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Athletic Training

Recurring swelling after ACL surgery

06/30/2009

Question:

I had a patella tendon ACL reconstruction on my left knee more than three years ago. About five months ago, my knee started swelling for no appparent reason, and the swelling went away after about a week, so I didn`t worry about it. About three days ago, my knee started swelling again, but I didn`t think much of it until I noticed I could barely bend my leg because of the swelling. I have been icing my knee and taking aspirin, but the swelling just keeps coming back. What should I do?

Answer:

Barring any traumatic injury to your knee when it started to swell 5 months ago and now more recently, I would recommend you follow up with your surgeon and/or primary care physician. The reason being that there are a number of causes for swelling. You may have aggravated your graft, meniscus, tendon, bursa, etc.

The more important idea is that your knee is swelling for a reason and that you may have something irritating your knee. The swelling is what is making it difficult to bend your knee due to the increase in pressure within your knee. Icing will help acutely with the swelling and inflammatory process. However, as you stated, the swelling returns. Again, at this time, I would recommend you see a physician. Good luck.

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Response by:

Alex K Wong, MS, ATC Alex K Wong, MS, ATC
Assistant Athletic Lecturer & Trainer
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University