towel placed around your knee prior to therapy sessions may help loosen up your knee, and ice may be used after therapy to cool the joint down.
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Looking After Your New Knee
- continue to take any prescribed painkillers or anti-inflammatories to help manage any pain and swelling
- use your walking aids but aim to gradually decrease the amount you rely on them as your leg feels stronger
- keep up your exercises to help prevent stiffness, but do not force your knee
- do not sit with your legs crossed for the first 6 weeks after your operation
- do not put a pillow underneath your knee when sleeping as this can result in a permanently bent knee
- avoid twisting at your knee
- wear supportive shoes outdoors
- do not kneel on your operated knee until your surgeon says you can
- raise your leg when sitting and apply an ice pack wrapped in a tea towel for 20 minutes every 3 or 4 hours to reduce any swelling
Page last reviewed: 02 August 2019 Next review due: 02 August 2022
When Can I Expect To Drive Again How Many Weeks
A benchmark estimate youve probably seen online or read in your hospitals pamphlet is that youre likely to drive again between 6-8 weeks . Although it can be helpful to have a number in mind, not all patients will drive at the 6-8 week mark, and some patients will drive before. Older studies, like the 2003 study Brake Response Time After Total Knee Arthroplasty, suggested that 6 weeks was the minimum before operating a vehicle for most knee replacements.
Newer studies have found that due to recent advances in surgical technique, pain management, and rehabilitation right-sided total knee replacement patients may be ready to safely drive as early as 4 weeks post-op. This study looked at 29 patients having right TKA and measured the groups preoperative breaking and reaction times compared to post-op reaction times. The study found that all 29 patients passed the brake response test by 4 weeks after surgery. In addition, the study found that by 4 weeks after surgery, reaction times for breaking had surpassed the patients preoperative reaction times.
According to the study, Patients who had a contemporary TKA with less tissue disruption, a multimodal pain management protocol, and aggressive rehabilitation returned to their preoperative braking reaction time by 4 weeks after surgery.
In sum, patients that tend to drive the fastest:
What is multimodal pain management? Find out what exactly it is and how it can reduce your opioid use for pain management.
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How Soon Can You Drive After Total Knee Replacement
In the weeks after total knee replacement surgery also known as total knee arthroplasty you will likely be eager to get back behind the wheel. After all, no one really likes relying on friends, family members or public transportation. Driving will make it easier to get back to your regular work, social and recreational activities.
So when can you drive after total knee replacement?
Questions You Should Ask Your Knee Replacement Doctor
The following guide is provided to patients of Dr. Gregory Raab, an orthopedic surgeon in Nashville, TN that specializes in total joint replacement and revisions in the knee and hip. If you are suffering from knee pain, schedule an appointment with a knee replacement doctor near you to find out if you are a candidate for total knee replacement surgery.
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I Am Constipated What Should I Do
It is very common to have some constipation after surgery. This is due to a number of factors and is aggravated by the need to take narcotic pain medications. Regular physical activity and the return to a healthy, balanced diet with adequate hydration will assist with this. In addition, a simple over the counter stool softener/ laxative may help with the prevention of this problem. In rare cases, you may require a suppository or an enema.
Quit Your Breathing Exercises
If you’ve had surgery on your belly, heart, lung, or spine, your doctor may give you exercises to help your lungs recover from anesthesia, the medicine that kept you pain-free during the operation.
“Doing breathing exercises is very, very important,” Whiteson says. It expands your lungs and removes mucus that gathers there. Don’t quit until your doctor says you can stop.
To keep your recovery humming along, follow your doctor’s directions. As Saggio knows well, taking things into your own hands can slow down the healing.
“I was a little stoic. I definitely rushed my recovery,” he says. Next time, perhaps, he’ll take that extra week off.
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How Long Do You Need Physical Therapy After Knee Replacement
Outpatient physical therapy after a total knee replacement typically lasts 4 to 8 weeks. Remember that everyone heals at different rates, and your recovery time may be shorter or longer. Be sure to work closely with your doctor and physical therapist to understand your specific rehabilitation process.
Take A Test Drive First
We always recommend taking a short test drive around the neighborhood before trying to drive in town. Be sure to practice quickly changing the feet between the gas and brake pedals, slamming on the brakes , and getting in and out of the car. Nothing is worse than driving to your destination and not being able to get out of the vehicle.
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Tips To Stay Comfortable While Driving
As I mentioned in this article my surgery was on my right knee.
Driving After Knee Surgery:
There are no well established guidelines that I am aware for determining when it is safe to drive after injury or treatment. For lower limb surgery what we are really interested in is the effectiveness of and time taken to perform an emergency stop.
It is fairly obvious that patients should not drive with a cast or brace on the right leg or if they are still experiencing pain when weight bearing on the limb.
If they are driving an automatic car then surgery to the left lower limb is usually not an issue. If all goes well then most patients will be able to brake effectively 4 weeks after a knee arthroscopy and 4-6 weeks after a total knee replacement but this is very patient specific and can vary greatly.
It may be as much as 9 weeks for an ankle fracture and a minimum of 6 weeks from when they start to weight bear for a lower limb fracture. In general the definition of what constitutes an impaired driver is decided on a case by case basis and the ultimate responsibility for the decision to drive rests with the patient.
There is some concern that by clearing the patient to drive Doctors are exposing themselves to liability for injuries incurred by or caused by the patient. Some patients will tell you that they can use their left foot to brake but this has been shown to have a slower reaction time than standard one footed braking and cannot be recommended as a safe option.
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Arthroscopic Surgery For A Torn Meniscus
Arthroscopic surgery to remove all or part of the torn meniscus, is a common surgery. Arthroscopic surgery is outpatient same day surgery with local or regional anesthetic.
An uncomplicated meniscectomy will resolve most of the pain fairly quickly, but swelling and stiffness take time to resolve. It may take 4-5 months for full healing. The patient should be able to bear weight on the knee while standing or walking, immediately after surgery. Crutches will be necessary for 2-7 days after surgery. Rehabilitation to gain full ROM should occur within 1-2 weeks. Heavy work or sports may be restricted for the first 4-6 weeks.
Complicated arthroscopic repair of a meniscus tear requires that the patients knee be completely immobilized for 2 weeks after surgery. Followed by 2 weeks of limited motion before resuming daily activities. Physical therapy starts right after surgery. The patient should be able to bear weight on the knee while standing or walking, immediately after surgery with a brace.
The patient is expected to walk with crutches for 4-6 weeks after surgery. Rehabilitation is intended to control pan and swelling, achieve maximum range of motion and full load walking. Patients with a low impact job can return to work 1-2 weeks after surgery, drive after 4-6 weeks, and return to heavy work or sports 3-6 months after surgery.
When Can You Fly Or Travel Long Distances
Flying or traveling long distances after surgery does increase your risk of venous thromboembolism or deep vein thrombosis , otherwise known as DVT. The risk of this is even higher in certain people, and with certain medications like the oral contraceptive pill. Domestic flights within New Zealand are considered relatively low risk for DVT, as the flights are relatively short. International flights, or long distances traveling by car, are higher risk for DVT due to the longer travel duration. Please for more information about DVT.
The following are generally accepted recommendations that you can use to lower your risk of DVT when traveling:
- Regularly drink non-alcoholic fluids
- Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeinated drinks
- Do not smoke
- Stand up at least every hour, walk if possible, and stretch your arms and legs
- While in your seat, move your ankles up and down fifteen times every hour
- Avoid sitting with your legs crossed
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Range Of Motion Is Limited
With few exceptions, you cannot drive if you have a body joint that is in a hard brace or cast. This makes the joint immobilized or unable to bend at all. Even a joint that is partially restricted by a soft brace or bandage may restrict your range of motion too much to drive safely as researched in one study.
Being able to move your neck, spine, shoulder, elbow, writs, knees, ankles, and feet is essential. If your movements are impaired because of braces or stiffness, your reaction time will be much slower when trying to brake. Impaired movement can delay time to check mirrors or avoid an accident.
Exceptions may include an injury to your left knee, ankle, or foot. In those instances, you may be able to drive safely if your car is automatic and if the injury doesn’t change the way you sit in the seat.
When Can You Drive After Surgery Hip Knee Ankle Or Foot Surgery
Im often asked when its safe to drive after surgery. Whether you had ACL or meniscus surgery of the knee, and ankle fracture surgery or other surgery of your leg, this is an important question to ask.
In part 1 of this series, I discussed some of the concerns when you drive after surgery. I also shared some of the recommendations suggested in a recent study from the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
In this post, I would like to address some of the challenges with driving after surgery of the lower extremity, such as knee arthroscopy, ACL reconstruction, total hip arthroplasty, total knee arthroplasty and fractures. As I mentioned earlier, patients largely underestimate their driving impairment. Since law enforcement agencies and insurance companies ultimately place the decision to drive on the patient, I think its important to recognize the difficulties with driving after these surgeries.
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What Side Of Your Body Was The Knee Procedure
When you can drive after ACL surgery will also depend on which knee, left or right, you had operated. If it was your left knee that was operated on and you have full use of your right leg then you will be able to return to driving a car sooner.
Compared to if you had your right knee operated on which is the leg primarily used for driving a car and therefore means it will usually take a bit more time before you can drive after ACL surgery
What Activities Are Permitted Following Surgery
You may return to many activities as soon as tolerated including walking, gardening, golf, and doubles tennis. Some of the best activities to help with motion and strengthening are swimming and the use of a stationary bicycle. You should avoid high impact stresses to the knee such as running and jumping and vigorous sports such as singles tennis, basketball, water skiing, and downhill snow skiing.
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How Soon Can You Drive After Knee Replacement Surgery
A very common question individuals who undergo knee replacement surgery have is How soon can you drive after knee replacement surgery?
Most patients experience better mobility and function in the knee as well as less pain with routine activities of daily living such as getting in and out of a car or driving after the procedure. However, certain temporary restrictions are necessary for the patients safety and that of their loved ones.
Here are a few guidelines as to how soon after knee replacement surgery you can expect to get behind the wheel and ride yourself to work or activities you enjoy:
Narcotic medication: You should not consider driving as long as you are on narcotic pain medication as they negatively affect your mental alertness and reaction time.
Left total knee replacement: If you are not on narcotic medication, you may be able to drive an automatic transmission vehicle in as little as 2 weeks. With a manual transmission vehicle, it will take you at least a few weeks longer before your left leg is strong enough to operate the clutch.
Right total knee replacement: Driving isnt recommended for at least 4 weeks after a right total knee replacement or even a bit longer depending on how soon you regain your pre-surgical reflexes and muscle strength.