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My ACL Reconstruction Recovery – And Some Tips For Dealing With Post-Surgery Life

January 20, 2012 · 681 comments

in Health & Fitness, Misc Tips

I recently had ACL surgery, and thought I would share how my recovery progressed, and some tips I learned along the way:

Now, for those that don’t know what takes place during ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) reconstruction, the surgery is mostly done arthroscopically. (The ACL is a ligament that starts in the thigh bone, threads through the knee, and connects to the shin.  It is part of a system of ligaments and muscles that keeps the knee stable.)  The first thing done is the surgeon creates an incision below the knee and goes through that incision to harvest a piece of the hamstring tendon.  (Assuming the patient is using their own hamstring to create a new ACL.  Otherwise, that step would just be cruel!)  Then, holes are drilled in the tibia and femur, the new ACL is strung through the knee and screwed into place into each of the bones mentioned, and you now have a stable knee again. One interesting ‘technology’ that was done during my surgery was called ‘platelet rich therapy’. Right before I went in to surgery, a nurse removed a vial of blood from my hand.  This blood was then put in a centrifuge, where the plasma was removed.  During surgery, this plasma was injected into the surgery site with the hopes of speeding up the healing process.

Anyway, since I had already undergone ACL surgery nine years prior on my other leg, I somewhat knew what to expect.  (Which is why I dreaded the surgery and really had to think about if I wanted it done or not.)  Please keep in mind I am not a doctor and I am not advising any particular type of treatment.  I am just sharing my own experience.

My First Week Post ACL Surgery:

I rock when it comes to anesthesia, which is a good thing because they plied me with tons of extra drugs after surgery because the anesthetist kind of forget to do a nerve block in the back of my leg.  I woke up in excrutiating pain, so the answer apparently was to just try drugging me up more.  A different anesthetist did finally show up and gave me the block in the hamstring area.  At that point, my whole leg went numb.  A numb leg is a very strange thing.  I kept challenging myself to try and move my toes, which I could not do no matter how hard I tried.   I realized I much preferred a numb leg over an in-pain leg.  It just made it super hard to get around on the crutches when one leg just kind of hung there.   I heartily give femoral nerve blocks a thumbs up!

After surgery, I was sent home with enough prescription pain pills that could probably earn me a small fortune in street value.  We filled the prescription on the way home at my least favorite pharmacy, Walgreen’s.  (Tip:  NEVER get your prescription filled near a hospital.  You will wait two times longer than what the pharmacist promises, and they will not apologize for the delay either.)

At home, I ate a good dinner (anesthesia kind of makes me hungry) and dug into the Percocet, as I was told to do.  Well, as I remembered, Percocet really doesn’t do much for me, so I only took it the first 24 hours or so after I got home.  I found I was also running to the bathroom literally every 50 minutes or so, 24 hours a day.  That is a royal pain when you have to put an ankle-to-upper thigh brace on every time you get up, and your leg is numb to boot.  One thing I found is that I didn’t have to use the bathroom as much once I stopped the Percocet.  Could be coincidence, or maybe the nerve block wore off, who knows, but I was glad to be done with the Percocet.  After the first day, I just took Advil every 4-6 hours or so, and that managed the pain just fine.

On the second day home, my leg had most of its feeling back, and I was able to put quite a bit of weight on the bad leg.  (However, there was numbness starting at the incision site and travelled down my leg somewhat.)  I walked constantly around the house using crutches for extra support.  I did a lot of ankle pumps too just to keep the blood flowing and had my leg in an ice machine to get the swelling down.  The pain really wasn’t that bad.

On the third day home, we took out the portable pain pump, and I took a shower.  Trading the pain pump for a shower was well worth it.  I left the little steri-strips on and just gently washed over the wound.  I sat down to shower, as I was did not want to stand on that leg without a brace.

I was able to drive 5 days after surgery.  I was lucky in that it was my left leg that I hurt this time, as that made driving much easier.  However, do not drive if you are still on prescription pain meds!

By the end of the week following surgery, I was able to walk without crutches SOME, but still in the brace.  I walked with the crutches just to be safe, but was pleased with how much weight I could put on my leg and that I could walk some.  I was not ready to abandon the crutches yet, but it is funny how happy it can make you to just be able to walk a few steps in the kitchen and such.

My Second Week Post ACL Surgery

My leg felt fantastic.  By the end of the second week, I had full flexion (with the help of my therapist) at 135 degrees and almost full extension (was at -6 degrees).  I was able to ride my home exercise bike to help build up the quad muscles and walked on the treadmill at physical therapy. (That started at about 11 days post surgery.)  I still wore the full leg brace to walk around the house without crutches.  I did use crutches outside for safety reasons though, as the weather was snowy.  I would also say that by two weeks, 85 percent of my swelling was gone, and my surgery scar looked great.  Overall, I was very happy with my progress, and just as a side note, I don’t think it is very common to have so much range of motion so early.  Keep in mind that my leg was incredibly stiff most of the time and it took work to get to the full flexion and extension.

My Third Week Post ACL Surgery

Leg was still doing great.  I had no problem getting full flexion and extension on my own at this point.  I walked around the house without a brace or crutches, and was regaining quad and hamstring strength.   (I am not advocating that anyone stop using their brace or crutches at that point in the recovery process.  That is a very individual decision that needs to be made with your physical therapist and/or doctor.) My knee was still quite stiff, especially in the morning.  After three weeks, I was able to walk a mile on the treadmill, but did a lot of icing afterward.  Often times, I didn’t even think about my knee!  You could barely tell a difference between my two knees in terms of swelling.  Still couldn’t sleep on my stomach though, which I missed so much!!  Down to 3 ibuprofen a day, which I took at bedtime.  Was still icing frequently, 20 minutes at a time, four times a day.

My Fourth Week Post ACL Surgery

The brace and crutches were put out to pasture.  Since I ditched the brace, the leg was a little more sore than before, but it was totally tolerable.  Stiffness was still there, but not as bad.  I still had numbness near the incision and down my leg somewhat.  Most of the time, I walked with no gait deviation whatsoever.  I only walked though, I didn’t even think about jogging or doing anything strenuous.  Still went to physical therapy three times a week and I loved it.  It felt great to improve each day!  Said goodbye to the ice machine as it was a rental.  The money spent was well worth it.  I attribute a lot of my recovery to the ice and pressure that was provided by the ice machine.

Six Months Post ACL Surgery

What a great knee!  As a matter of fact, I didn’t even think about it anymore.  I saw my orthopedic surgeon, and he said the graft is probably about 90 percent healed.  (Absorbed by the bone and such.)   I was cleared to play some tennis and resume most activities.  However, it needs to be a gradual return.  The doctor said the muscles and ligaments all need to figure out how to work together again, so my leg needs to ‘relearn’ how to work to a degree.  I have played some tennis, and it went great.  I do wear a large, metal, Don Joy brace if I do anything that requires pivoting.

The Worst Part of My Recovery

The third night in, my leg started to itch.  The doctor made me keep the entire leg wrapped in Ace bandages the first week after surgery, so scratching was not very rewarding.  As each day passed, this mysterious rash spread on my leg, and I was up most of the night of days 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.  I was exhausted.  The rash was limited to where the wrap was on my leg, so when I got my stitches out after a week, it was suspected I either reacted to something in the bandages, or I was having some strange heat rash.   All I knew was that it needed to stop.  The doctor prescribed me a steroid pack and some anti-itch pills.  I completed the entire steroid pack and the rash disappeared.  If you are instructed to wrap your leg with ace bandages, I personally would not get the type that is ‘self adhesive’.  I think the adhesive might have been what caused my reaction.

Physical Therapy

I started PT 6 days after surgery.  My knee looked pretty darn good actually, the swelling had really gone down.  My cankle was fading and my kneecap was reappearing again, just like how life should be.  I was pretty surprised at how much extension and flexion I actually had.

Am I Glad I Did the Surgery?

Most ACL surgery is considered elective, basically because a lack of ACL will not kill you.  However, my knee was so lax that I was afraid that I would really screw up my knee if I did not get it fixed.  Plus, I would have to give up most activities other than walking and swimming if I chose to not have the surgery.  I did  read the post-surgery report that described how truly loose my knee was when the doctor tested it while I was under anesthesia, so I would have been at risk of further damage over time.

Post Operative Tips:

  1. If you are offered the option of an ice machine, do it.  Insurance did not cover my ice machine, so I had to pay $300 to rent it for a month.  I have to say that I think the ice plus the compression the machine provides has really helped bring the swelling down, and it also helps relieve the pain.  A standard ice pack cannot compare to what an ice machine can do.
  2. If you have any questions or issues after surgery, do not hesitate to call your doctor.   Don’t worry about bothering them or anything.  You are a paying patient, and you deserve help if you need it.  Especially considering you may not remember what the doctor said post-op, you may have a lot of questions.
  3. If you will be having physical therapy or post-operative treatment, make sure you decide where to go before you head in to surgery.  The last thing you will feel like doing after you come home is making a bunch of phone calls and figuring out logistics and such.  Word of mouth is very important when it comes to physical therapists, so do some work up front and decide where you want to go ahead of time.
  4. Listen to your body.  The standard guidelines said I would need ‘controlled’ pain meds for about 5 days afterward.  Well, I ditched them after one day and was so glad I did.  On the flipside, if you are in a lot of pain, act accordingly and don’t overly push yourself (and call your doctor).
  5. Forget perfection.    Life can be hard, and sometimes, commitments cannot be met.  In the big scheme of things, who cares?   Let go of perfection when healing and focus on getting better.  Accept all offers of help too.
  6. Prepare your home ahead of time (if you can).  If you will be on crutches or in a wheelchair, have the house set up ahead of time so you have clear pathways after you come home.  Make sure the refrigerator is stocked and maybe even have some meals waiting for you in the freezer.  Do whatever you can to make your post-surgery life easier.
  7. Prepare your body ahead of time.  Be in the best shape you can possibly be in prior to the surgery if you can.  I am convinced that this knee is recovering so well because I had full flexibility with it going in to the surgery and had decent muscle tone.
  8. Take physical therapy seriously.  Therapy is not only done at the PT location, but also at home.  Do not neglect the home exercises, unless you want to really extend your recovery time.
  9. Remember that each person’s recovery is very individual, as is the injury.  Do the best you can and don’t worry about what everyone else is able to do.

So, overall, so far so good.  I am quite pleased with my post-surgery knee, and hope things only get better from here.

If you have any additional tips to share that helped you get through the post-surgery time period, please add it in the comments section!

 

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{ 676 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon - Free Money Wisdom January 20, 2012 at 4:53 pm

What a great article–especially for those who have gone through this painful surgery. Glad you made it out with flying colors! I love the drugs too…they don’t have any adverse effects on me either. Praise God for doctors and chemists who came up with them! ha Hope you get back to 100%!

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Kris January 21, 2012 at 11:43 am

You aren’t kidding about the benefits of anesthetic. I will say though that a totally numb leg is one of the strangest feelings I had ever had.

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First Gen American January 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Great tips as always. I’m glad you are recovering without incident. The whole story though made me appreciate my own health and that knock on wood, I haven’t had to do any elective surgeries yet.

I wish you a very speedy recovery and hope you had some good books to read.

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Kris January 21, 2012 at 11:42 am

Thanks First Gen. I think I will start a new book tonight as a matter of fact!

It is funny how this surgery is considered elective in a sense. In my case, if I hadn’t done it, I may have ended up needing a knee replacement in the end if I slipped wrong or whatever. Just glad it is done.

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Jane July 18, 2013 at 3:26 am

Hi All

I have been meaning to write something to you all for a while but while following this fantastic blog I have been feeling like a bit of a failure listening to all the wonderful success stories.

I am 5 months post-op from a Patella Femoral Donar Ligament reconstruction and only for the past 3 weeks have I been able to walk without the crutches. Yes I know that I am a bit of a sissy and too cautious for my own good. My knee is still not 100% and I am walking with a slight limp and albeit slowly! but I have got this far and hopefully will make a full recovery. There were times that I thought I would never walk again! Unfortunately when I look back I would have loved to have had the opportunity to hire a CPM machine but we do not have these for hire in SA and only used it when I went to my PT appointments. I never had a problem with my extention but my flexion is not quite 130 yet. I am still doing exercises at home and try and see the PT once every three weeks. My OS said that he was not too worrried about how long it takes as long as I am improving. I also wanted to say that another way (which I found much better) for an exercise for bending the knee was bouncing slowly on a Pilates ball. I just read a recent comment from Alison who said she watched a video on YouTube and it was horrendous well I also looked up my op and to be honest I could not watch it :).

For all of you who are scheduled for ops and who have just had one I wish you all well and as they say SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE!! (I was just the tortoise in this one!!)

Kind regards

Jane

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retirebyforty January 20, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Oh man, I hope I never have to go through that. Hope you feel better soon.

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Kris January 21, 2012 at 11:41 am

I am feeling great RB40. It is good to be back. Once this rash is resolved, there will be no stopping me! :)

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Squirrelers January 20, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Glad to read that you’re pleased with how the recovery process has been going. That’s great news.

Really comprehensive post too, seems like its really good advice. Hopefully people will find this, and perhaps it can help them as well.

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Kris January 21, 2012 at 11:41 am

I do hope this helps others as well. Surgery can be a bummer, but it can also teach you a lot of lessons about your mind and body. I have a new motivation to take better care of myself for sure. Most people don’t take walking for granted until it is gone. I am zipping all over the house today though without the brace and no crutches (except steps). I feel like a little kid that just learned how to walk, it is very exciting!

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krantcents January 20, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Good to hear things are going well. After reading your tips, I realize the benefit of listening to people who went through surgery or other things. Experience helps your insight!

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Kris January 21, 2012 at 11:40 am

Experience and word of mouth are two of the best ways to learn, that is for sure.

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Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter January 20, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Glad to hear you are on the mend. Your experience and tips should are good advice for those dealing with a surgery in the future. Another thing to watch for when filling your prescriptions is pharmacy dispensing fees. You can often end up paying more for your medications if you fill them right near the hospital (at least where I live). Good luck with your physio!

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Kris January 21, 2012 at 11:39 am

Miss T- I had never heard of prescription dispensing fees, what a joke! Doesn’t dispensing medicine just kind of go with the job description of filling a script??

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Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter January 25, 2012 at 10:12 am

Nope. In Canada you have to pay for it, even if you have benefits.

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Financial Samurai January 21, 2012 at 1:05 am

Welcome back! Sounds painful!

Was there a sudden sharp pain one day that you said I gotta fix? Or was it a slow and gradual painful acceleration?

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Kris January 21, 2012 at 11:37 am

My feet were planted and I twisted, and then the knee just popped (literally). At that point, it became really lax and just started giving out all the time with pivoting. I then had the MRI, which showed the ACL was gone.

Thanks for the welcome back!

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Financial Samurai January 24, 2012 at 9:27 am

Ouch.

You ever have your knees collapse with a pin type feeling when walking stairs? I get that every once in a while. I do have a torn meniscus, but it doesn’t hurt. Hmmm

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Kris January 24, 2012 at 11:03 am

That is classic meniscus pain Sam, might want to have that clipped out!

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Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer January 21, 2012 at 10:27 am

I’m glad to hear your recovering is going well. How awful about the nerve block fiasco!

I have friends who’ve had various knee surgeries (at my age it’s common), but never this one. Very interesting post!

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Kris January 21, 2012 at 11:38 am

It am shocked at the amount of people that have had knee surgeries, especially replacements. I am guessing I will be more careful now (probably drop racquetball) because I am getting older and I really don’t want to end up with a knee replacement. I may end up changing my mind in a year or so when I am fully cleared to do whatever I want.

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Roshawn @ Watson Inc January 21, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Great tips Kris overall! I am sorry this was such a miserable experience. Thanks for taking time to explain your journey. So many people do not take their meds before they start exerting themselves (ie with PT), so that is a particuarly great tip! I’m glad you knee is doing well overall though!

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Kris January 22, 2012 at 11:50 am

Thanks Shawn! It gets better everyday, which is a great thing!

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Money Beagle January 23, 2012 at 11:30 am

The first thought I had when reading that you rented an ice machine was that they dropped off one of the machines that you see sitting outside at gas stations and convenience stores. I’m sure it’s nothing like that but it made for kind of a funny image. Good luck with the rest of your recovery!

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Kris January 23, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Now I am picturing my knee sitting on a giant block of ice that people used those big calipers to pick up!

Thanks for the luck, it is all good!!

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MoneyCone January 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Welcome back Kris, and get well soon!

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Kris January 23, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Thanks MC, I am doing great!

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Jai Catalano January 23, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Listen to your body is a great tip. I know it’s a little cliche but we always think we can outsmart our bodies. As I get older I seem to end up on the fool’s end more than before.

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Kris January 24, 2012 at 11:06 am

Jai, I have finally realized that my brain is way younger than my poor body and that competitive sports are probably not made for those without common sense. It is funny because I gave up soccer after my first ACL surgery 9 years ago. Not because of my knee, but because my back felt so much better once I stopped playing. It is all interconnected and our bodies compensate without us even realizing it!

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Jody January 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Kris, I totally understand “mind younger then body.” Almost all of my injuries (broken arm, shoulder bersitis, and torn ACL) have happened in the past five years (28-33). Don’t know if I will ever give up mountain biking or snowboarding, however I have taken up some low impact sports like SUP boarding.

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Crystal January 24, 2012 at 1:50 am

Wow – this post rocks! Mr. BFS has weak joints, so someday we will have to deal with some sort of surgery and some of these tips would definitely work for multiple leg surgery problems. I am so glad you are healing well (despite the itchy rash). Good luck!

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Kris January 24, 2012 at 11:04 am

Thanks Crystal! Tell Mr. BFS to strengthen those muscles to compensate for the weak joints!

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Little House January 24, 2012 at 10:02 am

Good to hear your recovery is going well. Hopefully you’ll be up and around in no time (and that darn itching will stop!)

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Kris January 24, 2012 at 11:03 am

Thanks Little House. The itch is all but gone and I am getting around really well. It is so exciting when you can walk on a treadmill during therapy without crutches or a brace!

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Audrey January 24, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I enjoyed reading your post. My mom recently had a partial hip replacement and the physical therapy was key in her recovery. It’s so important to do the exercises daily. She was great about doing them twice a day as instructed by the physical therapist.

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Kris January 29, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Daily exercises are huge in keeping your flexibility. I notice a big difference if I don’t keep the leg limber.

Good luck to your mom!

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The Biz of Life January 25, 2012 at 9:08 am

Here’s wishing for a speedy recovery.

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Kris January 29, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Thanks Biz, I am doing great!

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Christa January 27, 2012 at 11:39 am

I’ve never been through surgery, but I may be facing my first. So I appreciate all the tips!

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Kris January 29, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Christa, I hope you do not need surgery good luck!!

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Angel January 28, 2012 at 9:05 pm

The ice machine that is sometimes used after ACL recon, does anyone know if Anthem bc bs will pay for it. I cant call till Monday. Thanks

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Kris January 29, 2012 at 8:07 pm

I have no idea. I have HAP and they would not pay for it. Rental is costing me $300 for the month.

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pcn January 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Great article…thanks for the tips!

I learned last week that I tore my ACL while playing basketball two weeks ago. My surgery is in 2 weeks, and most articles online are not positive and constantly talk about how much of a pain it’s going to be. While I understand the recovery will be painful, I do love your positive attitude about it all.

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Kris January 30, 2012 at 9:45 pm

PCN, the internet can be a great thing, and it can also be a nightmare. Generally, people don’t seem to write about things unless it is a negative experience, so most of what you come across is probably going to lean toward negative.

I am now 2.5 weeks past surgery and I was told I could get rid of my brace and crutches when milling around the house. That is huge to me. It is icy out so I use the brace and crutches when going out, but it is great to be able to carry things and just take care of things around the house.

Make sure you ice that knee plenty. I really think part of what has helped me progress fairly rapidly is that I got the swelling under control pretty quickly. When the knee is huge, it is hard to get flexion and extension back. Take the time to take care of that knee and don’t push yourself.

I don’t want to jinx myself, but I never thought I would be this far so quickly. You will be healed before you know it!

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101 Centavos January 30, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Kris, I’ve never had knee problems, but if I ever do, I know where to come for a refresher on what to expect. Glad to hear you’re doing better and in the swing of things.

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Kris February 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm

You are too busy having eye problems… :)

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Invest It Wisely February 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Really glad that you’re on the mend, Kris, and hope you keep healing! I had to google ACL and find out what it was. This may be a stupid question, but what happens to your hamstring and what are the effects on it? And, how do you tear an ACL in the first place? I read that yours was probably already ripped before it tore completely?

It sounds really painful and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Glad to hear that you are getting past this now!

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Kris February 5, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I will have to update my post and state what an ACL is!

There is a tendon along the hamstring called the semitendinosis tendon that they strip away to create the new ACL. I had this done on my other leg too, and while my hamstring is not the same as it was before, it still works well. There is actually some indication that the tendon actually regenerates, which is so fascinating.

I finished tearing my ACL by adjusting a picture frame in my house. My feet were planted, and when I turned and learned over the couch, my knee was just in the wrong spot. I heard a ton of popping and then immense pain. Dumbest injury ever.

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Leona August 14, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Hi Kris
I have just ruptured my ACL skiing. 3 weeks ago to be exact. I have also torn the medial cruciate ligament, torn the meniscus and have a segond fracture. Call it the Virgo in me to do a perfect job. I am doing Physio now to build up the quads. I felt the pop when I got taken out by another skier on the mountain through no fault of my own. I have struggled with this as I ski, mountain bike, and run. I have knee reconstruction on 17th Sept 2013. I am 45 years old and apart from a medial meniscus tear 10 years ago, which was nothing compared to this, I am scared shitless that being as active as I am that I won’t be able to do the above again. Not only because of being in this awful brace until surgery but also experiencing the most horrific feeling the other night of my knee giving away while not wearing the brace. In short, I want to ski again and run and mountain bike and it has depressed me to know end having this injury created not by my inability but someone else’s. I’m pleased I have read your blog, it has given me faith again that surely all will be good and that this is a glitch in the system. Thanks, Leo

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Fabien September 17, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Hi Leona,

I am 43 and a torn my ACL and both meniscus playing basketball. I am wondering how your recovered from your surgery ? I am having mine next week. The meniscus is the key part for long term recovery. How long did you wait to get the knee reco done ? Did they suture your meniscus ?

Cheers

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Thad P @ thadthoughts.com February 8, 2012 at 10:33 pm

I tore my ACL when I was 44, playing basketball with guys in their 20s. That was dumb.

I was fortunate enough to have insurance, and even better, to have done this while living in Taiwan. I had UW trained agressive sports orthopedist who had his own clinic in Taipei. The cost was far less than the USA, and the surgery was outstanding–the follow up therapy was agressive and had me running again within 4 months (their goal was having me play basketball).

I agree with the ice machine. I used it for the first month (24/7 the first week, and decreasing).

One thing I didn’t see mentioned that numbness on the outside of the calf is a common issue post knee surgery. I wasn’t prepared for that, but thankfully the numbness began to lesson after 6 months and was more or less completely gone by 2 years post surgery.

Since tearing my ACL I am always aware of people who have the same misfortune. My observation is that those who have greatest trouble are those who think they can forego the physical therapy. Recovery just takes that much longer.

Anyway, I am 6 years post surgery, and the repaired knee feels tighter than the other one with original equipment. I run 2 to 4 times a week.

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Kris February 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Thad, I am so glad your surgery worked out so well.

I had not posted anything about the numbness because I wasn’t sure how long it would last. I am going to update my post today though because I am a month post op now and the numbness is still there. It is a strange feeling.

Thanks for the suggestion, and keep feeling great!

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Fabien September 17, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Hi,

Tearing the ACL is a major issue but has good prognosis in the long run with regards to Oesteoarthritis. It is much different if you tear your ACL and meniscus like I did. I am 43 and looking at long rehab and partial menisectomy and few years time OA and very strong likelihood of knee replacement. That is the progress of this degenerative injury.

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Karthik_sp February 9, 2012 at 1:13 am

Hey Kris.

Very useful info u have shared.
i underwent ACL 2 weeks ago.. and am currently under “rehab” program.

The tips which u have given has been very useful to me. thanks

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Kris February 12, 2012 at 1:59 pm

How are you feeling? I hope you are doing great!

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Horselover March 4, 2012 at 9:07 am

I feel your pain! I too had many (7 to be exact) knee surgeries. The last one being Feb 1st. I’m a fan of the femoral block, knee ice machine (I own my own. You can buy a good one for under $200) and many other things/tips you mentioned! I also found getting a prescription for valium the day before is very
Helpful. The morning of surgery can be very stressful and anxiety runs high especially when you find out while at the hospital in pre op, your surgery time has been delayed a couple hours! The valium will keep you cool and calm so that you really don’t care when surgery starts! One other tip from me is to purchase sheepskin covers for your crutches to help the armpits from getting sore:) Glad to hear you recovered so well and are on your way back to your regular routine. I look forward to that moment myself!

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Kris March 8, 2012 at 12:31 pm

The moment of getting back to normal will happen before you know it. Today marks my 8th week post surgery, and I feel great!!

I am so sorry you have had so many knee surgeries- I hope this is the last one!

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Brad March 11, 2012 at 6:35 am

It’s wonderful to read positive remarks about post ACL surgery. I had my ACL surgery on the 20th of Feb and am approaching 3 weeks post op, only one more week off work, aaaargghhhh. I work as t teacher so it’ll be a bot of a struggle but will be preferable to staring at 4 Walls all day I’m sure.

Kris, did you have any sleeping difficulties. This is my major problem, along with swelling. I am at full extension and 90 deg flexion, PT says we will achieve 135 deg this week, he’s wonderful.

I am sure thatbthe lack of sleep is slowing recovery. I am averaging at about 2.5 hous per night and have been doing so for over a week. I just can’t get comfortable, I’m thinking of getting sleeping tablets as it’s affecting me psychologically, would you recommend this?

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Kris March 11, 2012 at 9:39 am

The lack of sleep was my biggest problem too. Do you sleep in your brace? I am a stomach sleeper, so sleeping on my back was miserable, so I totally get your plight. I found I slept much better on the couch the first month than I did in bed, have you tried that? I would talk to a doctor about adding sleeping pills because I don’t know what pain meds you are also taking. Don’t want to mix the wrong things for sure.

For me, the flexion took off once the swelling was mostly gone. Dedicate your time to icing if you can, it will be worth it.

Let me know how you are doing.

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lizzie April 17, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Thanks so much for your blog – I had my hamstring reconstruction last week, and it hasn’t been as bad as I thought – nice to see some positive stuff on the internet, rather than all the negative stuff. I’m not sleeping in my brace, so am sleeping pretty well – usually sleep on my side and find i can sleep on my side a fair bit. Sitting down so much is tiring though! When doing the heel slides i’m using my arms to help – reckon that’s okay?

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Kris April 17, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Oh, the heel slides!

Regarding using your arms for the heel slides, is that to help move your leg? If so, I did that a little too because I didn’t have the strength/control in my leg to do it without a little help.

You will be doing so much better each day. I just passed the three month mark and I don’t even think about my knee, except for when I am at physical therapy.

Come back and let us know how you are doing!

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lizzie April 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Also, I had the nerve blocker and it worked a treat – honestly the pain has never been unbearable at all. In the UK the NHS don’t always provide this these days, so was glad I went private!

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Holt April 18, 2012 at 5:09 pm

I’m getting this exact surgery done in 9 days. Just wondering if you had any sort of recovery diet that may have sped up the process? I figured a good carb/protein mix will do but anything specific? I’m 18 so I figure this recovery should go almost or just as fast as yours.

Cheers

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Kris April 19, 2012 at 11:59 am

I didn’t have any specific diet, but I did try to be in the best shape I could be in before surgery. It makes a huge difference for the recovery process.

Make sure you ice as much as possible afterward, it will help get your flexion/extension back quicker if the swelling is down.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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8 Days Post Op May 3, 2012 at 11:19 am

Great Article, I really enjoyed it. I’m 8 days out of ACL and Meniscus, and you have great tips. RIght now I have alot of brusing so I’m spending time with my foot raised high.

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fabien zanchi September 17, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Hi,

Did you get your meniscus trimmed or repaired ? This is a huge difference in long term prospect.

Cheers

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Liam May 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I had my ACL surgery on Fri and felt in a ton of pain that day and all weekend. The hardest thing for me the first few days was trying to figure out a comfortable way to get up or sit back down on the couch. It always too me a few minutes to figure out how to move my straight leg (in that heavy brace) up to the couch.

I had friends that had done this surgery who gave me a lot of info, but one thing I was not ready for was that initial pain. I’m used to being able to push through pain and usually have a high tolerance for it. But since my leg was stuck in a straight brace and they had just cut me up, there was no working my way through this one. That vulnerability was hard to get over. And I don’t like the idea of using drugs either. But my other surgery friends all recommended – don’t be shy, take the pain pills. So I did take them as directed and I’m happy I followed their advice. It definitely helped, and by Tuesday it was much less grueling to consider getting up and sitting down. Another thing I was not doing at first was adding Aleve/Ibuprofen to the mix to help swelling. I wish I had done that from day 1, but I started taking it as directed on the 3rd day and I’m pretty sure that has made a significant dent in swelling.

An extreme soreness in the back of my upper thigh finally started to pass too. At first I wasn’t sure if that was numbness from the nerve block or pain, which was weird. But the Aleve must have assisted there too. So on Day 4, I was glad to be feeling progress when I seemed so helpless over the first 3 days. And what I recommend most is having someone around frequently on the first few days! My sisters were there and got me meals and water, and filled the ice machine, etc. That was incredibly helpful since I never wanted to get up unless I absolutely needed to, like to use the bathroom. At the most, I was getting up every 4 hours for the first few days, which often coincided with when I needed to take another Percoset.

I’m on day 5 and there’s still a few things I’m unsure about.
I kept my brace fully strapped on my leg for the first two days because I didn’t know if I was supposed to open it up. The doctor called me on Day 2 and said it’s fine to open it up while laying down, but to ALWAYS have the brace fully strapped and use crutches when walking around.
What I’m worried about is losing out on flexibility with it always strapped up. I’m at Day 5, so do you think it’s ok to completely undress it and take a look at it yet? And if I’m not using the ice pack, can I get up and walk around without it on? – It is so heavy and bulky and I feel like it will be easier to move around without it. I’m doing everything that I’m supposed to do so far, but I don’t feel like I’m gaining flexibility and I feel like I still have too much pain. Every time that I put on my brace to stand up, it feels like 50 pounds is hugging the sensitive areas too tightly and probably putting unwanted pressure on the healing areas. Also, since I’m worried about undressing all of it, I haven’t been able to take a full shower yet and I really want to do so. Any tips for how to safely stand in the shower as well as not get the area wet?

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Kris June 23, 2012 at 11:01 pm

I am so sorry I did not see this comment sooner. I had to step away from my blog for a little while to tend to some things going on.

How are you doing now? I hope your knee is doing great!!

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monika September 12, 2012 at 8:16 am

Its so good to see that I am not alone in feeling the things I am feeling and that I can relate to people such as yourself. I am day 7 my post op and at times I get so frustrated I want to give up. Everything hurts, my neck and back from sleeping, my leg gets numb from the brace. I pulled my armpit muscles using the crutches. I feel like a mess. Wearing the brace 24/7 is such a pain. I am a stomach sleeper so sleeping theese days is very uncomfortable. The funny thing is that I think I am a strong person, gave birth to three kids had other issues yet I find myself breaking down everyother day. Its nice to vent out and have people that have gone through this give you motivation to keep going. I hoe it will get easier. Thanks to you all
Monika

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Kris September 14, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Monika, it will get easier. The first week is by far the hardest. Not getting sleep makes everything worse for sure.

I am a stomach sleeper too, and night time was the worst. That’s is why I ended up on the couch, I could not get comfortable in bed. Having the blankets tucked in at the end and pushing down on my leg was awful. So I untucked the blankets but I still felt uncomfortable. The couch helped, but it was still difficult.

It was a long time until I could sleep on my stomach. Do everything you can to make sleep possible. Drop caffeine if you can, relax, etc. This is a great time to do things that help you- you deserve a break!

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Nobs June 25, 2012 at 3:27 am

HI Kris,
I am 3 months (March 29) after ACL surgery (Patela graft). I torn my ACL playing soccer. Progress has been really good so far. Started practicing low intencity sports (Table tennis & swimming) Doctor said, another one month and I can start running and within 4 months, I can be back to court-eagerly waiting for that day!!!

You seems to have completed 6 months by now. How is your progress? Are you playing Basketball again? Plese update your status as it may encourage many(Including me) to go through the rehab…

Thanks
Nobs.

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Kris June 26, 2012 at 9:52 am

Hello!
I wanted to update my status after my upcoming doctor appointment, when I am cleared to do all the fun things I want to do. I am actually 5.5 months post-op right now.

I am doing great! I don’t even think about my leg anymore. Stiffness is all gone. The only time I do notice my leg is if I squat down too far. Other than that, it is a great knee. It gets tired quicker than my right knee. I have been running for a couple months now, but I do not pivot much.

I am hoping I will be cleared for tennis next week. Will let you know!

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Allie June 25, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Hello Kris,

Thanks so much for starting this wonderful blog!!!! I tore my ACL last June and had surgery July 2011. This weekend…just shy of my one year mark I torn the same tendon again! ugh! so frustrtating. Was training for my first triathalon and then on to marathon. I am 40 years old and to this day have never felt so defeated until I came across your blog. Your comments as well as those who have joined have really inspired me to have a positive outlook. I am going to miss that triathalon and marathon, but at least I am in fairly good shape for surgery.

Thanks Again!

allie

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Kris June 26, 2012 at 9:49 am

Allie, I am sorry you tore it again, but as you know, you will recover. When I tore my ACL most recently, I was so frustrated because I had done it in such a dumb way. However, I am 44, and the surgery went fantastic. It sounds like you are a very active person though, and I am sure the recovery and rehab will set back your goals some.

Please don’t feel defeated though. You are in great shape, and this whole thing will be over before you know it!!

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schliffan June 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm

im 15, just had the operation. its been a week and I can straighten my leg and bend it although it is uncomfortable. I can’t walk on it yet however no painkillers were needed after 2 days.

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Kris June 28, 2012 at 10:22 pm

You are doing great! Soccer injury??

Make the most of your physical therapy. Doing the home exercises too can be a key part of recovery.

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JhenC July 3, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Good to hear things are going well. After reading your tips, I realize the benefit of listening to people who went through surgery or other things. Experience helps your insight! Yes, indeed experiencing an ACL Surgery is not easy because it is not only a major surgery but it really affects how you live the rest of your life. Being brave to see your future and having hope is one of the character should be develop for those who are undergone this kind of surgery. To learn more on what are the cons and pros of ACL reconstruction surgery visit http://aclreconstructionsurgery.org/
JhenC recently posted..ACL Reconstruction

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David July 4, 2012 at 9:02 am

Hey Kris, did you have much pain while sleeping straight after the surgery? and any tips on overcoming this? I’m going in for my knee reco on monday.

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Kris July 9, 2012 at 9:01 pm

David, sleeping was very difficult for me. I slept in my brace, so it was pretty uncomfortable. Plus, I am a stomach sleeper, so sleeping on my back was miserable.

I slept on the couch the first couple of weeks, and that helped a lot. Remember, ice every chance you get!!

Hope your surgery went great! Let us know how you are doing!

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David July 10, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Hey Kris, surgery went well but sleeping last night was horrible, I slept without the brace. Do you think it’s better to sleep with the brace on or off?

Also it’s two days on and my nerve block still hasn’t worn off which is kind of frustrating. How long did it take for yours to wear off?

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Kris July 12, 2012 at 9:32 am

Hi David!
Has the nerve block worn off yet? If not, is it your whole leg, or just partial?

Sleeping is the worst. I used to dread going to sleep. I slept with the brace because my PT recommended it, and I am an active sleeper. I tend to jump out of bed and such when dreaming, and that was the last thing I wanted to do right after surgery. Are you sleeping in bed? I slept so much better on the couch where I could be propped just right. I didn’t sleep in a bed for weeks. Even the confining covers of a bed drove me crazy. I preferred a loose blanket.

Let me know how you are doing, and good luck!

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David July 14, 2012 at 4:38 am

Hey kris, Yeah the nerve block finally wore off so I’m able to walk a little now, resonably comfortably.

Yeah sleeping is tough occasionally in bed but getting better. It does frustrate me not being able to sleep on my side of stomach but I found that putting a pillow on the side of my knee as support makes sleeping a hell of a lot more comfortable.

Doing pretty well. Out of hospital now, just doing my exercises to get some flexion and strength back in my quad which seems to have turned to jelly.

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Kris July 15, 2012 at 2:17 pm

The quad atrophies so quickly. It takes forever to build up a muscle, but it can disintegrate in no time at all.

Glad the nerve block wore off. The front of my shin is still ‘tingly’, but that is from the hamstring harvest.

I had pillows all over the place to make sleeping easier.

Really work hard on extension, that is the hardest part to get back. Take care!!

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Bong July 6, 2012 at 4:35 am

Hi kris thank you for your article. I just had my acl and lateral meniscus done at the same time 6 days ago. I called my PT to make an appointment, but not until next monday. So i had to wait for for few more days to start my PT. Frustrated and upset i did my own PT at home (4th day). On the 5th day, i walk with only one crutche and brace on the knee. Impressed with the result i carried my crutch instead, the 6th day i walked for a mile. With the use of crutch as my guide. Do you think i have over done it?. Couple hours after my wife an decided to go to the gym, i could not use the stationary bike due to stiffness on my quad. I tried the eliptical and that machine helped my knee move. Not to the full range of motion though.

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Kris July 9, 2012 at 9:00 pm

I think walking a mile is probably over doing it. You need to focus on keeping the inflammation down too, and putting all that weight on your leg for an extended period of time might cause more swelling and lengthen recovery time.

I remember what it is what like to want to get out and do things. My surgery was in the winter, so I didn’t dare go for walks outside. Instead, every hour I just walked around my house over and over again.

What is very important right now is getting range of motion and flexion back. Some walking is great, but you don’t need to push so hard. Believe me, you will be out and about before you know it. As a matter of fact, I played tennis yesterday, and I will be at six months in a few days.

Glad you are doing so well! Take care!

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Kris July 9, 2012 at 9:03 pm

How are you feeling now? I don’t think I would have survived walking a mile that soon. But, everyone’s recovery is different.

If I had to recommend anything, it would be to focus on the flexion and the extension. Your strength will come back easily. But if you don’t get the flexion and extension, your muscle development will suffer as it all has to work together.

How is it going?

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Aaliyah July 11, 2012 at 2:09 am

I’m 7 months after acl surgery and I have full extension but not full flexion. I can bend my knee to 90 degrees but that’s about it. Is that stiffness?

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Kris July 12, 2012 at 9:30 am

Aaliyah, I am not a doctor, but I think you should definintely be at full flexion at 7 months. Did you have physical therapy? What did your surgeon say? Sometimes scar tissue builds up and patients need to have a manipulation done (usually under anethesia) to get that scar tissue broken up). I am not saying that is your situation, but I am so curious what your doctor/therapist think about your lack of flexion, and what the plan is to increase it to 135 degrees.

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Kevin July 12, 2012 at 7:01 pm

I found this site after an internet search on ACL reconstruction failing after some time.

February 2009 I completely tore my right knee ACL, even took a bone fragment with it. Also had a slight meniscus tear. I had surgery a month later. My experience was miserable. First of all it was supposed to be a same day procedure. I was told by my friend that they had to give me FOUR shots of morphine just to get me off the operating table. Then they kept me overnight for observation. I didn’t sleep. Laying in a bed face up, wires everywhere, hooked to IVs, and had something on my feet that squeezed every 15 minutes to prevent blood clots. The morphine drip was not enough so my blood pressure kept setting off the monitor alarms.

The next morning they released me. I was instructed to walk immediately using a granny style walker. No brace, no pain pill prescription. Just an ace bandage and that ice machine you mentioned. I couldn’t afford to miss work for more than a week, so no formal physical training. I bore the pain for a few days and then went to my surgeon demanding anything stronger than Advil. He prescribed Vistaril, which happens to be an antihistamine with mild (as in no) pain killing affect. A week later I needed to go back to him for excessive swelling. He drained my knee of fluid with a syringe about the size of a Red Bull can, maybe 8 ozs of fluid.

My knee has never felt right since. A few years later I turned wrong a felt a slight pop. Some soreness followed but I didn’t think much of it. Fast forward to the present day and I have no stability left and constant soreness in that knee. I no longer have health insurance so I will just have to live with it.

I’m glad you had a good surgeon. My advice to others is talk to several potential surgeons and do as much research on them as possible.

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Kris July 13, 2012 at 9:09 am

Oh my gosh, this is a terrible story. Did you take any action against this doctor? Is he/she still practicing? How in the world did they prescribe you an antihistimine instead of pain killers? Do you have full range of motion?

I am so sorry you had such an awful experience. I hope you get some health insurance soon so you can have your knee evaluated. Best of luck to you.

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Kevin July 13, 2012 at 1:19 pm

I was naive at the time, and was also focused on trying to keep my job. I thought the medical waiver I signed prevented me from taking action.

As a result of researching the standard of care given to you and countless others, I have contacted malpractice attorneys to see if I have a case. While nerve blocks were not yet approved in the US in 2009, narcotic pain medication and a full leg brace certainly were! The denial of these two critical things seems, at least to me, to have contributed to the repair not healing properly, thus my current situation.

I do have full range of motion, in fact too much range! I can stand on the good knee perfectly fine. If I stand on the ACL knee my lower leg will actually wobble. It’s like having a shoe on one foot and an ice skate on the other.

Maybe I can get some relief from Obamacare, if and when the fighting is over and its holes patched. Like that’s going to happen.

Will keep you posted.

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Aaliyah July 13, 2012 at 10:33 pm

I had physical therapy after about two weeks after the reconstruction by my therapist didn’t push me hard. I haven’t talk to him because he has been on vacation. I Still do therapy at home but I will like more execersies to get more flexion. I hope it’s not stiff just scar tissue and when I try to bend my knee backwards it just complete stops like it doesn’t want to bend.

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Kris July 15, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Aaliyah, have you thought of going back to your surgeon? I really think you should be at greater than 90 degrees this far post op. (Of course, I am not a doctor…)

I had a manipulation done the first time I had knee surgery and it was the best thing I ever did. It hurt so bad to try and bend my knee up until that point. After the manipulation, it was smooth sailing!

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Kris July 15, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Kevin,
I had surgery on my right knee in 2002, and I got plenty of pain meds, a leg brace and a CPM machine. (Continuous Passive Motion machine.) I don’t want to upset you, but the care you got certainly seems substandard, and I am bummed on your behalf.

You might want to have another surgeon take a look at that leg. Not sure wobbly is a good thing. Hopefully you will get insurance soon.

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Aussie Mum July 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm

This is so far the best posting I’ve read about ACL surgery and recovery, thanks so much!
My son (he’s 19) had this surgery 7 days ago and your blog has been very very helpful.
He’s had no swelling whatsoever, we had an ice machine but never had to use it.
I guess his age is definitely an advantage. Tore his ACL playing (Australian) football 1 month ago.
Doing all his exercises as instructed. On mild painkillers now and only when he needs it.

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Kris July 19, 2012 at 8:47 am

Wow, your son is doing fantastic! Please encourage him to use the ice machine though, especially on therapy days. I know he is young, but ice can be a wonderful thing.

Thanks so much for the kind words, I really appreciate it!

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Krystal July 17, 2012 at 2:27 am

Its good to see someone has had a good experience with an acl reconstruction. On April 6,2012 I had and acl transplant and a full right knee reconstruction… This has been hell for me..im going on 15 weeks now and the pain is worse than pre-op… I am still doing my 2 weekly pt appointments one on land and one in the water… my quads are still not firing correctly so I have no stability in that knee… The electro stimulators they are using on my knee seems to only be uncomfortable and not making much difference in the recovery….Im trying to stay positive through out this recovery but sometimes it seems to be a challenge for me….especially now since Im going on the 23rd of this month for an mri on the left knee…we already know it requires surgery due to a torn meniscus but the surgeon feels that more damage jas been done since the right knee reconstruction…. sorry just needed to vent….Im sure not every acl repair is this way…best wiahes to all of you who have or are going to have surgery!!! Praying for a speedy recovery for you all

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Kris July 19, 2012 at 8:45 am

Krystal, I am so sorry for your situation.

When I had my first surgery, the surgeon kept a close on my quad because it wasn’t building up at first. I believe that was tied to not having my extension back fully. (Full extension allows for the ACL to slot into the intercondylar notch I believe, and that is required to fire up the quad.) Do you have full flexion/extension? From what I understand, scar tissue can form that may block the proper alignment of the ACL if you don’t get your extension back. Has your doctor discussed any of this? (Remember, I am not a doctor, just talking from my own experience!)

Bummer about your other knee, I am sure you are so sick of all of this. If they just go in and trim the meniscus on your other leg, your recovery will be a breeze compared to what you are experiencing now!

Good luck!

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Kevin July 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Kris,

Yes, I do believe I received sub-standard care. Unfortunately the statute of limitations for Medical Malpractice in Texas is two years.

I have a few opinions as to why my ACL experience was, and continues to be miserable.

First was how I tore the ACL; snow skiing. I hit an ice patch, couldn’t slow down, and then hit a patch of wet snow which stopped the skis, but not me. My knee was forced backwards with such intensity that my ACL literally tore from the bone it was attached to. Very traumatic and hurt more than when I had a kidney stone. I imagine an injury of this magnitude could cause additional damage that is not detectable via MRI nor Arthroscopy.

Second, in recalling the day of the surgery, I remember the doctor told me my meniscus was unrepairable. I got the impression he was going to remove and replace it with an allograft (donor tissue). In reality he probably just removed mine and went on with the ACL. Considering that donor meniscus goes through an intensive sterilization procedure, must be a close match to mine in size and shape, and requires cryogenic storage, I doubt that an outpatient surgery center would have this type of tissue on hand. Backing this up, I received a registration card in the mail a few weeks later, which I had to sign and return, for tracking purposes of the ACL supplier. I did not receive a similar registration card for a Meniscus. 2+2=4; I have been walking around the last three years with no cushioning in my knee.

Third, I have a genetic condition known as Morton’s Toe. 10% -20% of people have this. My second toe is longer than my big toe. More technically, the bone the big toe is attached to (1st Metatarsal) is actually too short, thus making my big toe shorter than my second toe. Why is this a problem? The shorter 1st Metatarsal redistributes the weight bearing areas of the foot to the 2nd Metatarsal. Imagine walking in unlaced ice skates. Your knees will take a beating. What would be the impact on proper healing of the ACL when your knees are already unstable? I have read the official ACL reconstruction protocol (diagnosis, surgery, and recovery). Morton’s Toe is not addressed in this protocol. Odd, since Morton’s Toe can actually cause knee problems. I guess Orthopaedists and Podiatrists don’t talk much. Also interesting is in the US over 80% of Orthopaedists perform less than 10 ACL surgeries a year. My suggestion: consult a sports injury professional and notify him/her if your your big toe is shorter than its adjacent toe.

Aussie Mum, your son’s young age is a huge advantage! He should be trouble free. Just remind him to think of his body when making those aggressive Aussie football maneuvers.

Krystal, I feel for you! No one should have to go through the hell each of us has experienced. A meniscus torn enough to warrant surgery will only get worse with time. The outer part has blood vessels, and will bleed, but will heal if the tear is treated. The inner meniscus does not get blood flow, and will not heal at all. I pray that you have the treatable type. I would also (if you are able) recommend that you seek a second opinion from another doctor.

Thanks to Kris for starting this post, and thanks to those who have listened to my story.

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Kris July 19, 2012 at 8:37 am

Wow, I had never ever heard of donor meniscus. My first knee injury also involved both medial and lateral meniscus, as well as the ACL. They ended up just cutting out the torn part of my meniscus, which is what usually happens. I too would be shocked if an outpatient facilty had that capability, but who knows.

I don’t know about the impact of Morton’s toe, but I do know it is a very common condition.

I just hate that your result is so poor. I would love if you could get another opinion and possibly another scan.

Best of luck to you!!

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Shirley July 20, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Hi Kris – Glad to hear about your good experience with the ACL reconstruction surgery. I tore mine on January 18 playing indoor soccer and had my surgery on Feb. 15 – patellar tendon graft. I started PT two days after surgery, even though I thought I would pass out in the PT office! My mistake was not insisting upon anti-nausea meds – it was my first experience with anesthesia and it made me so nauseous, I couldn’t take my Percocet for the pain. But once I got that all taken care of, my rehab and recovery has been positive.
While my knee still feels stiff and “not quite like it used to”, I am able to perform 90% of what I used to do. I am a runner (was training for a marathon when I sustained the injury) and have resumed running – this morning I ran 6.5 miles at my normal pace – this is the farthest I’ve gone post surgery and I don’t feel too bad.
During the early part of my rehab, I did Pilates type exercises to help maintain some core strength and I stretched a lot. I started swimming 7 weeks after the surgery when I couldn’t run due to pain and the elliptical was driving me batty.
My quad strength still needs to increase and I’m working on my balance. But otherwise, I’ve had a good experience.
So sorry to hear of others’ troubles with this injury – my thoughts and prayers are with you.
Shirley recently posted..P365+1 2012 – Lost June

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Kris July 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Wow, sounds like you are doing great! Does your knee hurt after running? I know mine feel a little stiff the next morning after tennis or running.

I agree about feeling bad about the others. I feel very lucky, that is for sure.

Congrats on a fantastic recovery!

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Edward jr. July 23, 2012 at 1:46 am

Hey Kris,

It’s been 13 days since my ACL reconstruction and Meniscus surgery. I have been doing good so far, not so much pain anymore so I stopped taking the medication couple days ago. It’s a bit painful after the therapy but it’s bearable. I don’t wear my brace around the house, and I also don’t sleep with it. Would that be a problem? Also, I used to sleep with my leg elevated, but now I try to just sleep normal now. I feel like my recovery is going well, but I wanted to get your opinion on it.

Also, how often should i ice my knee everyday?

Thanks Kris!

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Kris July 26, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Regarding when to wear the brace, that question is best for your therapist and doctor. I wore my brace all the time the first 3 weeks, and then only when out and about after that. However, it was winter, so the sidewalks and such were riskier. I did not elevate my leg after a couple weeks either.

As far as ice goes, I would definitely ice after therapy and if you go out and do much on it. Ice won’t hurt it, is your swelling gone yet? As long as there is swelling, I think ice is beneficial. I was still icing quite frequently the entire first month.

(Remember though, I am not a doctor! :) )

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Kevin July 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Edward,

If you have the ice machine try to use it as much as possible. It has a timer in it which regulates itself. If you are using an ordinary ice bag, I’d say maybe 10 minutes per hour?

Also, using the brace when you sleep depends on how you sleep. If you are like me and thrash around while asleep; use the brace. If you sleep pretty still then I wouldn’t think the brace would be necessary.

I say this because 3+ years after my surgery, I have started using the ice machine again due to my knee being swollen, sore and hot to the touch in the morning.

Kevin

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Aaliyah July 25, 2012 at 6:53 pm

And if it’s the scar tissue, is it my fault that it has build up?

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Kevin July 25, 2012 at 7:38 pm

If it’s scar tissue build-up I doubt it’s from anything you did. Sometimes a surgeon puts the new ACL in too tight. If that’s the case then it will eventually snap again. Those ligaments don’t stretch much.

Can you seek a second opinion?

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Kris July 26, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Aaliyah, scar tissue would only be your fault if you refused to do any exercises and just sat on the couch all day. Otherwise, it is just caused by how the body has healed.

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Edward jr. July 27, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Thank y’all so much!

Now it’s been a little after two weeks since my ACL surgery.
I have been told by my doctor not to go swimming or go under water. Now, does that mean I have to shower with a towel over the incision? I just forgot to ask him about that.

Thanks again,

Edward

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Kris July 28, 2012 at 11:00 am

Edward,
I would definitely think you could shower. I showered the day I took out my pain pump, which I believe was day three post-op.

Hope things are going great!

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Angel July 28, 2012 at 10:59 am

Thanks for the wonderful information! Your article answered all my questions, and was extremely informative and on point.

The is the best post-op article I have read on the internet regarding this subject.

Thanks for taking the time and effort to share with your personal experience and advising us on what to expect.

I just had donor graft ACL replacement and this information you provided really helps me figure out the next few weeks of my schedule.

Again, thank you for the information.

Angel

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Kris July 28, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Thanks so much for the kind words Angel. I hope your recovery goes wonderfully!!!

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Johan August 1, 2012 at 1:47 am

well i have been 3 months out from my acl surgery and i wanting to go back and play the sport but how long does it take so that you can go out and run?

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Kris August 1, 2012 at 8:12 am

Johan, that is a question for your therapist or doctor. Fox example, at three months, I was allowed to jog on the treadmill, but was not allowed to do anything that required pivoting. It totally depends on where your knee is in the healing process, which requires an exam of your knee.

Regarding playing sports in general (competing), three months is too early from what I know.

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Symbol August 3, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Hi Kris,
I am so glad I ran across your site. Lots of good information. I had my ACL reconstruction and medial meniscus surgery last Tues. Surgery went well but recovery was critical. It was five hours long and was touch and go. I had a reaction to the general anesthesia as well as the narcotics they used as pain killers. It was pretty bad, I ended staying at the hospital for 3 days since I ended up having seizures. Fast forward from there, I had my 1 week appointment with the doctor and started therapy this week. Therapy is three times a week. However today I was sore and stiff and swollen. The flexion has progressed in the three sessions but still at 57 and the therapist mentioned it is suppose to be 90. I started at 35, 45 and then 57. I was wondering my nerve block took a whole week to finally go away and I can bear weight on the leg but my calves tend to cramp up and they hurt really bad. I have been stretching them on the hour every hour but it makes it difficult to walk and be comfortable. I was wondering if you had experienced that. Also, each time I try to bend the knee and push it further it feels like it will pop…is that just a feeling and did you experience it. Swelling went down but after today’s PT session my ankles as well as my knee is swollen and tight. I was wondering what else could help it.

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Kris August 4, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Sorry you had such a rough go of it during surgery, what a mess. It is hard enough to recover under the best of circumstances, let alone what you went through.

Do you still have your stitches in? Quite often, that can restrict flexion somewhat. I know my knee bent better once those were out. Swelling also has a lot to do with your flexibility. Are you icing your knee much? Taking ibuprofen? You need to get that fluid out in order for the joint to move well. Are your ankles still swollen? Keep your leg elevated as much as you can also.

I did not have cramps in my calves. I know bananas can help with cramping for some (but again, I am not a doctor… :) ). One thing that happened the first time I had knee surgery was every time I stood up, all the blood would rush down to my calves/ankles and that hurt terribly. The pain passed after a couple minutes, but getting up was miserable. That passed after about a week.

If you are ever in doubt, call your doctor. Do not hesitate to advocate for yourself.

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Symbol August 5, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Thanks Kris.I had only three stitches that the doctor removed at my 1 week appointment. The rest of the stitches are still there and are held together with a bunch of white strips. When I try to bend the knee the stitches do get tight. My doctor suggested not to ice, however my therapist suggested to ice twice a day. Also after taking a warm shower I felt my knee was so stiff that I could not bend it at all. So today iced the knee about 4 times for about 20 mins and it felt a little less stiff and I was able to bend it a little with out any assistance. I am taking Tylenol twice a day about 2000 mg but I don’t have pain and did not know if it is good just to continue taking it. I guess I can check with the doctor. One thing the Tylenol does help me with the heavy feeling in the knee after therapy. Also you are right, I thought it was cramps but it is the blood rushing to the calf area which makes its painful when trying to walk.
I thought I would be able to drive to therapy week 2 but have to reschedule therapy to where hubby will have to drive me. I tried all kinds of creative way to get in to the car but that did not work:( Thanks for you response.

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Kris August 5, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Wow, I am surprised your doctor said not to ice. Many doctors recommend you buy or rent an ice machine to help with the swelling. You also may want to ask your doctor about ibuprofen vs. tylenol, as ibuprofen I think works more as an inflammatory than Tylenol does.

Driving can be tough, especially if it is your right leg. One thing my doctor told me when I had my right knee done was not to drive until I was confident that I could slam on the brakes if I ever needed to.

Are you doing any home physical therapy exercises?

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Symbol August 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Thanks all good questions to ask. I will be seeing my PT in the afternoon. I thought and got creative to get in the car and to drive for therapy. However I could not get into the car, first I felt frustrated and mad and then I just laughed at it. Simple things seem so complicated right now. Hubby had to remind me to take baby steps. I got the right leg in but the left leg which is the surgery leg did not want to bend. It bends but not even half way so it got frustrating.

Yes I am doing the pt exercises at home a couple times but struggle through them. My quad strength seems to be low since I had a meniscus tear too. So when hubby is home he helps me through the exercises. I just want o be a little independent and want to be able to do the exercises on my own. Let’s see how week two progresses at PT.

Thanks

S

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Kelly Kathleen Ferguson August 7, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Thanks for the post! I’ve had a difficult time getting medical staff to tell me what recovery would *really* be like. I agree the ice machine is pretty awesome. I had my first ACL repair in 1993 and can I just say the operation is MUCH improved. The experience was so awful when I tore my other one in 2003 (common, apparently) I opted out of the second operation. But then I tore my meniscus and my MCL in 2011. So you did the right thing by getting your second ACL repaired. You can definitely hurt your knee worse.

I’ve found Hyrocodone doesn’t give me side effects, so that’s nice. Also, my leg blog took just fine which really helped with pain that first day. Anyway, the new procedures make the experience worthwhile. If you are procrastinating, get it done, I say! (Although it seems waiting for the 21st century advances was worth it).

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Nessa August 9, 2012 at 2:56 am

Is there a reason you chose the hamstring over the patella graft? My surgery is in a month..I’m leaning towards the patella graft. This is also my second surgery..first was on my right knee with a patella graft about 15 years ago. Now at 31 I’m getting my left knee done. Not looking forward to it..except that I’m looking forward to walking normally and playing sports again. Do you think the plasma injection helped? Thanks for any help!

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Kris August 9, 2012 at 9:34 am

I have heard good things about the patella graft too. The one down side I did hear was some people have trouble squatting deep after the patellar graft, but that doesn’t seem like a big deal.

I went with hamstring because that is what my doctor recommended, I didn’t really care.

I can’t say if the plasma ‘wash’ helped or not, but I can say I healed fantastically well, and it was much quicker than my previous ACL surgery. However, the damage wasn’t as severe this time as I did not have an meniscus tears this time around.

Best of luck!

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Nessa September 13, 2012 at 7:45 am

Thanks for the info Kris! I had my ACL and meniscus done on Tuesday afternoon. I decided to go with the hamstring graft. So far this was the best decision. I had my first PT appt on Wednesday and they were impressed with how well my leg is doing. I have almost 100 degrees of flexion and can walk with out crutches and with very little pain. This was much better than the procedure I has done in 1996.

I am very happy with how my leg feels. I have a question though. I have an ice machine to circulate water – how often did you ice your knee or did you leave it on all the time.

Thanks again!
Nessa

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Rob Brady September 13, 2012 at 9:07 am

Hi, Nessa . . .
I saw your comment this morning. I am glad that your surgery went well. I am surprised that you are already at PT. Good for you. I did really well during my first week, but was slowed down the second week with swelling that drained into my shin and calf when I stood up. I had to elevate my leg for about 8 days, icing multiple times a day to control it.

With regards to your question about the ice machine, be sure not to leave it on too long becaaue it can cause frostbite and severe nerve damage. Use it for 10-15 minutes and then turn it off for half an hour before turning it on again. You do not need to remove the compression pad, though. Hope this helps.

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Kris September 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Wow Nessa, you are making great progress!

I never iced for more than 15 minutes at a time. (Mine automatically shut off after 15 minutes I think.) However, I iced as many times as I could in a day, especially after activity.

Is your ice machine temperature controlled?

I probably iced 6-8 times a day. Mine did compression also, so often I would let it just cycle. It would ice 15 minutes, then compress 15 minutes, then ice 15 minutes…

You are doing great, just make sure you don’t overdo it! Congrats on your success.

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Kira Sundheim August 9, 2012 at 3:40 am

I was lying in bed with my leg brace itching the crap out of me, so I decided to look up post operation advice to hopefully soothe my itchy and uncomfortable leg when I stumbled across your blog. Your advice “Forget perfection.    Life can be hard, and sometimes, commitments cannot be met.  In the big scheme of things, who cares?   Let go of perfection when healing and focus on getting better.  Accept all offers of help too.” really soothed my spirits. Although my leg is still itchy, I have a feeling I will be able to sleep better tonight. So thank you :)

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Kris August 9, 2012 at 9:31 am

Thank you so much!

How are you feeling today? Is your leg wrapped at all, or is the brace on your skin? Have you been able to shower yet?

Take care of yourself and do what you can to relax. Your poor leg has been through a lot, give it the time off it needs! (But still do your exercises and such!)

Your comment made my day! :)

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Kira Sundheim August 9, 2012 at 11:56 am

I’m feeling better today! Thanks for asking! :) The brace is directly on my skin. I think that’s been the source of my itching. And yes thank god I am able to shower! It’s been about two weeks since my surgery. Being a really active person, this injury was hard for me because im not able to run, hike, or bike ride, but i realize now that all i need is patience! Because i will be able to do all those things, its just a matter of time. I really appreciate the reply! Hope your day is wonderful!

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Kris August 17, 2012 at 10:41 am

How is your sleep coming along??? I hope things are going great!

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Alan August 12, 2012 at 6:37 am

Its great to see your having a great run with your recovery! I had my left knee reco done on the 12th of july 2012, then again on the 20th of july because it wasn’t done right the first time. A week later i ended up with a stafe infection from them going in the second time. Its been 2 weeks since my infection and i still have swelling at the top of my knee. My inner leg feels very sensitive which they said i’d have after having a nerve block. Sleeping was a prick, the pain killers worked for the pain but i just couldn’t keep still. I was getting about 2 hours a night sleep, most of the time i was just staring at the clock. I still use my brace and im down to one crutch now. I can bend my knee to about 90 degree’s now and i start physo in a couple of days.

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Kris August 14, 2012 at 9:11 am

What a nightmare Alan. I remember after my surgery I was thinking “gosh I hope this worked because I don’t want to go through that surgery again”, and that is exactly what you had to do. What did they use for your ACLs?

My lower leg is still sensitive after all this time, but from the incision, not the nerve block. I hate how it feels, but it is worth it for how great my knee feels.

How is your staph infection? are you sleeping better? Sleep can be the worst part of recovery.

Hope you are doing better!

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Alan August 16, 2012 at 9:31 am

Hey Kris they used a piece of my patellar tendon, the surgeon said it was in really good condition. I have alot of soreness still in the front of my knee which restrict bending movement. There is still a bit of swelling there but they said because of the infection it would take a little longer to go down. The surgeon also said my recovery time will be a bit longer because of where they took the graft from.

The stafe infection is gone now they brought me straight back to hospital and put me on some strong antibiotics for 4 days. The worst part was when they jabbed a couple of needles into my knee joint to make sure the infection was gone, that really hurt. I’m starting to sleep a lot better now, its still hard to get comfy but once i do im out for about 5 hours or so. I started physo today to work on getting some strength back in my leg, it went well but i’m feeling a bit sore now.

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Kris August 17, 2012 at 10:04 am

What a rough road you have been on. I hope your PT goes great and some of that swelling can do down. It is hard to balance not pushing too hard and yet maintaining some flexibility so scar tissue doesn’t build up.

As I have said to many people, do not underestimate the power of ice!!!

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Aaliyah August 15, 2012 at 10:14 pm

My doctor move back to indiania and I had a nurse and now I got three months of intense therapy and he said my surgeon put it in to tight but it’s stable but it will eventually losing up so I can have full flexion thank you for answering my questions you was a BIG help.

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Kris August 17, 2012 at 10:06 am

Have you gotten any more flexibility back with the intense PT? Did they say how long ‘eventually’ might be?

Best of luck, and thank you for your kind comments.

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Aaliyah September 8, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Yes I’ve gotten PT. And after the three months of therapy my flexion should be back.

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Kris September 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Yes, your flexion should be back by now for sure. You might want to have that looked at again.

Good luck!

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Ryan B August 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I am 20 years old and just had my ACL reconstructed with a hamstring graft July 17th of this year so about a month ago. The swelling is pretty much gone the only thing i am having trouble with is walking downstairs and when I am walking for any longer than 5 minutes I have to stop and bend my knee and hold it up for the fluid to move around inside and then it feels fine .. I was wondering if that was normal. I have been doing all of my physical therapy and riding a stationary bike for about 30 minutes a day 5 day a week … I was just wondering if you had any tips on recovering faster such as exercises and what not.. I have school starting in a week and walking around campus is going to be miserable if it is like this so any tips will be greatly appreciated especially for exercises to help walking downstairs !

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Kris August 22, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Walking downstairs took a long time for me, I am sure over a month until it was comfortable and not so stiff. As a matter of fact, if I overwork my knee now, 7 months later, I have trouble with stairs again.

Regarding the walking for longer than 5 minutes and feeling fluid, I would mention that to my PT or doctor. Are you still icing? If you have fluid, then the swelling is probably not gone.

Did you have any meniscus damage?

Any chance you are overdoing it with the exercise bike? Are you icing afterward? Do you have full flexion/extension?

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Fred August 25, 2012 at 4:09 pm

this is by far the best acl information i got on the net. i just got my acl surgery done yesterday and woah it is extremely painful but hopefully everything would get better.

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Kris August 25, 2012 at 9:19 pm

It will get better. You might even be surprised by how quickly you heal.

Let me know how you are doing. Keep on icing!!

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Fred August 26, 2012 at 1:13 am

the thing is that im wearing a metal knee brace and there is stereo foam underneath it. should i just ice my knee with the brace on? it feels better than yesterday but woah these spasms are killing me.

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Kris August 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm

I only wore the brace when I walked (and slept). So, when I iced, the brace was off. If I got up though, the brace went back on. That was a pain considering I got up to use the bathroom constantly, but the ice helped me so much.

I had rented an ice machine that also did compression, so my knee was fully wrapped when I wasn’t up and about.

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Brendan December 14, 2012 at 9:33 pm

I’m 40 and in graet shape, I look like I’min my 20s. I state this because it’s important.
I had ACL surgery April 9th, the day after Easter. It is now Dec 14 and I still can’t play sports or do stairs without pain.

Let me give some tips to those just starting out so you don’t get to where I am.
Ice the knee after every work out!
Ice the knee after every work out!
Ice the knee after every work out!
Oh yea, ice the knee after every work out!

Don’t over do it.
Don’t over do it.
Don’t over do it.

My physical therapist and I wanted me to get back to playing soccer so bad that we rushed through therapy and I did all the exercises @ home. About 4 months in my progress rapidly retrogressed to the point I could no longer do activities I once did during therapy. We lay off it for a while and took it easy then things got better and he told me I didn’t need to see him any more.
I was @ the point where I was jogging a mile a day @ 6mph and other exercises. About a month or so later BAM! back to pain. This is where I am now. I haven’t worked out in 1+ month and now get electrode and low level laser therapy to see if we can improve the pain/knee. Another MRI showed everything was great. The doc’s say I’m in great shape, but the knee hurts, every day, it hurts. Stairs are painful everyday and I’m not working out. I now ice the knee 5-7 times a day.
So, learn from me.

Ice the knee after every work out!
Don’t over do it.

Good luck, it’s not that bad if you do it right, just don’t go nuts like I did.

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Brian August 31, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Hi Kris. Thanks for putting all of this information together and glad to hear you are doing well. I’m dreadfully awaiting the results from the MRI I had yesterday. This past Tuesday night, I believe, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was playing tennis and had to get back across the court which included my left foot planting and then I hear the infamous pop, followed by a loud scream. So here I am. The doctor did the lachman’s test and said with confidence that the ACL and meniscus are torn. My question for you is do you know how well the lachman’s test and MRI line up? The nurse said my doctor has been doing knees for 30 years and that he is usually always right. I’m just dreading going through this surgery again because in 2001 (senior in HS) I tore the same left ACL. The doctor then used the hamstring but my new doctor said, again with confidence, that the patella would be the best. Anyways, I digress. Should I end up having the surgery I am glad there are people out there like you that have been together this information because I didn’t have this information back then.

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Kris August 31, 2012 at 3:06 pm

With my most recent ACL, the doctor was pretty confident I tore it because he never found an ‘endpoint’ on the Lachman. Meaning, the only thing that stopped my knee from shifting was the doctor not pulling, instead of my ACL stopping the movement. With my first knee, I passed the Lachmann, but they said it could be false because of all the swelling and other damage.

I don’t know how well the Lachmann test predicts a torn ACL, but if he has all that experience and is pretty confident, then it sounds like it might be torn. HOWEVER, what are your symptoms? Does your knee give out? That was the number one indicator for me. I knee I was hosed when my knee would give out when just pivoting slightly.

For what it is worth, my first surgery was in 2003, and this one was WAYYYYYY easier. Technology does make a difference. Just seek out the best surgeon you can find, assuming you need one. (Or was this a surgeon that looked at your knee already?)

Best of luck!!!!! Oh, do you have your CD from your MRI? An ACL tear is fairly easy to see. For example, if you look at this link http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=acl+tear+image&view=detail&id=40BE68FD2C3727CA503D0091337CDF83BCFCD8B9&first=1, you will see a torn ACL. An intact ACL is a dark band that goes from one bone to the other. You can see the start of the ACL attached to the lower bone, but then it gets all cloudy above that. That is a torn ACL.

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Brian August 31, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Thanks for the quick reply. I just got a call from the Dr’s nurse and she told me the ACL and meniscus are torn and the Dr. will call me later this afternoon to further explain. As bad as this news is, it is encouraging to hear that this one was easier though. I figured with technology and having already been in this position that it could only help. My knee definitely does not feel stable and I’m constantly favoring it. The Dr. told me to make sure I ride a stationary bike and I’m sure I’ll get a list of things from him now that he is 100% confident it is torn.

I do not have the CD yet but I’m sure I’ll get my hands on it shortly. Thanks for the picture too. I’ll update you as I know more info.

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Kris September 2, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Thanks for coming back to let us know the results. I am not surprised it is torn, given the popping, the pain, and the Lachman.

The bike is a great idea. Low impact, and yet it will keep the quad in shape. The stronger your muscles are going in to surgery, the easier the recovery (or so it seems).

Be super careful about walking/pivoting. You don’t want to do anything that will result in further meniscus damage. I had to wait about 6 weeks for my surgery (holidays), and I wore a giant Don Joy knee brace for part of the time because we were going to Disney and I didn’t want some odd twisting to rip my cartilage since my knee was so unstable.

Hope your surgery is soon so you can get on the road to recovery. Best of luck!

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Brian October 19, 2012 at 10:30 am

I had my first surgery two weeks ago. He repaired my meniscus, did a very small 5mm microfracture, and also removed the two screws that were in my knee from the first ACL surgery in 2001. I can straighten my knee and almost bend it to 90 degrees. I will have my second surgery mid December. The doctor said we had to stagger the surgeries so that the holes could fill back in with bone before he could revise the ACL. I’ll keep you updated.

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Kevin August 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Brian,

You can read about my story in the posts above, so I won’t bog down this reply with a rehash of that experience.

The Lachman’s test is pretty accurate. I believe it is standard procedure to employ a physical test to confirm a torn ACL before ordering an MRI ($30 doctor exam versus $2000 – $5000 MRI). You can do this yourself if you can stand the pain. I’m not a doctor but I discovered my own test. Sit in a chair and prop both legs straight out on a table the same height as the chair. With your feet together use your thigh muscles to try to push your knees inward. If the suspect knee rises and slightly rotates, or has more movement than the other knee then there’s most likely a problem.

If you do end up getting surgery ask about a double-bundle repair. From what I understand it is more durable and functions more like an actual ACL. Also ask about Meniscus damage. Some damage is repairable, some not. It is hard to determine the extent of the damage in an MRI. Ask your doctor what his contingency plans are if you have a non-repairable meniscus.

In my case I was told after the MRI that my meniscus had a slight repairable tear. In surgery it was found to be irrevocably damaged and the surgeon simply took it out. Three years later I can’t walk without pain, grinding sensations and constant popping. Make sure your doctor would replace your meniscus with a donor should he find it damaged beyond repair. (This means he would have to have a thawed, correctly sized donor meniscus in the operating room during your surgery, regardless of whether you would need it or not).

Here’s a link to an Orthopaedic Surgeon’s website that has great information posted:
http://www.drwaltlowe.com/failed-acl-reconstruction/

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Sujit Nair September 1, 2012 at 10:12 am

Hi,

Very good to hear that you are completely alright.
My situation is i had a ACL reconstruction surgery the same as you had as i had a bike accident.
but the worst part is post operation i had infection on it. so it took a lot time to clear that infection. hence i was unable to attend the physiotherapist for some days. and that was the reason i was unable to fold my leg. but gradually i was, as it took around more than 2-3 months for my therapist to do the miracle. But since then my strength on my operation knee was never that as before.
I use to exercise a bit but still i missed out some times as my work timings was a great obstacle.
For the past few months im facing issues with my knee. I guess my graft is not completed absorbed by my bone. Today also i slightly twisted my knee as it was paining like hell. but gradually the pain reduced. still i have some feeling as the graft is slightly affected now. Any tips please would be greatly appreciated.

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Kris September 2, 2012 at 11:44 pm

Sujit,
If you have any doubt after twisting your knee, I would see the doctor.

Are you still in physical therapy? The healing of the knee from surgery is important, but so is the development of quad and other muscles to make the knee function properly.

If you are still having significant issues and you are not in PT anymore, I would look into further PT treatment. A good PT is invaluable, and they can keep a close eye on some of the little ‘quirks’ of the knee.

Sorry about your infection, that must have been a huge setback.

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sujit September 3, 2012 at 12:54 pm

yes really the infection was a hugh setback..
you are right i need more physical therapy becoz everytime when i play some kind of activity the knee can’t hold my whole body strength, it just gives away…..
kris can you suggest some strengthing exercise for my knee…

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Kris September 4, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Sujit,
I cannot suggest any exercises unfortunately. However, your knee should not be giving out post surgery. When do you see your doctor?

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Steven September 1, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Kris,

Glad to hear things went so well for you. Thus far I’m 12 days post-op and things have gone pretty good so far. Had the nerve block but even after it wore off I was pain free for about 5-6 days. However come days 7 and 8 I started getting a tremendous among of pressure in my shin when i stood up. I correctly assumed that is was being caused by the swelling in the knee reducing/draining to my lower leg. Reason why it was painful is that with a knee there is a area where the blood and swelling can accumulate. In your shin area there is zero space so it’s just all pressure in you shin. Fortunately that has since passed and the only complaint I have is the foam from the inside of my brace is starting to irritate the skin. Have had 3 pt sessions and they have got the knee to 90 and with my cpm machine I’m up to 85. Have an appt on Wednesday with the surgeon and I’m looking forward to the appt bc ive heard he will unlock the brace to about 20 degrees so I can sit with my leg not up anymore. Lastly I saw some early posts about a patella vs the hamstring graft and why one is used as opposed to another. I was told that the patella has two points in which they can grab some bone along with it. Whereas the hamstring only has one point where it is connected to the bone. So the patella should be a little stronger but what I’ve read and heard perhaps the front of the knee is sensitive for quite some time bc it takes a year to grow back. Well in any event I think your blog is great kris and you done a real good job of maintaining it. Keep up the nice work and I’ll be sure to be checking in on this blog to both learn and share.

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Kris September 2, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Steven,
It sounds like you are doing great. That blood rush pain was the hardest part of my first surgery. Luckily, I didn’t have that issue this time around.

Have you started physical therapy yet? It is amazing how fast you can progress with therapy. My PT was very good about working the leg himself, as opposed to my therapist first time around that mostly just threw me onto machines.

Don’t forget to ice!!!

I know people who have had great success with patella grafts too. Deep bending seemed to be there only residual issue. However, I don’t find I crouch deeply much anymore anyway since both my knees have been repaired.

Hope things continue to go so well, and thanks so much for your kind words!

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Steven September 3, 2012 at 11:27 am

Yes I started pt and the pt is doing most of the work himself thus far. No machines yet but I’m sure in the months to come it will be both.

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Rob September 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Hi, Kris . . .

Thanks for your blog. I found it this afternoon and found it to be really close to my own. It has also drawn a great response.

I am 43 and blew my ACL playing men’s league hockey last November. I waited a long time to make sure that I really wanted an ACL repair. I really resonated with your comment that you think your recovery has gone so well becasue you took the time to be as fit as possible. I have a great PT who helped my get the swelling down by using an ice machine. I have continued to see him twice a week since November in order to build the muscles surrounding my knees and especially those in my hips in order that my surgery would be successful. He too believes that ACL surgery is most successful when the surgeon gets to operate on a “quiet” knee.

I finally decided upon a hamstring graft and had the surgery this past Monday (5 days ago). The surgery went very well and I am in little pain. I had the nerve block in my leg, a very large needle inserted in my groin with the aid of ultrasound. I am glad I did. The worst part of the surgery so far was coming out of anesthesia. I was dizzy, nauseous, and uncommunicative for hours. I was prescribed Oxycodone which I took for about a day and half because surgeon insisted before abandoning it for Motrin. I too had to urinate every couple of hours for the first three days, which wasn’t fun on crutches, through the night, bandaged and in a full leg brace.

I am using the crutches, and the brace, but I took the dressing off on day three. I have been out shopping with the family at IKEA and Costco, places which offer wheelchairs, and I feel great. I expected to be in a lot more pain.

I am having some discomfort on my shin, when I stand up, but, like Steven, am still trying to get the swelling down. I can’t see my kneecap yet!

Thanks again for your blog. I appreciated your comments and the comments of those who have responded. Thank you and good luck to all.

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Steven September 2, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Rob – I hope it doesn’t happen to you but you are right around the time i started feeling shin pain. Don’t worry though it should only last through Tuesday, as for me, by Wednesday it finally started going away. But so far that shin pain was the worst part of the recovery. I’m exactly a week ahead of you as I got the surgery the Monday before so if you want to hear what your future is going to be 1 week out let me know.

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Rob September 3, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Hi, Steven . . .
Thank you for your response. My shin pain has continued in earnest since I lost wrote, and my calf is hurting as well. When I stand, there is a lot or pressure on both of them. To try and keep the swelling down, I am keeping my leg elevated and icing it regularly. It feels good when it is up. Did you do anything else? Did the pain just suddenly end? I am not as active this week as I was last, to be sure. Assuming my pain goes away this week, what can I expect next?

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Kris September 2, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Rob,
It sounds like you are doing great! That shin pain should settle down soon, but I know it hurts like heck.

Wasn’t getting up constantly to use the bathroom one of the worst parts of it all? All that preparation with the brace then the hobbling!

When does PT start? I bet you are going to have a great recovery given how in shape you were ahead of time!

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Rob September 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Hi, Kris . . .
As I mentioned to Steven, the shin pain is something of a setback, but I am not discouraged. I just want to do what I can at each stage to have the best recovery.

I see my surgeon on Friday for an assessment. He should clear me for physio; in fact, tomorrow, I am going to set my first appointments up for next week.

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Kris September 4, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Rob,
You will improve by leaps and bounds once PT starts.

I do not want to be an alarmist, but you have to be careful with calf pain after surgery. Is the calf swollen/red or hot? If it is or you have trouble supporting weight on that leg (outside the normal trouble you would have post knee surgery), you might want to be checked for a blood clot. Do ankle pumps while you leg is resting to keep the blood flowing in your leg.

I think my shin pain lasted a week or so.

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fabien zanchi September 17, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Just wondering. What do you call a quiet knee ?

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Stephen September 2, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Great article. I am 68 days post-op now. I go in on the 4th to be cleared to run. I’m really excited, but something is a little concerning. There are times that I fully extend the knee and when I go to bring it back up it seems like something is rolling over the knee. I have to then straighten it out and and do it again. My PTs don’t seem to worried about it so I should be ok. Did anything like that occur with you?
Thank you.

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Kris September 2, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Hi Stephen,
I do get the occasional odd feeling in my knee. As a matter of fact, it happened today while playing frisbee. I would just bring it up to the doctor when you see him/her in a couple of days. Maybe you just have a little swelling if you overdid it or something.

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Olivia September 3, 2012 at 9:35 am

Can’t thank you enough for this wonderful article! I am 15 and tore my ACL about two months ago now, I go in for surgery next week. It’s been an anxious build up to surgery as I have never experienced anything even remotely close to it before, I’m starting to get pretty scared about it although this article helped me heaps! It’s good to hear a positive ACL story! I’ve been doing heaps of physiotherapy and have built up my quad muscle quite strong again. I’m really hoping everything goes well and I recover as quickly as you did! Thank you again for taking the time to help others like me with your positive story and advise! :)

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Steven September 3, 2012 at 11:46 am

Oliva – how did you tear it? Also did the doctors check your growth plates? At 15 your bones may or may not still be at their full growth. They can run a test to be able to tell. Since the repair involves screwing the new ligament into your thigh bone and shin bone it can effect the growth plates in your bones. Perhaps you have already discussed this with the doctor but if not you should bring it up to see if the can run that test for you. Good luck with everything.

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Olivia September 4, 2012 at 2:54 am

Hi Steven, I tore it during a dance performance when landing from a jump that I had done about 100 times before. I’ve never had any knee problems before the tear so it was all very bazaar. I have spoken to my surgeon and there is no worries at all because I’m well past growth sperts and such, my growth won’t be stunted at all. Thanks for your concern though!! . I know a boy whose 7 that recently tore his! Feel for him a lot!

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Steven September 4, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Glad to hear the growth plates are fully mature. But I feel terrible for that boy you know. 7 is so young. Did he do it while playing soccer? What are they doing for him and is he restricted from lateral movement type sports or can they put a brace on it while playing?

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Olivia September 5, 2012 at 9:24 am

Sorry my mistake he’s actually 9, but even still that is very young and he still will have a lot of growing to do. I’m not entirely sure about what
Is going on with it at the moment because I don’t know him that well, he’s a son of my mums friend! I do know it did it playing footy though!

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Kris September 4, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Olivia,
I know many teens that have had very successful ACL surgeries As a matter of fact, a friend of mine has a daughter that is going to play college soccer a year after having her ACL reconstructed. You have youth on your side!

You are doing all the right things to ensure success. Just be careful after surgery and make sure you do lots of icing!!

Please let us know how it goes. Great luck!

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Olivia September 5, 2012 at 9:27 am

Thank you for your kind and encouraging words Kris! Can’t tell you how much it helps to hear such positive things like that! I will definitely be sure to let you know how my operation goes! Thanks again!

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Olivia September 16, 2012 at 10:51 am

Hi Kris! Its been six days since my op and everything went really well! Majority of the whole hospital experience is a blur and the first couple of days are too. It’s like nothing I’ve expected I can’t tell whether I’m just really good with pain or the pain killers that I’ve hardly taken are working wonders but the only time I’ve found myself in extreme pain was the first morning home. I don’t know if this is normal but I actually started walking without my crutches about Three days after the op, no where far just around the house but I haven’t really needed them? My only concerns is that a patch under my knee is completely numb and I’m not sure if that’s normal or not? The physio I saw me the morning after in the hospital and Said I was doing really well, better than most but I’m just so confused because I thought I wasn’t going to be able to walk for weeks post op let alone days!

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Kris September 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Olivia, you are making great progress! I used my crutches around the house for a bit just for security, but still put a lot of weight on the bad leg.

I still have a patch om my shin that is pretty numb/tingly and I hate it. However, it was worth it to get a stable leg. Mention it to your doctor at your follow up though, I kept forgetting to.

Thanks for letting us know how it went, and good luck in therapy!

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monika September 8, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Hi Olivia,
I just had my acl reconstruction sept 4th and was scared myself but everything went good and it will for you. If you have any questions feel free to email me at mchlebek@charchitect.com. by the way this is my second knee surgery. As long as you have trust in your surgeon, he is an expert and he has done thousands of these surgeries.

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Olivia September 10, 2012 at 3:53 am

Hi Monika! Thank you for your positive feedback! Like I said to Kris before I feel so much better when I hear positive things like this! I go in tomorrow, still pretty nervous as anyone would be but definitely feel better about it! I’ll let you know how everything goes and definitely email you if I need any further advice! :)

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monika September 8, 2012 at 7:24 pm

I am so glad I found your post. I had an acl reconstruction 3 days ago and your post will help me figure out what I. Can expect in my recovery. Six months ago I had my meniscus scraped arthroscopically but they didn’t perform the acl reco at that time. Wish they did cause I had to go through physical therapy for months and once again endure a surgery. I chose to do it because it wwas giving my knee such instability I was afraid that my knee would slide out forward. I ski and play tennis and overall am very active so doing this was a must for me. I do hope to resume my sport activities in the spring. With adequate pt program and musccle strenghtening I should be ok. Anyone a skier that had an acl reconstruction and is back at it? I would love to hear from you. Thanks for all the helpful info

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Kris September 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Monika, I am not a skier, but I had no problems going back to tennis.

I went through the meniscus fix and then acl surgery later the first time around. It was a pain, but having the meniscus repaired helped me get my knee in better shape to recover from ACL surgery. So, it did work out.

I really think you will be glad you went through this. Skiing without an ACL can be pretty risky. Did they give you a brace of any kind to wear after you have recovered?

Feel good!

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monika September 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Hi Kris,
Yes its been now four days since my surgery and I do have a brace to keep my leg from bending. Its a pain but anything to get better :) I do play tennis too and after my meniscus scope I played but was very carefull. I did ski once or twice after my injury but before any of my surgeries but mentally I was terrified. Any good pointers for getting your legs nice and strong to prevent future tears? Thanks

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prasanta karmakar September 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm

i am reading this on the eleventh day of post operative day.my doctor not advice me for a brace but a crutcher ofcourse.the recovery is quite matching.but one question is still in my mind,when shall i able to full band my knee?and able to use a indian toilet.

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nobs September 12, 2012 at 12:52 am

Hi Prasanta,
Many here may not understand your question, hence my reply.
To use an Indian style toilet, you need full flexion of your knee and some strength in your quadriceps. For me, it took nearly 10 weeks to squat down all the way. So you can also expect similar timelines.
Almost every doctor recoments brace for the first 3 weeks after surgery. I had a stiff brace for a week and flexible brace for the next 3 weeks. I thought it was safer to be in a brace till you regain some muscles. Please ask your doctor. In my dicharge summery, doctor did not mention about icing-but when I asked him, he said it is helpgul if I am able to do it.

Please feel free to write to me-I did my surgery in Bangalore 5 months back

Nobs…

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Kris September 14, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Thank you for responding, because I had no idea how to answer that question! :)

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bansidhe September 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Hi

Interesting post I’d say. I am exactly 3 weeks postop. I dont really need any pain meds anymore but am taking Advil to try and keep inflammation down a bit. My flexion is probably about 100-110 and my extension is probably < 0. I can also do complete revolutions on the bike with no problem whatsoever. Swelling is prety minimal except near incisions. There is a nice lump on my shin.

The most pain I had and actually still have is on my shin where the incision is. It's so limiting that while standing and trying to bring my heel towards my butt I can barely lift it 6inches off the ground. When I try to bring my heel up, I feel intense pulling and burning at the incision. While doing heel slides and the like I tend to improve flexion as I continue to do them, but with this the pain gets worse with each rep. SO by the time I have gotten to ten, I have to stop.

I've mentioned this at PT and even the DR but noone has said much of anything. I tend to think they don't understand how bad this actually is. Have you or anyone else experienced such a thing?

thanks

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Kris September 11, 2012 at 9:51 pm

I am sorry, but I have not heard much about severe incision pain like you are experiencing. Has the scar healed nicely?

One thing that my PT did was massaged my incision site to break up any scar tissue. Is there any chance scar tissue is causing your pain? The massage would hurt a little, but it always felt better afterward. Just a though (but I am not a doctor). Maybe you could run this by your therapist when you are there?

Good luck!!

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bansidhe September 19, 2012 at 9:50 am

Hi,

Thanks for your response. My incision is beautiful, a very thin line. I did notice after I took of the ace bandage than below the incision my shin was really banged up.. it looked burned actually. The sensation was very much like a burning in fact.

Now, 4 weeks postop, I still have discomfort there but it is getting better. I can bring my heel up a bit more now. I feel pulling on the shin but the pain is reducing. What burns now actually is a tendon.. I think the a hamstring tendon.. When I place my hand back there all I feel is this tendon and no “meat” around it. Kind of weird. I did not have an autograft so I am not sure why I am having this. Is this normal?

Thanks for all you input. It helps to “talk” to thers and find out if your experiences are typical or not.

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Rich September 11, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Absolutely great post. I found out last week I completely tore my left ACL playing baseball (I will never forget the “popping” sound). I have a follow up appointment with my ortho surgeon tomorrow to discuss timing and options; they told me to wait about 6 weeks after the injury to have surgery. I just turned 40 and am very active so I hope things go as well as they did for you. I appreciate the information and will be checking back in.

What would you say was the toughest part of the process?

Thanks!!!!

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Kris September 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm

For me, the toughest part was the first couple days after surgery where I had to get up to use the bathroom constantly and had to put the brace on, get out the crutches, and hobble to the bathroom. I had a femoral block, so my leg was kinda dead the first day, so just getting around was tough. Life was so much better after my first shower, that is for sure.

Sleeping was another challenge, especially since I tend to sleepwalk. I was scared I would just get up on my leg in my sleep. I slept downstairs where I could sit up a little and prop my leg better.

Stairs were difficult at first too. I would look my arm through my crutches, turn around and sit, and use my one good leg and arms to go backwards up the stairs. I also sat on the way down too. Stuck my leg out, sat down, and kind of shimmied down the stairs, one step at a time, using my arms and one good leg.

You won’t believe how quickly your leg starts to improve, honestly. That is assuming you do the right things- take it easy and make sure you ice, a lot!

Great luck to you!!!

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Rich October 1, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Just an update….three weeks from tearing my left ACL I suffered blood clots or DVT (deep vein thrombosis) in my left calf so my surgery is on hold for at least 3 months (more likely 6). I started to experience intense pain in my calf and it got worse over the next few days until I went in for an ultrasound which foundthe clots. Good thing they were found early or I risked even further complications. Just finished up Levenox shots (2x day) to the abdomen and am now on a daily dose of “blood thinners”.

By the way I’m only 40 and in great health otherwise and play baseball 3x week for 6-7 months a year…..so don’t ignore the warning signs!

Wish everyone luck in their recovery!

Rich

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Kris October 2, 2012 at 9:42 am

Rich- so your blood clots developed from the injury itself? I can see why they want to wait on surgery since you are on blood thinners. I am just sorry you have to go through all of this.

People tend to think that blood clots only happen in the elderly and/or overweight. However blood clots do not discriminate. I was concerned about them myself and so I did a lot of ankle pumps and I also think the compression therapy that my ice machine probably helped too.

Good luck to you, and thanks for the information.

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Rich October 8, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Thanks Kris. The clots were a direct result if the ACL tear; I guess they happen in <1% of people…..lucky me!! Today was the first day I actually walked without a limp since the accident. Off to see the surgeon Wednesday to figure out the next phase in this drama .

Take care
Rich

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Symbol September 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Hi Kris,

Just an update. PT is going well and is three times a week for 2 1/2 hours….one hour fifteen mins in the pool and then the rest at the gym and icing. My flexion is 125 when the therapist works with it. On my own it is 118. Still quite a way to go..goal is 135 or better. I was wondering though if I could flex or bend the knee 125 or 135 myself versus the therapist. I am able to bike a full revolution on the recumbent bike as well as able to walk on the treadmill. Although my knee is still stiff and have to get moving or do heel slides so I can get moving in the morning. At night I feel like the gets even stiffer and notice it when I try to lie down on my side. I had a meniscus scope done to clear up the scar tissue..feels like this week that area is little aggravated and hurts when I massage it. Will have to run it by my therapist. Swelling is down and I got rid of the crutches last week. It has been 6 weeks after surgery and there is still some swelling which seems to come on and off. Some days are better than others. I am glad things are moving in the right direction and am getting stronger daily. Love your website and all the info. Thanks S

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kim September 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Hi Kris,

Had bad injury in June 2012 when a horse kicked me. Lost my ACL, have torn meniscus and tibia fracture. Now facture is healed but the knee doesn’t feel right. Wondering if I am too old to have my ACL repaired? I am fifty and don’t want to give up riding horses. My daily activities have not been the same since the injury.

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Kris September 17, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Way back when, they did not repair ACLs on people over forty. However that is no longer the case.

I was 44 when I had mine, and the doctor didn’t blink an eye at my age. When I was in physical therapy, there were a couple ACL patients in their fifties. I recovered great and am thrilled I went through with the surgery.

It doesn’t hurt to explore your options. Find the best surgeon you can because that and thherapy makes a world of difference. The first week after surgery is a definite bummer, but things improve dramatically after that.

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monika September 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Anyone experienced blood clots after acl surgery? I just had an ultrasound that showed I have one. I am freaking out!

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Kris September 17, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Monika,
Was this found as follow up to the swollen ankle? Were you having blood clot symptoms? Is it in the calf? How are you doing? What is their course of treatment?

I have not had a blood clot. Perhaps someone will chime in with their experience. Good luck!

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Rich October 23, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Hi Monika

I actually got 2 clots two weeks after tearing my ACL but before surgery. I was really freeked out like you. The first few weeks were really though especially as they put me on injectable blood thinners right away. Once you get your INR under control it becomes alot easier as long as the clots stay out of your main arteries ( which mine did ). Plan on being on the blood thinners for at least 3 months. I wish you luck

Rich

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Michael Br September 17, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Hey man!

Im 16 and I tore my ACL playing rugby 4 years ago!
I just had my surgery 5 days ago And I’m glad I got it done but I’m hating the sleep because of the full length Brace!

Thanks for posting this because I know what’s goin to happen in the future.

When did you take of the brace? I really want to get it off.

Cheers!!

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Kris September 17, 2012 at 9:40 pm

The brace removal is up to the doctor usually, so I cannot answer that one. Some doctors want people to sleep in the brace a certain amount of time- each doctor seems to have their own protocol. I slept with my brace on for 3 weeks. Even without the brace, sleep was not very easy.

I know this is hard to believe, but time will pass quicker than you think. The first week is the hardest for sure.

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Michael Br September 17, 2012 at 10:28 pm

3 weeks! That’s a long time.

Did you raise your leg with a cushion or anything while sleeping?

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Kris September 17, 2012 at 10:44 pm

I slept on my back, on the couch, with my foot/lower leg on a pillow.

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Bogut September 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I have enjoyed reading and posting on these ACL-related blogs from the moment I found out that I tore my ACL earlier this year.

After 5 months of aggressive rehab, (going to the gym or exercising 6-8 times a week) I received my surgeon’s and PT’s medical release but I’m still a good 3 months away from going 100% on the soccer field, hockey rink and basketball court again.

About 1-2 weeks after surgery, I thought I’d never get to where I am today. Looking at all of the posts from you all about how the first few weeks are a struggle, I know your struggle. Those first 5-6 days sitting at home were not fun but all I did was do my quad sets, heel slides and ankle pumps. Those initial days are crucial to your overall recovery. But never look back, keep pushing yourself, do what your PT tells you and things will turn out better than you expect.

Good luck to all of you going through your rehab – after a significant knee injury, you’ll always be in rehab to prevent it from happening again. I consider myself part of an elite fraternity of “normal everyday people” who suffer this injury and fight through it to get back to the things that I enjoy.

Bogut

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Dwayne September 18, 2012 at 10:42 pm

I had surgery 6 days ago to replace my ACL and repair 2 meniscus tears. Just today I started experiencing EXTREME in my calf and heel. It feels like a million kneedles stabbing me. I’m rubbing so hard and itching so hard I’m going to start bleeding. It is also very purple and bruised. I called the doctor earlier. I met with a nurse who didn’t like the amount of bruising and swelling so she sent me to the hospital for an ultra-sound. No blood clots were discovered so she scheduled me to see the doctor on Thursday. She told me to try using heat instead of ice to help the bruising but recommended nothing for the itching.

Have you experienced itching and or do you have any advice to help or stop the itching? My wife just gave me a Clariten because we don’t know what else to do.

Thanks

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Kris September 18, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Dwayne, I wish I had some advice for you! If you are miserable, I might consider going back to get it looked at again instead of waiting until Thursday. I had itching, but I had a big rash and it was not caused by a bruise/injury. (Instead it was a reaction to the ace-wrap I used. I had to take a steroid to get relief.) I am guessing the pins/needles is caused by the swelling, but no idea about the itching.

Please stop back by and let us know how you are doing. Always err on the side of caution.

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Jennifer September 18, 2012 at 10:52 pm

I live in NY and winter is quite icy and cold here. I wonder if it is wise to do acl surgery in mid-Oct (followed bt the long period of rehab). I don’t have pain and not in a rush to have it done. Should I wait till the weather is warmer and snow free to have the surgery? Thanks in advance.

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Kris September 18, 2012 at 11:37 pm

I am not a doctor, so I can’t provide medical advice. However, I will say that I had my surgery in Michigan in January. Yes, it was dicey getting around some. There are pros and cons to waiting. If you end up slipping on the ice without an ACL, you could do a lot more damage too. Do you have a good support network of people that can drive you and help out?

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Jennifer September 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Thank you, Kris. Good point you made. I just saw a doc at HSS and schedule a surgery on Oct 5th. She recommended a donor graph for people over age of 40 because the success rate is the same regardless of type of graph (pretty interesting!). I am nervous about the surgery but reading your posting is comforting. Thanks a million,,

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Monica September 24, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I tore my ACL In a car accident my knee hit the door and I also tighten up cause I seen the at coming. Im sopose to have surgery cause the doctor said my knee is unstable and cause of my job I have to pivot. Has any one had their ankle hurt when ever they are on their leg to much and it swells up to?

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Kris September 28, 2012 at 6:42 pm

I would discuss these issues with an orthopedist. Injuries can also cause blood clots, so better to be safe and have the swelling evaluated.

Good luck!

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Bogut September 26, 2012 at 11:43 am

Monica, I am not a doctor, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Sure, standing for long periods of time can cause aches, pains and even swelling in your hip, knee and/or ankle joints. It’s a condition referred to as reactive arthritis or “Reiter’s Syndrome”.

It is caused by an infection (it can be a number of different types of infections, including STDs but also different bacterial and parasitic infections). The infection often clears up and then the arthritis shows up afterwards, anywhere from weeks to months later. Urinary frequency or pain is also a common symptom, if you’re experiencing that at all.

I would see a rheumatologist and tell them about your symptoms – they should be able to provide you with more information. You could also be a candidate for having your knee drained and/or having a cortisone or steroid injection, but you cannot repeatedly do this as it can harm the joint.

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Justine September 28, 2012 at 10:01 pm

I had acl reconstructive surgey about almost four months ago and go to PT three days a week. I work really hard and my doctor says its turning out very very good, but sometimes I feel like its stiff when I it down or have it bent for a long period of time, do you think that’s normal? And I have full ROM but I feel like I can’t get it out as straight as my other one

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Kris September 30, 2012 at 10:24 pm

I am 8 months out and my knee is still stiff if I sit too long.

Are you building muscle well in that leg? Your PT/doctor can best tell if you have full extension. From what I have heard (I am not a doctor), if you don’t have full extension, it is harder to build up the quad muscle. If your muscles are developing well and your PT is happy, then I am guessing you are doing great.

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Justine September 30, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Yeah my leg is is building muscle really well my PT said most people wouldn’t be able to do the things I am doing and I’m still not doing as much as I could before but it’s probably 85-90% compared to my other leg

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Nobs October 1, 2012 at 1:04 am

Hi Kris,
I am 6 months after my left knee re-construction (BTB). I did intenssive PT for 3 months, acheived full range of motion and reasonable strength, then went easy with regular walking cycling & swimming stuff for next 3 months. Now I am back on intenssive rehabilitation with sports specific goals on mind(I play badminton and want to hit courts after two months if everything goes well).
One question I have is on leg extention. I keep hearing contradictory statements about this. My doctor is asking me to do it with weights-but many others are telling, it can bring damage to the new ligment? What is your experiance?
Thanks,
Nobs

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Kris October 2, 2012 at 9:38 am

Nobs, I cannot provide a professional opinion on leg extension and weights. However, I attained full extension without weights no problem both times I had surgery.

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Bogut October 2, 2012 at 11:42 am

I too have heard conflicting thoughts on performing leg extension exercises. My PT did not say “No”, but recommended to stay away from them until you’re 5-6 months into rehab and maybe re-introduce the exercise with light weights.

He (and many others) stressed that there are several other leg exercises that build muscle much better than leg extensions: Squat, Leg Press, Hack Squat, Dead Lift and Lunges. These exercises affect more of the muscle and build core strength and balance much better than leg extensions.

I do, however, put a small amount of weight on the leg extension machine (20-40 pounds) and do quad sets by extending my legs out and holding that position for 60 seconds. After 3 repetitions of that, you’ll feel it!

My recommendation to you is to hit the squats, leg press and lunges (both forward and lateral ones). Also I’d strongly recommend doing agility drills like box jumps, hopping (including single leg jumps/hops), sprints, M-runs, H-runs and Figure 8 runs. Do a Google search on those and you’ll find a lot of useful information.

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Brian October 2, 2012 at 11:55 am

I am having two knee surgeries. The first one is to clean/repair my meniscus and take out the screws from my first ACL surgery (surgery was done in 2000 using a hamstring graft). The second surgery will happen in late December and this will be to reconstruct my ACL using my patellar tendon this time. The reason he cannot do both surgeries in one sitting is because he has to let the holes (from removing the screws from my first ACL surgery) fill back in with bone. The first surgery is this Friday, Oct. 5.

I was told by my orthopedic surgeon that this is a unique scenario. Has anyone personally had to experience this or know of anyone that did? Any help/info would be greatly appreciated. Also, I’m 29 and very active running, tennis, working out, and golf…well I used to be ha.

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Steven October 3, 2012 at 12:14 am

Brian – did you tear your hamstring acl graft and that is the reason for the surgery?

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Brian October 4, 2012 at 10:55 am

Yes I did. However, it didn’t hurt as much when I initially tore it in 2001. It was painful, but the pain didn’t last long and it never really swelled up. But the MRI revealed a tear. My ortho said it my old graft could have never really fully developed and my strenuous physical activities finally caught up to me.

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Steven October 4, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Well it sounds like it makes sense but hopefully someone on here has had the same knee done twice and can offer an opinion based on experience. How did u tear it? Playing a sport?

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Jacqui October 4, 2012 at 10:53 am

thank you. I tore my ACL, MCL and meniscus. My surgery is scheduled for 10/17. This post was very helpful!

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ACL Mom October 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Jacqui,

I hope you are doing well today! One day after your surgery! What kind of graft did you have? My daughter also has a complete tear of her MCL and ACL. Her surgery is scheduled for the 29th. Let us know how you’re doing (when you’re feeling up to it, of course!)

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STAPS October 6, 2012 at 10:28 am

Hey Kris, I tore my ACL and have a partial meniscus tear as well in my left knee during a soccer game playing keeper 4 years ago. My friend hooked me up with an MRI exam 2 months ago and that’s how i found out about this. For the last 4 years, i’ve had 4 incidents where my knee gave out and took 3-5 days to come back to its senses. I stopped playing competitive soccer(4 years ago post-acl tear) and only play occasional outdoor ice hockey, i often go jogging and used to be a part time mover as well (within the last couple of years).
Obviously, the moving job wasn’t the greatest idea, seeing how 2 of the 4 incidents where my knee gave out were because of climbing up and down staircases with heavy things. But i find that on a positive note, it actually helped build great muscle strenght around the knee.

I’m due for the surgery in a month and i’m in that cold feet stage where i’m thinking 2 things:
1) i don’t feel pain on a regular basis, i have a feeling that i built myself a strong left knee and i’m able to do some physycial sports and cardio. But i’m worried that if i do the surgery, things might get worse.I don’t want to feel vulnerable. I fear that the surgery might change everything

2) on the other hand, if i don’t get the surgery, maybe presently i feel fine at 30 years old, but what happens in 10 years from now? Will i still be able to play sports? run and jog? be active? Its such a hard decision when you don’t know if this will change the whole direction of your life.

things to consider about me: Type 2 Diabetic taking medication

Kris, your recovery story is very motivating and inspirational and convinces me to do the surgery but i’m still having second thoughts…

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Steven October 7, 2012 at 10:28 pm

One can function without an acl but it is more difficult to do sports with lateral movement and physical activities in general. Being that you are still young without an acl you are subjecting your knee to wear and tear and therefore cartilage and meniscus damage because with an acl it prevents that unnecessary rubbing of your joints and bones on the aforementioned cushioning agents in your knee. Thus early onset of arthritis can kick in. Additionally with each episode of your knee buckling your are risking tearing your mcl, pcl in addition to more damage to cartilage and meniscus. If you don’t plan on being too active with sports or lateral exercises and don’t have a job that requires you to be on your feet then it would be ok o onsider not getting it done. But chances are because of your young age you will be physically active and doing things throughout your life that will make it easier and safer to do with a new acl. Recovery is 6 months but that isn’t a lot when you compare it to having a healthy knee for the rst of your life. I’m 38 and tore it over the summer playing flag football. I did it bc of my young age and to reduce the chances of having problems with my knee later in life. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to play football again but bc I have kids and they are active and I plan on being somewhat active I decided to get it done. Additionally I didn’t want to have to worry about my knee in the future had I not got it done if a pick up basketball game started at a summer BBQ or a volleyball game at the beach or touch football with the kids etc….. I’m 6 weeks post opp and it’s still stiff and I’m walking around with a limp, I get better and better by the week and look forward to the day where I can not even think about it. I got opinions of many doctors and phyiscial therapists and all but one said to get it done. Got a few opinions if you can. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can and you will do what you feel is best for you in the end based on all of the info you gather while discussing your situations with professionals that deal with this on a frequent basis. Good luck with your decision.

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bansidhe October 8, 2012 at 8:21 am

Hi, I thought I would chime in. I tore my ACL in June2012. I saw two doctors. Even though I am 50yrs old, Each suggested I get the ACLr with the reason being I am an active person.

Like you, I also entertained the idea of not having it done. After all, I was walking fine and was not in any pain. However, despite having fairly strong quads, hips, etc, every now and then my knee would buckle a little. With that instability I knew I could not return to doing the things I really love let alone the real possibility of doing more damage to my knee.

So here I am 7weeks post op and am walking almost limp free. I can actually see my muscle tone returning. This make me want to work even harder. Sure,the first week was rough, I cannot deny, but every week it does get better. I know 9-12 months seems like along time to get back to 100%, but if you focus on the PT, I mean focus both mentally and physically, the time will go by more quickly than you can imagine.

I still have a long way to go, but at the moment I am glad I did it.

Good Luck!

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kim October 8, 2012 at 8:26 am

Thanks for the chime in! I too, am 50 years young. It seems like there is alot of focus on age and I was told by my surgeon, activity should be considered stronger than age. Although 50 years old, I competitively jump horses. I am having my ACL done soon and am happy to hear “old “folks do well too! Thanks for the encouragement and best wishes

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bansidhe October 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Hi Kim,

I think I am doing pretty well… After a 5weeks I walked (with my brace on as dr said I had to wear it outside of the house for first 6 weeks), I walked over two miles.
Not fast mind you and I was mindful of what I was doing, but I did it. The only thing I felt was extra tightness around the patellar tendon. (I had allograft so patella tendon was not affected directly by surgery). But I had no pain, no excessive fatigue.

My biggest advice, which is based on my relatively newbie experience, is to
mentally focuss on your PT. That is, don’t just mindlessly go through it. Focus on every move, which muscles you want to work, etc. I honestly think that helps.

Also, at 7 weeks, I am starting to see my VMO. This was tough to do… I think the biggest thing that helped me with that was doing leg presses, I focussed on the part of the extension where I felt my VMO work the most. I keep my hand on it to feel it work. Then after I was sure my knee could handle it, for the last 10 reps at that critical VMO firing position, I would do most of the work with my surgical knee. I do everything slowly and deliberately…

Since you are an athlete you should be pretty familiar with good and bad pain…
You’ll need that here. There will be all sorts of discomfort.. some of it you want. Some of it you don’t.

I hope you have a great experience with this. Or at least as great as it can be considering! :-)

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Suzanne Q October 8, 2012 at 11:07 am

Thanks for your blog! Very helpful to read everyone’s comments. I had a full ACL tear, and 9 months later had surgery. I am post op day 3. Ice machine has been worth every penny, though having someone fill it up for me every 2 hours is a part time job.
Questions: 1)I was not advised about wearing a brace post op though I have two of them…the full leg fabric one with Velcro straps, and also the $1300 knee brace that I wore before surgery. What ‘brace’ are you referring to in your blog that you wore for 3 weeks, when walking with crutches? Are you suppose to wear a brace when walking with crutches or are you suppose to bend your knee and practice that?
2) I read that using the cryo cuff at all times…so I have had it on 24/7 for 4 days now (on low setting) and no swelling at all. How long does on use the icing machine for (#days)
3) it was my left leg and I drive an automatic truck…when do you think I could drive?
4) how long until able to walk without crutches is typical? I am 40 y.o female in good shape.
5) I understand that days 1-6 that lying down as much as possible except to go to the bathroom, and try to weight bear. it is week 2 that doing lots more movement, weight bearing, and more intense ROM exercises is required. Does this sound correct?

Thanks for any advice…much appreciated!

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bansidhe October 8, 2012 at 11:55 am

Hi,
I am 7 weeks post op. The first two weeks are the toughest…
Here are my thoughts…
Everything I say is of course subject to your doctors advice…

1) I woke up in a full brace locked at 0zeros. I had to wear this non stop (except when on CPM machine). When walking about I set it to 90 degrees but when laying around, it was set to 0. After I saw my doc (at day 10), he said around the house I did not need to wear it but to wear it outside. The fear was someone running into me, me taking a misstep.. silly things that happen to anyone but something you do not want to happen when you are nursing your knee. I was walking withouth crutches within a week. That was more for security than anything. It never really hurt to put weight on it.

3) You should be able to drive very soon. I have a stick and did my left leg and was driving once my doc said it was ok at the ten day visit. I could have pulled it off earlier but
I am really being cautious here. As long as you are not on narcotic pain meds, you should be good to drive as soon as comfortable. (getting in and out of a car can be a challenge those first few days)

4)I started walking without crutches in about a week… You really have to pay close attention to your body. I went from walker, to two crutches, to one crutch , to none.
Incremental steps….

5)i dd nothing for about 3-4 days except for get off couch to do CPM and to use the bathroom. I found such inactivity to be incrediblt difficult.. my back started to ache and all…
id stay in bed or on couch s much as possible just to rest. Work on contracting your muscles.. make sure you can feel the contraction… doesnt have to be hard.. just work on having your brain send the signal and your lef responds..

after a few days, start hobbling around… believe me too much inactivity is not going to do you any favors. But again, ask your doctor and listen to your body!

Good luck!

2)People love the cryo cuff… I never really needed it all that much. I used it for a bit but it became more of a nuisance to me. I did try and ice about 3-4 times a day though. I never had that much swelling. Of course the first week I had my leg wrapped. Once I took that off it did the swelling was more noticeable bit but nothing outrageous.

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Suzanne Q October 8, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Can someone post a photo of their ‘brace’ or explain it to me better what kind of brace that they are wearing post- op? I have two braces…one full leg that keeps my leg completely straight, and another super expensive brace that has hinges and moves with my leg (Ossur…paid $1300) Which brace are people wearing post op with or without crutches? Do you wear (and which type) to bed, out in public? Thanks. I am asking as got no instructions about this piece from MD or physio. Thx!!

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Steven October 11, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Suzanne – my brace was on me right after the surgery. It fit from ankle to upper mid thigh. It had 6 Velcro straps that went left to right. 3 over the knee and 3 under the knee. Around the knee area there are locks on the side that let you bend your knee at various Degrees However I was in the locked position at zero degrees for 2.5 weeks post surgery. Using crutches but as time went by used them basically as a guide. Was told i could put weight on it even with the crutches for as much as I could. Week 3 got rid of the crutches but walked with the brace locked for a week. Start of week 4 still wore brace but it was unlocked while sitting and walking. By now brace is long gone and I’m walking with slight limp. Had surgery 8/20. In any event a lot of doctors want you to keep your leg straight in the beginning so it doesn’t heal with a slight bend which could happen with the build up of scar tissue in the back of your knee. However if you read this entire blog I recall some others saying they didn’t have a brace at all either. Since we are all just patients on this site we aren’t in a position to advise but just post our experiences. My best advice is to try and get some other opinions from other orthopedic doctors and physical therapists to see if you should be wearing a brace.

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bansidhe October 12, 2012 at 8:29 am

Steven, I had surgery on 8/20, too! It’s nice to hear from someone who is at the same point post-op!

Suzanne:
I had a brace just like Steven’s from the sound of it. I had to wear that brace locked at 0, except for when I was moving around, then it was put to 90. The first few days I didn;t move around much at all. The brace is an expensive piece of equipment!

Anyway, after I saw the doctor 10 days post-op, he said I did not need the brace around the house and did not need it to sleep either. (Thank goodness!!!) I did, however, wear it outside for a total of 6weeks set at 100 degrees flexion. When I saw my dr 6weeks post op, my flexion was 140 and I was told I did not need to wear the brace. (I do when I walk my dogs in the dark wear one of those over the counter braces for a little extra support.)

Now all I had was an ACL tear and a slight bone bruise so they did some ‘smoothing’ for that. I did not have any meniscus damage. I mention this because from what I have seen the post-surgery protocols and timelines might be slightly different when ‘extra’ work is done on the knee.

Good Luck!

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Kris October 19, 2012 at 9:27 am

You are so right, protocols seem to vary all over the place. I wore my brace longer for sleeping and getting around the house than you, but ditched it sooner overall. I am guessing there is no ‘right’ protocol for everyone. I will say though I cringe when I read that some people didn’t wear a brace at all.

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ACL Mom October 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm

My daughter completely tore her MCL (Grade 3) and her ACL last month during a soccer game. We are waiting for the MCL to heal enough and get some strength and range of motion back before doctor will do the ACL surgery. It’s already been 4-1/2 weeks since her injury and we’re hoping surgery can be done by the end of this month. She’s been in a full leg brace and icing a couple times a day. Has also been going to p/t twice a week and doing some exercises at home. The really difficult part is that she’s doing all this, only to get surgery and start right back at square one! Trying to keep everyone positive though and this blog is very helpful! Thanks for sharing your stories!

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Charles October 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm

ACL Mom – I was in the exact situation as your daughter. I had the surgery to replace the ACL 6 months ago. I had the surgery 8 weeks after getting hurt.

After 5 months, I was cleared to return to sports and did so gradually and I’m still going at about 75% and plan to get to 100% by 1/1/2013.

If your daughter follows rehab and pushes herself, she will bounce right back. The first weeks are difficult but you’ll see progress every day. Concentrate on the quad sets and heel slides religiously immediately after surgery and for the first 2 weeks. When she’s able to, she’ll need to work on building her quads using squats, the hip sled, dead lift, etc. After 4-5 months, she should already have been running for a while. Make sure to work on agility and plyometric exercises. Box jumping, jump rope, hopping, skipping, M-runs, X-runs, ladder sprints and regular sprints.

I’ve been there and done that. Lots and lots of sweat, being frustrated on the slow recovery timeline, muscle soreness, emotional soreness and now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I can feel it.

Best of luck, and keep in mind that there are thousands and thousands of people who are going through this every day. It is up to her if she wants to be in the group of people who work hard and get past this unfortunate chapter in her life.

Good luck!

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bansidhe October 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm

ACL MOM:

Wow a completely torn MCL.. When I tore my ACL I had just a mild MCL sprain.. and I swear that hurt more the days and weeks after than the dang ACL.

Yes, it will feel like starting at square one.. actually it may feel worse than that because by the time she has surgery she’ll probably be starting to feel somewhat better only to have surgery and feel not so great the first few weeks. Be prepared for that. I personally think getting mentally prepared for what lies ahead will help more than the physical. That is not to say the physical is not important, but if you’re head isn’t in the game…

You get the idea. Anyway, coming back after surgery will be all about getting range of motion, strength, and coordination back. They all leave pretty darn fast. But if she works hard, she’ll be able to do it. As mentioned, lots of people go through this every day.
It is doable!

Good Luck to her and to you.

bansidhe

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ACL Mom October 11, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Thanks Charles and bansidhe. We found out yesterday she will have surgery 10/29, which is almost 8 weeks after the injury, just like yours Charles! She is still swollen and not quite at 120 degrees yet which is what the doc wants her at before surgery. That mcl tear is an awful one to come back from! I’m sure she will get there — she’s SOO anxious to get the surgery over with and start rehabbing again, once and for all! Thanks for all the post op exercise advice. I’m going to keep that timeline handy. There’s a sports rehab place here that actually has what they call an ACL Bridge program, designed for athletes who have had the surgery and want to return to sports. I will look into that as well. I didn’t mention she tore her meniscus in 2011 (soccer!) and had surgery on that as well. Same knee…Can I ask how long you were all in the full leg brace? And crutches? She’s already been in the brace since 9/10 so getting used to it – but hates it none the less! Thanks again for posting!!

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Kris October 19, 2012 at 9:31 am

ACL Mom, I cannot emphasize enough how vast the difference in recovery there is based on the physical therapy protocol. My therapist the second time around was so much better than the first, and I think that contributed greatly to my recovery. It wasn’t just exercises, he also massaged to work out the scar tissue too, and to loosen up the hamstring/quad muscles. Recovery isn’t just about the knee, but all the supporting muscles as well.

I was allowed to weight bear immediately in my brace, but used the crutches for support.

Best of luck for her surgery!!!

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ACL Mom October 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Kris, your blog is invaluable and as you can see there are MANY of us trying to figure out how to get through this surgery and rehab! I can see the value of the massage for scar tissue, as my daughter seems to be building scar tissue even before the surgery – I’m guess due to the healing of the MCL (complete Grade 3 tear) She will not be as strong as others have been before going for the ACL reconstruction. It worries me some but the doctor says the ACL recon will provide an “inner brace” so to speak for the MCL to continue healing right along with the healing of the ACL. Again, thanks for your comments!

Surgery is a week from today (the 29th!) I must say I am pretty nervous about being on nursing duty and providing my daughter post op care! I guess the important thing is to manage her pain and do as the doctor says. She goes back the day after surgery and he is going to take x-rays. I hadn’t heard of that being done….. but I totally trust this doc so we do what he says!

I hope you continue to do well – sounds like you are!

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Kris October 24, 2012 at 10:01 am

ACL Mom, do not stress about being a caregiver, she is going to do great. Actually, the first time I had surgery, I had a four year old at home and also a 6 and 8 year old (at school, so gone most of the day). Of course, she has the MCL issue, and the first time around, I had sprained my MCL and tore 2 menisci. (sp??) The MCL was very painful just as a sprain, so I am sure she is in much more pain than I was.

Again, for what it is worth, my knee was a mess before surgery the first time, and I came through with flying colors. Limited flexion and extension, but some strength. (Had presurgery therapy, but it could only get me so far given the damage inside my knee. Again, this was not from my recent surgery, but the one 9 years ago.)

You will be relieved when the surgery is over. I know I say this over and over but ice, ice, ice!!

Let us know how she does, and good luck!!!

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ACL Mom October 26, 2012 at 12:04 pm

This is not going to sound very nice, but to hear you say your knee “was a mess” before your surgery the first time, actually gives me some comfort! Only because you sound like you’re doing so well now! My daughter had surgery last year for torn meniscus in the same knee and they told us she’s already got some arthritis in there. That was a bummer to hear. Boy, that must have been an extremely busy time for you with the young ones around!! I also have 3 kids – it’s my middle girls that is having the surgery. And ICE ICE ICE will be my motto! Thanks Kris!

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Kris October 29, 2012 at 12:11 am

ACL Mom, your comment was just fine! My knee WAS a mess when I injured in so long ago. As I said, sprained MCL, 2 torn meniscus, ruptured ACL, and a massive amount of swelling. The knee was so unstable, it was terrible. That was almost ten years ago. My most recent knee was only ACL, and both times I used my own hamstring. I just said yesterday that I never even think about either of my knees anymore, unless I sit ‘indian style’, which I struggle with. I jog, I play tennis, and do whatever I want. (But wear a brace for sports, but just on the most recently repaired knee.) Keep in mind, I am 45 years old now, and not a youth!

Good luck to your daughter. The CPM will really help with the scar tissue I am sure. She will probably get sick of it, but keeping that leg moving is so important. If they do a femoral block as part of the surgery, be prepared for total leg numbness when she returns from the hospital, and it is hard to get around with that. The ice machine is a wonderful thing too, and make sure she does ankle pumps and such to keep that circulation going. It can be scary to do the home exercises at first because the knee is swollen and scary looking. However, the exercises are so important!!

I predict complete success!

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Acl mom October 29, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Quick update. Surgery this morning! Must say I’m glad that’s over!! Daughter has been sleeping ever since. Pretty drugged up at the moment. She is bandaged up and also has the ice wrap on over the bandages so I keep the machine running and circulating. Also has wraps on her calves that are also hooked up to a machine for constant massage. To help prevent blood clots. She is to take 1 aspirin nightly for 2 weeks to prevent clotting as well. She had the femoral nerve block but still woke up with pain but nothing that hasn’t been controlled with pain meds….OxyContin — the heavy hitter! Back to the doc tomorrow for bandage removal and starts pt on Thurs! Kris, I sure wish you had made a video of your method for going up and down stairs!! It’s perfect! My husband carried our daughter up the stairs. Quite a feat with the leg brace, bandages etc! Thanks for all your support!

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Kris October 29, 2012 at 9:14 pm

It sounds like your daughter is getting great care, from her parents and the machines!

Be prepared for her to have trouble sleeping at night once the drugs wear off. It is really hard to get comfortable in that brace. As I have said, having blankets that were tucked in over my leg felt awful. Sleeping sitting up on the couch helped tremendously.

A video of me going up and down the stairs, that would have been a good idea. Except I looked pretty scary after surgery. Maybe I could have had Julia Roberts or someone play the role of me and she could demonstrate. I used that method of using my 3 good limbs and going backward up the stairs on my backside for a long time. Went downstairs on my backside too, using my good leg and good arms, although I didn’t go backward DOWN the stairs. I was way too scared to use the crutches on the stairs.

So glad you stopped by, I was wondering how your daughter was doing. Either comment or email me if I can help in any way!

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bansidhe October 12, 2012 at 8:19 am

Hi, I had to wait about 8 weeks too… So I understand wanting to get it over with! I had to wait for availability of the surgeon actually as my swelling went down with 5 days. (Kind of freaky actually).

Anyway, For the first ten days I was in that dang brace all the time except for when I was on the CPM machine. At night, the brace had to be locked at 0 degrees to help ensure return to extension. That was hard! For the first 5 days, I slept on the couch because I couldn’t get comfortable in bed. Not pain so much as just aching.

After that, I only had to wear the brace when I left the house. I was off crutches within 10days. Funny thing is when I was getting my ‘PT’ lesson at the hospital which involved learning to walk upstairs with crutches, getting in and out of a car and leg raises, I was so unsteady they gave me a walker instead. However, after 2-3 days I moved to crutches, about 2-3 days after that I went to one crutch.. I soon got rid of that. I used them not because it hurt to bear weight but because I felt nervous and unsteady. They were more of a “crutch” than anything. :-)

After about 4 weeks I walked about 1 1/2 miles. I felt ok but my patellar tendon felt a bit tight by the end. At 5weeks I walked about 2 1/2 miles. No issue at all. I was very cautious though, feeling each step, focussing on my gait. I think when your muscles are weak it pays to think about what you are doing.

As I recover I notice all sorts of bizarre senations, popping, weird pains.. Once my knee popped just lying in bed and I panicked that I retore the ACL. I didn’t. Personally, it would have been helpful to talk to someone about these things to see if they were ‘normal’.
So if she has any questions at all, I am more than happy to share my experiences.

Good Luck

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Steven October 16, 2012 at 1:06 am

Bandi. I hear ya. I’m feeling all kinds of weird stuff too. Most concerning thing is being paranoid about what normal and what’s not. I’ve done some stuff too where I think I’ve hurt it again but it just me being paranoid and not knowing. I know we had the surgery the same day so keep updating. Because there is very little info about what to expect week 6 through month 4. I see and hear soo much info about the first month and the last month but very little about what’s in between. I’m curious to know when I’ll feel no stiffness and aches etc. I’m doing much better and progress seems to come at weekly clips.

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bansidhe October 16, 2012 at 9:18 am

Cool. I feel the same way, not knowing what’s normal and what’s not. It is somewhat unsettling. Currently, I feel stiff and sore. Not horribly but I feel stiffer and more sore than I did two weeks ago yet, I am also stronger. I think that perhaps the stiffness and soreness is actually a result of getting stronger because we can push a bit more. For this reason, while I was doing my exercise everyday, since I am now using 5 pound weights on my legs, I will only do that every other day. I really dont want tendinitis to flare up and wind up not being able to do anything. However, I will do balance exercise, some time on the bike and I am walking a bit every day. I am also trying to stretch a bit more.

Have you noticed weak hamstrings? Mine are very weak so I am working hard on them.
One thing I think will help is doing ‘Negatives’. That is while standing (without weight) I get my heel up towards my butt as far as I can, then use my hand to pull it a bit further. (This sin’t for stretching so I don’t do it till it hurts). I then contract as hard as I can then I let go with my hand while trying not to let my foot drop. I try and hold it there as long as I can. Currently, that’s about a second. Man, that’s a lot harder than you’d think.

What types of exercises are you doing?

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Steven October 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm

With an ankle weight on I do leg lifts while laying down. Then when standing up I do marching, calf raises, bringing my heel toward my butt. Doing single leg stands, step ups, side step ups, stairmaster, leg press, single leg press and just started doing some hamstring excercies where I put my legs out in front of me and push down while on a machine that has various weight levels. My biggest concern right now is streching out behind my knee because it seems like I have some scar tissue forming back there. So what I do at home is lay on my stomach with an ankle weight and let my leg hang of the bed. So essentially from right above my knee and below is hanging off the bed. This stretches it out and seems to help. Plus I’m just self massaging the back of my knee whenever I can to break it up. I have good ROM over 130 with forced maninpulation but I just really want to do all I can to reduce that scar tissue because if I bend to low it is like a shooting pain. Do you have any pain in the back of your knee when you bend it far?

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Lauren October 13, 2012 at 7:10 am

I am preparing for ACL surgery soon and this blog has been great. I had the left knee done when I was 15, and 17 years later, the right knee has gone too! I guess the thing that concerns me most is the rehab. Last time I had a mum, dad and siblings helping out, no meals to cook and no kids to care for.

This time, we live 850km away from the hospital I’m having the surgery at and 3 kids to look after. Thankfully, I’ve got a terrific husband who will be a great help. I’ve loved reading all of these posts, I’m hoping that my experience will be like the positive ones :)

Now to wait for the school holidays so that I can have the surgery! Thanks heaps

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Kris October 19, 2012 at 9:25 am

Lauren,
My surgeries were nine years apart, and I found recovery to be much easier the second time around. Perhaps my surgeon was better, or maybe the technology, but it wasn’t that awful.

You will make it work!

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Charles October 22, 2012 at 11:58 am

Hopefully you’ll only need to be at the hospital once (for the surgery). After that, you’re really on your own to ensure that you do what you need to do to recover and rehab (outside of a few PT visits perhaps).

I’m sure I’m one of many who have had this surgery and worked hard to rehab while keeping a full time job, marriage and two kids going. You can do it!

Good luck.

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ACL Mom October 22, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Hi Lauren,
Sorry to hear about the second tear! But, as you can see and read from this site, you will get through it along with so many others who have and will! :) Kris, along with everyone else is so positive! What kind of graft did you have on your left knee when you were 15? My daughter is 16 and going in for surgery next Monday.

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sreerag October 15, 2012 at 7:52 am

Hi Kris
My ACL surgery was done one week before, before the surgery i had little bit amount of knee movement around 50 degree, now i reached up to that after 60 degree i feel something is locking me from inside and heavy pain.some times if i kept leg on flat condition i feel kind of shocking wave from inside,please share your experience.
Thanks & Regards
Sreerag

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Charles October 22, 2012 at 11:40 am

I’d consider that normal. Over the first two weeks, your knee is going to give you lots of discomfort. Some days flexing and extending is easy, some days it is not. Just keep doing those flex/extend exercises, take some pain medication and repeat. Make sure to ice afterwards if possible.

I do not miss trying to sleep during the first couple of weeks but keep pressing on and you’ll get through it like the rest of us!

Good luck.

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Charles October 17, 2012 at 10:18 am

Week 6 through 4 months starts with some excitement but gets boring but it is still very important to march onward.

Around week 6, you should be walking and walking a lot – a couple of miles. Try to ensure that your gait is normal. You may notice some knee pain and/or stiffness, especially afterwards so make sure to ice it for 15-20 minutes when those symptoms appear.

At about 8-10 weeks, you should really start to focus on building your leg muscles. With PT clearance, you should be doing weighted squats, leg press, dead lift, lunges and hamstring curls.

At around 12 weeks, you should start a running program. Start with 10 minutes on a treadmill, alternating between an easy jog for 1 minute followed by walking for 1 minute. Gradually, over 3-4 weeks, you should be able to jog for 10-15 minutes or more. During this time, keep your leg weightlifting going.

At around 3 1/2 – 5 months, this can get boring – lots of running and lots of leg weightlifting but it will pay off. Around 5 months, you may begin jumping drills, sprints, etc. Box jumping helps immensely – I’ve really been hitting those hard and you’ll get a great workout and gain confidence in your knee again by doing these. Make sure to do them twice a week.

Keep focusing on the jumping and cutting drills during months 6 and 7 and onward. After a good workout, I still feel my knee stiffen up and pop a little the next day so get yourself a neoprene wrap to keep it warm.

Good luck.

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Steven October 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Thanks Charles. Did you have any problems with scar tissue build up or is that something you only need to worry about further into recovery. I’m two months post op today.

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Charles October 22, 2012 at 10:31 am

I really didn’t have any scar tissue issues. I guess the pops you hear once and a while may be the scar tissue breaking up but honestly my knees have always popped once and a while, especially in the days following a long run or a good soccer or basketball game.

Just make sure you’re stretching your knee a lot and wrapping it up in a heat pad helps out quite a bit. Icing your knee after activity also helps and wearing a neoprene wrap also helps things out.

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Nick October 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Hi guys, best of luck to all of you with your recovery. A friend of mine had an ACL reconstruction in late August (his second one in six years on the same knee). To all of you, especially those who did it with a patellar tendon autograft: How stiff did your knee feel? When did this feeling go away? What about the rate of improvement on this issue: Did it steadily get better or was it more of a radical change after some point?
Thank you all for your answers.

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Charles October 22, 2012 at 10:38 am

The front of the knee was sensitive and stiff. I aggressively did the heel slide exercises which really helped get the tendon area moving again and helped it heal although it was uncomfortable at times.

At around 4 months I could gently kneel on my bad knee on a gym mat. At 5 months I could gently kneel on a hard floor. At 6 months I still think about it but it’s getting much easier to kneel down although I still feel it.

Some days it’s sore to the lower left of where they made the patellar tendon extraction, some days on the lower right and some days on the upper left, upper right, etc.

It’s gradually getting better but I admit that I have really pushed my rehab so it would probably feel better if I rested it more often. If I’m not doing weights or agility exercises, I’m running or playing soccer (was given clearance to return to playing soccer at 5 months but I’m avoiding contact and running at about 75% in terms of speed and cutting but I’m improving as time goes on and am positive that I’ll be back to 100% in 8 weeks or so).

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Dave October 21, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Some observations from my ACL injury/surgery/recovery that might help others:
Extent of Injury: Complete ACL tear; partial tear of MCL, LCL; Sprained PCL; both menisci torn.
Date of Injury: July 16th, 2012 Slalom Training (Ski Racing) Mt Hood, OR

Day 1-6: Very little pain, moderate swelling, but significant instability. Placed knee in McDavid 425R knee brace which increased the stability and kept the swelling down. Did not use crutches and kept extending and flexing the knee to maintain as much range of motion (ROM) as possible. Continued walking and maintaining ROM as much as possible–pain was moderate (over the counter Advil sufficed), swelling was managed with the brace and ice packs.

Day 7: Met with Orthopedic Doctor and reviewed the X-Rays and MRI. He confirmed surgery was necessary if I expected to ski again or participate in any active sport at a high level.
NOTE: I got two more opinions, became a student of the surgery options and recovery regimens before choosing the procedure (Allograft vs. Autograft) AND the doctor’s recommended recovery procedures (usually available during consultation).

Day 8: Started pre-hab with physical therapist. The immediate focus was on regaining as much ROM and to initially stabilize and then reverse the atrophy of the muscles above and below the knee.

Next 5 Weeks: Intense PT–this is absolutely the key to maximizing the the results of the surgery and the recovery.

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Charles October 22, 2012 at 10:46 am

Dave, you are definitely making the right choice. I too pondered not having it but after educating myself I quickly realized that it was the right option for me, especially if I wanted to play ball, ski, and live an active life going forward. Looking back, it seems like a long time has passed since I had surgery but I wouldn’t be where I am now if I would have done things differently – and you’ll thank yourself for it.

Concerning “Prehab” – you are absolutely correct. I had 6 weeks to prehab and the leg press machine became my best friend along with the hamstring curl machine. I did them every other day and it really paid off post-surgery. Make sure to really increase your intake of protein (get some protein powder or protein shakes, eat some steaks/burgers, fish, etc).

Then, when you’re cleared to hit the weights again after surgery, set up a program for yourself on how you’re going to build your legs up again as well as the rest of your body, including cardio work (and plyometrics/agility drills when you’re cleared to do so).

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Monika October 22, 2012 at 8:20 am

Hi Dave,
I am a skier and i recently had the acl reconstruction six weeks ago. Back in march i had meniscus scope also. I plan on returning to skiing and i was wondering if you had any advice as to when would be a good time ( probably not this coming season) and what type of specific exercises i should do besides the normal pt protocol. I would appreciate any advice. I cant imagine my life without the mountain beneath my feet :)

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Charles October 22, 2012 at 10:55 am

So it sounds like 6 months post-op for you would be around 3/2013.

I’m not Superman but I worked my tail off getting back into form by 6 months post-op. While I can play limited soccer, sprint and have physician clearance to do so, I’d be hesitant to attack moguls at this point but could do some slaloming. However, with the unpredictability involved with skiing (hitting an icy patch, colliding into others, etc) I’m not planning on skiing until after a year post-op.

After going through this (and I guess I still am going through this), one thing I’ve learned is that I’m going to do everything I can to ensure that this does not happen again. First and foremost is to let things heal and not push it by doing things that would unnecessarily put me at risk or re-injuring my bad knee before it has a chance to fully heal.

I know how you feel about not being able to participate in the activities that you desire because of your injury/surgery. There are many, many others just like you (i.e., me). Battle through this, whip yourself back into shape and when you finally get back on the slopes, you’ll appreciate your hard work and dedication.

And, when you’re done skiing, I’ll be in the chalet at the bar.

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ACL Mom October 22, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Charles, you definitely sound like you’re in great shape and have worked hard to get that way. I’m not sure my 16-yr old daughter will keep up that sort of regimen but I am going to push her to her limits! She is still not walking great due to her MCL not being completely healed but doc is going ahead with the ACL surgery next Monday. He says that will serve as an “inner brace” for her MCL to continue to heal. She is making progress for sure but it would have been nice to start out really strong as so many on this site have and recommend. I’m just preparing for my nursing duties now! Keeping her comfortable, pain-wise and doing all exercises prescribed!! Did you use one of those continuous motion machines?

Thanks for all your comments – they are so helpful.

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Charles October 23, 2012 at 10:29 am

I did not use a CPM (Continuous Passive Motion) machine. My doctor (as well as many independent research studies) participated in studies that compared people who use CPMs vs. those that don’t. While those that use a CPM initially seem to do better than those that do not, by week 6, the two groups are indistinguishable from each other.

I found that it was more important to ice a lot – I had a cryo cuff. If you do not have one, go get one. Your insurance should cover it and if not, they are about $75. Well worth the money.

Also perhaps more important, is to immediately start doing the quad set, ankle pump and heel slide exercises – 5-7 sets of 10-15 reps every day starting the day of surgery (if you can move your leg). It’ll be uncomfortable but will pay off. Don’t worry, she’s not going to hurt her new ACL doing these exercises.

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Kris October 24, 2012 at 10:06 am

Just wanted to comment regarding CPM. I used one for my first surgery and did not for my second surgery. I cannot say that the CPM provided any huge benefit. I think using the ice machine (that also provided compression) was key to my recovery this most recent time. I made sure I did my home exercises religiously though, along with the icing.

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Steven October 25, 2012 at 1:11 am

i used the cpm machine and found it to be helpful. Especially because it was the only time other than showering where I was able to take off the brace for the first few weeks and bend the leg. If the doc recommends it, do it!

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ACL Mom October 26, 2012 at 11:57 am

Yes, any excuse to get out of the brace, I’m sure!! The CPM may end up being my daughter’s favorite! :-) And yes, the doctor has recommended and provided it, so we will use it! Thanks for your comments!!

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ACL Mom October 26, 2012 at 11:55 am

The medical company is coming over this afternoon to bring the CPM, an ice machine (which is more heavy duty I guess than the cryo-cuff we already have) and my daughter will also be measured for a custom brace. I figure as long as the doctor has ordered these things and insurance pays, why not!? Remember, we are still dealing with a torn MCL so these things will continue provide support and healing for that tear as well. At this point I think she (and I!) are just anxious to get the surgery Monday and start with the healing!! I will post after surgery! And Kris, you sound really diligent with your exercises and I hope my daughter is the same way. I see some pushing and prodding her in my future!!

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Charles October 22, 2012 at 11:08 am

Oh, and in terms of exercises to build your legs up for skiing; probably around 6-8 weeks post-op you should be cleared to start closed-chained weight-bearing leg exercises (A closed-chain exercise requires that the body part at the end of the chain stays fixed on the ground or other solid object).

Squats, Leg Press, Dead Lift, Leg Curl, Dumbell Lunges.

At around this same time you should be able to start jogging again. You’ll probably be told to run on a treadmill for 15 minutes, starting by jogging for 1 minute and walking for 1 minute. After 3-4 weeks, you should be able to run for 15 minutes. This was hard to do because my knee felt uncomfortable doing so but it got easier every time which really helped out my confidence and made me realize that I *was* getting better.

Then, between 4-5 months, you should get clearance to do more aggressive agility exercises. There are many ways to do this; I really got into box jumping plyometrics which re-introduces the knee to explosive movements. The gym I go to has several different boxes with varying heights so find one that works for you.

Check out this site – I’ve used it often for ideas on how to approach my workouts. I’ve gone through literally hundreds of sites and blogs and found this one very well put together: http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/acl-program/index.html

Remember, you’re knee will feel uncomfortable and that’s fine – continue working out unless there is sharp pain on every movement or repetition as that’s a sign that you’re probably doing something that you shouldn’t be doing. I’ve been there and just backed off a bit and made sure to ice at home before going to bed.

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kim October 26, 2012 at 12:07 pm

ACL mom,

I know my surgeon would not even begin to touch me until my swelling and healing had occurred after accident when my acl and meniscus was torn. He said surgery done too soon after injury is like adding insult to injury and makes for a poor recovery. (He does football players who return to the NFL after injury). I have done extensive physical therapy to get ready for my repair. I feel confident that I will recover quickly! My advice is dont rush to surgery!

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ACL Mom October 26, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Surgery is taking place 8 weeks after the injury – she has been in p/t ever since. No, doc would not touch her either until swelling went down and she had full ROM. He gave us a window in which he feels is “ideal” to do the surgery, and that’s what we’re going with. The mcl will continue to heal along with the acl. She’s 16 and is very strong so hopefully that’s a plus! Good luck to you in your recovery!!

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jane October 31, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Glad you seem to be recovering so quickly. I missed what your age is. I am post ACL and Mensicus surgery, which was done Sept 20th 2012. I am 6 wks post. And i am 55 years old. My Doctor reccommened i use a allogragh.(cadaver). Used the 2 nerve blocks and hated it! know it helped but didn’t like the feeling at all. Also used the ice wrap, very nice. Anyway i am still stiff and slightly swollen. can bend my leg about 120 after i have stretched it. Just had to have a cortisone inj yesterday. My knee keeps catching and popping when i stand. I have therapy twice wkly. And am told not to walk too much because it is irritating my knee.Haha i was only walking around the block twice a day! Just started a walking class in the pool at local ymca. Nice. All i can say is i hope i will be able to swim and snorkel and maybe catch a run away Grandchild again one day! This is one tough road!

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Dee November 3, 2012 at 1:15 am

I had total knee replacement on April 2, 2012. I had physical therapy for three months after the
surgery. It is now Nov.2, 2012 and the pain is worse now that when I had the physical therapy. I am also disabled due to a back injury, where I fell down a flight of stairs in 1993. The knee pain by far is worse than the back pain, and it is so annoying. My whole life hs changed. I cannot wear my heels, so I have to wear low heel shoes, which is not my cup of tea I am not able to socialize as I once did. I continue to do the exercises, but I am not able to walk. When I go shopping at the grocery store, I have to ride those carts, I feel so back doing that, as my mother who is 85 is still walking very well. I go to my Dr., and he tells me that it is healing slow. Why, I ask? He says it has to do with a muscle that was worn down before the surgery. I just pray that one day I will be able to function.I know the pain will always be there, I just want to be able to have a better quality of life.

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Kris November 3, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Dee, have you considered getting a second opinion? I hate the thought of how much your life has changed and that you are in so much pain. I also know that back and knee pain quite often go together, and they can affect each other.

I am not a doctor, but you seem to be in a lot of pain for someone that is 7 months out from surgery. I hope you can get an answer soon.

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Rebecca November 4, 2012 at 1:56 am

I am having my ACL done just after Christmas so am reading anything and everything I can, your thoughts really helped. Dont feel so freaked out now!! Just hope my 4 year old and 7 year old figure out how to cook and do laundry before then!!

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Kris November 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Rebecca, mine were 4,6 and 8 for my first ACL surgery, it can be done!!!

If I could say one thing is to just try to hang in there the first few days, and it gets so much better after that. Consider an ice machine, it is worth it’s weight in gold!!

Good luck.

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Jacqui g November 4, 2012 at 7:51 am

What great comments! I have not long had my 7th surgery on the one leg. The most recent was two weeks ago an acl replacement. The hamstring graft was taken from my right leg to put in my left. The first couple of days were very difficult as both were in pain and restricted. I am reading your blog from Australia as a have a another night finding it hard to sleep. I’m really happy with my progress but would love a good nights sleep. Thanks for showing me that there are many people including yourself that understand :)

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Kris November 5, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Jacqui- sleep is one of the hardest parts of the whole recovery, at least it was for me. Try to not drink any caffeine if you can, and do whatever you can to get comfortable. If that means sleeping in a recliner, then sleep in a recliner. Healing of both the mind and body requires sleep, so make that a priority.

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ACL Mom November 5, 2012 at 7:22 pm

I have a question regarding physical therapy after the surgery. My daughter is exactly one week post op today and is doing really well. Today was her 3rd physical therapy appt. She says when she tries to bend her knee it feels like something is blocking it from bending and then she has to get past that point and then it bends fine. Her therapist doesn’t seem too concerned and said maybe the incision staples are pulling on a ligament?? I have a call into the doc but just wondered if any of you acl veterans had experienced anything like this. My daughter says it’s hard to explain exactly what it feels like so sorry for the vague symptoms! Other than that everything seems to be going fine! Thanks!!

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Kris November 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I think she will feel a huge difference when the staples are out. Things did ‘loosen up’ for me after the stitches were out. My therapist also massaged the incision site itself to break up scar tissue. Too soon for that on your daughter though.

When are the staples coming out?

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ACL Mom November 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I think you are right. She is in the CPM right now and says that it is happening again…that feeling of not being able to go past a certain point. The staples come out Friday – about 12 days post op. Is that when you got your stitches removed? Gosh, I hope the scar tissue isn’t already forming and hindering rehab!! See, there’s always something a mother can worry about! ha!

Thanks for helping us (me) get through this….

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Kris November 6, 2012 at 6:42 pm

ACL Mom, if she is in therapy and using a CPM, it would be shocking if scar tissue formed, at least the type that limits mobility. The scar tissue I am referring too is the actual ‘scar tissue’ that forms around the incision. Not talking about the scar that will obviously be left behind, but the tissue underneath that forms with any incision.

My stitches came out at a week I think. My physical therapist told me that mobility can definitely be limited by staples/sutures and it is surprising how much better things move once they are out.

How far is she bending? Have they measured her extension/flexion?

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ACL Mom November 8, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Hi Kris,
Checked in with the doctor yesterday. This “locking” thing is really bothering my daughter and I think she’s scared there’s something wrong. Doc did an x-ray and everything looks good. Not sure what the locking is all about but he’d like her to not push past that for a couple of days and we will go back tomorrow. She did get the stapes out yesterday so that was progress! She was doing so well so we’re both frustrated a bit now. She has full extension and was bending up to 82 degrees. Now she’s back in the CPM only set to 35!! That is where the locking seems to start. If she physically pulls her leg past the locking she can bend it pretty good again – it’s just getting past that point. Should it feel “tight?” Since it’s not my knee it’s hard to know exactly what she’s feeling. She’s off pain pills now but I know her knee is still sore. I was hoping we could just move along through this process!! Thanks for your thoughts! Keep them coming! :-)

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bansidhe November 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I really would not worry about the locking thing yet. Her knee underwent a bit of trauma with surgery, It’s common to feel all sorts of weird things. For weeks after my ACLr I would feel an odd, not exactly pleasant, ‘catch’. I knew it was because my quad tendon & patellar tendon were not quite tracking right but that was only due to how much my muscle had atrophied. Your muscles keep your tendons in line, so to speak.

As far as being sore.. I was off pain meds within a week but I was achy afterward. That does get better. It took over 6 weeks before I could turn over in bed without waking myself up. My knee would get so stiff and sore.
Now I sleep like a baby and dont even think about the knee when I am sleeping.
(I am 11 1/2 weeks out today).

Keep doing quad sets and have her focus on what she is doing, not just doing it mindlessly. That is, talk to the muscle. Your bodies response to a trauma such as surgery is to shut down the muscles. You really have to *think* at the muscles to get them used to firing automatically.

When I started PT, I would talk outloud to my VMO. The PT guys looked at me as if I were nuts, but my progress is going very well. I’ve been a fairly competive athlete and am used to pushing myself. I would imagine your daughter does, too. Believe me , she will need that edge.

Anyway you and she should try not to get frustrated yet. You have a long haul ahead.

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Kris November 10, 2012 at 10:46 am

ACL Mom- what did the doctor say on the repeat visit?

Pain is going to happen for some time unfortunately. Especially with therapy and such. Not to mention that the stiffness gets quite painful too.

So, she bends her knee slightly, it catches a little, and then she can go past it, correct? Is there much pain with the catch, or is it just something she notices? Where in the knee does she feel it?

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Charles November 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I agree – no need to worry. There are all sorts of ups and downs – these last months and in some cases years.

When going through rehab, just keep in mind that some days you’ll feel great and others you’ll feel pain and it won’t feel as stable and strong. These things may occur on an hourly basis – believe me, I know.

I never experienced any locking feeling but it definitely felt uncomfortable at times. Most notably, I felt great at around 5 months and then I started to feel pain in my patellar tendon area (where my graft was harvested from) so I had to take it easy for 10 days or so until that felt better.

The knee has been surgically reconstructed – major surgery and you should expect these ups and downs. Just remember, keep stretching, do the exercises religiously as prescribed by your PT and use plenty of ice on that knee after exercising and before bed.

Best of luck – you’re on your way to a full recovery.

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Hillary November 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I had my ACL replaced almost a year ago (will be a year in December). The entire surgery went great, recovery was cake for me. I was released by the physical therapist after about two months and released to return to physical work by the surgeon after 4 months. I was not having any issues until one day, when I tried to stand after squatting, it felt as if something in my knee caught on something else and pulled – hard. The pain was worse than the initial tear itself! It has happened a few times since then, and my knee cracks and pops a lot, too. Other than that I have had no issues. Anyonee know what this might be? I had surgery out of state while volunteering, and so seeing the same doctor is out of the question, but I think I may need to seek out another ortho doc.

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Kris November 10, 2012 at 10:40 am

My ten year old surgery knee cracks constantly, and I hate it. My newest Ortho looked at it and said that it wasn’t hurting anything as long there wasn’t pain/swelling. However, every knee is different. Did you have swelling when you stood up from squatting? Is it still stable? I overdid it one day on my most recent knee playing tennis one day and had awful pain in the IT band area (outside/back part of knee) and that eventually went away.

The only way to know for sure is to find a new ortho unfortunately.

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Iovan November 23, 2012 at 10:23 am

This was a great article. I had my ACL surgery (using my hamstring) done on Nov. 1st now 3 weeks ago and everything is going great. I still have numbness running about 1/2 way down my shin but other wise I’m getting around just fine. I find it cumbersome to wear the big leg brace. It keeps slipping down and if I make it tight enough it becomes uncomfortable after a while.
The other day I took a quick step back to maintain my balance and felt a sharp pain in my hamstring area.
It continues to be sore the next day.

Has anyone else experienced this?

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bansidhe November 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm

As far as the brace is concerned: I had the same problem. I have thin legs to begin with, the after surgery they were even thinner… (well, the one was anyway). No matter what I tried I couldn’t get the dang thing to stay up. Then I got one of those knit ‘sleeves’ they give you at PT to cover your skin when applying heat or ice. It was nice and tight so the compression felt good and the material really helped keep the brace in place. So, you may try that to see if it helps you.

You probably pulled your hamsntring a little bit. That’s not surprising. After all you use those muscles for stabilization. I’d take it easy, trying not to ‘accidentally’ stretch the hamstring. That’s easier to do than you might think, for example one could automatically bend over to pick something up that has fallen without thinking only to find they’ve pulled their hamstring.

Good luck with your recovery. It does get better as time goes on!

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Kris November 26, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Iovan, I still get burning hamstring almost a year post surgery when I do certain things, although it fades pretty quickly. Some say the hamstring retrieval is the most painful part of the surgery.

My leg brace slid too, and it drove me crazy. When you are back at the doctor, have them adjust it better. For me the lowest part of the brace was too loose, so it slid very easily.

Good luck!

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Amy November 25, 2012 at 7:51 am

Thank you so much for this site Kris! As a few people have said, it is the best information on the web for ACL post op information.

I had my ACL reconstructed and a tear in the meniscus shaved 5 days ago. I am in South Africa and the difference in approach is quite radical, which I found interesting!

Firstly no doctors in South Africa recommend a brace, it used to be the order of the day many years ago, but is no longer used. So no brace for me. My surgeon told me that I could use the crutches if I felt like I needed to, but they are optional. I have been using them, because I would rather have a slightly slower recovery than risk a fall as I felt a little woozy after the operation for a few days. I battle with low blood pressure on a good day.

I have full extension, and 90 degree flexion as of today. Not too bad but the swelling is what limits me bending further I think. Ice is a definite must no matter where you are from. I have never heard of an ice machine, you are lucky to have access to these things! I use 3 sets of jelly like ice packs in rotation, they are strapped to my knee with the use of a neoprene holder. I have been advised to ice constantly, day and night.

Secondly, I had a sterile cadaver ACL allograft, which is the method of choice here. It is a harvested tendon from an organ doner, the wrist tendon they use is as thick as your little finger and very much stronger than the original. It is denatured, sterilized and freeze dried. The surgeon soaks it in saline prior to use. Having your hamstring shaved sounds like torture, I can not imagine that to be a comfortable option.

My surgeon is a knee and hip surgeon, he does nothing else at all and has been in practice for 25 years. I feel quite pleased about that because he has had a whole lot of practice, perhaps asking your prospective surgeon exactly how many ACL procedures he has performed might not be a bad idea? I was on the operating table for 1 hour and 5 minutes for both procedures, and they used a block as well as the anesthetic, similar to what I have read about here. I was advised that the operation was expected to be 120 to 180 minutes long, but the doctor said that it went very well and so was shorter.

Sleeping pills are given out as standard issue for the first 7 days, I think day 8 may have me getting out the homeopathic sleeping pills!

As for recovery, I am told to get on a bicycle in the gym as soon as possible and can be on a road bike as soon as I want to. Absolutely no cross country running or ball sports for the first 9 months. I am also told not to do any jumping for 9 months. The surgeon says that the graft is stronger in month 1 to 3 than it is in month 3 to 6, and that it is as it’s weakest at month 6 to coincide with you feeling fantastic. This is the danger period, and you need to be extremely cautious from month 6 to month 9, or risk a failure. I do not feel like starting again and so have diarised this period in CAPS :)

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Kris November 26, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Very interesting hearing how things are done in a different part of the world. I have heard of people here not using braces too, but that always makes me nervous. Probably because all I know is the brace. Plus, both my surgeries were in the winter, and I would be so scared of falling on ice without the brace. (Or with the brace now that I think about it.)

I also have heard that six months is a dangerous time. People get too confident and overdo it. Whenever I do any sports, I wear a giant, metal Don-Joy brace that keeps the knee from twisting. My therapy did involve jumping and running sooner that what was recommended by your doctor. The bike is a great thing for flexion, I loved when I was able to go all the way around. I felt such a sense of accomplishment over such a small thing. My hesitation on road biking was the risk of falling, so I did not do that until around 7 months post op I think.

Good luck with your recovery!!

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Amy December 1, 2012 at 3:39 am

Thanks Kris,

Things are going really well, and probably thanks to my Physiotherapist who is a slave driver! She has been getting me to push my limits and do increasingly difficult exercises, but I am grateful, because today is day 11 for me and my range of movement is 145 degrees.

One of the things I have found astounding about recovery so far, is how terribly stiff my muscles have been. I am used to working out, but this stiffness has been ridiculous! I could probably put some of it down to the balance exercises I have been doing 3 times a day, but not all of it. Competitive sports never made me this stiff. The ACL is relaxed with flexion, and stretched with extension, so a great deal of my pain is not related to the ACL, rather to the muscles used in stabilization.

Massage has been a life line. My Physio rubs a little, and uses pressure points to release my quads, hamstring and calf, magic stuff because after a release massage the stiffness is gone completely for a few hours, and range of motion hugely increased. She says, that as muscles are cut into they spasm as a protection mechanism. As soon as you stress your muscles by making them work they spasm again. Walking up and down stairs is something that I found is a recipe for instant spasm, after my first ambitious and painful attempt I have been taking the stairs one at a time!

So if you are excruciatingly stiff a leg rub can help, you can even do it for yourself.

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Amy December 1, 2012 at 4:04 am

Ps, I ditched the crutches on day 3 have returned them as they were a rental. The only time I need support is down the stairs, and then I use the railing. I now (day 11) walk normally without a limp, and have no knee pain. The swelling is completely gone, I have full extension and 145 degrees flexion.

Another thing worth mentioning is that I am 48 and not in peak condition.

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Kris December 2, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Oh my gosh, I cannot imagine doing stairs without a brace and crutches 11 days out, you are a machine!! I am so glad things are going so well for you.

Rental crutches? I should ship you some, I have many pairs of crutches here. :)

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Kris December 2, 2012 at 2:27 pm

That stiffness isn’t going away anytime soon my friend. :)

I am specifically referring to knee stiffness though, not necessarily muscle stiffness. Regarding muscles, I cannot agree more with the value of massage. My PT that cared for me after my first surgery barely touched my leg at all, it was all exercises. The PT I had the second time around was fantastic and did a lot of massage of the whole leg, including the incision area itself. I am convinced that is a huge part of my recovery, along with home exercises and ice.

Good points Amy.

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Monika November 25, 2012 at 9:31 am

I am two months post op and hoping i will get off coumadin soon as i developed a blood clot soon after the surgery. My knee feels good overall however i have an excruciating pain on the outer part of knee and thigh. My surgeon says it is the IT band. It only started after surgery. Never had this before. Could this be the result of the reconstruction? It is really painful. Any comments on this?

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Kris November 26, 2012 at 10:35 pm

I was wondering how you are doing Monika, I am glad to hear from you.

My first guess was it was your IT band when I read what you wrote. My IT band acts up too. Talk to your physical therapist about it. My daughter has IT band problems and physical therapy helped her tremendously.

Regarding what caused it, it is hard to say. Could be strain, could be from walking differently, etc. Are you still in physical therapy?

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james November 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Sorry but i dont think you got a reconstruction. a full reconstruction would take youseveral weeks of rehab and recovery to walk again.

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Monika November 26, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Hi Kris,
Yes I am still in therapy but only once a month now, i do exercises at home, although i have been slacking on them, probably because I feel like i have better mobility. I walk couple miles from time to time and finally can walk up and down the stairs. Walking down is a bit harder, i feel aches and pains. I will ask the therapist at my next visit about the it band. I think it is causing me the most discomfort currently. Thanks. Wish me luck at my ultrasound in 2 weeks. Crossing my fingers that my clot is gone never to be seen again.
Thanks for all the positive feedback, its been great.
Monika:)

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Bogut November 29, 2012 at 10:09 am

Monika, do not, and I mean DO NOT slack on your exercises.

Sure, you may be feeling better, but neglecting to do your exercises could get you into a heap of trouble in a few months when you’re going down stairs or off a curb and you slip or take a mis-step and stress your knee. Because you didn’t do your exercises and build up your leg strength, you’ll mess it up again.

So do your exercises!!

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Ally November 29, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Just wanted to say this is a great article, I have also had the surgery done twice on both knees and this is almost exactly what I went through in a good time line post surgery.
Great for people who are nervous or scared… in the grand scheme of things it is really only the first couple of weeks to a month that are really tough – beyond that it is your own choice and hard work that will help you through!

Thanks for sharing!

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Amy December 1, 2012 at 3:51 am

Hi Ally,

I have to say that the first week was really difficult, but as week 2 comes to a close I am fairly close to normal again. Obviously I will not be doing any Zumba dancing classes just yet, but I can get about on two legs quite well and go through a normal work day without painkillers. At the end of the day I am very tired but that is to be expected. I take 2 Norflex (anti spasm muscle relaxants) before sleep, which I have found to be very helpful.

The South African medical profession have a policy of getting up and walking immediately after the operation, and insist on rapid mobilization with no brace, and minimal use of crutches. Perhaps this makes all of the difference?

2 knees being done at the same time would be a different story I am sure!

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Jon @ ACL Surgery Recovery December 1, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Great article! I always enjoy reading about other peoples experience with ACL surgery! I have had ACL surgery twice on my right knee and I definitely wish I had come across your site before I had my first surgery. This experience mirrors my own very closely. Thanks for sharing.
Jon @ ACL Surgery Recovery recently posted..How Hard Should You Push Your Knee in Rehab Before or After Surgery?

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Patty December 2, 2012 at 11:12 am

Great site!! Its wonderful to hear everyones insight on how they are feeling :) I just had ACL surgery with tibalis tendon (graft from cadaver). This is my second ACL surgery from 11 years ago. I have alot of swelling in my knee and have been icing and moving my foot in circular motion for circulation. My thigh is very sore above my knee??? What could this possibly be?? I am very cautious and worried about slipping or falling maybe because this is how I tore it in the first place. I stopped taking the percocet for they give me severe headaches and make me nauseas :( Any ideas on working with the stiffness I am feeling and the pain in my thigh?

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Kris December 2, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I personally did ankle pumps to keep the circulation going, could the circular motion be bothering your leg?

How long ago was the surgery? Have they given any home exercises? Does the leg hurt a lot when you put weight on it? Is the pain worse than when you had the surgery 11 years ago?

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bansidhe December 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Oh I remember my quad being incredibly sore. The soreness was as if I had done 100 squats the day before. I cannot remember when I first noticed it… it may have been after I took off the compression bandages 5 days post-op… It lasted quite awhile (~5 days maybe…). It was even sore to the touch. I think perhaps my quad muscle severly contracted as a response to the surgery, kind of a defensive contraction. I do not know for sure of course, but that was how the muscle felt to me.

To make it felt better I would gently massage it, do so light quad contractions.. I kept take anti inflammatories and I would place cool compresses on my thighs.
I would say about 98% of all my pain was anything BUT the knee itself.

As your quad relaxes and your body heals that pain will go away.

As far as stiffness is concerned, keep trying to bend your knee… bend until you feel it, extend then try and bend a hair more. Also, try to make sure your leg can go straight (0degreee extension, if not more). This is really important. Keep the leg and knee moving as much as you can… this will help the fluid dissipate and prevent the fluid from forming nasty, fibrous strands of gunk …

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Amy December 2, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Hi Patty,
My thigh was also excruciatingly sore for the first week or so. The quadriceps muscle has been cut into during the operation, and it is objecting. My pain was purely from muscle spasm, and the PT showed me how to release it with massage. I needed a fairly firm massage, and this was in itself quite painful, but I was a different person after the spasm was resolved. It might be worth your while seeking out a PT who will do a massage after your session, or finding out how to do it yourself.

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Debra December 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Hello Everyone!
I tore my ACL on 10/24/12 and have been off work (I’m a nurse) since then, as I cannot work with patients (possibility of being hurt on the job) and when my Short Term disability came through, it was 2 weeks before surgery. I’m pretty nervous, so reading your posts has been a great help. I’m 32 and having an allograft done. I’ll keep you posted. I’m pretty active (tore it jumping badly playing flag football) and have been hitting the recumbant bike 4 times a week and working out as I can around it. Can anyone tell me what they did to keep in shape cardio wise post surgery until you were allowed to/were able to do more again? Praying for all of you!
Love,
Debra

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Kris December 2, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Debra- If you are using an allograft, your recovery should go even smoother than what I discussed!

Physical therapy got my cardio going quite well! I went three times a week. The first week, you obviously can’t do much, but you will be surprised at how the exercises can get your heart rate going. Not to mention, you can still do a lot of upper body exercises.

The recumbant bike is a great exercise. I remember celebrating when my leg could go all the way around on the bike instead of just going forward some and then coming back.

For what it is worth, I was 44 for my most recent surgery and I hate no trouble getting right back into shape.

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George December 3, 2012 at 3:16 am

Hi everyone, great post Kris!
I’m 34 years old and going on week 5 post op…Had ACL and Meniscus repair done at HSS in NYC…This is my second surgery on the same knee, the first surgery was for a partial torn ACL.
The difference between doctors and hospitals is incredible. The first surgery 4 years ago was a complete mess (and it was a minor procedure to tighten the ligaments), it took me 6 months to be able to walk again, had allergic reactions, had to be hospitalized, it was just horrible. This second time, no pain and swelling was gone by week 3!!! What a difference a good doctor will make!!!!

First 2 weeks very little pain, took percocet the first 24 hours then didnt need it anymore…Do your home exersices, ice your knee and wear your brace 24/7 until your stitches come off…Then use the brace only to walk until you are told otherwise…I got a little rash on the leg due to the brace being really tight and my apartment getting kind of hot, but it was gone within 3 days…On day 12 went for my first follow up visit and the doctor took the stiches off….On day 14 went for my first PT….I’m on week 5 post op now and going for PT 3 times a week. Can bend the knee 90 degrees….The one thing is doctor said NO weight bearing on the knee/leg for 6 weeks, this to protect the meniscus…I havent heard anyone said anything about meniscus and no weight bearing….?

One thing I’m worried about is a constant pop whenever i bend the knee…I was told this will get better….But I’m reading a lot of people keep having this issue years after their surgery….
Any thoughts on this?
Also what is it with tearing the ACL multiple times? Lots of people here have
gone under the knife many times….Why? Is the new ACL not as strong as the original one?

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Kris December 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I had multiple surgeries because I blew out different knees.

Did they repair your meniscus or clip it? I know if they repair it, weight bearing is always prohibited.

Not sure on your popping- does the physical therapist have an opinion? My daughter’s knee pops all the time because her IT band is too tight. My right knee crackles a lot (the one I had my first surgery on) but doesn’t really pop.

Couldn’t agree more on the good doctor point. Vast difference in outcomes between my two knees. By the way, my first ACL recon is 9 years old now and it seems strong as ever. Could just be bad luck if it tears twice.

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Sarah December 3, 2012 at 4:00 am

I hope you have a speedy recovery Kris! I tore my ACL about a year ago now so I know the pain you have to deal with. Just stick to what your doctor advises, that is the best way to have a fast recovery.

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Kris December 3, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Thanks Sarah- my knee is actually pretty much fully recovered! Glad it seems like you are doing well.

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Ashwin Dua December 4, 2012 at 8:08 am

I committed a mistake by keeping a pillow under my knee after acl surgery for 4-5 days.
Will it affect my knee in any way?
please reply asap

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bansidhe December 4, 2012 at 8:15 am

I don’t think you’ve done any irreparable harm but I surely would not continue to do that.
Even though that is a very comfortable position, you don’t want to inhibit full extension. I would start putting my heel up on a pillow so that the leg is slightly elevated. Let gravity gently cause your leg to straigthen. Do this several times a day for a few minutes at a time.

My Dr had me sleep in the brace which was locked at full extension. Tis was to prevent me from having bent slightly while sleeping. If you can do that, I would recommend it.
It’s not fun to sleep with the brace but it need only be for a few weeks.

bansidhe

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Ashwin Dua December 4, 2012 at 8:31 am

I wear the brace the whole time nowadays. Its been 11 days since surgery now ! How long does it typically take for one to get full extension? My operated knee is like 5-10% worse off in terms of full extension as compared to my good knee.

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bansidhe December 4, 2012 at 9:09 am

It varies. I had full extension to 0degrees almost immediately. What is difficult for me is getting the hyper extension. MY good knee can hyperextend quite a bit (-8-10degrees) but I cannot get beyond 0degrees with my bad knee. However, this is NOT due to scar tissue or any sort of pulling/tightening that one can get behind the knee, so I am not overly concerned about it. In my case it’s a ‘full stop’ and I feel pain/burning right below my knee on my shin.

For me, I think it’s because of where they drilled…or did arthroscopic work.
I have tiny bird bones so I think the drilling was hard on me.

Soon, you will probably be out of the brace. My doc had me out of it around the house but had me wear it when out and about. The reason being to prevent unnecessary trauma in the event I tripped, or someone ran into me.. etc. I think it’s a good thing to do since ones legs are still weak.

I would suggest walking about as much as you can. When you do take the brace off and when you are in a safe place practice walking normally. Concentrate on your foot fall and puch off. I would take mental notes of how my good leg worked and try to get my “bad” leg to behave the same way. For me it was like ‘retraining’ myself.

:-)

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Ashwin Dua December 4, 2012 at 9:23 am

Ohh! Im very close to full extension( i think i got confused between extension and hyper extenson) , so i dont think i need to worry! The problem is that my doc is good but he is playing too safe, he has not allowed me to put weight until now and has recomended me to continue using crutches! My next appointment is in 10 days and the weird thing is that i still havent started any sort of formal physio therapy(just the few exercises to get full extension)! He told me that the next time we meet he will allow me to put weight and prolly limp around ( It will be 3 weeks then)
So technically i’ll be under house arrest for 10 more days uhhhhhh

Btw i got hurt while playing football and cant weight to get back and up and running!

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bansidhe December 4, 2012 at 10:16 am

Well, I only had a torn ACL, that is my supporting ligaments and my meniscus were all fine. If you had other things the dr had to deal with, then the post-op protocol will likely differ.

I started PT about 2weeks&2days post op. In the meantime, I did try and do some quad sets, tried to lift my leg (while sitting on the floor &keeping knee straight) and worked on some heel slides. I am 3months post op and I still do heel slides even though my flexion is equal to my right leg. But after a workout
or just sitting at my desk all day, I find that a few of those really helps. My knee does get stiff… actually it’s not the “knee” so much as all the supporting stuff, muscles, tendons, ligaments.. but the “knee” itself is fine.

ha!

I tore mine while landing from a jump. My body was turning, my foot planted, my body kept turning… = torn ACL. :-(

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kim December 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm

I am on day three after ACL and meniscus repair. I feel great. Minimal pain. Able to full weight bear. Went to PT day two and had 90 degrees of bending. I think because I had such a tramatic injury in the first placed, this pain bearable. THANKS for this blog. It does help!

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celina December 24, 2012 at 2:35 am

I am on my third day post op for a acl and meniscus repair. The pain was hard the first day..I didn’t have the block. I did have the ice machine on my leg. Works great since the pain meds make me sick to my stomach. Sleeping is hard since like u said I am also a tummy sleeper.

But I am not allowed to put any weight on my leg yet..that makes it really difficult to get around.. I did use the donor acl since I didn’t want more trauma to my leg. Reading what all of u have wrote has kinda helped with what I am in-store for.

Not sure when therapy starts and I see the doctor in a few days..I hope by then I will be allowed to put weight on my leg. He did say I wouldn’t be allowed to drive my car for at least a month since it it a stick shift and I injured my left knee.

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bansidhe December 24, 2012 at 6:16 am

Hi

I think you are not weight bearing due to the Meniscus repair. I only had ACL recon and was encouraged to weight bear from day one.. always “as tolerated” though. Also, I was allowed to drive my stick as soon as I was off narcotic pain meds, so essentially by my first post op visit. I hear that the time away from driving is generally longer with the right leg being done as one needs good reaction time to effectively use the brake. I believe it since when I started to drive it felt very weird. I was glad it was my “clutch” leg and not my “brake” leg.

Anyway, Good luck to you! We have all been in the same boat! It does get easier every day. :-)

Merry Christmas!

bansidhe

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celina December 25, 2012 at 1:01 am

It also is my clutch leg but not putting weight on my leg and no driving is making me nuts and it is only four days..

Have a merry Christmas

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kim December 24, 2012 at 10:45 am

Celina, I can’t imagine not having the block. I think that is why I had the ability to move around right away. I also was told by my doctor to ice 24hours straight before I saw him the day after surgery. I actually had a sterile ice pad within my dressing that hooked to the ice machine. This was removed day two.

I am at day seven now. No pain, just an achy feeling. Full weight bearing with brace on. I am starting to hate my brace. It feels so heavy!!!

Any suggestions for that?

Kim

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celina December 25, 2012 at 12:59 am

I wish I had a idea about the brace…it drives me crazy only because I can’t put weight on it and it feels so heavy..

I have my first post op visit this week so let’s hope I can put weight on it and get a different brace..
Good luck with urs and merry Christmas

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kim December 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Going to Physical therapy for the third time tomorrow. Guess I will see what they say. Can’t believe I am one week out now!

Hope you had a good Christmas too! Happy Holidays!

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celina December 25, 2012 at 9:12 pm

I have my first post op Friday…good luck with ur p.t

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kim January 1, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Going to get my stitches removed tomorrow. Two weeks post-op. Riding stationary bike with brace unlocked. Doing well for a fifty year old woman. Working on home PT three times per day adnd icing. Heard that the graft is most vunerable to injury at week ten?
Anyone know?

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Kim February 25, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Hi Kim, I heard that the graft is most vulnerable up to 12 weeks after surgery. I’m going to be really careful for the next 6 months anyway… haha

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o December 27, 2012 at 11:06 am

wow where do i start…after reading alot of the comments i have realised how different everyone is..

i just had an ACL reconstruction on the 24th..its my 3rd day after the operation and im still just able to walk with crutches..it was the hamstring graft one too by the way and everything else in the knee was fine and not damaged..

i guess quite a few of you are americans and things are a little different in the uk..my surgeon used plastic screws to tie the graft down and didnt even stitch me up after surgery..so i have a few holes on my leg which cause me most of my pain..i havnt needed any medication since the op (havn’t had one tablet or capsule of painkillers)

i guess its because my knee and leg was in good shape before surgery as it had been a year since i tore the acl…i got back to playing sports on astroturf and indoor but not grass or 3g before my surgery hence, why i went forward with the op..

my muscles on the 4th day after surgery are weak but im trying to do the PT given to do at home..im scared of trying to bend the knee as the holes start bleeding and im worried if the graft might fail..

i need to have a shower and cant walk upstairs with crutches..any info when people started to walk,have showers..go to the bathroom properly..and do all the simple things in life?

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Steven January 1, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Immeaduately after surgery I was walking with crutches but weight bearing on those crutches. In other words my foot was dangling. Instead I was encouraged to put as much weight as I could bear.

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o January 4, 2013 at 11:09 am

i was told to but i was just being cautious of the graft..iv had a weird experience up until now…its my 11th day now i can now walk without crutches but with a limp..

my first 5days were fine..not much pain and was walking with a limp on 5th day..then all of a sudden woke up the next day in a huge amount of pain behind my knee and the top half of the calf..that area was bruised and so i took my 1st painkiller..the next few days i couldnt do anything because ofthe bruising wich affected my physical therapy..i couldnt bend the knee or anything…and everytime i stand up my leg throbs with pain..

on the 8th day i was still in pain but it was bearable and started my exercises again slowly..

i can now bend my knee at 90 degrees i think but cant bend it the other way at all!bruising is still there but the pain isnt too bad..i missed my 1st physio appointment and the next one is a few weeks away..do i carry on with the exercises from the 1st week or do some that i found on the internet?

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Brian January 4, 2013 at 12:56 pm

It would be in your best interest to move up your PT appointment or go talk to your doctor. The best exercise my PT guy said was to put your calf/ankle on a pillow and create a bridge. You then flex your quad and try to hold it because that pushes your leg down and forces you to straighten it, which is the most important thing right now, as opposed to ROM. ROM is still very important but getting it straight is most important at this stage. Just going on what my PT guy said.

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o January 7, 2013 at 11:05 am

cheers for that..i went to see my surgeon today..he said it was fine…evrything is up to date and im progressing well..he did tell me to stick with the PT..

he told me to get off the crutches now too..so im walking with a limp..lol

i forgot to ask him about a numb area on my shin just under the knee and if it was alright to go to a gig in like 10 days!..anyone else got that numbness?

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bansidhe January 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm

I had that numbness and still do 4 1/2 months later though it is improving.
Well, mine is more to the outside of the leg and not on the shin bone exactly.

Anyway, I think it’s pretty common to have that. Nerves and such get cut and take a long time to heal.

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o January 9, 2013 at 8:22 am

aghh fair..it wierd how my calf is all bruised and tense too..

im just wondering if i can go to that gig..

im on the 15th day after surgey and i can get my leg straight..bend it when sat down more than 90 degrees and walk..walking is still with a limp but im trying to teach myself to walk normal!

and im goin back to university next week and ill be doin alot of walking..hope this helps with the recovery

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Ben Coors December 28, 2012 at 6:28 pm

I’m happy to see you made it through. I had the same done and it hurts like hell. Thank God for strong pain pills.

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kim December 29, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Hi Ben, What day was your surgery? Mine was the eighteenth and i have no pain. Just hang in there. Each day gets better and remember that ice is your friend!

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Brian January 4, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Hi Kim. Mine was also the 18th and no pain either. Look forward to going to PT today.

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Gord January 6, 2013 at 11:10 pm

I torn my ACL 4 years ago skiing and was advised by my surgeon not to have the surgery (partly becasuse of my age 52 and had good sabiltuity in the knee) …so I purchased a 4G brace and worked on strengthly the leg and for the last 3 years have been able to ski, golf, and bike ( no running or privoting sports ) Really had no problems until recently when I knelled down and got up there was alot of pain and has happened an number of times in the last couple of months Thinking about finally having the surgery but still deciding

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Kim February 22, 2013 at 3:41 pm

You might want to have your knee looked at as I heard that not having the surgery may damage your meniscus, especially if you’re sitll active. That happened to a friend and he regretted not having surgery sooner: he tore his ACL playing basketball, didn’t have surgery and continued to play for months, after his knee giving out for the 4th time he decided to have surgery and the doctors found that he badly damaged his meniscus too. However, my trainer has told me that he’s worked with folks who did not have surgery and there are plenty of exercises he had them do to strengthen the leg muscles to compensate for the missign ACL. Good luck!

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Kris February 22, 2013 at 10:10 pm

Kim, this is the exact reason I did have the surgery. I didn’t want to do further damage to my knee. Having just the ACL done is way easier than ACL+meniscus.

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Kim February 25, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Yeah, good idea Kim… Gord, you should get an MRI and have your knee looked at. Who knows, you might not even need surgery if your leg has strengthened all around :) But better to be safe so you don’t discover that you’ve damaged your meniscus too!

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Nobs January 7, 2013 at 1:46 am

10 Months after ACL.

To recap, I injured my knee playing soccer in March 2012 and got operated within 3 weeks (March 29, using B.T.B (patella graft) in Bangalore India.

Physio visited me daily for 2 weeks and I had full ROM by then. Continued weekly physio visits till 3 months. Then I was on my own, doing strengthening in Gym. Months 4-6, I did not do anything much as I developed some muscle pain/sore knee. At 6 months, started playing Table tennis and re-started work outs in Gym.

9th month, knee was almost back to normal. Went for a challenging mountain trekking without any issue. Per doctor, there is some Laxity in my operated knee compared to the other knee, which may improve over the time. He has given go ahead for playing badminton and practicing soccer.He advised not to play competitively till 12 months.

This blog has really helped me during the whole process and was the biggest source of inspiration. Thank you Kris

Nobs

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Sunny January 10, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I am a runner and had my ACL torn while playing tennis. Its been 3.5 month. I ahve been going to PT regularly for all this while. My miniscus was also torn but could not be repaired so the doctor cleaned it.
I was getting nervous becasue I still have knee pain and I also developed some strange pain on occasional basis on lower right side of knee cap. I also hear slight pop sound or knuckle cracking once in a while. Overall the recovery is fantastic but few small issues are making me nervous. I was getting nervous but after reading this blog and Nobs experience, I feel slightly better. Cant wait to start running but its still 6 more weeks..

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recovering from ACL surgery January 8, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Ever since I tore my ACL I cannot even count how many ACL injury related blogs I have read, and this one way probably the most informative(including the comments).

I am 13 weeks post-op and I still have some numbness in various parts of my knee and upper-middle shin. The swelling has just recent subsided(past 2 weeks) and I have about 135 degrees of flexion. My stability is good for the most part although I still need to do a lot of strengthening exercises.

The only thing that worries me is the pain I get in the front of my knee when I try to kneel down. Is this pain normal? Will it go away? What exercises can I do to help this issue?

Kneeling is something I have not been able to do ever since my initial injury over a year ago, and I hope that I will be able to do it again.

Also, how far is your flexion now? Are you able to comfortably rest your bottom on your legs while kneeling?

Sorry for bombarding you with questions, I hope that you are able to answer them. (Please anyone answer)

Oh and I also forgot to include that I had some meniscus repair done… I was unaware of any meniscus damage going in to the surgery and my surgeon found it while repairing the ACL through the scope.

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Monika January 8, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Hello,
What you are feeling is normal. It takes time for everything to go back to its original functioning. I am 4 months past my acl and just about few days ago i was finally able to sit my buttom into my knees. It still hurts and i have to do it gradually. Also the pain you are feeling when kneeling is normal with the meniscus scope. I had my meniscus done 6 mo prior to acl reconstruction and eventhough recovery was fast kneeling was painfull for a while. Keep stretching and doing your pt excersises and in time you will notice pain diminish. Keep in mind it is a long recovery and patience and persistance is the key. Good luck
Monika

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bansidhe January 9, 2013 at 5:53 am

Hi

Yeah, all that seems completely normal. I am about 4 1/2 months post op and I cannot yet sit on my heels. I can kneel however. Some days I can get my heel to touch my but while stretching but other days it just won’t go. The key is to keep at it I think.

It took a friend of mine about 11 months before she could sit on her heels. It’s a long haul.

Oh, and it is not at all uncommon to find meniscus damage with an ACL tear. It’s good all that is fixed up.

Good Luck!

bansidhe

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Monika January 8, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Hello,
What you are feeling is normal. It takes time for everything to go back to its original functioning. I am 4 months past my acl and just about few days ago i was finally able to sit my bottom into my knees. It still hurts and i have to do it gradually. Also the pain you are feeling when kneeling is normal with the meniscus scope. I had my meniscus done 6 mo prior to acl reconstruction and even though recovery was fast kneeling was painful for a while. Keep stretching and doing your pt excersises and in time you will notice pain diminish. Keep in mind it is a long recovery and patience and persistance is the key. Good luck
Monika

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Monika January 8, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Hi KRIS,
I HAVE FANTASTIC NEWS! My dvt has resolved and what a relief. Now I AM ABLE TO REALLY FOCUS ON strengthening my legs. I am hopeful in returning to skiing soon, probably not this season but definitely next. Hope you are doing well.
If anyone is a skier here and has any tips on exercises etc. Please let me know. Thanks

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celina January 8, 2013 at 11:54 pm

I am at three weeks post op for acl and meniscus..dr said no brace. I am still on crutches because of the meniscus repair. P.t has been alittle hard. I still have numbness and pain in the front of my knee. I can lay on my tummy which I am thankful for since i am a tummy sleeper. I will be glad though when the dr says I can drive…I am going stir crazy at home

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Debbie January 10, 2013 at 12:53 pm

My 14 old son is having this done in 18 days. Good to read and kinda know what to expect

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ACL Mom January 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Hi Debbie,
My 16 yr old daughter completely tore her acl and mcl – she had the surgery on Oct 29. She is doing really well now. The hardest part is being the mom and seeing your “baby” go through this! But, it will be okay and youth will be on his side for the recovery! :) This is a great site with great people bringing lots of info, encouragement and advice along the way!

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kim January 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm

ACL mom and Debbie,
I have to disagree that youth is on their side! My PT staff says the best patients are mom’s who have actually given child birth. I am a fifty year old woman who is three weeks post-op, walked without crutches the second day and now use no brace. i was odd pain meds in 24 hours. I am on the same schedule as a teen with the same surgery and she does not have the stamina that I do.

I would help your son realize that this is gong to hurt but each day gets better. To do exactly what the PT staff says and follow doctors orders. And keep in mind a goal to make this all workwhile!

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Chris Kleespies January 11, 2013 at 11:04 pm

Just had my ACL and meniscus surgery 3 days ago. So far so good thanks for the insight. This is my first major knee surgery. Really tempting to sleep without the brace but decided not to after reading the advice. I blew it out playing volleyball landed sidewise heard the pop never much pain though. I could tell something was wrong and MRI proved the ACL was gone. Doc found some meniscus damage as well. Like others on your sight hard to consider this elective. No way I wanted to live with a trick knee. That said sure is a bummer 3 days post surgery with no driving, hopping around and painful wall leg raises! I know it will be worth it when I can run again. Thanks for your site!

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Sunny January 14, 2013 at 10:41 am

Good Luck Chris. I am 3 month and 3 week out. your post reminded me of the first week. Still fresh in my head. It is all worth it. what really helped me was watching Mount everest cimbing documentaries and few seasons on netflix. It really gave me courage to be very strong. Definately there are few strange things which will happen around the knee area for few months but once its over, its all worth it. I am waiting to get back to running. I think for me its 5 more weeks. ….

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Janet January 13, 2013 at 3:43 am

Thanks for the advice – my 14 year old son is due to have ACL reconstruction surgery in March (he already had surgery in the summer for lateral meniscus tear) as his knee is getting more unstable and at risk of further damage – it’s good to have some idea what to expect afterwards. Good luck with your continued recovery

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Janet January 13, 2013 at 3:54 am

Thanks for the advice – my 14 year old son is due to have ACL reconstruction surgery in March (he already had surgery in the summer for lateral meniscus tear) as his knee is getting more unstable and at risk of further damage – it’s good to have some idea what to expect afterwards. I’d be interested to hear how your son gets on, Debbie – do you have any concerns about potential damage to his growth? Our surgeon has reassured us that this is very unlikely, but I know it can happen if they are not fully grown, or at least past their major growth spurts. I’m happy that the risk of further damage is greater than the risk to his growth, so that’s why we are going ahead (he tore the ACL over a year ago)

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Debra January 13, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Hi All! So I am about 4.5 weeks post op. I was cleared to do the gym bike last week and that has been a relief – although only 10-15 min at a time. A couple of times I’ve felt this “pop” – not near the ACL, but in another part of my knee. it takes my breath away at the time, but then it’s fine – a friend of mine told me that’s me breaking up scar tissue (He tore his ACL a few years ago). I still can’t get past 2-3 degrees on extension and my knee is still definitely swollen. I can get to about 110-115 degrees flexion. Still working on it. I, too, still have that numbness on the outside shin area, but my doc told me that;s normal and to touch it with pieces of different material (kleenex, towels, my hand, etc) to get it used to new feelings and get the feeling back. She said the numb area will shrink with time. I will be going back to work as a Burn Nurse in a few weeks, but I have to wear the brace for 6 months while working with patients.

Does anyone else ever feel like there’s a rubber band in their knee that won’t stretch? Or like there’s an air bubble in your knee?

To everyone who just had the surgery, hang in there. When I look back at where I was 4 weeks ago, it’s a long way.

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bansidhe January 14, 2013 at 8:09 am

Your experience sound very much like my own. I’d get on the bike, start pedaling and I’d feel soemthing ‘building’ up at the top of my knee, it would build and build and then I would feel a “pop”, none to pleasant I might add. But after that it would be fine. That gets better and better, the pop becomes less and less intense and eventually won’t occur at all.
I’m 4 1/2 months out and I can ride pretty hard on my trainer now without that feeling.
It’s been about 2 weeks since I have felt it.

I also had feeling of resistance in some parts of the knee. For example, when trying to improve my gait so as not to limp I would feel weirdness around the patellar ligament
(aka patellar tendon).

I would just keep working it. Even now I do heel slides to get my knee loosened up
and get my flexion to where it should be. I have found that my “knee” itself feels ok now but the muscles,tendons and ligaments of the lower quad and upper calf/shin area get really stiff and sore. I believe this is because I asking my leg to do a lot.

But, so far, my knee feels stable. Yours will too!

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Kim January 19, 2013 at 9:28 am

Wow I can’t believe I just found this after doing 3 weeks of research! My surgery for a 100% torn ACL is in less than 2 weeks. I’m still limping because my leg hasn’t quite fully straightened yet. Sitting with my heel propped up as we speak & pushing down on my knee periodically too. I hope I can get straight soon! I might go to the gym, sit in the sauna and do all the PT exercises then bike for 20min without resistance. Will have to ice afterwards too. From reading this page, it seems I better pull the trigger on the ice machine! I was debating it and came across this page when I googled the question. $300 is so much but it sounds worth it. Even my PT said I should get it. Thanks so much for all the tips everyone!

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celina January 19, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Check to see if you can rent one…I am one month post op and mine was rented..believe me you will want one…I woke up from surgery with it on and used it for about four days straight. ..I had it on two hours at a time and off for a half hour…it helped with the pain greatly. .I stopped using mine after about the second week..

Hope this helps

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Kim February 22, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Thanks Celina, I did end up getting the machine and was so glad I did! Hope you’re doing well!

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Kris January 27, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Kim, you can also buy ice machines for cheaper. However, you have to refill them with ice frequently, which can be challenging if you are home alone and using crutches and a brace. It was well worth the expense for me, and I had a fantastic recovery. Best of luck to you!

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Kim February 22, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Hi Kris, can you tell me where I can buy the machine? I ended up getting it and was so glad I did! But I had to return it this week and I could really use it as my knee is still hurtting from time to time and is swollen. I posted below dated today 2/22 about having the knee bending issues. Thanks!

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Kris February 22, 2013 at 10:10 pm

I only used the rental ice machine. However, my daughter hurt her knee and has been using an ice machine called Active Ice. (Just search for Active Ice on Amazon.) It isn’t nearly as nice as the one I rented and doesn’t do compression, but it is under 200 dollars.

Good luck!!

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julie hibberd January 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Great article, my husband had Acl and Meniscus surgery yesterday. He is doing well, gets very groggy when he takes the pain killers. He had 2 nerve blocks before surgery and they have helped a lot. He was also attached to an ice machine which the hospital gave us to bring home. I hope he recovers as quickly as you have.

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kim January 19, 2013 at 4:44 pm

I had my surgery on Dec 18th. 4 weeks out. Had my post-op visit and they are thrilled. I have 145 degrees bending and -4 degrees extension. Riding stationary bike for 45 minutes and doing strengthening exercises daily. Got great news! I can get back to riding my horses in two months.

I am a fifty year old women and I want to tell everyone, you can do this! Keep your goals in mind and push through the stiffness! Ice is your friend and so is stretching and moving! Keep your chin up! God bless!

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Kris January 27, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Kim, I am so glad you wrote to share your experience. I know many people that hesitating on having the surgery because they were 50 years old or older, so it is great to hear a such a success story.

It used to be they didn’t reconstruct ACLs in people over 40, but that has all changed. I was 44 when I had mine, and I am so glad I did. I am a year post-op and I just went for a beautiful walk during a snowstorm. I would have never done that without having had the surgery for fear of falling and making my knee worse.

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kim January 28, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Age is irrelevant. I wou;d say that state of miind should be the deciding factor! Looking forward to jumping horses again at the AQHA world show!!!

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Jody January 19, 2013 at 5:37 pm

I had ACL reconstruction with hamstring graft yesterday in Barrie at the RVH. I found your website a few days ago and found it helpful, but some details for us surgery virgins could be helpful, thus I will describe “the day.” This was my first surgery (33 year old female) ever, so did not know what to expect. I arrived at the hospital around 0915 and did all the pre-admin at whih time they also gave me some for for physio for the first week and how to use crutches (like it was rocket science). I went back to the waiting room where several people had IV trollies, I really hoped that I didn’t have to have one. It was bad enough that I already looked like a sick person the hospital attire. I was one of the lucky ones to get an IV, to my surprise it didn’t hurt at all. Looking at the water drip down the tube made me so thirsty. At about 1230 I was taken to the surgery waiting area and my spouse to his pleasure was asked to leave. At this time I was also given a narcotic, to aid in the pain post surgery. Next my surgeon came out to say hi and initial my knee. I then met with the anesthetist and then a nurse. At about 1245 I was brought into surgery and that’s about it… I woke up at 1400. I felt really tired, but didn’t feel much pain. Unlike the author, I did not have a nerve block, so had full feeling in my leg. My spouse was called and I was released from the hospital at 1430. So the entire process took about 5 hours, but active surgery seemed to only be less than 2 hrs. I was wheeled to the back seat of the car and spent the remained of the day couch surfing.. Oh, I was really thirsty and a little hungry, so I took care of that immediately. Today, the day after surgery is great. I am icing, taking a few pills, doing a few exercises, sleeping and watching TV. I was lucky to have surgery on a Friday, so I have a caregiver all weekend!! If you have worries, stop because it really was not bad at all and I am not tough when it comes to pain.

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Kris January 27, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Jody, it sounds like you had a great experience. Thanks for sharing the details regarding the day of surgery. I remember my husband being sent away too, and then the drugs began!

Take care, and keep on icing!!

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Alexis January 25, 2013 at 2:21 am

Hey I had surgery yesterday the 23rd..I had an acl hamstring graft reconstruction and a lateral meniscus trim. So today was my first dat home and it was awful. Im tired of being in bed and evaluating my right leg. So im just wondering when could I start doing range of motion exercise. Im scared to do them now because the scars still hurt as well as my knee.i see my doctor on the 28th to remove the wrapping , so do I start on monday or now. Im just scared the scars are going to open or if I might damage the new acl.

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Alexis January 25, 2013 at 2:25 am

Hey I had surgery yesterday the 23rd..I had an acl hamstring graft reconstruction and a lateral meniscus trim. So today was my first dat home and it was awful. Im tired of being in bed and evaluating my right leg. So im just wondering when could I start doing range of motion exercise. Im scared to do them now because the scars still hurt as well as my knee.i see my doctor on the 28th to remove the wrapping , so do I start on monday or now. Im just scared the scars are going to open or if I might damage the new acl. Email me with suggestions theboyalex26@hotmail.com

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Kris January 27, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Alexis, I cannot give medical advice as everyone’s surgery is different. I obviously got to this comment a little late and you will probaly have had your appt by the time you read this. Hopefully the doctor was able to answer your questions. I know I did ROM exercises pretty quickly, but I did not have meniscus involvement this time around. Good luck to you!!

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AbBee January 28, 2013 at 7:55 am

Propped up on the sofa, ice packs on knee, I started ‘surfing’ to find a website to let me know if what I’m experiencing 4 days after ACL recon with hamstring graft is normal. Thankfully I discovered there is no exact ‘normal’. All these experiences are so different and great to hear about.
I was in hospital for 2 nights after surgery I passed out the afternoon after my morning surgery and hit the bathroom floor on my first trip accompanied to the loo, long story, but nurses fault. I had femoral and sciatic nerve blocks but sciatic one failed and my hamstring was excruciating when i got out of bed. I had a full leg splint on at the time and my surgeon says it should all be okay and the fall shouldn’t have damaged anything. Of course I’m not so sure about this so am looking for what I should be feeling 4 days after surgery!
I was advised to not wear my splint at home, my knee is heavily bandaged and am getting around the house ok on crutches for short walks. I don’t have very good extension yet, flexion is okay and i can weight bear a bit. I’m doing my exercises and am due to see the surgeon again in 9 days to remove dressing etc. the Physio visited in hospital and gave me a sheet of the exercises I am to do until I see the surgeon. My concern after reading these posts is that I would be better off seeing Physio before then to ensure I’m traveling ok, doing the right things? I haven’t had brace on since leaving hospital and have been laid up between sofa and bed since then. I’m a fit healthy, female pilates freak mid 40s and did boxing and running until ACL ruptured 8 weeks ago. Any advice would be great!

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bansidhe January 28, 2013 at 9:09 am

Hi,

I was/am also very active. I tore my ACL after landing during a flying side kick board break. I’d thrown that kick many times before. I know exactly what I did I remember it as if it were yesterday! Anyway, I, too had surgery about 8 weeks after.

I did not start going to PT right away. I went about 2 1/2 weeks after surgery. While at home, I worked on range of motion and clenching my quads as much as possible. I do not think for a second I missed out on anything not going to PT right away. When I did see my doc, I had about 95degree flexion and full extension. After I started PT, I improved rather quickly.

As far as icing is concerned. Everyone here swears by it. In all honesty, I iced but not every 20 minutes. I got an ice machine but not one of the automatic ones. I still feel I
didnt need it. I would have been fine putting flexible ice packs on my knee. What felt best to me was moving the joint even if slowly and in a controlled fashion.

The best thing for me was this elastic type wrap I got from PT. It’s like a thin, cloth sleeve. I put it on whenever I did any PT exercises. It gave a little support and just plain felt good. I wore it all the time even after not having the brace. You’ll know what you dont need it anymore. That is, when it doesn’t feel as good to wear it!

I can run on the treadmill… I’m not breaking any speed/distance records but I do about 1 1/2 miles on it. The treadmill is boring as all heck so I’ll start on the roads soon and will automatically run more.

I am now 5 months post op. I see Doc tomorrow.. I am hoping he will clear me to return to TaeKwonDo… fingers crossed

good luck!

bansidhe
(
tore acl 6/29/2012
acl surgery 8/20/2012
)

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Jody January 28, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Hello everyone. I am delighted to report that my recovery has progressed. The doctor told me to put weight on leg asap. I was totally off crutches and narcotics 3 days post op. I began PT 7 days post op. Today, 10 days post op, went to PT again. My therapist was really mean (kidding) and so far this has been the most painful part.I have almost achieved full extension and exceeded 90′ flexion. I am still icing 3-4 x per day and doing the assigned exercises, I am required to wear my custom brace when I am “active.” My incisions are almost healed. It seems like everyone receives different directions from their surgeon, but getting into the PT fast and icing seems to be key. Good luck everyone and thanks for starting this page Kris.If anyone is still couch surfing, “Homeland” is amazing.

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AbBee January 28, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Hi Jody,
My surgery was 24th. I’m doing my ROM exercises but not much moving around on the crutches. I won’t wear my brace as it hurts but I’m off all pain meds as they just don’t suit me. There’s no way I feel I could go out just yet and im not even cooking so kids and hubby doing that bit!! When did you venture out into public and how did you go about it? My daughter starts back at school next week and I’m going to have to head out at some point!
Ab

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Jody January 29, 2013 at 12:55 pm

AbBee, My first trip was a short drive to the post office (10 min drive), too much online shopping. I brought my friend just in case; this was 7 days post op. I have been driving to PT and it has been effortless. I go to the grocery store now too, 11 days post op. My doctor and PT have said, don’t be afraid to use your leg as if it were fine, with the exceptions of deep squats and lateral movements. I still cook, but haven’t had any real big adventures in the kitchen. I do wii active upper and core exercises too. It was difficult to wear the brace initially bc of the incision placements. At this point you can’t be afraid to move around the house. You are exactly 6 days behind my surgery, so be patient and get to PT, it hurts but has helped with range of motion. Did you only tear your ACL or did you have meniscus damage too? Did you have a hamstring graft? I only tore my ACL, so I am the best case as I am only dealing with the ACL.

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AbBee January 30, 2013 at 2:10 am

I just tore ACL on right leg and had a hamstring graft. I’m walking around more today but won’t ditch the crutch! I wouldn’t drive as I couldn’t move foot from accelerator to brake quickly enough in an emergency. Good to hear you’re progressing so well, I certainly feel a bit more confident now and am up and about more today. I’ve got my leg straight with no pain and nearly at 90 deg flexion – that hurts!

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Jody January 30, 2013 at 10:45 am

AbBee, Are you from Canada? My injury happened about 10 months ago, and because we have public health care, it took this long to get MRI, followed by surgery. During this time I really focused on leg strength, and I’m guess my muscles “compensated” for the lack of stability. Before the surgery I was even considering going snowboarding, but I used the logical side of my brain and held out. Although it was a long wait, it may have made my recovery easier. Off to PT again, hoping to get to a full rotation on the bike by end of week 2. There seems to be a lot of difference in recovery methods among surgeons.

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AbBee January 31, 2013 at 7:00 am

I’m in Australia and have private health care but also lucky to have family and friends in med so the only thing holding me back was Christmas break for the surgeon I wanted! Where are you Jody? UK?
My legs were pretty strong as I’d started cycling and jogging again after the tear and also was doing a lot of pilates and my knee was actually feeling very well rehabilitated, so its a shame to head so far backwards!
Good luck with full rotation! I’m walking with no crutches today and feeling pretty good. Do let me know how you’re going, it’s good to know there’s light at the end of the tunnel!

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Jody February 1, 2013 at 7:37 pm

I’m in Canada, so we have a complicated heath care system. That’s great news that u are walking now, makes day to day monotony bearable. I was hoping to have full rotation on the bike today, but I’m not quite there,,, maybe Monday. I did take the dog for a walk in the snow today. Goal for end next week is to walk without a limp.. Are you in more pain now that you are back on your feet?

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AbBee February 2, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Hi Jody,
Yes! To the more pain, I went out with friends Friday and did a fair bit of walking around Sat too. I’m paying for it now so am back on the sofa for a day with exercises only!
Snow sounds great – we are 38 deg C here today!
Just before Iinjured myself I’d given myself a goal to run a marathon for my next birthday in Nov, so that has probably got to be put back now!
Hope you reach your next goal :)

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Jody February 4, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Happy to report that I can go up and downstairs normally and ride the stationary bike now (17 days post op). Starting to feel somewhat normal now. You should be excited for next week!!!

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Diego silva January 29, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Hi, I torn my acl playing soccer. It’s been 2 weeks since my surgery . The first week it was very painful but now in doing much better. In going to PT 3 times a week and doing the rehab exercises at home twice a day. The only concern that I have is that I’m already waking(limping) but it hurts after a while and I can’t straight my leg to 0 degrees. I try so hard every day to straight my leg but I can’t it feels that my knee is gonna get hurt. I don’t know if is because is only been 2 weeks. I told my pt and he says it will get better with time. I’m scare that my knee is gonna get stock like that. Any advices? I see online that people are already straighting their leg to 0 degrees by the first week. I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong.

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Kris January 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Diego, it took me awhile to get to 0 degrees after the first surgery, do not despair! Actually, it was probably 2 or 3 weeks to get to 0 degrees this time too. I was close for awhile, but it took some time to get to 0.

It is very important to get full extension, because that is part of what helps your quads re-strengthen too. However, two weeks is the blink of an eye. You will get it back given how determined you are. For every person that got it back instantly, there are others that took a month.

Keep up with the therapy and stretching as instructed. You will be back in no time, and this will all be in the past.

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celina January 30, 2013 at 10:21 am

I am five weeks post op with a donor acl….I can straighten mine to 0 and yesterday in p.t was able to get 120 bend..I can now drive my car which is a stick as I had torn my left knee..can’t do any weights yet and no treadmill as I also tore my meniscus. ..thank u all for ur stories as it has helped…if any are waiting for surgery the p.t helped greatly to make the process alittle easier for me…good luck with everyone

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kim February 2, 2013 at 10:06 am

Hi All, I am 6 weeks post-op and had a major set back. I have been doing great with twice a week physical therapy. Achieving every goal and doing better than expected when I had an injury in pool therapy. (of all places). They think i broke through scar tissue when my knee popped. the next morning i woke up to a knee that was huge. Larger than immediately post-op. I am on bed rest with no exercise. (only quads). And back on crutches with no brace. Major bummer ! Any one experience this?

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AbBee February 2, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Oh that’s awful for you, poor thing! Although I’m only 1 week after surgery I have been warned again and again by doc that graft is at its weakest at 6 to 12 weeks. This is something to do with the healing process, blood flow and the graft ‘taking’ I believe. So do be very careful!
I felt really good yesterday so overdid things and am paying for it today! This blog – thanks so much Kris! – highlights so clearly how different everyone’s journey is and how you must pay attention to your body and it’s restrictions! Take it easy, all the best for a speedy recovery!

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Jody February 4, 2013 at 10:45 am

OMG Kim, that is terrible. Hope you are feeling better.

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Polishmommy February 4, 2013 at 5:25 am

I am only 5 days post op and cant wait to leave the house!!! Have two very smal, kids and had to hire help for the first 6 weeks recovery. Anyone going through recovery with small kids?
Polishmommy recently posted..ACL OP Recovery- day 4

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knee brace February 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Great post on post op! It can be so frustrating but these tops definitely help!

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celina February 6, 2013 at 10:56 pm

I am 7 weeks post op and have had a set back…was told to be back on crutches due to still limping pretty bad…my knee pops every now and then…i have also hiper extended a few times..that hurt like crazy…I can only handle two pound weighs on my leg due to feeling a pull on the acl..but thankfully I havent lost strength, if only I could get my knee to follow my directions….
When does the pain go away and the stiffness stops…I have to sleep with a brace on just to get rest…otherwise I wake up five times a night hurting..any help would be thankful…

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o February 10, 2013 at 4:55 pm

im 6 weeks post op..and i might have had a set back..was walkin downstairs and nearly slipped which might have caused my knee a bit of a shock..and everytime i walk or bend my knee i feel a click..who do i go to see or tell about this?

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celina February 10, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Might want to get ahold of the surgeon. ..I dont know how often u see him…I see mine once a month…I dont know if u wear a brace but see if it helps…it helps me a night otherwise I wake up so stift it hurts all day..good luck on urs…hope all is well

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Kris February 22, 2013 at 2:09 pm

Sorry for the delay in reply, my site was hacked unfortunately. Did this resolve? Many people have reported clicks that eventually went away. Have you discussed with your physical therapist?

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Kris February 22, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Sorry for my delay in reply. How are you doing now? My knee still gets stiff some and I am over a year post-op. Are you off the crutches? What does your PT think? I would be nervous about the crutches out of fear of scare tissue building up.

I hope things have improved.

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o May 31, 2013 at 1:04 pm

im actually doin fine now..clicks still occur but nothi major.knee feels strong too..started sprinting drills a month ago and feel very slow next to my buddy (used to have the same speed)..i hope this comes back..in terms of sports which ones were you doing in the 6th month?

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Kris June 9, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I was hitting the tennis ball around a little at 6 months. I religiously wore a brace though, and still do. I walked a lot at six months, and jogged a little.

Your speed will come back. That quad needs to strengthen along with everything else. Just be careful and don’t race back too quickly!

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o June 13, 2013 at 6:46 am

i started tennis too without a brace and it doesnt feel bad at all..im just cautious of it in my head so i dont push myself..as far as strengthening the muscles, my quads are fine its my hamstring thats considerably weaker..im doing exercises that focus on each set of muscles such as glutes, adductors etc that make up the hamstring..

my PT isn’t the best and i really hope these exercises im taking of the internet are not harming the ligament..

how can far can you reach when you bend your leg standing?is it the same as your good leg? (as if your trying to touch your butt)

and every time i straighten out my leg my knee crackles and pops without any pain..any clue what this might be?

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AbBee February 7, 2013 at 9:21 am

It’s now 14 days since my surgery, I saw doc yesterday and am now driving and walking is a lot easier. Interesting was that the doc told me to not go to the Physio! He only recommends it for footy players and those who may over do it or those who would be lazy. As I don’t fit either he said to keep on doing the exercises given, start using the stationary bike and water walking. Even go back to pilates but don’t do any lower body stuff and definitely no straight leg lifts. I was very taken aback by all this but he assured me that at 3 months we could step things up, this time should be used for healing and repair. Quite a different approach to much I’ve seen on here! I think I will go to Physio and see what happens from there!

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Kim February 25, 2013 at 5:55 pm

That does sounds pretty crazy. Where is your doctor? I’m pretty shocked that he told you not to do PT. Though stationary biking is probably a great all around exercise for you. I’m 3.5 weeks out and wonder if I can go to the gym and do the bike on my own? I asked my PT and he told me not to and to continue biking on the small diameter bike at his office instead. The thing is that I see him only 2x/week.

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EB February 8, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Yes, it sounds like everyone has such different experiences. I started physical therapy (PT) about 3 days after my surgery. I had a complete ACL tear repaired with a patella graft. I tore my ACL May 6 and had surgery June 26. I did a lot of PT with the therapist and at home prior to surgery and I think it helped my recovery. Post surgery they had be back in PT 2 times a week (killer with the copay) but worth it.

I’m 7 months post surgery I think I’m doing well from reading the post some are doing better in a shorter time post surgery. I am late 40′s and a female. I’m pretty active. I’m back jogging on the treadmill (slowly and for short distances), doing spinning classes and swimming.

I want to wear some heels and I do wear boots with a slight heel sometimes but it becomes a little tiring on knee. I’d like to know what other female have found about heels after ACL surgery. I’m also glad someone mentioned the popping I used to have that pretty regularly. It was a popping sound but no pain and therapist thought it was scar tissue, I haven’t that for a while. I did a lot of massaging of the scar early on as well.

The exercises and therapy felt like a job but it definitely speeds up recovery. For those who had surgery a while ago (over a year) – does the heaviness in the knee ever go away? Today it’s cold
and feeling pretty stiff, I guess that is to be expected.

Well, good luck to all. Do your exercises, keep it moving on the knee but be kind to the knee.

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Kris February 22, 2013 at 2:12 pm

EB- regarding heels, it depends on your definition of ‘heels’. Stilettos might be tough, but they were tough for me before surgery. I can wear heels but I spend a lot of time to find the perfect pair that fits just right and balances my weight well.

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Tess February 9, 2013 at 2:45 am

One week post-op and not sleeping… I am so thankful to you for all the info posted. I was feeling quite exhausted and hopeless due to the pain, stiffness and being so dependent on others.. You helped me re-focus and know things will get better. I hope you are feeling great. Thanks a whole bunch!!!

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Jody February 10, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Tess, I am 3 weeks post op and I remember just last week having similar problems. I was also napping; remember you body is injured and using energy to recover. Take guilt free naps, your body needs the rest. I also had trouble sleeping at night due to pain (and the daytime naps), but week 3 is much better…

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EB February 9, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Tess, it will get better. I was pretty dependent for the first week or so. Accept the help and rest when you can. It took so much out of me to do the PT and the exercises at home. Whenever I left PT I felt I needed a nap. Although it’s been 7 months and I am active, I still feel tired sometimes and I think it’s from the knee surgery. Keep your head up! Before you know it you will be up and about.

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Brian February 9, 2013 at 9:19 pm

I had acl surgery yesterday as well as meniscus repair. I fell without brace and bent leg that had surgery. Should I be concerned?

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celina February 9, 2013 at 9:32 pm

U should let the dr know….I had the same surgery…acl with meniscus repair and I wasnt allowed to take brace off unless doing some p.t…u could have torn something..see what they say…hope it turns out ok..I am seven weeks post op…so things will get better…good luck

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Selena February 10, 2013 at 1:09 am

Kris, I just recently had ACL surgery just two days ago. (Thursday, February 7,2013). It is hurting so much, I am unable to lift my leg up in my own. This is my first surgery ever and I’m not too sure what to expect. Your article really helped. But I hope I have a successful recovery just as you did. I have a few questions if you can answer them for me?
First, were you able to do the home exercises the doctor gave you? I am unable to do four of them, 3 consist of me lifting gym leg. And I am unable to.
Second, how soon after surgery did the pain stop occurring? I’m talking about the throbbing pain I have when I am laying down and my leg is elevated.
Third, did your leg ever get stiff when you were laying down or sitting on a chair, and when you would stand it would hurt really bad?
Fourth, and lastly, was physical therapy hard? Did it hurt? I’m really scared.
One more question. Did your stomach ever start to feel weird. I really feel nauseated, :/
Please email me at ssaldana32@gmail.com. Thank you.

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Kris February 22, 2013 at 2:10 pm

I am sorry for the delay, my site had issues and this is the first day I could log on. How are you? I assume you are in PT and know that it is actually a wonderful thing. Painful, sure, but feeling progress is great.

Please let me know how you are doing.

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Jenna February 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Great job writing and being so detailed. It is good to know the post surgery reality. I injured my knee in January and started PT a couple of weeks ago. I fractured my posterior tibia, have a grade 2 MCL tear and completely tore my acl. Unfortunately, I can’t get surgery until June, as I am a teacher and it would be too difficult to take off significant time off during the school year.

Hopefully I will recover during the summer time and will have enough time to recuperate and not have to rush getting back to work.

I will be looking forward to posting on here post surgery for suggestions and reflections.

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Jody February 10, 2013 at 4:56 pm

3 weeks post-op and have finally started stability and strength exercises. I am still doing PT 3 x per week and doing exercises at home. I am able to ride the bike and walk without difficulty. AbBee, I am shocked that your doctor told u to to not do PT. I would not have achieved ROM so quickly had my PT not tortured me. We ended up getting 41 cm of snow and I was abandoned as my spouse as he was on a boys ski trip, so I had to do snow removal (snow blower and shovel) solo. My hamstring was killing the next day, but all seems good now. Because everything is going so well, I need to remind myself to be careful. EB, I was also wondering when it is safe to wear heals again as I have an event next month.

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Jaime February 13, 2013 at 2:30 pm

How do people tend to do with stairs after surgery?

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Jody February 15, 2013 at 11:15 am

Going upstairs was easy, 7 days post op. Downstairs is much more difficult. it took me 3 weeks to go downstairs correctly.

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Rob L February 14, 2013 at 6:19 pm

I am due to go for ACL surgery soon, my big question is; I am due to go on a big hill walking expedtion in June, I am in the forces and am physically fit, once surgery is done I will be doing a full PT sessions to the max (without overdoing it) will I be fit enough to complete the walk/climb, any advice greatly appriciated.

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Jenna February 14, 2013 at 8:55 pm

I am getting my surgery at the end of June. Hopefully three months will be enough recuperation for you. If it is on flat surfaces, that would be a lot easier for you. I know when I met with my doctor yesterday, that he will clear patients to begin jogging after three months of surgery. Hopefully your recuperation will go well. I wish you the best!!

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Jody February 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

I think you will be fine if u are not carrying a big pack or going down any large mountains. I am one month post op today and I can cycle and do short walks (30 min) outside. Good luck with the surgery.

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Kris February 22, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Uphill might be easier than downhill actually. Your physical therapist will be key in getting you prepared, although you will still be healing considerably at that time. Do you have a brace?

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AbBee February 14, 2013 at 9:04 pm

I’m now 3 weeks post-op and have been to Physio once. So glad I did! The massage done on calf and hamstring helped a lot and the exercises I did helped a lot too. I am continuing with exercises at home and I’m walking with no limp but slowly. I can go up stairs no problem but not down yet and am at 100deg. Clearly not as good as some of the progress on here but not bad and interesting to compare with you guys doing the killer PT sessions.

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Kim February 22, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Hi everyone! I’m 3 weeks post-op (only ACL surgery with a donor ligament), but a little concerned that it hurts my knee to lift my heel to walk properly. And the knee is still swollen… I woke up twice last night from the pain, even though I took 480mg of naproxen before bed too. I figured this might be a normal healing process, but my PT said it’s not common to have the swelling & to keep massaging the knee cap and move it around. Anyone else having pain issues bending the knee when standing too? I wonder if it’s an issue with the donor ligament? It hurts to curl the knee when standing and feels heavy. I’m walking carefully and slowly without the brace and crutches (but use them for being out in public in case I fall). Haven’t dared to go up stairs yet. I’ve been to about 4 PT sessions already (2x/week & started walking backwards on the treadmill ouchhh, biking on the smaller diameter bike and all the other usual exercises) and am religiously doing the exercises/electro stimiulation on my quads/icing every morning and evening at home. I have pretty much 0-110 flexion. So happy about that because it wouldn’t get to 0 before surgery & the limp was bad (if anyone is having a difficult time straightening the leg, my PT said to prop the heel/calf up and place a bag of sugar or heavy book above and/or below the knee for about 15-20min at a time). Everyone, don’t forget to eat anti-inflammatory foods and massage your knee with anti-inflammatory lotions/oils that contain arnica, ginger and/or cayenne to help keep your knee happy :) Badger Balm makes organic oils & balms that I just love. Here’s to a speedy recovery to all!

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Kim February 22, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Oh yeah the Badger Balm is called Sore Joint Rub (all natural with ginger, cayenne & arnica & olive oil based). They also have a body oil with ginger in it too.

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Kris February 22, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Kim, recovery is so variable. One day you may feel pain, then it is gone. Massage was great for me. It really helped loosen everything up so I could make the most of therapy. Thanks for your tips too!

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AbBee February 23, 2013 at 12:11 am

Hi Kim,
I’m slightly ahead of you at 4 weeks, my Physio explained that a lot of that pain is due to the swelling and the pressure it puts on your nerves in the area which makes sense. I have found when I’ve overdone things my knee swells more and therefore restricts me more so I’m taking the slowly slowly approach! I now have about 110 degs and find stairs no problem. I too feel that soft tissue work is really helpful. Speedy recovery :)

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Kim February 25, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Hi AbBee,
Yes, we need to take it slow & easy… it was so hard for me in the beginning since I’m so active and am a gym rat… haha How do you do soft tissue massage work? Like do you you rub it all over, use a lot of pressure or do sweeping motions? Sometimes I’ll lay in bed with my legs up against the wall and massage the legs towards me & the knee in the hopes that will reduce the swelling… not sure if that works though, but it’s better than nothing :) Thanks for the well wishes! I look forward to hearing your’s and everyone’s progress. Since you’re a week ahead of me, I’ll try stairs in a week too… after I run it by my PT of course.

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Kim February 25, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Oh ok, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be stuck with early morning knee aches for weeks, thanks! Will keep massaging too. You’re welcome :)

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GG March 5, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Kim, has your PT tried massaging along your tibia in front (on the outside of your shins)? I had this pain under my knee (in the fat pad) that started after my first knee surgery. The PT said the muscle along side the shin is working too hard and pulling on my knee or fat pad or something like that. Anyhoooo, long story short, I massaged it after every workout and any time it hurt and it relieved a lot of the swelling and pain in my knee.

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Kim March 6, 2013 at 10:57 am

GG wow that sounds like what I have! Thanks so much for replying! My PT didn’t say anything about that actually nor has he massaged my leg at all besides moving the knee cap around. Even if that’s not what’s going on with my knee, it definitely wouldn’t hurt to massage up and down my shin… I haven’t been doing that all besides the daily lotion application…haha Will do so starting tonight! Yes, the fat pad (by that it seems you mean the area below the knee cap, not directly underneath the knee cap) is the part that’s been getting pretty swollen. It does seem that the muscle alongside the shin is being pulled because it feels like the part next to the shin on the inside is bruised. Can’t wait to see if the massaging works :) Who would have thought that massaging the shin & surrounding areas would affect the knee/fat pad!

It’s been 2 weeks since my post above (and 5 weeks post op) and it’s not hurting as badly as before to walk/lift the knee & heel! So if anyone fresh out of surgery is concerned about progress, don’t worry: stay on top of what your doctor/PT tells you to do diligently and over time, it should get better little by little, as I’ve noticed. I’ve biked on a regular bike (not the smaller diameter bike) for 15min twice now too! And walking backwards on the treadmill doesn’t hurt as much at all like it did 2 weeks ago… yay :D

Thanks again GG! You brightened my morning with your advice.

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jane Schwerin February 24, 2013 at 5:13 am

Hi my name is Jane and I have just had a Patella Femoral reconstruction with a donor ligament. It has been about 2 and a half weeks and I am feeling very despondent! I am at 90 degree bending of the knee but it is still quite stiff and I am struggling to get my confidence back to walk without crutches!I am going to Physio twice a week and also trying to do my pool exercises as often as I can. BTW I am 52 years old!! I need some words of encouragement please!!

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Kris February 24, 2013 at 9:02 am

Jane, did you have meniscus surgery too? Are you wearing a brace?

I had great success going to physical therapy 3 times a week. Does the therapist do any massage or is it mostly machine work?

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Jenna February 25, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Hi! Who has had the patellar tendon surgery? I am opting for that one and wanted to know your thoughts, recovery, etc. I just wanted to hear some of your thoughts. Thanks for your help! Everyone, hang in there and stay tough. I am typing this as I am on the stationary bike. Trying to maintain core work and do all of my therapy exercises.

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Ryan dub March 19, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I just got my patellar tendon graft.. on day 5 of recovery.

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Jenna April 25, 2013 at 9:13 pm

How are you feeling since you are a little over 5 weeks?

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GG March 5, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Hello, I had my 2nd acl/meniscus surgery last week (Feb 26). It’s amazing how everyone’s experience is so different. And even my first time around was much different than this time.

My first time having the surgery was back in 1999. It was a cadaver graft. I remember being in so much pain after surgery that I was in tears for 2 days. I can’t remember what drugs they gave me other than tylenol with codeine, which didn’t seem to work at all. All I wanted to do was rip off the cast and move my knee (I have had chronic joint pain all my life so joint immobility really hurts). I couldn’t wait to get myself to PT 4 days post op. PT was very aggressive. It took me a few weeks to get full flexion but full extension came right away. It took me a couple weeks to get off crutches and afterwards, if I was to stand for long periods of time, I would use a cane for the first couple months. But with really aggressive PT, I was playing tennis and horseback riding within 4-6 months and skiing in 7 1/2 months. I have to say, until my recent injury, the right (surgery) knee was stronger than my “good” knee (I have very loose joints overall).

A couple months ago I hurt the same knee again!!! The Dr. says he thinks the cadaver graft just stretched over time, so when I was exercising, my leg basically twisted and locked at my knee. It came out and I had to shove it back in. The tear was very small, but the stretch in the acl was bad enough that the meniscus was being compromised again. So back to the O.R. I went last week. Even though I was very happy with my old surgeon, he had since retired, so I had to find a new one.

Pre-Op, I was instructed to wear a brace 24/7, even sleeping, so I would make the knee worse. After the first sleepless night with the brace, I decided to nix it at night, but wore it most days. The only exercises that I was allowed to do were walking and swimming. I inquired about pre-op PT, but for some reason he didn’t think it was necessary if I continued swimming and walking. I did a lot of stretching on my own because I remembered the pain and effort it took to get back to full flexion last time around.

I went in for my surgery at 6AM last Tuesday, was out like a light in beautiful anesthesia bliss by 8.30AM and was discharged by 10:30AM!!! I was amazed how quickly it went. They did the ‘platelet rich therapy’ like the author had described (which I think is amazing and attribute much of my speedy recovery to this time around), and they used an achilles heal cadaver graft this time around which apparently is supposed to last longer than the one I had before.

I was prescribed percocet for pain and Ketorolac (NSAID) for swelling. Well the NSAID did a number on my stomach (I’ve had ulcers in the past) and even if I had any leg pain at all after the surgery, I don’t remember it. All I remember is my stomach burning and eventually throwing up. I called the Dr and he confirmed that I should stop taking the NSAID and just ice the “bejeezuz” out of the knee (his words, not mine). Seemed to work and after 24 hours on percocet, I switched to regular tylenol which seems to work fine (ICE ICE BABY…. that’s the key).

I was instructed to wear the immobilizer brace, but to take it off to use the Continuous Passive Motion “CPM” machine, which I was to start using the morning after the surgery. That blew my mind, but with my joint pain history, I looked forward to it. Let me tell you, I LOVE THIS MACHINE. I am to use it 4 times a day, 2 hours each session. 3 days post-op, and I was at full extension and 77degrees flexion. 5 days in and bye bye crutches (sort of) the only times I use the crutches are when I don’t have the brace on.

I am now 1 week post op and, if I really wanted to, I could walk without crutches, just a limp, but I don’t. I’m being cautious until I get the stitches out next week and get ok from Doc to nix the crutches completely. I am at 95 degrees flexion and really happy with the way it is going (and with my CPM machine).

The only thing I have to say is, I was told to take the dressing off 2 days post-op, replace with waterproof bandaids and take a shower. Which I did, however, the bandaids were the ones that have antibacterial on them (which I suppose my husband, bless him, thought would be good to buy) I have had an allergic reaction to them and now this huge blisters have formed around the incision sites. I went back to Dr and he confirmed it was just and allergic reaction and now I have to just let them “air out”, but they burn and itch and are just annoying. I’m afraid the incisions won’t heal right. I guess we will see next week when I go to get the stitches out. Has anyone else experienced anything like this? I had this kind of reaction to neosporin once, but it didn’t blister, just got a terrible rash. Anyone know what I can do to get rid of the blisters so it doesn’t make the scaring worse?

That’s my story…… Good luck and good night all….

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Kim March 6, 2013 at 11:17 am

Wow what a story! Thanks for sharing! It sounds like you had a much much better time this time! :) And what progress! That CPM machine sounds awesome. I wonder why my doctor didn’t have me use it too? I think it would have helped a lot since I was afraid to bend my knee for a couple days after surgery: I was terrified that my stitches would rip the skin if I bent the knee because they felt like they were going to pop open… eww… I went to a really good hospital in NYC so I’m surprised they didn’t have me use the CPM machine.

Anyway, I’m sorry I can’t help you with the skin reaction issue… your doctor didn’t tell you what you can apply to help?? Perhaps aloe? But I don’t know if aloe is antibacterial or whether it’s ok to apply to your open incisions. The blisters shouldn’t scar though… I got a big skin blister under one of the steri-strips (the adhesive wore off so it just kept rubbing my skin when I was wearing the brace), but my doctor told me not to pop it and it eventually went away. No scarring either! :)

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GG March 7, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Hi Kim! Yes, the CPM machine is my best friend for now. Does take a lot of time out the day, though. Thanks for the advice on the blisters. They are getting bigger, but I figure I only have a couple more days until I go back to the Dr to get the stitches out, after that I’ll go to my GP and see what he says.

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Debra March 7, 2013 at 12:18 am

Hey guys!
So I’m about 14 weeks post op and waiting for my new smaller brace so I can go back to work (I’m a nurse). I’m walking just about normally most of the time, and I’ve been cleared to do the elliptical at the gym with no brace, and when my new brace shows up, I’ve been cleared to run for short periods on a treadmill or track. Don’t really have pain anymore and the numb areas on my shin and side of my leg are shrinking (like my doc told me they would). My PT is a little more conservative than most, but I don’t really mind, as I’m scared to hurt it again! I’ve probably got about 135 degrees flexion, but still can’t get negative numbers on extension without a lot of stretching. Going down stairs is still a little difficult. I’m definitely still working on my quad and knee strength. It’s amazing how much you lose in such a short time. Anyway, just wanted to check in. Everyone else, hang in there!

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jane March 7, 2013 at 1:51 am

Hi All

I am now 4 weeks post-op after Femoral Patella Resconstruction with donor tendon. Well because of past experience of my knee-cap dislocating. Before my op my knee was buckling under me so the surgeon suggested I have the op. I am still struggling getting the confidence to drop one crutch and so I am still on two crutches!! :( This week-end I had a total melt-down, feeling very weepy and frustrated. I decided to changed physio’s as I felt that the ones I was going to were a bit young and they apparently had only worked on a patient with a SIMILAR op to mine. The physio I am now going to has treated patients with this exact op and he made me feel 100% better. Explained the operation to me and said that everyone is difference in their recuperating time and because I had mistrust in the past of my knee it will take some time to gain my confidence back. I need to build up about 3cm of quad muscle and he has given some exercises for me to do at home to help with this. My extention is perfect but my flexation is quite bad on bending on a heel slide I only have about 60 deg or sometihing. So tomorrow I am going on the reclining bike at the physio to work on my bending. Hopefully I can now see some light at the end of the tunnel.

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Kris March 13, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Hi Jane, how are you doing now? I don’t know if my reply is too late, but doing heel slides along the wall was much easier for me than on the floor. (I laid on my back and put my foot on a towel and slid my heel up and down the wall.)

Extension is incredibly important, so it is great you are down to 0 degrees with that. The flexion will come.

Good job switching PTs. A good physical therapist can make all the difference in the world for sure.

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AbBee March 9, 2013 at 6:49 am

I’m now at 6 weeks post op and feeling so much better than early days. I can now do up and down stairs well. My rotation on the bike is good now so I’m on my stationary bike everyday as my knee feels better after 5 mins gentle spinning. Sometimes it’s hard to get it right over at first but doesn’t take long. I’ve had problems with my outer calf muscle but acupuncture and massage has cleared this up. My incision site for hammy graft is still a bit sore but as the bone is drilled its not surprising! I’ve had about 4 trips to Physio, done exercises in the pool and at home by myself following a physios plan and feel things are going ok. My surgeon called yesterday to see how things are and said all seemed on track and to remember its not a race! I felt really worried in the first days and weeks after surgery so for those of you who feel similar – you’re not alone and things do get better :)

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o March 16, 2013 at 11:09 am

damn im on my 12th week now..time has gone flying..knee feels good even though i had a little scare of slipping…its weird how you guys seem to see the physio twice a week when i see mine every 3..anyways im doin PT everyday at the gym..bike for however long,i usually do 20min..single leg dip 12 reps x 3, lunges 12 reps x 3,heels on chair untill muscles fatigue, leg raise with 4 pounds on ankle, clam, balance, and other hamstring excersises..

i still struggle at times going downstairs for some reason and wanted to ask if anyone else could feel the ligament move or some weird feeling inside the knee and if sometimes locking occured when they were reaching the end of 3 months?

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celina March 17, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I am at three months and still struggle with going up and down stairs…I feel alittle pull and pain when doing stairs…so my pt is starting me on more stairs to help…I still struggle with squats and stift knee as well as hypertending of it several times…but I also had a meniscus repair..
I hope urs getting better

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o March 19, 2013 at 3:48 pm

keep up with the PT..iv noticed the bike helps a great amount..and going upstairs strengthens the hamstring so thats a plus

my problems only occur now and then..not often..and im now on weight lifting machines so i am doing quite well and my legs feel they’re getting stronger but only time will tell when the small problems go away..

another plus is having cod liver tabs everyday too (good for the joints)

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Jody April 2, 2013 at 8:38 am

Have you tried the eliptical for extension? Have you been doing strength training for your hamstring? This could help. I am a little over 2 months post surgery and when I first wake up, going down stairs is not fun, but after I get going they are not normally a problem. Good luck, sounds like u r doing well otherwise.

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Ryan dub March 19, 2013 at 3:29 pm

heyy.. Im on day 5 of my recovery feeling better and better everyday. I am able to bend my knee 90 degrees plus… able to walk without cruches for a few steps. I had 2 pt appointments already and I cant wait to get back to life as normal. nice to hear all of your stories, it helps.

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Pat March 19, 2013 at 3:58 pm

That is how i was 5 days after as well

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Jody April 2, 2013 at 8:43 am

The first week is the worst,, mentally I was a mess… so bored watching TV and doing the baby exercises the hospital provided. I was also happy to get to PT on day 6.. PT sucks for the first 2 weeks,,, so painful, worse then the surgery, but well worth it. I would refer top my PT as a physioterriorist. I am almsot 2.5 months post surgery now and can say the PT paid off.. I am a 33 year old female and back to a pretty normal life. Still no lateral movements and haven’t started jogging yet, but look foward to 4 weeks post… u will be amazed!! It’s a big deal when u can ride a bike and get the pedal all the way around!! Good luck.

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Pat March 19, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I had my surgery was just over a week ago and things are going good to good i think. But when i get out of bed good god the lower part of my knee is killing me. but then i ice it and do my phsio and i am better.

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ryan March 19, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Yeah I got a lot of inflammation when I stand, It doesn’t hurt so much just bothersome

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Pat March 20, 2013 at 5:07 am

Yeah ryan
I did and have alot of inflammation as well but it is better i just ice it ever 1h and and i good ice when i 1st get up. When i 1st get up oh my but it is much better today.

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Pat April 2, 2013 at 9:22 am

I am now 3 weeks and i am doing good. i have to to tell you all that going swimming is the best for my lag. I am just doing some front crawl but is helping so much.

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dylon wuttunee March 19, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Hi, gday you all. I had my acl torn, and got surgery on it last Feb 7, feels great now. I went to a few sessions of therapy then didnt go anymore. My question is… Will i be able to play soccer and volleyball again at a competitive level?? Considering I did not complete therapy? Im 37 and still have that Strong Desire to Smash a ball down on the opponents florr, or make a diving save as I am a goal keeper in soccer….please get back to me

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Kris March 22, 2013 at 11:58 am

Well, in my opinion, PT is the most important part of recovery. Are you doing home exercises and such? You cannot mess around with not getting full extension/flexion back, it is very important for muscle development.

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Jody April 2, 2013 at 8:31 am

Dylon, Do u mean u had in in Feb 2013? If so we had our around the same time. If you are doing great, have full range of motions and your hamstring strenght is good… then I’d say u r doing well. I am 9 weeks post surgery and am still doing PT. For the first 6 weeks I went 3 days per week, I have since cut it back to twice. My PT said I should continue until the 3 month point. I find it essential to go to PT. In addition to the stretching, massaging, electro therapy, the guidance they r able to give u so u can work on your own is such an advantage. I really didn’t even consider not going, I am 9 weeks post surgery now and feel great. I am able to do fairly normal work outs, minus lateral movements. In a few weeks I should be able to start jogging too… most days I forget I had surgery, but when I work really hard in the gym, I feel stiff in the knee and hamstring the next day.

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Soccer Mom April 19, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Dylon, I agree with Kris. The PT is vital to making sure you have regained the strength and mobility in your knee. At minimum do what you can at home if you don’t actually go to the therapist. Jumping off your knee for Volleyball requires great stability of your knee.

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Simone March 22, 2013 at 7:39 am

Great post! I had acl surgery yesterday morning and though the doctor has given me a good time line of what the expect, I like to see what other people’s experience was like. Hopefully my recovery goes as swimmingly as yours did!

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ryan March 22, 2013 at 8:48 am

Yeah each day gets better just keep moving.

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Pat March 22, 2013 at 9:48 am

My knee is much better the last two days. Ya bending it is good but dont twist it thats not good.
If you twist it your acl can come slack and then there was no pont of geting it done.

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Dex March 24, 2013 at 12:52 am

Hi! Was just reading your article. Great one! I had just done mine last tuesday. Right now its itchy and painful that im kinda getting chills even though i have 3 blankets already. I know its not infection coz i only had a slight fever 2 days after. It broke already. Any advices please? Thank you!

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Rob L April 2, 2013 at 10:24 am

Wow, 2 weeks later and I am off the cructhes have 90 degree bend can walk (including stairs) recovery is going really well. Looks like I might be ok for June to go up Snowdon :-)

Good luck to you all.

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Jody April 11, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Rob L, I am almost 3 months post surgery and feel like it wouldn’t be a problem hiking up,, it’s the coming down that might cause issues. Talk to your surgeon.

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AbBee April 12, 2013 at 7:26 pm

I agree Jody, I think I’m a couple of weeks behind you and where going up an incline is no problem, coming down is very different! I think I’ve found this the hardest thing to do. Mine is a hamstring graft so lifting my leg up behind is still quite different on my operated knee.
I’m back at work, on my feet all day teaching and am quite sore by the end so not doing all the exercise I should. I’ve found my knee has stiffened up a fair bit because of this. I’ve lost some of my VMO muscle and calf too. Up to 8 weeks was good recovery but I think I’ve slipped back a bit now – not good :(

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Jody April 29, 2013 at 3:49 pm

I understand that it is difficult to make getting better your second job, but it is really important. Hope you can get back into in (o: I work shift work and find it difficult to get to the gym on work days, but I go after work every other day just for an hour… I feel like my other knee hurts.. sometime I experience pain below the knee cap.. my PT said it’s normal. I have one last PT appointment next week,, more for guidance.. !!! yeah!!

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Pat April 13, 2013 at 4:42 am

How are you after week 5?

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Soccer Mom April 19, 2013 at 4:34 pm

What a great site. So interesting reading everyone’s story. Definitely a variety of ages and experiences with the surgery.

My daughter (14) had her surgery on Feb. 12, 2013. Injured her knee on Jan 15th playing soccer. Defensive player and was saving the ball from being a corner kick. No hit from another player, just the familiar plant and pivot, then the pop and horrible pain. She was diagnosed as follows:

1. Bone contusion/edema in the lateral femoral condyle and lateral tibial plateau, as described above. A hair line fracture will be difficult to exclude.
2. Grade III tear of the body and posterior horn of medial meniscus.
3. Near complete tear of anterior cruciate ligament in its mid substance.
4. Grade I injury of medial collateral ligament.

Luckily very little swelling pre-op. She did a lot of pre-hab going into surgery, and had no problems. On Vicodin for two days post op, then just Advil for swelling. Out of school for 4 days. On crutches for one week until post op follow up. They removed the stitches but she had to have the brace on for 6 weeks. She had great flexion/extension at one week. Started PT at home for the first week, then 2x week at the PT after week one. Very minimal swelling (we followed the instructions to use the Cryo cuff as often as possible – I really think that helped).

She is now 9+ weeks post op and doing amazing. Both the doctor and PT are thrilled at her progress. Dr. said she was in the top 1% of his patients in regard to her recovery, and her PT said she was on the “Adrian Peterson track for recovery”. She has no pain to speak of, and has full extension and almost full flexion. Rarely any swelling (very good about icing the knee after every session). She does PT 2x a week, plus does some extra therapy after school on her off days (mainly bike work). Will start jogging in the next week or so.

Her only problem is that because she is doing so well, she wants to start training for soccer again. I have to keep reminding her that although everything feels good at this point, she can’t push it too much. Too many stories about players that came back too soon and wound up with additional injuries.

I do believe that in her case her age and great fitness level has helped her recovery. She is used to pushing herself with training, so PT has really been a breeze so far. She has Aug 12th marked on the calendar as her full return date (6 mos post op). Unless there is some setback, she is hoping it is a realistic time frame. Possible that she will be out doing some light training with the team in 4-6 weeks. We shall see.

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ACL Mom April 19, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Hi Soccer Mom,

Thought I’d chime in here – my 16-yr old (now 17) was also injured in a soccer game Sept ’12 and had surgery Oct. 29, 2012. She’s been a Div 1 player and was also in great shape. She’s almost 6 months out exactly surgery. She had complete acl tear and grade 3 (complete) mcl tear which is why the surgery did not occur sooner. The mcl needed to heal on its own and she had to get some strength back before our doc would do the surgery. This was her second surgery – she tore her meniscus two years ago, also in a soccer game. I cannot imagine her going back to soccer yet – although p/t is great and she has just started an independent program at the p/t center, there is no way I would want her running full force and kicking a ball yet! She does a lot of hiking, biking, and is only now “allowed” to start jogging in a straight forward motion, no side to side. I know our doctor is conservative but I prefer that approach given my daughter’s age. You want to be sure the graft has had ample time to integrate and be very strong before your daughter starts running around on the soccer field. It’s pretty common to re-tear if you go at it too soon. Sounds like she’s doing well – good luck with everything!! This is a great site by the way – seems everyone’s recovery, rehab, and timeline are different…

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Soccer Mom April 19, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Hi ACL Mom. Thanks for the reply. It’s so hard to watch our girls go through this being as competitive as they are. My daughter is also a D1 player, and is/was a starter on her HS team as a freshman (she was playing hs ball when she was injured). I agree that it is better to err on the side of caution. But her prognosis has been very good so far, and her dr. is saying that for her 6 mos is reasonable (certainly not full out playing, but easing into it). If she continues the way she has, by 6 mos maybe playing on 10-15 mins. per half, and increasing if all goes well. But everything is dependent upon how well the graft holds. You’re so right – I definitely don’t want her to go out too soon only to tear it again.

Please keep me posted on your daughters’ recovery. Is she planning on playing soccer next school year? Not sure when your season is (we are in Calif, and play in the winter for school ball). I hope her rehab continues to go well. Her injury was definitely more than what my daughter had (which was bad enough!) We go back to the dr. on May 13th for her 12 week visit. Will post the results after the visit.

Thanks again – I may be picking your brain if we run into something unknown!

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ACL Mom April 22, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Hi SM,
We’re also in CA so probably the same schedule. My daughter is done with soccer. We’re lucky that she didn’t care to go on and play in college and this year (her jr.) was going to be her last year playing – unfortunate it got cut short though. What kind of graft did your daughter have? My daughter had hamstring but our doc was very adamant that if it had not been a certain diameter – meaning it had not developed enough yet – that he would have suggested a donor graft. Anyway, the hamstring worked out. A friend of hers just tore her other acl during a soccer game so I guess there’s no such thing as being 100% protected out there! So hard when these girls are that young! My daughter is doing great now 6 months out and yours will too! I know my daughter’s mcl tear made things much worse and you won’t have to deal with that, thankfully! And of course, ask me anything along the way – I relied on another soccer mom whose daughter had torn her acl about 2 years before my daughter did. Good luck with everything!!

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Soccer Mom April 23, 2013 at 6:48 pm

My daughter had a donor graft. I didn’t tell her until after her surgery that it came from a cadaver. She might have been a little too freaked out. When she found out, she was saying “ewwww”, but now she tells people she’s got a dead person insider her. She’s so 14 sometimes. My daughter definitely wants to play in college. I guess if this had to happen it was good it happened early on. I usually didn’t worry about her getting hurt other than the routine things. Now, everywhere I turn it seems someone is tearing their ACL. Turns out one of the nurses at our doctors’ office has a daughter that plays for the same club team, and knew my daughter. Working for an ortho., she sees so much. She said she says a prayer every time the girls take the pitch hoping for no serious injuries.

Any more feedback or info would be great. I’ll post an update after our 12 week visit on 5/13. Thanks again!

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ACL Mom May 3, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Ha! Yes, I can imagine the comments about a cadaver graft from your daughter – any teen for that matter!! How is she doing? Does she still wear a brace at all? My daughter was fitted for a custom sports brace, but honestly, she doesn’t wear it! And it was very $$$! We just passed the 6-month mark and I have to say if you didn’t know she had the surgery, you wouldn’t know! She is still apprehensive when it comes to running and just doing things she used to do, but she does a lot of hiking and biking which is great. The muscle is coming back! I don’t know how your daughter’s surgical leg looked, but my daughter’s got VERY skinny! Scary skinny! After all that muscle I was used to seeing! Keep me posted and I know everything will go great for your daughter too!

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Soccer Mom May 15, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Hi ACL Mom. Yes, my daughters’ leg was skinnier, but not that much. I can still see the difference 3 mos. post op, but it’s getting bigger.

We just had our 12 week visit and all is going very well. She was cleared to start easy jogging, building up to more lengthy jogging. She is allowed to juggle a beach ball as long as she doesn’t do any twisting or lunging. She was so excited to touch any kind of ball. She’s been juggling and jogging every day. Her comp team started tryouts on Monday, and although she can’t participate, she was there doing her juggling. It was so funny to see her with that beach ball. She doesn’t get her brace for 3 more months, but I did hear they are quite expensive. She will definitely be using that when playing.

If all continues to go well, she should be released for light contact and running in 3 mos, and full on playing “maybe” 6-8 weeks later. Her coach said that he would only ease her back though to make sure there is no re-injury. My daughter said she isn’t really afraid to get back out and run right now, but I’m sure as it gets closer, she may have a different mindset. It’s been driving her nuts not playing anything, and I hope she can overcome any fear she may have.

Will post again when I have an update. Hope you had a nice Mother’s Day!

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Josh April 20, 2013 at 12:12 am

Hi everyone,

Tore my Acl, Mcl, and two meniscus toward the end of march now I’m going into surgery this Wednesday, April 24th. Needless to say my freshman year of college ended pretty quickly. I jumped while working out and when I landed my knee popped and gave out and I couldn’t move it. Any ideas on how I can speed this healing process from day one after surgery so I can get back running? Thanks for any help you can provide!

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Kris April 22, 2013 at 8:48 am

Josh,
A lot of what is needed is time. The body has to heal around that new ACL and make sure it is secure. There are things you can do to ease your pain and help in your recovery, but part of it is just a physiological process that cannot be sped up.

What was key in my recovery was icing as much as possible, doing my home exercises, and having a fantastic physical therapist. My therapy included massage too, which helped loosen up the muscles to maximize my PT.

Each person’s recovery is individual. You also have MCL involvement and meniscus, both of which are very painful and may limit what you can do compared to just ACL injury. You are young and believe it or not, this will all be over before you know it. Just follow your doctor’s instructions and don’t overdo it. That can cause more harm than good.

Good luck on Wednesday!

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Hofmann Institute April 23, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Kris First of all I have to say I’m pretty impressed at how you have responded to just about everyone that has commented most bloggers don’t do that. Second these are some great tips they really help. I’m the type of person that strives for perfection so I definitely needed to hear that one tip about not being perfect.

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Kris April 23, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Well, I have to reply to this one- thank you very much for your kind words! :)

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Diane April 24, 2013 at 5:14 pm

This is the best site I have found yet for anticipation and after effects of what to expect. I completely tore my ACL and will be getting a cadavar put in it’s place. I am 35, I tore it in a freak, stupid accident playing indoor soccer with .30 seconds left and we were up 10-3…. I didn’t really need to go for that ball. HAHA.

Anyway, May 10th is my big day. I am really nervous, I have been walking A LOT but my leg gets “crampy” after a while, I can not fully extend the leg while standing on it, so it’s frustrating. I had lost 25lbs up to this date and so it’s been a downer lately. I was told to do hamstring exercises, does anyone know of any good website that show pre-op strength exercises?

I guess I am more worried about the after, I have stairs in my home and seems going down them will be an issue. My doctor told me no work for 2 weeks (i work 40 minutes away from home) but seems I should be able to stand and do some things 2-4 days after. post-op isn’t scheduled for one week after my surgery. Well I really enjoyed this site, thank you for your advice.

I can not WAIT to do Zumba, Kickboxing, and start losing weight again! =)

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Diane April 24, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Oh, I am about 40lbs overweight, after my 25lbs I have lost… I was really on a great path, mind was in the right place, blah blah. My doctor will be putting me into PT quickly, as my insurance resets on July 1, why they want to speed up the process, so hopefully after 6 weeks, I won’t have to visit the PT as often, and I will have to change PT after 6 weeks. Sad I know. Insurance companies……

I am guessing my pain tolerance may be high, as when I did fall during indoor soccer I was way more embarrassed and quickly picked myself up and limped off… didn’t show any hurt. haha. remember there was only about 30 seconds left…

Also, this CPM Machine my doctor is ordering for me with the Cold Therapy… anyone have any experience of what I should expect?

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Kris April 24, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Diane,
I am going to try and answer the questions in both your comments.

For me, the trick to going down the stairs was to sit down, with the bad leg straight out, and just scoot down the stairs on my backside. Make sure the leg is high enough that it doesn’t slam into the stairs. I also just dragged my crutches along with me. You get used to it, and it is actually a great work out.

Had a CPM machine for the first surgery and used that for 6-8 hours each day. You just sit there while the machine cranks your leg back and forth. You set the degrees it bends, so you don’t have to worry about overdoing it. Icing was a God-send for me, and I loved my ice machine. It automatically cooled the water and did not require ice, which was great because refilling an ice machine is a pain when you can’t carry anything.

Many people go to physical therapy before surgery to keep the leg as strong as possible. Is there any way you could have a couple pre-op visits to get professional assistance on the best exercises to do based on your specific injury?

I know surgery can be scary, but it will all be over before you know it. You will get back to your exercising, and you will learn some great new exercises in the process. The unknown can be difficult to deal with, but sometimes, the results can be way better than you expect. You will do great, it will just take some patience.

Good luck to you!!

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Jenna April 24, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Diane,

I will have to get the CPM machine as well after I get surgery. I believe one has to put their leg in the machine for six hours a day to help circulate the blood flow. I heard the cold therapy is helpful in reducing swelling rather than using bags of ice.

Best of luck with your surgery!! Keep thinking about all the great things you want to be able to do once you are fully recovered and that will be good motivation to work hard PT when you are ready. :)

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Diane May 23, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I am 14days post-op. I am in PT they have me on the CPM machine. I hit 0% and 90% I think the hardest part is the heel slides and my taps is still on so it’s like my scars are tearing apart when I bend if that makes sense. Anyway, I am taking it slow.

Question! I am doing my exercises at home… 2-3x a day. Should I be walking on it as well a lot too? I can walk around without my crutches…very carefully.

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Kris May 28, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Diane, I hated the heel slides! I found much more success doing them against a wall as opposed to on the floor. (Laid on my back and put my heel on the wall and did the slides that way.)

Regarding walking, I did quite a bit of walking around my house, with my brace on. I just walked the circle around my first floor a few times every time I got up to do something. However, you may want to talk to your doctor/PT about your specific situation. You are doing a lot already with the CPM machine, so I would ask the PT so you don’t overdo it.

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Diane May 29, 2013 at 1:56 am

Oh thanks Kris for that tip on the heel slides! I know I feel like they are pushing me but today was 3red day of PT and I did the stationary bike and went all the way around!! I am surprised but I also went So slow the machine timer kept stopping LOL.

Everyone keeps taking about a brace my doctor made me get rid of mine 10 days post op. so I get worried from time to time I might step wrong. Like I was walking and felt the front of my knee almost feel like it locked or something I can’t describe.

My calves feel like I did 5000 raises but heard that was normal. Just keep plugging along. My extension still needs work and I only yesterday was able to fire up my quads slightly a feat within itself!

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Jay May 3, 2013 at 8:36 am

Hi, I have just read through your treatment and recovery, I am at present, in bed recovering from surgery, the first part, signed off work for six weeks which is crippling as well, I had dislocated my knee two yrs ago, spent months in a brace, then nothing was done. My knee would pop in and out at work sometimes, but never enough to ground me, I work as a carer, anyway I did look for help six months ago, but I was told I would have to live with pain, as I was to old, at 42!!! That’s another story, and I will be putting in a complaint, anyway three weeks ago, I twisted fipunny and my knee just went, two days later an MRI, and by the Friday I was in for surgery. My cartilage was under the knee cap and needed a stitch, and an acl was broken, I think from before, anyway what shoulda been twenty mins op, was over an hour, cartilage had to be cut away, acl removed, bone flushes out of the knee from the acl, pulling it away from the side of my leg. I woke up in the most horrendous pain I have felt in my life and I have had two kids,,, two days in hospital, on a morphine driver,,, and meds every four hours, I went home as I thought my family needed me and I could rest better, due to not sleeping due to the noise, I am on my third week now, in bed most days, as only allowed to put toe on ground and have crutches and brace,, I am now told that I must undergo acl reconstruction on the 10th of June,, I am dreading it,, the pain, I am on morphine everyday at home now, but next time I will stay in hospital as long as they will let me, due to the fact, that they manage my pain relief so much better, and to be honest, just going to the toilet, is horrendous,. My main concern is the pain next time and also being off work even longer on statutory sick pay, I had to sell a car last week to pay the rent, so I am interested in how long it would be before I can return to work after the next op and how long the pain will last, because I am still in pain now from the first one,,, I have a high pain threshold, but when I woke up after surgery, I can honestly say, I have never screamed so loud in my life, then they pumped me full of drugs until was under control, then they gave me a driver, of which I could push a button as many times as I needed, that was a blessing, so if you do ever read this and can help, that would be great
Many thanks
Jay, from England!

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Kris May 5, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Jay- what a nightmare! I wonder why they didn’t do the reconstruction when they were already in there doing the other surgery?

All I can say is that the reconstruction is a piece of cake compared to what you seem to be going through right now. Here in the U.S, ACL recon is an out-patient procedure. I went under the knife at 11:20 and was home by 4:30. The pain is rough the first week, but tolerable. I am not saying it is a walk (or crutch) in the park, but it sounds like you are in hell.

Please let us know how things go for you.

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Megan May 7, 2013 at 10:31 am

I tore my ACL a little over a week ago and am going to find out my surgery date tomorrow. I am slightly terrified but this article just gave me a small sense of relief. It seems that your recovery was so quick! I am guessing you are one of the lucky ones. I am most concerned with when I will be able to drive again, my right knee is the problem child, so driving is going to be out of the question for a while : (

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GG May 7, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Hi Megan, sorry you have to go through this but don’t worry it’s better than you’d expect as long as you keep up on physical therapy. I posted my story above and now a I am 10 weeks post op. I was able to drive 2 weeks after surgery (right leg also) when I got my stitches out and the full leg brace off. Just be very careful as your reaction time is a bit slower so becareful of sudden stops and kids running in the street. As the weather gets better this will be more of an issue. Be safe. As I said, I am now 10 weeks, still have some stiffness but no more brace, full range of motion and doing more stairs as my leg gets stronger. I just started jogging on a trampoline, couldn’t do that before ;). The dr says I should be able get back to do full sports (tennis skiing riding etc ) in 3 – 4 months max. Good luck.

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celina May 16, 2013 at 3:26 am

I am about five months acl and meniscus repair and dr has cleared me for everything. ..but when I do overdo things my knee does swell up still…but so much better than when my knee would hyper extend and give out on a daily base..I was not allowed to drive for a month…but I think every dr is different…he never had me wear a brace past the stitches coming out…
Good luck with urs

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Kate May 11, 2013 at 11:07 am

Kris, this article is great. It is so helpful to see what another person’s experience was like throughout this process. Thanks so much for posting it!

I’m due for an ACL reconstruction on May 15th from a ski racing accident in March. Completely tore the ligament…oops! I’ve been walking around (without a brace now) since then to help retain the strength in my leg. I’m pretty muscular so I’m hoping the surgery will go well…the goal right now is to not be on crutches by graduation on May 29th! But we will see what happens. Eventually I would love to ski (or even race) again, so I’m only hoping my PT will go as well as yours and I will be able to heal! Fingers crossed!

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Kris May 11, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Kate, I will bet you are easily off those crutches by the 29th, unless you have meniscus repair. Being in shape before the surgery is half the battle- I am betting you will do better than I did! Great luck!

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Jacquie May 15, 2013 at 10:12 am

Had your ACL reconstructed?

I’m doing a Master’s research project on ACL reconstruction and want to know about your experiences about rehabilitation, and getting back in the game.

Please visit http://fluidsurveys.com/s/returntosport/ to participate in a short web survey. Participation involves answering 19 on-line questions about your activity level, your experience surrounding the process of rehabilitation after ACL reconstruction, and your decisions surrounding returning to sport. The questionnaire will take 5-10 minutes to complete, is completely anonymous, and will have no influence on your medical care.
Jacquie Minnes PT
School of Rehabilitation Science
McMaster University

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Isabel May 22, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Thank you for this post , my son is on day 5 following same op and it has given us all a much needed positive boost, so glad you recovered well , wishing you luck isabel

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Jenny May 27, 2013 at 10:56 am

Wow! Your blog and all of the comments underneath are a treasure trove of great information! I can’t believe how comforting its been to read through everyone’s experiences and relate/compare them to my own.

I am 34, and tore my ACL playing volleyball on may 5. I had reconstruction with a cadaver graft on may 20th. I am now exactly 1 week post. I go back to work tomorrow (I’m a 5th grade teacher). I don’t go back to see my surgeon for another week and a half, which means I don’t start pt until after that, which worries me a little. I’ve been walking on it for the past 2 days without crutches, with my brace, of course! I can get around pretty good, but I get tired quickly. I ice my knee 7-8 times a day. I switched from the heavy hitting pain meds two days after surgery and now just take ibuprofen. My biggest issue post op has been the amount of pain on my shin bone. It’s very tender! I think it’s from excess swelling. Any thoughts on how much longer that will hurt? Also, I was definitely not prepared for how numb the outside of my knee is. I’m hoping I will regain feeling in time.

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Diane May 27, 2013 at 1:53 pm

WOW! I cannot believe you are going back! My doctor gave me 4 weeks off work! I am 17 days post-op. I didn’t start PT till Day 13 so I think you are fine. I mean you are doing more than what I did after one week. I had crutches through my first 10 days though I could had done without for the last few days. Have you tried walking without the brace on? I had mine removed day 10. I don’t use crutches only one when I take my stairs or go to the grocery store…just in case.

You might be walking wired that is why your shin hurts, try to stand as straight as possible when walking. And you probably don’t need the brace on too tight depending on what kind it is. Your knee should have feeling now… My hardest thing is working on extension and straightening my knee. Heel slides suck too! I commend you for going back to work befor seeing your doctor that is awesome. I have an hour commute and couldn’t do that with my leg as after 20 minutes if sitting with it bent, ouch!

Did you get a CPM machine?

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Jenny May 28, 2013 at 7:16 pm

I haven’t tried walking on it without my brace. I have this irrational fear that I’ll turn wrong and I’ll re-tear it. I actually have nightmares involving the initial “pop.” My dr. Wants me to wear it, locked, until my appointment, which is a week from Thursday. Grrrr….

I agree with you on the heel slides! I don’t have a CPM machine. Hopefully that doesn’t set me back! Good luck with your rehab! Happy heel sliding!

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Jenna May 27, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Good luck going back to work! You are a champ!

I am also a teacher and tore my acl back in January and have put it off the entire school year so I could finally get surgery towards the very end of school. It has been tough being so patient and can’t wait to finally get it over with.

I hope you have a speedy recovery! Summer is just around the corner. :)

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Jenny May 28, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Well, not sure how much of a champ I feel like this afternoon….I’m beat after a full day back at school!! I feel for you, being impatient since January! That’s a long time. I think you’ll be better off in the long run, though. Recovery is supposed to be easier on a knee that’s had some healing time. I wish you the best of luck in your upcoming surgery! If they give you an option of taking the femoral nerve block or not I would definitely recommend it! Also, “surgery-proof” your house as much as possible!

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Kris May 28, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Jenny- Do you have home exercises or anything you do? Is there any way you can get PT any sooner? My PT did a great job massaging my scar to help the tissue break up, and I think that helped a lot too, besides just getting the flexion/extension.

I had that shin bone pain- it was at the top of my shin. I don’t remember how long it took, but it did go away. My leg still has some numbness though, and I am about 16 months post-op. I hate it, but it is worth it considering I can do anything I want again.

Hope you are doing well!

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Jenny May 28, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Thanks, Kris! I actually went to school with the guy who is going to do my pt, so I’ve talked with him about what I should be doing. I’ve been practicing the heel slides, quad lifts and extensions. I can fully extend my leg, and I would bet that I can flex about 90 degrees, although its slow to get that far, and feels like it might spontaneously combust!

The numbness thing definitely weirds me out a little, but your right, it’s worth it. Thanks for the reply, glad your recovery went so well!

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AbBee May 29, 2013 at 3:53 am

Wow Jenny, that’s a quick return to work! I teach primary school kids and went back after 4 weeks and found that exhausting! If its any help to you or anyone else reading this my treatment plan has been very different to those of you in USA and Canada. I’m in Australia. I left hospital without the brace but on crutches and was encouraged to weight bear asap. No PT other than home exercises for 2weeks then after surgeon visit I was encouraged to do more home exercises and see the Physio when u needed to for more exercises and soft tissue work. There was no 3x a week PT routine or painful exercises on a swollen knee. It was all pretty gentle stuff. From what I’ve read on this great blog it seems like I have progressed equally as well as others on a strict regime. At 4 months post op I now wouldn’t know any difference between knees and feel great! I’ve certainly had ups and downs, terrible calf pain at times but that was from overdoing it, or high heels at 2 months! ;) That was naughty and I didn’t do it again until now!
I had soft tissue work and dry needle from Physio which really helped with tight muscles. I also think that reformer pilates helped me recover well. I hope your recovery is as pain free as possible.

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Jenny May 30, 2013 at 9:00 am

Thanks, AbBee! It was definitely physically exhausting the first day back, but I think my students and co-workers are good for my healing process in other ways. Besides, summer vacation is only 4school days away (but who’s counting????)

My pt doesn’t start for another week and a half yet. I don’t anticipate painful activities….at least that’s not what I have in mind! :). I’m glad your recovery has gone well!

I’m not sure what soft tissue work means, or dry needle. Is that like acupuncture? I could imagine Pilates would be extremely beneficial! Best of luck to you!

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Steven May 29, 2013 at 1:36 am

Jenny I’m over 9 months post op. I do remember that shin pain though. For me it hurt the most 6 to 9 days post op and mostly from when after I stood up from sitting or laying down. I think it is fom all the blood rushing to that area because of gravity and having no place to go. In the knee there are places for it to collect but in the shin there isn’t any place for it to go so the pressure on your shin becomes so intense and that is probably where the pain is coming from.

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Jenny May 30, 2013 at 8:51 am

Thanks, Steven. I think your timeline is right on….I’m post op day 10 today and its feeling better this morning! Yay!

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Sharon May 28, 2013 at 7:55 am

Hi there,

Found your site Googling ACL recovery and am glad I found it. I’m 51 and torn the ACL as well as lat meniscus and severely bruised my tibia skiing. I am overweight but extremely active. I already have a GREAT PT and have been going since the injury 2 months ago. I am at almost full flexion after some traction and she says I’m ready to go. Can’t wait to get it done, and thank you for sharing your experience and recovery tips.

Keep you fingers crossed. June14 is D day!

Sharon

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ryan May 28, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Hey everyone,

I am 2 1/2 months post op with a patellar graft. How long till there is generally no pain in the knee where the graft was taken. The pain is the only thing holding me back from more activity. Anyone with a patellar graft can help me out?

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Kris June 9, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Ryan, I didn’t have a patellar graft, but you have to be careful with that knee. Even though you might be pain free fairly soon, the knee is still healing. The ACL needs to ‘settle in’, and you can really do damage if you do too much too soon. I know some have reinjured around the 3 month mark because they felt so good. The body has to absorb the ACL and such, and you can’t really speed up that timetable.

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Sharon May 29, 2013 at 9:58 am

Hey Kris,
I am scheduled for June 14. I’m just wondering what time frame I should ask off from work? I have a VERY understanding boss and only work part time (some of which can be done at home) and I was thinking 2 weeks.
Thanks,
Sharon

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bansidhe May 29, 2013 at 11:30 am

Hi,

I took off two weeks but probably could have returned to work after a week. But I have a desk job. Every circumstance differs but generally speaking If you have a desk job I think 2 weeks is adequate.

good luck!

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Steven June 1, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Sharon – I also have a desk job and took off one week of work.

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Kris June 9, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Two weeks is good. I was off a week, but I worked from home. Depends on if it is your driving leg too. However, I think 2 weeks is good.

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ACHS June 3, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Great website — thank you for all of the information.

My 17 year old daughter goes into surgery tomorrow for ACL reconstruction. She tore her ACL 9/2012 during volleyball practice. Junior year in high school — captain of the varsity volleyball team, point guard on varsity basketball, and had gone to state as in pole vault as a Sophomore. It was reconstructed 10/2012. She rehabbed for 6 months faithfully and did everything she was supposed to do — this girl likes to do things to a tee. So if it is asked of her, she does it. She was cleared at 6 months to resume all sports.

This past week (8 months post ACL reconstruction) she was at a basketball camp and they were doing defense drills. She planted her foot and her knee completely gave out on her and she fell. It hurt at first, but she was able to step through it and then jog — she did resume playing in the camp for that day. However, she knew something was not right. She went for an MRI and it showed that she has torn that ACL again (it was a hamstring autograft). Such a heart break. Volleyball is wiped off the slate for her Senior year for sure. She is hoping to catch a little of the basketball season (her real love) for her Senior year. Surgery tomorrow — this time a patellar tendon graft. She’s back to square one — 8 months of rehab down the drain. Ugggh — if only a mom could make it all better and heal a broken a heart.

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soccermom June 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Hi ACHS. What a heartbreak for your daughter! She sounds alot my daughter. Mine is only a freshman, but played on the JV Vball team, starter on varsity soccer (where she sustained her injury), and a long jumper and sprinter for track (or would have been had not she tore her ACL). My daughter is about 4 mos. post op and has visions of returning at 6 mos. as well. I’m thinking now that will be too soon. She had a allograft and so far it’s been doing so well. Sending your daughter tons of good luck vibes today. I hope all goes well and she can come back stronger than ever.

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ACL Mom June 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I’m so glad to hear your daughter is doing well! Is she still in p/t or does she just do exercises on her own? I hope she continues to get stronger every day–I know she wants to get back out there on the field! My daughter is doing great – it’s sad though everytime I look at the soccer bag and gear in the garage! She really doesn’t have any desire to go back to playing, but we’ll see as time goes on. For now she’s been a big hiker and biker! At least I don’t worry so much with those activites!! Looking forward to a happy healthy summer for us all! :)

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Soccer Mom June 9, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Yes, still doing PT once a week at the facility. But at home she does quite a few things as well. Her jogging is increasing in intensity and distance with no problems. She’s out of school next week and already has her “training” regime for the summer planned out.

It sounds like your daughter is recovering so well. Hiking sounds awesome. Who knows, maybe she will want to strap on some shin guards and get back out there. I hope you have a great summer as well (although it was just 109 here yesterday, and I am not quite ready for that heat!)

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ACHS June 9, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Thanks Soccermom. Our daughters do sound a lot alike. What a treasure of support this website offers. It’s a great service for others that Kris has created. Sending best wishes your way too.

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ACL Mom June 4, 2013 at 2:16 pm

You are in some good company here with some other moms who would love to make it all better! Just like you and Soccer Mom, my 17 yr old daughter tore her ACL (9/12) during soccer and had surgery 10/12! It’s just so heartbreaking. I cannot imagine how you and your daughter especially must feel going through this all over again so soon! My daughter tore her meniscus in 2010 and had surgery to repair that. Looking back, that was a piece of cake!This time around she also had a complete MCL tear which really complicated things as far as recovery both before surgery and after. I know she could not have imagined going back to playing sports at the 6-month mark and her doctor told her from day one that she should plan on one year recovery time. She also had the hamstring graft. I am sending best wishes and support for you and your daughter! Please keep us updated – this is such a great site and I relied on it so much while going through everything with my daughter too!! Hang in there!!

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ACHS June 9, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Thanks so much for your kind words. I hope things are going well for your daughter (and you) as well. If I’m reading your post correctly, she’s at the 9 month mark, right?

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Kris June 9, 2013 at 8:17 pm

I am so sorry ACHS- that is a terrible story! I assume it was all just bad luck? Was she wearing a brace?

How did surgery go?

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ACHS June 9, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Hi Kris — my daughter was wearing her brace. It was just a flukey thing — bad luck. The MRI showed that everything had healed nicely around the anchors etc on her previous ACL reconstruction, but she shredded that hamstring tendon.

The surgery went well. It was a lot longer than the first one and she was much more sedated. We had planned to go home after the surgery like we did on the previous one — but because she had a hard time waking up, we ended up staying the night in the hospital. She did have a patellar tendon graft this time around. In addition, her surgeon did something that I had never heard of before and couldn’t find any info on the internet about — he augmented her patellar tendon with a cadaver hamstring graft, for extra strength.

Comparing her two surgeries — the hamstring graft vs the patellar tendon graft. This one using the patellar tendon was much more painful for her. First surgery, she hardly took any pain pills. This time, pain pills every 4 hours — even during the night — for the first 2 1/2 – 3 days after surgery. She is not one to complain about pain — ever. So when said she was in pain, I knew it had to be pretty painful. By day 3, she was off of pain pills. For her, just that initial part part after the surgery, the patellar graft was a lot worse. We’ll see how the rest goes. She’s had two appts at physical therapy, and so far, so good. I’ll keep you posted. :)

Thanks again for the service you give.

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Rebecca Cruickshank June 4, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Hello!! Happy to report 4 months post op knee feels great. Its stable, no swelling at all, and even yhe scars are looking good. I am able to exercise again, although no pivoting or twisting, so the tae bo is kind of revised but am power walking 3/4 miles a day and swimming with no problems. I know it’s a difficult surgery and recovery and horrific injury but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I appreciate all the support I’ve gotten on this site. Am having the keft knee done in september, so no doubt will return!!

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Kris June 9, 2013 at 8:15 pm

That is great news Rebecca! People need to hear good news stories!

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Danny June 6, 2013 at 4:01 am

Hey Kris…

I am planning to do my ACL surgery on the 4th of July and I am so damn nervous.

I just wanted to know, will I be able to walk without crutches in a week or two?? And how long will it take till the pain completely goes away??

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Kris June 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Danny,
Everyone is different. Do you have meniscus issues as well, or just ACL?

Every surgeon seems to have a different protocol regarding walking/braces/crutches/etc. I was off crutches but still in a brace at two weeks. Didn’t want to walk too far, but I managed.

The pain goes away in phases. The chronic pain for me was gone in a couple weeks. However, it took a few months until the stillness/pain went away when I climbed stairs.

All I can say is, it is totally manageable. If I had to go through the surgery again tomorrow, I would be more bummed by the inconvenience than worried about the pain.

Best of luck Danny!

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Alison June 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Hi Kris,

Thank you for posting your story and for your ongoing dedication to educating and supporting others with similar/same ACL tear and surgery. I am currently slated to have my ACL replacement surgery on 6/27/13 following some pre-op PT.

My ACL snapped rather loudly and embarrassingly during a Zumba class on the deck of the beautiful Celebrity Reflection mid cruise of the Mediterranean Sea en route to Greece. :-( Not how I intended to spend my dream vacation.

Due to the fact that I have serious migraine headaches…I had an arsenal of pain meds and as it turned out I never needed the meds for migraine, but I did use them the first day for the pain. (strange side note is that I still have not had a migraine since my ACL tore….which is very unusual for me) I was able to rejoin my family for some light walking around in Greece where I found a great knee brace at a medical supply store! and hobbled about in Pompeii for an hour before I had to call it a day.

Upon returning home I saw my doctor who ordered an MRI and referred me to an orthopedic surgeon. I was very fortunate to get both appointments scheduled quickly. MRI confirmed a “complete tear of the ACL” and also mentioned “A bone contusion is seen at the posterior aspect of the lateral tibial plateau.” I have no idea what this means yet. Of course I did not have the MRI report to read for myself until after I met with the surgeon, who comes highly recommended by a friend who is still recovering from her ACL, MCL and PCL tears and injuries from skiing.

My knee is very unstable, but the swelling is down as I keep it elevated when at home. I am able to walk and put weight on my knee….very sloooooowly and carefully. My knee even at rest just feels very strange to me and I can’t really explain it. It almost feels the way my stomach feels on a roller coaster….but it’s in my knee! I have a good brace, but it irritates the back of my knee and does not really feel “secure”.

I will definitely try to get the ice machine you mentioned. I really appreciate everyone’s posts and your story of your surgery and post op experience. It is SO helpful. I will be receiving donor tissue. I’m scared to death of what lies ahead. Reading the posts is helping me to feel better about it….especially your story. I can only hope that I will do half as well. I am 45 and active and I think this is a wake up call for me.

Keep us posted on your progress!

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Kris June 9, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Alison- Please try not to be scared. You are already in good shape, which is half the battle. The first week is hard, but then it all just kind of comes together. I played tennis yesterday and today and I do whatever I want. (It has been 17 months, but I was doing that at 8 months post op too.) I do wear the big Don Joy brace still, but that is for my own peace of mind.

My knee was incredibly unstable after my first injury 10 years ago. I can tell you it felt so much better pretty quickly after surgery than it did pre-surgery. One thing my surgeon did for me since my surgery was going to be 6 weeks out is he ordered my brace (the one I used for exercise now, not the one that gets put on your leg right after surgery) right away and I wore that before the surgery if I was going to walk much. That kept the knee stable and prevented any meniscus tears since my knee gave out pretty easily.

You will love the ice machine, and the one with compression cannot be beat. By the way, your bone contusion is a bone bruise I believe. Quite common with an ACL tear.

I know many people that had ACL surgery with a cadaver graft. Every single person recovered well that I know. One of the hardest parts of recovering from surgery is the pain from hamstring removal. So, you will already be in better shape than I was post-op. You will do great!!

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Alison June 10, 2013 at 11:39 am

Hi Kris,

Thank you so much for your encouragement and advice. You are doing a great service to me and to many! That is PRICELESS!

I will check in to the Don Joy brace. I have one on that I found in Greece that is working nicely….it is like wetsuit material with metal bars and hinges on the side and Velcro to tighten. It’s actually much better than the one my doctor here gave me….but I’m curious about this Don Joy. Right now I need all the Joy I can get?

Thank you, thank you. THANK YOU!

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Sharon June 9, 2013 at 7:49 pm

So tomorrow’s my big day! ACL replacement (cadaver) and repair torn meniscus. Hopefully he won’t find any unwelcome surprises while in there! I for one am LOOKING FORWARD to this day. I know I’ll be in a lot of pain for a couple days, but the last 2 months of waiting (had severe bone bruising that needed to resolve) has been a bitch. More than ready, so wish me luck! I’ll post after to let you know how it goes.
Sharon

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Kris June 9, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Great luck Sharon! Love your attitude, and I am looking forward to hearing about how great it went!

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Jenna June 9, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Good luck tomorrow, Sharon! My big day is June 20th! I injured myself in January and finally getting surgery. I know exactly how you feel about waiting so long. Best wishes! I will be posting after I get surgery.

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Sharon June 10, 2013 at 7:30 am

Good luck Jenna,
So many people have asked me “why so long” before surgery? Well,now I know. It’s all for a very good reason. Swelling, bone bruising (after all that’s where they attach the thing), getting improved range of motion, etc. My doc is very conservative about not rushing in to it and told me he’s had some patients go to other docs b/c they want it done NOW. Apparently the recovery and end result can not be so pleasant if it’s rushed. So although it’s been a real pain (no pun intended) I agree it is worth the wait.
Hang in there, June 20 is just around the corner!

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Kelly June 9, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Jenna, my big day is also June 20th! Less than two weeks to go :S. I had meniscus repair surgery on October 15th 2012 and this is my follow on ACL reconstruction (with a patellar tendon graft too!). I would have had it all done in one surgery, but I had my REAL “big day” in December and just had to be able to walk down the aisle for that one :)

Kris, great blog and comment thread on ACL reconstruction! It really is great to hear other people’s experiences, and get an idea of what we can expect. Really excellent! Thank you!

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Sharon June 10, 2013 at 9:07 pm

So I’m home from surgery and the doc said all went well. He did tell my husband there was something under my kneecap as well as the ACL and meniscus tear that he will explain at my visit.

I have to say the femoral block DID NOT give me 100% relief, and thankfully the doc had warned me ahead that was a possibility. I needed 2 shots of Fentanyl and a Dilaudid before they released me. I am not in severe pain, just severe discomfort. So for me I needed to get those meds on board right away. Have the ice machine and my husband is taking good care of me. I have a super high tolerance for pain meds b/c of previous multiple surgeries and even the Dilaudid is not giving me 100% relief. Just me, so please don’t worry if your surgery is coming up. As I said, at this point I am not in severe pain, just severe discomfort.

Take care

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Jenna June 10, 2013 at 9:11 pm

I am glad to hear everything went well for your surgery. Take care of yourself!! :)

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Kris June 12, 2013 at 7:52 am

Glad it is all done Sharon!

How are you feeling now? Are you liking the ice machine? Does it have compression?

Did they repair or clip the meniscus?

Happy healing!!

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Sharon June 12, 2013 at 8:08 am

Hi Kris,

I’m glad it’s over too! Feeling pretty rough this am as last night was night 2 and of course the block wore off and I got behind on my pain meds. Doing a bit better now though. I do have the ice machine (not sure about the compression part) but I think from getting up to pee so much, it’s slipped out of place! Anyway, go to se the doc at noon, so hopefully he can re-wrap or remove it and go to ice packs. And yes he did clip the meniscus as well. Fun, fun!

Thanks for this blog and for checking in Kris!
Sharon

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Big G June 11, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Just got the results from my MRI and found I tore my ACL. Luckily all other pieces are still in tact. Originally the doc thought it may just be a lateral meniscus tear but that always seemed too good to be true. I am weighing the thought of PT over surgery but leaning towards the surgery. I decided to hop on the internet super highways to learn what I can from others and landed here. Great information Kris and great comments from others!
At 36 I am in the undecided on which way to go, but I don’t want to give up basketball, mountain biking, backpacking, volleyball and snow boarding just yet so I think I may just have to get the cadaver tissue installed.

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Diane June 13, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I am 35 and 5 weeks postOp. I would recommend the surgery if you want to do all those other things. I was one who could walk run swim on the tore ACL but every once in a while I would get a shock feeling so it became annoying and do the surgery if you don’t want to always be worrying about your leg.

I had the cadaver and I am doing good today. Still limp a little working on better flexion probably at 130degrees and my extension is getting really awesome! My first week sucked and I will not lie I have no tolerance for pain and after about 5 days I could walk a little with crutches and brace. Some doctors take you off the brace after 10 days mine did some make you wear it just depends.

It seems like it feels stronger but I will know more in a few months. 5 weeks post, 4 weeks into PT and I am over the knee but You just need to remember it takes time to recover. I had a lot of sick days at work (80 days) so I took FMLA and 5 weeks off. I am able to put all my energy into recovery and I say it’s been great. I probably could had returned after 3 weeks….but it takes me 45 minutes to drive to and from work so why they suggested the extra days sitting for long periods drives me crazy!

Let me know if you have more questions!
Twitter:: @dianetamara

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Sharon June 13, 2013 at 7:52 am

Hi Big G et al,

Sorry about your accident! I think if it’s a complete tear if you want to remain very active replacement would be the best option. That said I’ve heard of people saying they’ve gone without it and are running, swimming, etc. I remain skeptical if it’s completely ruptured. I had the added meniscus tear and my PT said she really thought I needed the surgery.

So I am now day 3 out and am improving. Due to a comedy of errors I was scheduled to see my ortho doc yesterday (not usual for just 2 days out). And I knew the ice machine pad was not working quite right, and low and behold, the resident that put it on had it on backwards, with the hose coming out the top, and I am pretty sure it was upside down as well! No wonder I wasn’t getting much relief from it.

Oh, very important detail, which I believe most hospitals have safe guards for, but at check in they had me listed for THE WRONG KNEE! Of course they rectified the error immediately but the doc and everyone else were taking it very seriously. And this was not done at a small town local hospital, it was a huge metropolitan orthopedic practice. So it just goes to show you even the “big guys” make mistakes. Be your own advocate!

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Symbol June 13, 2013 at 7:15 pm

10 months after ACL reconstruction/Menicus

Hi all,
I love every ones inputs and suggestions and how their recovery is going. I had a question, I am still doing physical therapy 2 times a month now. However, can any one recall when they passed the hop test? It is when you can hop on the leg the surgery was done. My knee is definitely gaining strength, but my physical therapist wants me to pass the hop test before they can release me. My rehab is taking a little longer due to my partial hearing loss since my coordination and stabilty is a little off, I still tend to have some great days and some stiff days where the knee is stiff. I still do continue to workout at the gym on the stationary bike, arc trainer and leg presses but I feel if I even take a break for a week the knee tends to get stiff. Just wondering if anybody out there have experienced something like that. Also, I feel like my right leg has compensated for so long that the hamstrings on the right leg tend to get super tight. So still continue to do a lot of stretching.

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Sharon June 14, 2013 at 10:15 am

Day 4 out, walking slowly without crutches or a brace. I took a shower yesterday and rewrapped everything carefully. I had noticed the BACK of my knee had been very sore and uncomfortable the last few days and got unbearable early last evening. I took off the wraps and had my husband check the back of my knee as it felt like something was there. I have a HUGE bruise! Of course the pressure from the wraps were hurting. Rewrapped loosely and am MUCH better today!

Anyone else have a GIANT bruise on the back of your knee and if so, what the heck is that from?????

Thanks all!
Sharon

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Kris June 14, 2013 at 1:26 pm

My giant bruise was on the side of my knee, and the wrapping made it feel awful. I think it all just where the blood pools. I had a big bruise at my ankle too.
I think the wrap has a lot to do with it too.

No brace at 4 days? Did your doctor say to just not use it when you felt comfortable? Mine was very strict about using it for weight bearing the first few weeks. It seems every doctor has a different protocol.

Congrats on being done!

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Sharon June 14, 2013 at 4:07 pm

I know Kris! He never had a brace on it at all! Just wrapped tightly with the ice machine pad in between. But I can walk pretty well. My lower back is sore from doing too much today, but I’m thrilled to be back on my feet so soon.

Thanks for the input on the bruise. Certainly makes sense.

Sharon

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Jenny June 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm

4 week update

I’m happy to report that my progress has been great. I am meeting all of mt pt goals. My doctor told me I needed to be in the brace until my 6 week appointment. I’ve been a brace rebel…I only wear it if I leave the house.

My biggest concern right now is my quad muscle atrophy. I can see a huge difference. Anyone else? Any thoughts on when it will improve?

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AbBee June 19, 2013 at 11:23 am

Hi Jenny,
Lots of quad exercises that you’ve been given should help you. I did lots of quad work at home pushing down on a rolled up towel under my knee by tensing my quad muscle. I just had my last check up with doc and have been told everything is going really well even though kneeling down and crouching is still not perfect!
I only wore a brace for first two days, off crutches by week 4ish I think. My quad is fine now but I have done a lot of work on my leg.

Good luck ! Im sure you’ll be fine A :)

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Rounak June 19, 2013 at 6:41 am

I am going to undergo the reconstruction next friday…. really really freaked out at the moment…. hope hings go fine… does the physio therapy hurt real bad???

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Jenny June 19, 2013 at 11:24 am

Rounak-

My pt hasn’t been painful at all. I actually really look forward to each visit because its great to hear words of encouragement from my therapist and exciting to see the progression of things that I’m able to do. A couple of things I didn’t expect post surgery….I had to use the bathroom a ridiculous amount of time during the first 2 days post-op…maybe from the IV fluids? Maybe the pain meds? Not sure why. Another thing is, if they give you a choice between having the femoral nerve block or not having it…definitely take it. Also, especially in the 1st week post-op, make it your goal to try and fully extend your knee. Make sure you don’t sit or sleep with a pillow under your knee..it should be under your calf and extend to your heel.

Also, I found this website to be really helpful and have returned to it often in the past 4 weeks http://drmillett.com/downloads/rehab-protocols/acl-rehab-protocol.pdf
Good luck, happy icing, and speedy recovery!

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Gary June 20, 2013 at 10:18 am

Hi had had arthroscopy for meniscus tear seven years ago my surgeon confirmed absence if acl and tidyed up ends where ends were connected. I knew I had torn it many years ago but lived with slight discomfort avoiding activities where stability of my knee was compromised . A few weeks ago my knee gave way during training martial arts, yeah stupid I know but I never felt unstable have good muscle strength etc. saw my surgeon who was surprised that I had lasted so long, had op 7 days ago used patella graft came home same day felt ok. Woke up 3-4 am in hot sweat feling nauseous and my leg felt like it was being chopped off with an axe , oops my mistake should have set my alarm to take meds oh boy won’t make that mistake again. Doing my exercise going ok swells straight away so followed by ice slight discomfort trying to get my knee straight as told if I don’t get this I will lose it , having my clips out next week and start pt, thanks for all the info on here helped me a lot just thought I would add my experience to help others . Thank you

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Jenna June 20, 2013 at 9:23 pm

How is everyone doing who recently had surgery? Kelly, I had surgery today, too. I got home from the hospital around 5:30 this evening.

I got the patellar tendon autograft. I also had the general anesthesia and femoral nerve block. I was given some pain meds afterwards while in recovery and will begin taking Percacet tonight and tomorrow.

I have the ice machine and will begin using my cpm machine tomorrow beginning at 30 degrees and increasing it 10 degrees each day. I go to my follow-up visit in one week.

Hope everyone’s on the mend!!

Jenna

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Kelly June 21, 2013 at 9:37 am

Hi Jenna,

It’s good to hear how your surgery went. I was in hospital by 7:30am and home by around 4pm. It all took a little longer because my doctor pricked himself with a needle while doing my stitches, and just after I was discharged from hospital, decided I needed to come back in for a blood test, to check I wasn’t carrying anything that I could pass on to him.

I had ACL reconstruction with the patellar tendon autograft, and had a partial meniscus repair. I had previous surgery in October 2012 to repair my meniscus, however, it seems that was not completely successful, so it had to partially be reworked on. I had general anesthesia and a partial nerve block, which was applied after when I was in recovery, I have also been prescribed Percacet, which has made me nicely sleepy and seems to be working well against the pain so far.

I didn’t sleep very well last night, mainly due to an active mind, but I was not uncomfortable. I was not sent home with an ice machine, nor a CPM machine, but have been given a number of exercises to start today. I also purchased my own ice machine before the surgery, so I am using that. The bandage is so thick though, that I’m not sure the cool of the ice is able to get through to the joint. We will see.

My follow up appointment is on Wednesday and I have been told to stay in my brace and use crutches until then. My Doctor also does not want me to remove my bandage/dressings until the appointment.

You’ll have to keep us all updated on your progress!

Kelly

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Sharon June 20, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Hi Jenna et al,

I am about 10 days out from surgery which included repair of a torn meniscus. Apparently I overdid things late last week and ended up feeling like doo doo Saturday, and by Sunday we were suspecting an infection. After a day and a half of iv antibiotics, tests, draining of fluid, etc got the all clear and am back on track. Got the green light from the ortho doc today and went to PT. just the basics today, but it felt good to get out and about on my own again!
I’m just curious, my doc didn’t put me in a brace nor a CPM machine. I seem to be recuperating fine (other than my overdoing things last week :)). So I’m wondering what the concern is that a locked brace is needed for some? I had an allograft but I’ve heard people with both get a brace. Just wondering….
Take care,
Sharon

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Jenna June 20, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Sharon,

I have the black brace with four buckles. The doctor said no weight bearing on my knee and of course use crutches. I am instructed to only take the brace off while using the cpm machine in order to get better range of motion and when I shower.

Hope that helps! Take it easy. :)

Jenna

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Alison June 21, 2013 at 1:48 am

Hi Jenna,

I hope you are feeling better with every hour! Thank you for posting today. My surgery for ACL replacement with donor/cadaver ACL is scheduled for July 3rd, so I am following your progress. I go in for my pre-op tomorrow….because I was originally scheduled for next week, but due to insurance “issues” I had to be moved to July 3, so we kept the original pre-op appt. I have my list of questions….but I am sure I am missing something. If you have any tips, please share them.

Feel better! I am so glad that you were up to typing today! You give me hope!

All the best,
Alison

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Sharon June 21, 2013 at 10:41 am

Hi Jenna,

I was just wondering why some docs use those and some don’t. I also was told I could start some light weight bearing as soon as I felt up to it, which was within a couple days. I know medicine isn’t an exact science but my post op tx seems a lot different from most here, other than the basics.

Take care,
Sharon

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Jenna June 21, 2013 at 7:37 am

Alison,

You will be fine for your surgery. You just need to be optimistic and patient with yourself. Don’t be afraid to take pain meds, as they will make you feel so much better and will make you heal faster.

Please feel free to ask me any questions. I am happy to help and have a lot of time on my hands. :)

Jenna

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Alison June 21, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Hey Jenna,

I’m keeping my spirits up….but if I stop to think about it, it becomes overwhelming. So I try not to think about the big picture and just focus on getting stronger today and taking this one step at a time…pun is intended. I look forward to hearing how you are doing.

I will be getting my ice machine and CPM delivered next week. My pre op PT includes using the ice machine and I already love it, but the one I will get at home will not have compression…again due to “insurance issues”. My brace is being made, but for now my PT is encouraging me not to use my brace until after the surgery.

One question for you….are you upstairs in your house or on main level? I do have a guest room down with a full bath….but I want to be in MY room and MY bed, which is upstairs. I’m wondering if I will be able to get there on surgery day.

From everything I have read and can see the ice machine and CPM are very helpful with the recovery. I’ve also heard about certain vitamins that help the body to heal faster.

Hope you are comfortable and being well taken care of. Thank you for your advice.

Alison

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Kevin June 21, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Following up on a comment I posted many months ago regarding my experience with having ACL reconstruction on my right knee, I have applied for disability benefits due to increased pain and instability. I had a Social Security Disability Administration doctor examine my knee and provide an X-ray. I was able to get a copy of her evaluation. Here are the results:

No obvious anterior, posterior or lateral laxity (abnormal joint movement forwards, backwards and to the right side). There was moderate medial laxity with a soft endpoint. I looked this phrase up on Google and what it means is that my MCL (medial collateral ligament) is completely torn. This explains the pain inside my knee on the left side and why it feels to buckle in toward my other knee.

It doesn’t expain why I can bend my right knee backwards 2″ past the point where my left knee locks in place (hyperextension). According to orthopaedic websites, a normal ACL prevents this, while an injured ACL allows hyperextension. ACL revision (re-reconstruction) sites note, however, that a stretched or loose replacement ACL would not typically be discovered by a doctor in a physical examination, thus no anterior laxity was noted in the report.

On to the X-ray, which was taken laying down instead of standing up, weight-bearing. One common guideline across all the websites is that an X-ray can only diagnose knee problems if the knee is bearing weight, as this reveals alignment and joint spacing problems. Thus, the only findings on my X-ray was effusion (excessive fluid) in the joint (an indication of osteoarthritis). “Soft tissues were unremarkable”. Gee, maybe that’s because tissue doesn’t show up on X-rays?

I was able to keep a copy of the X-ray. In comparing it to post-op ACL reconstruction X-ray images available on the web, it looks to me like the new ACL didn’t graft properly to the bone. There are irregular, cloudy spots in the bone tunnel at each end where the new tendon is fastened, but the tunnel is clearly hollow approaching the actual joint in the center.

Regardless, I was denied disability benefits because, the SSDA says although the evidence exists that I can’t perform my previous job duties (in Architecture), I am able to perform other less demanding work. Is mattress tester an actual job?

To be honest, I don’t want to just sit around and collect gov’t checks. I am stir-crazy, bored and tired of being house-bound. I simply want to get disability money for the last two years and the Medicaid which comes with it so I can go to an orthopaedist and get my knee finally fixed.

Is that asking to much?

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Kris July 1, 2013 at 11:38 pm

Definitely not asking too much! I can’t believe that they would use an xray as proof of ACL stability. Both times that mine were torn, the xray revealed nothing. Did the doctor say then felt an endopoint when testing the ACL?

In my opinion, there are no answers without an MRI. Can you get one??

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Jenna June 21, 2013 at 8:44 pm

Hi Sharon, Kelly, and Allison,

I hope I remember to answer all of your questions. I am 2nd day post op. I really felt great the day of surgery since my right leg was numb.

I was wide awake before I went to sleep because of napping for 3.5 hours the day of surgery. I slept for about 6.5 hours last night and was anxious to get up this morning and move around to get the blood flowing. I took two percacets about every four hours. I did do one round of a generic pain reducer in order to not overload on the stronger drugs. I was in quite a bit of pain today after the nerve block wore off, so be ready for it and move very slowly.

This morning, afternoon, and evening I used my CPM machine for a total of 6 hours. The time passed by quickly, especially responding to your messages. I have an icing pad which the hospital placed underneath my ace bandage and there is a cord connector which hooks up to my ice machine. I have been using the ice machine while I am using the CPM.

As far as the brace, I think it’s important to have it on in order to keep your leg as straight as possible and for protection, so you don’t knock into anything. When I am not using my machine, I am elevating my leg and wiggling my toes or doing ankle pumps to get the blood flowing.

Allison, I am staying with my mom, so I only have to get up and down two stairs and I am sleeping on the couch. It is a lot easier and I would be afraid going up so many stairs this early. I have been getting up every now and then to of course use the bathroom, but do laps around the kitchen and living room on my crutches. I have been standing with my crutches and swinging my operated leg gently, in order to get the blood flowing. It is tough sitting still for too long.

I hope this is helpful. We have to keep optimistic!!

Jenna

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Alison June 21, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Hi Jenna,

Glad to hear that you are up and about and keeping up with the pain meds.

6 hours on the CPM! Wow! That sounds like a long time. Does the CPM hurt? I hope it feels good.

I’m trying not to worry about every little thing, but I am trying to think ahead and be prepared for things we take for granted and don’t think about on a daily basis…like going to the bathroom! :-)

So…I experimented with going down and then up my stairs on my “bottom” while keeping my surgery knee straight and not putting any weight on it. It was a FAIL! I don’t think I will be going up the stairs until I get Dr’s clearance. He told me today that I could try it, but that if possible it wouldn’t be the best idea. I agree! I will miss my glorious bed!

Stay strong and keep moving forward! You are in my thoughts. Thank you so much for posting your progress today!

~ Alison

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Jenna June 22, 2013 at 11:02 am

Hi Alison,

The CPM machine feels great. The time does go by fairly fast. I have been passing the time by being on my phone, nook, and watching TV. My doctor said you may feel a little discomfort each day when changing the degrees, but you need to be strong and push past that. It is how we’re going to get to the next level and it only makes the recovery and progress better in the long run.

As far as going down a couple stairs, I am bending down my good leg first, so I am closer to the ground and landing on the side, then gently swinging my bad leg down and never putting any pressure on the bad leg. When going to the bathroom, it is helpful to have a support on either side to hoist yourself up when you are ready to lift off. I know this is a lot of details and I am laughing as I type this, but it’s helpful advice and reality.

Day 3 and pain is much more tolerable than yesterday. I am looking forward to hobbling outside and enjoying some sunshine!

Jenna

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Sharon June 24, 2013 at 11:14 am

OK, I need some guidance/advice. I am getting extremely frustrated and am so tired over the last few days because of extreme discomfort and lack of sleep. I am 2 weeks out today from surgery and just CANNOT get comfortable at night! My knee is still quite swollen, stiff and throbs and aches in any imaginable sleeping position (elevated, non elevated, pillows in between legs, etc). As soon as I get in to what seems like a good position, just the natural pressure of the leg makes it throb and ache.
All that said, I’m not sure if some of this is self induced. Otherwise I’ve been feeling better and have been doing quite a lot and have been standing and walking over the past few days, driving, grocery shopping, attending a charity event, cooking, etc
Am I expecting too much at this point? Has anyone else experienced this at week 2? I would also truly appreciate any advice ou might have to get some nighttime relief.
Thanks,
Sharon

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Jenna June 30, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Hi Sharon,

I am now 10 days post op I, too, have had a tough time being comfortable while sleeping. I have slept better the past two nights, but always wake in the middle of the night.

I feel antsy when trying to fall asleep since I am either on the couch or sitting to use my CPM machine.

I weaned myself off one crutch, and otherwise doing well. I am going to start PT next week and have been doing a couple exercises on my own: holding my leg up while keeping my quad tight, straight leg raises, and heel slides. The heel slides made the back of my knee extremely tight to the point that it just didn’t feel right, so I stopped.

I hope everyone’s recovering well and good luck to those of you who have surgery this week!

Jenna

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Diane July 1, 2013 at 12:20 am

You are doing ALot for only being out two weeks! Watch how much activity walking you are doing. I am 6 weeks out and I still have trouble sleeping. It’s an adjustment. I am not at complete extension…it’s an issue but I am sooooo very close. I hate the massages at PT they are the worst and I have really tight muscles but just do your thing everyday. Things will begin to feel better in no time. Work HARD on your extension. It’s so important and I wish I would had put more exercise into my extension earlier.

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Kris July 1, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Sharon,
I would advise to take it easy and ice that knee as much as possible. It has gone through a major trauma, and it needs to heal.

Regarding sleep, that was my toughest obstacle. I could only get comfortable on the couch, the bed made me miserable. I think I slept on the couch the first month or so.

Good luck!!

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Sid June 30, 2013 at 9:46 am

Hi…..Its been 9 month since my acl surgery…i can walk properly…but when i do jogging or run i feel lot of pain on front side of knee where the button is present. my shin bone also pains..

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Kelly June 30, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Hey everyone,

I am 10 days post ACL reconstruction and meniscal repair. I had my first PT session on Wednesday (6 days post-op), and was given a few exercises to do, such as heel slides, leg raises, glut and quad squeezes, and some exercises with one of those latex exercise bands. There is a limit of what I can do at this stage, particularly because I had meniscal repair too, which limits my flexion to 90degrees.

Mainly, my therapist wants me to work on gaining full extension and better flexion (I was at 50 degrees on PT day). I have found that with the heel slides I am able to do better and better each time, but feel quite an ache in the back of my upper leg afterwards. I also have to use my hands to help pull my leg up, because my upper leg just can’t seem to move that way. Is anyone else having to do the same?

Sleeping has been a little uncomfortable but usually reasonably painless, as I’m still on some painkillers. However, I often find myself waking up on my side, with my surgery leg over the top of my good leg. I’m very glad to be wearing the brace every night, otherwise I would be doing a lot more harm to the bad leg.

Other than pottering around the house, I have not been up and about on my feet too much. One day I went out for a doctors appointment and I was up on my feet a lot, and by the time I got home I felt exhausted! I am certainly nowhere near being able to drive. I can barely sit in the passenger seat of the car comfortably!

I do feel better and better every day, and I hope that is the same for everyone else.

Kelly

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Kris July 1, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Kelly, did they use your hamstring for the ACL? If so, that can be very painful when you fire up that hamstring. I get that burn still to this day, and it has been over 18 months.

Feel better!!

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Kelly July 17, 2013 at 9:55 am

Hi Kris,

They did not use the hamstring, they used the patellar bone-tendon-bone graft. I think the pain is due to the swelling still, so I’m working on getting that down even more.
I had my one month post op doctors appointment yesterday, and my doctor said that if the swelling is still there in a week or two, he may put me on some sort of anti-inflammatory steroids. I can’t remember the name he used.

Things are improving every day though, so I’m positive about things!

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Sharon July 1, 2013 at 10:33 am

Thanks Jenna and Diane,

I needed some reassurance that this was not something more insidious. My PT says I’m doing too much too. It’s the Mom in me! I feel guilty not doing more and laying it all on my husband who is exhausted after a long day of work and then he has to come home, change and take my son to his football conditioning, etc. (new HS so we can’t carpool yet) I have two amazing teenagers, but they don’t take much initiative on basic maintenance ( hanging up towels, putting dishes IN the dishwasher, cleaning pots and pans, etc ). I suppose that’s my fault for allowing it up to now.

All that said I am still very stiff and sore (3 weeks out today), but had a glimmer of hope last night that maybe the pain may have subsided a BIT. That didn’t pan out as I had hoped however, as my daughter had me up late waiting for her to come home and by the time she got in the window on sleep had closed.

So, hopefully I’ll make some progress in PT today and will have some better news for you all soon.

Thanks for all your help and support everyone, and good luck to everyone with upcoming surgeries!

Sharon

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Jenna July 2, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Sharon,

Hope you are taking it easy. I know that I have had such a tough time sitting still and relaxing, although I have forced myself to do so.

It’s also helpful if you take a pain reducer a couple hours before bedtime. I have found that it has helped me tremendously to fall asleep and minimize pain. I have been sticking to an Equate NSAID (non steroidal anti-inflammatory. I stopped taking over the counter meds three days after surgery. I am now 12 days post op.

Alison,

Good luck in your surgery tomorrow! Stay tough! Feel free to ask if you have any advice.

Jenna

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Sharon July 3, 2013 at 10:22 am

Hi Jenna,

Thanks for asking. I actually think I’m making progress but sleep have still been elusive. I had PT on Monday and got full extension!!!! And my flexion is apparently good, just over 90 degrees, for 3 weeks out from an allograft. Had a rough night last night as yes, I admit it, I overdid things. I have PT today and have NO commitments after, so I’ll take it easy the rest of the day!

Hope everyone else is doing well.

Sharon

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Alison July 6, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Hi Jenna, Sharon, Kris and fellow travelers on the journey,

WOW! I’m on day 3 after my ACL replacement. Also found that my meniscus was torn, so that was repaired as well.

Each day does feel better than the previous day, but I gotta say that I have never known pain like this before. (and I gave birth once with NO drugs….this is WAY worse!)

I am using my ice machine a lot and today have upped my CPM to 46 flexation. I use the CPM machine 6 to 8 hours a day. I wake up so stiff every morning and I can’t wait to get in to the CPM to loosen up.

I am able to do leg lifts and calf a quad flexes. I have been getting to the bathroom by wheelchair. Today I tried using the crutches…which I am petrified of. It’s one thing to practice on them when I have control, but now I am so unsteady and the fear of falling is a problem for me. I haven’t really put any weight on my right (surgery) leg yet….the thought of this scares me too.

Trying to keep my spirits up….but it’s hard to be so dependent on others. I’m feeling like an epic FAIL!

My post op follow up in on Monday. I don’t think I am supposed to put any weight on my leg until then….which will be day 5. Honestly….right now I can’t remember the instructions regarding that aspect and of course I can’t find anything as far as written instruction.

Does anyone know the name of the balm that they sell at health food stores with cayenne and such in it? I remember reading somewhere on here that it is good. ??? Sorry…I’m medicated.

I hope everyone else is feeling better. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.
Alison

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Sharon July 6, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Hi Allison, Jenna, et al,

Glad to hear you’re somewhat up and about Allison. Try not to think too hard about using the crutches, practice makes perfect. I think I mastered them the first night home as I was up every hour on the hour peeing. Sheesh. I probably started weight bearing too soon (day 4 I believe, I’ll have to go back in this blog and see:)) and once again I’ll mention that my ortho docs (Georgetown University Orthopedics) don’t use or recommend a brace or the CPM. My PT said regarding the CPM that patients sometimes jack it up too fast and can do damage (Jenna??…be careful).

Although I’m still having major issues sleeping, I am making good progress in PT, got to full extension this week :), and am around 90 plus degrees flexion, which for an allograft is ahead of some protocols. I still have a tendency to do too much and usually pay for it later. If I could just get one good nights’ sleep I know I would feel much better. I’ve been taking Trazadone ( don’t care for Ambien, etc) and that only knocks me out for about 2 hours, after wrestling for an hour to get settlesd, then I’m up every hour or so. Sucks BIG TIME! So anyone out there know the magic bullet, I’m open to any and all suggestions!

Best to you all,
Sharon

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Kris July 9, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Sleep is indeed a difficult thing to come by post surgery. I could only sleep on the couch, the bed made my knee really uncomfortable. The thing is, sleep makes the mind and body both feel so much better- recovery is so much easier if you can indeed find that magic bullet.

Good luck- happy sleeping!

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Jenna July 6, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I just typed a long response and it accidentally got deleted!

Anyways, I would not bear weight until you discuss with your doctor at your first post op. I was able to begin bearing weight after my day 6 post op visit.

I was okay with crutches and only had to get up and down two steps. I was confident enough to get up to the 2nd floor using crutches since I wanted to ditch sleeping on the couch after 6 nights.

Take it easy with the exercises. For the first week, I worked on holding my leg up when getting out of my CPM machine and tightening my quad, while attempting to maintain somewhat of a straight leg. Ankle pumps are also helpful to get the blood flowing and work your calf muscles.

I increased my CPM machine by 10 degrees each day and once I reached 120, I continued with that degree until I am done with the machine rental. My doctor also told me to use the CPM without my brace on. It helps to bend your leg more effectively than if you had the brace on.

Hope you are feeling better everyday! The pain gets more tolerable after the first couple days.

Jenna

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Alison July 7, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Hi Jenna and Sharon,

Day 4 is feeling much better. I’m taking ibuprophen and alternating with percocet if needed. Sometimes I get these *SPARKS* of pain in the center of my knee for no reason at all…and the thought of bending this knee outside of the CPM sounds impossible.

The first night of my surgery I slept for maybe 3 hours, which was miserable. I spoke with my doctor and he prescribed ambien. Being a true Southern California nut, I had to try a natural method first.

At Sprouts (health food market) I found the Badger Balm (with cayenne and ginger to soothe sore muscles) and Badger Sleep Balm (with lavender and bergamot to relax for sleep). The sleep balm goes on your eyes and I put some on my lips….why not? The Badger Balm with cayenne and ginger feels so good on the knee and surrounding area….I just have to rub ever so lightly.

I also am taking Melatonin Plus which is 3 mg Melatonin plus 25mg Theanine. This is a natural sleep and stress relief aid. It is over the counter and my doctor had no problem with me taking it. I am taking two tablets before bedtime and I am sleeping through the night and getting at least 8 hours or more of good sleep. Feeling well rested in the day….and the only thing wrong with that is I feel like I want to get up and GO somewhere! If you are having trouble sleeping, I would talk to your doctor about trying this. I don’t usually sleep this well, so it’s nice to rest when my body really needs it and to feel fine (not drugged or groggy) the next day.

Looking forward to my post op appointment tomorrow. Wonder how long it will take me to get down these stairs!?!? I can’t believe I made it up here, but it was SO worth it.

Hope everyone is healing and feeling well.
Alison

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Gary July 8, 2013 at 4:24 am

Hi just wanted to update on my acl graft had my app with surgeon at 21 days had swelling so he aspirated my knee after which I could barely walk, I walked in and hobeled out could not bend my knee so pt cancelled had to go back on coocdomol max dose which in turn gave me 2 bouts of extreme constipation wow!!!!! Ouch . Take prune juice every day to help with this, now 6 days on had pt and he said not to worry about swelling which goes down at night and begins in the morning controlled through ice & elevation. Now at 25 days post op almost off drugs have 1-2 ibuprofen a day as necessary walking unaided short walks only followed by ice, doing my pt exercises not 100% just what I can manage . Every day gets better in hindsight should not have had aspiration on last visit , quite apart from the v expensive fees as I have to pay myself. Looking back post op getting a comfortable painless sleep was the most difficult once I learned to set alarm for meds in night much better also I put pillows between Knees when on side this was a big help good luck everyone it will get better be as active as you can though!! This seems to be the key to faster recovery .

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Gustav Ramirez July 10, 2013 at 11:04 am

Hi Kris and friends,

Firstly, what a wonderfully insightful and supportive forum for the various knee sufferers from around the world!

I am 23 years old and had my ACL reconstructed exactly 7 days ago using a hamstring graft. Unfortunately, the initial trauma occurred around 3 years prior to undergoing the ACL procedure and I (stupidly) carried on playing football (soccer) for 1 and half years post-injury as I was unaware of the real amount of damage that was originally done.

So, in my Consultant Surgeon’s post-op note he writes that he repaired a “bucket handle meniscus tear”. The meniscus had been so damaged that it caused the medial femoral condyle and medial tibial plateau to be “markedly degenerative – grade IV (full thickness damage). 66% of the meniscus was removed and the ACL was reconstructed.” So, the meniscus was so bad that the femur and tibia were grinding against eachother.

I am considerably worried that I will not be able to return to full “contact” sports i.e. football (how I initially gained my injury). Would this be the case, or will I be able to return if I leave it 12 months and strictly follow my P.T. plan. In essence, I am asking if the damage is so bad that I should just forget about putting myself at further risk in the future.
Any input would be most highly appreciated :)

Regardless of which stage you are at, best of luck to everybody going through this devastating, yet all-too-common injury!

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Kris July 10, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Gustav,
Your doctor would probably be the best person to answer that question. However, when I had my first ACL surgery, they had to remove both medial and lateral meniscus (not sure how much on each side) and my knee is fine. I don’t play contact sports, but I have played tennis and volleyball for ten years on that knee with no issues at all. Now, I may pay for it when I am older, but so far, so good.

Best of luck in your recovery.

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George July 16, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Hi Kris,
I want to ask how long after the surgery it took, until you started walking normally (without swaying). And also do you feel a 100% recovered now,can you take your whole weight on this leg after a jump for example .

Best regards

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Kris July 24, 2013 at 9:33 am

Hi George-
Sorry it took so long to reply, I just now saw your comment.

Not sure on how long until I was walking normally, maybe a month?

I am totally recovered, but it has been 18 months. By the time I was done with physical therapy though, I was able to jump up on boxes and such in therapy, and jump down. By 6 months, the only issue I had was occasional stiffness on stairs.

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Sharon July 16, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Hi everyone,

Update on my end—4 weeks out and making slow but steady progress. I had my PT write out so my husband and I could understand WHY I’m taking so long to get better. Flat out, she said I DID TOO MUCH TOO SOON, and that because I had multiple injuries I basically prolonged my rehab by expecting too much to soon. SOOOO, word of warning to those heading in to their surgeries….find out how extensive your injuries are and plan accordingly. My PT said most ACL patients (not factoring in all the other injuries) stay off their feet for the most part (no driving, extensive walking, standing et) for a whole week or two. That said, every body is different, and I’m not trying to scare anyone, but be sure to follow directions so your recovery goes smoother than mine has.

Take care all,
Sharon

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Allen July 17, 2013 at 6:52 am

Hi thanks for putting this article together. I;ve got full ACL reconstruction surgery using my own hamstrings coming up and this has really helped me prepare for it and know what to expect. I haven’t read through the comments but I’m sure they’re filled with equally useful “war” stories and other hints, tips and tricks to be aware.

I’m gonna post my own recovery experience as I progress too.

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Allen July 17, 2013 at 9:36 am

Here is my blog about my particular ACL reconstruction recovery, follow me if you like :-)
http://myaclreconstructionrecovery.wordpress.com/
Allen recently posted..Pre-op: Jul 2013

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Alison July 18, 2013 at 1:58 am

Hello All,

I am 2 weeks post ACL reconstruction/Meniscus today! Each day DOES get better. Due to a micro-fracture of my tibial plateau I had to stay off my feet longer than “normal”. 4 days ago I was in a wheel chair for the most part due to NO weight bearing which made crutches really tough. Two days ago I finally was cleared by my surgeon for weight bearing ,put on my custom short brace and began using my crutches. Yesterday my PT took me down to 1 crutch and today…I left that crutch in the corner.

I was faithful with the CPM machine….6 to 8 hours a day from the day after surgery, and kept up with the ice machine. My swelling is minimal and my PT has placed Kinesio Tape over my knee and down my leg in long strips that make it look like a bright blue squids are attached to my leg. He did this because I had some swelling from over doing it a bit. This tape has taken down the swelling and my knee feels great. I am also wearing my custom knee brace for support.

Each day is getting better. There were times when I couldn’t imagine ever putting weight on that knee again! I know I need to take it slow….I tire easily, which is apparently normal.

My surgeon usually gives patients a DVD of their surgery, but because my surgery was in the hospital and not his suite he couldn’t shoot my surgery. SO….I watched an ACL reconstruction on YouTube. Take it from me….DON’T DO THIS! Just watching made my knee HURT! I forced myself to watch and couldn’t help screaming. I don’t recommend this for you…unless this kind of thing doesn’t bother you. Just thinking about it hurts!

Best advice that I have gotten from this site….PREPARE for the surgery with PT, mentally, and get your house ready too! Think about how you will get to the bathroom and shower. GET READY! I was fortunate that my mom had a hip replacement a few years back so she loaned me a “potty chair” that is also great to use in the shower. ( I cringed when she brought it over….but was GLAD I had it after my surgery!) Do EVERYTHING your doctor and PT tell you to do. Don’t slack off….each of those silly exercises has a big purpose…just do it. Don’t do anything they tell you not to do. Take it easy. Slow and steady wins the day…..and this knee gig is One Day At A Time! Don’t give up! I’ve cried, I’ve been angry, I’ve wanted to quit….but I can’t quit because I want to move on and get through this.

This site…all or your stories and encouragement have been so helpful! Thank you! I’ll keep reading to see how everyone is doing…I hope everyone is going very well!

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Jenna July 20, 2013 at 9:28 am

Alison, Sharon, Kelly, et all,

I know the four of us had surgeries within a few weeks of one another, so specifically addressing to you ladies, however, this information will certainly benefit anyone else.

I am doing really well and still taking it very easy. There’s no need to do much more than that anyways. I know that my body needs to keep resting and certainly don’t want to over-do anything.

Here’s my update with my progress:

I was completely off crutches after 15 days. (6 days no weight bearing, between days 6-15 I was walking with two crutches, to one, to none!)

I began driving at day 18. I had to practice driving around a neighborhood and my knee was very stiff since it’s my right knee that got operated on. I also began PT at day 18 as well, although I had done exercises on my own the week prior (ankle pumps, calf raises, straight leg raises, heel slides).

I had just finished 2 weeks of PT and am going 3x per week, along with doing exercises given by my therapist twice per day. I am trying to get to the gym once per day to do my exercises and the other time, I’ll do them at home. I’ve been doing some dips, minimal abs, and some upper body free weights.

At day 27, I was finally able to pedal backwards around the bike, although it’s still not completely comfortable, as I am slightly past 90 degrees flexion. At day 29, I was able to bike forwards and backwards. I was so excited to hit this milestone because it will mean that more range of motion will start to come back and soon I can be biking as exercise.

Today is day 30 and I’m still wearing my leg brace. Next week I am going to begin doing some exercises at PT without it. I have been walking around the house at times without the brace to test out my leg. My doctor did say that the new graft (patellar tendon autograft) is the weakest at weeks 5 and 6 when it’s getting acclimated to your body, so he said I have to be extremely careful not to accidentally twist the leg. I know I am going to be terrified when I have to wean myself off the brace, but I know as long as my body is as strong as possible, I should be fine.

I do agree with Alison, that this is a very emotional and challenging time. My best coping mechanisms are spending time with friends, family, getting out of the house, happy hour, reading, and getting into some new tv shows. Thank goodness for all of the distractions. :)

I hope everyone’s doing well. I know this definitely has been one of the most challenging adversities to have to get through, but you really learn a lot about yourself. One of my friends gave me the best advice: “These types of things only happen to those who are strong enough to get through it.” Patience, persistence, and dedication, are three important qualities you need to have to get through this.

Take it easy, but get strong at the same time.

Jenna

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Bone July 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Broke my ankle once and it was no fun. Broke tibia and fibula and had six screws with metal plates. I still have them and I broke my ankle over 12 years ago. It changes your life a bit, but it all depends how the wounds heal.
Bone recently posted..Top 5 Foods With Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

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o July 24, 2013 at 11:13 am

havnt posted on here in a while…im now exactly 7 months post op and things are going good..met my surgeon yesterday for the first time after surgery (shocking i know) and he said the knee looks and feels good…asked me if i had any problems..i dont really but a few concerns i had were:
1)when extending my knee i got crackles and pops
2)knee sometimes clicks when walking
3)locking feeling at times..very rare but noticeable
4)hamstring strength not 100%

the first three he answered to and said its not really an issue..kris are you noticing these problems at this stage?

and the last question he told me to keep working on my hammy and keep up with the plyometrics.

iv can sprint fine..play tennis fine its just the return to football (soccer) that i just want to get back to asap..surgeon said to wait another 2 months (frustrating) which i dont think i can wait..i feel asif im ready to play in a month or less…any guys here return to football?

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Kris July 24, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I would listen to the doctor regarding returning to football. You do not want to go through this whole process again. That ligament has to be fully absorbed into the bone and such, don’t rush it. You have waiting 7 months already, you can do it!

My right knee, which I had operated on 10 years ago crackles and pops all the time. Doctors have listened to it and are not concerned since there is no pain or loss of motion. The hamstring strength took me forever to get back. The exercises made my muscles burn so bad. You just gotta keep at it unfortunately, even though it isn’t pleasant all the time.

You have come a long way- enjoy that knee!

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o July 26, 2013 at 3:05 pm

thanks alot kris..i will enjoy it and hope that i can play to the standard i was at (ill get there)

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Chris July 26, 2013 at 7:10 am

Thank you for writing this article! I am due to have my ACL reconstruction in less than 3 weeks and have been getting very nervous about it. I feel more at ease having some knowledge of how your recovery period went and I will definitely be investing in an Ice Machine after reading this!

Thanks again and I hope you’re enjoying your new knee! :)

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Elisa Jed July 29, 2013 at 1:01 pm

That is a great record. Thanks for sharing. I know how long and painful recovery from surgery can be, not to mention find a lawyer that can help in the area you need. I recently hired a personal injury lawyer in Surrey for an incident with my neighbor’s dog. The lawyer helped get me the medical attention I needed but couldn’t have afforded. The recovery process was still long, but not nearly as bad as it could have been.

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Lisa July 31, 2013 at 4:55 pm

I’ve been reading this blog since before I had my surgery. I’m 3 weeks post-op from Acl recon from my hamstring. Rehab is going well, but I’m starting to get discouraged and depressed about my extenstion and flexion. I can’t get all the way around on the bike yet and it feels like it will never come. I feel like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, if someone would just oil my knee and let it go around on the bike I would feel so much better! Therapist said I need to be patient that I am on schedule but you were riding the bike 2 weeks out. Can anyone else tell me how long it took them before they could make a full revolution on the bike?

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Alison July 31, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Hi Lisa,

I had my ACL reconstruction on July 3rd, but mine was done with cadaver/donor (allograft) material and not a graft from my patella or hamstring. From my understanding it is significantly more traumatic to your body when they use your own hamstring as you are also recovering from that procedure. Your recovery time may take longer and I can’t even imagine the pain you are enduring from your hamstring graft.

I was able to get full rotation on the bike at 15 days after surgery. That was very slow and backwards rotation. It took another full week after that before I could pedal forward and more smoothly….actually “riding the bike”. Each time I get on the bike it is stiff and I have to work my way into it. Don’t get discouraged! You will make progress each time you try. You also have to keep in mind that you have the graft, which I did not have.

I used the CPM machine for 6-8 hours a day while icing my leg for the first 10 days after surgery. Once I reached 90 degrees on the machine my Dr. said I didn’t need it anymore.

I completely understand what you mean about feeling like the Tin Man. I feel like I have this invisible band around my knee that prevents my leg from normal movements. WHen I get frustrated at PT my therapist reminds me that during my surgery my doctor ran my knee through the FULL range of motion and touched my heal to my butt….so it CAN go there, it’s just a matter of healing and the swelling going down….etc. Which takes time. (I am so NOT patient)

You have to work at your own pace and at the pace your Dr. and PT are saying is right for you. Slow and steady will win this race! Most of all you need to be careful not to over do it. This isn’t just physical, it is mentally challenging as well. I’ve never had to think so hard just to walk across the floor! (adds a whole new meaning to chewing gum and walking at the same time!) I also have to keep my spirits up by focusing on what I can do and knowing that one day I will be able to do all the things I did before.

I have a bike at home and I ride it 20 to 30 minutes a day. I got the bike before my surgery and am told that this bike will be my new best friend for life as it is the best thing for my knee. Mine is not expensive and is recumbent, but I can ride the upright one at PT as well.

You will get there. The day I got the pedal all the way around I didn’t think I would EVER get that thing to go around…..and then it just went…..slowly.

Keep me posted on your success. Very interesting to hear about the different ACL techniques for replacements.

All the Best,
Alison

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Kris August 3, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Lisa, did you have other damage too or just ACL?

I was much quicker getting a revolution on the bike the second surgery than the first. It all depends on the healing. I just know for me it was psychological. I just had to get it around once and then I was fine. Was degree of flexion are you at right now?

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Gary July 31, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Hi Lisa I am 6 weeks post op had acl pateler graft I know exactly what you are saying about needing oil in knee I felt exactly the same I could do bike at 4weeks and getting better every day we all heal different , don’t get disheartened it will improve just do as much as you can. My Physio is very encouraging and that helps although some of the stuff is very tough to do. Be lucky

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Jenna July 31, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Lisa and Gary,

Your comments made me laugh! I have said the same thing to myself that I feel like the Tin Man and need some oil.

I was able to do a full bike rotation at 4 weeks. Tomorrow I will be 6 weeks post op from a patellar tendon auto graft. My knee is very stiff and I am working hard at getting my gait somewhat normal. Biking has felt good to stretch out my knee. I try to bike twice a day if I can get to the gym the same day as PT.

You’ll get there. Just be patient and know each week you will cross another milestone off your list. I keep telling myself the same. Good luck!!

Jenna

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Symbol July 31, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Hi Lisa, Gary and Jenna,

Lisa, I read your comment and laughed too. I didnot have words to describe the stiffness and how I felt the knee was stuck. The Tin Man comment explains it all. My surgery went well and it has been a year today :) However it took me a while to do a revolution on the bike. I had both a meniscus tear as well as acl reconstruction done. I was doing Pt for a 3 weeks and my extention was great but my flexion was not where it needed to be. So my therapist recommended pool therapy along with pt. Pool therapy helped a lot. Just for you, I looked at my calendar and for me it too 7 weeks before I had a full revolution. It was a big day and I documented it :) Although I thing I remember doing a lot was pedaling backwards and slowly pedaling forward which was always half a revolution and my pt use to push me a little further each time. I promise you it will happen and it is the best feeling. Do not get frustrated and discouraged, every one heals differently and it is okay to take it slow. When your body and mind are ready it will connect and happen. Stay strong dear. I am 1 yr post surgery and am still doing pt 2 times a month…I still cannot pass the cray hop test. It is simple but I also have partial hearing loss and my co ordination is still not there. My pt still advices to go to the gym and workout for probably the next 6 mons to strengthen the knee. I still do occasionally feel the knee gets stiff but I guess I just have to work through it till it is where it needs to be. A couple of my friends had acl reconstruction and said it took them at least two years before they could not feel any stiffness.

It would be interesting to know how others are doing post surgery. Thanks S

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Danny August 1, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Hey Kris,

I did my ACL reconstruction surgery and removed my stitches. I just wanted to know know what kind of exercises I can do to get my knee back to full motion?

I started physio therapy recently but wanted to know what other exercises I could do back home. Thank you.

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Sharon August 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Hi Danny,

Your Physical Therapist is the best person to assess what you should be doing. Every individual had a specific protocol to follow and you really can’t compare you to someone else. Depends on many variables such as the extent of your injury(s), your age, if you had an allograft or an autograft, etc. You do NOT want to overdo it the first couple weeks, take it from my personal experience. I had a setback b/c of doing too much too soon. Make sure you ask your PT at your next visit what home exercises you can do at where you are now (I don’t recall seeing how many weeks you are out of surgery). Kind of surprised they didn’t already give you some guidelines……

Good luck,
Sharon

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Sharon August 3, 2013 at 11:39 am

Hi All,

Well I am FINALLY making some significant progress, thanks to a cortisone shot to the knee (ouch!) about a week ago. My PT and ortho doc were worried about scar tissue (I get keloids, lucky me) and the ortho when pushing the needle in confirmed there was definitely scar tissue in there. After a couple days of discomfort, my next PT she was able to get me to 115 degrees flexion, PRONE. By the end of this past week I was over 120, hurray! She also noted that my other knee is VERY loose, as I can be prone and grab my foot and get it all the way to my butt (141+degrees), which was the same with the injured knee before surgery. She said it was possible that this may have contributed to the injuries. Who knows, I’m just happy to be making some progress! Also returned to the gym a couple times and it felt good to get back there. NO closed chained knee extensions for a LONG time though. And taking it slow and easy on the other machines, etc.
Now, if I could get a good night’s sleep, I’d be THRILLED!

Take care everyone,
Sharon

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Allen August 4, 2013 at 5:16 am
Vlad August 5, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Hi everybody.
I am 39 days since my ACL replacement and have a some what different experience.
a little back ground first.
for once I have both of my ACL torn long time ago. my left one (the one I just fixed) was torn in 1984. when I was 15, I had lived with it for 30 years, not an easy feat. in fact, I have torn one in my right legs because of it. (went bolling during company outing and my left knew gave out during throw) when I was 27.
had been planning to fix either one for years, but could not do it. no time, no insurance, no time and no insurance etc.
had in incident last summer where both of my knees gave out during my walk. and never fully recovered in terms of pain and discomfort. (I had in the past one of the knees giving out on me now and then and after several days the pain would be gone and leg would feel OK. not this time though).
went to the doctor and was told the news were no good.
I have torn ACL in both knees (no surprise there),
I have badly torn meniscus in both knees as well (not really a surprise either)
I have badly worn out cartilage in both legs and an arthritic changes usually associated with age and not seen until at least another 10-15 years later in life. (I am 44 BTW)
the diagnoses was MUST DO the left leg ACL unless I want to wait until the whole thing is destroyer which might be sooner than later.
done the procedure June 27th. and here is my experience.

done all the preparation and paperwork.
got papers from the doctor in the mail, including prescriptions fro “Percoset” and “Codeine”
with instructions to fill those before day of the surgery so they will be on hand when needed.
after doing some research on INTERNET and reading some horror stories about excruciating pains after surgery, got the meds.

when to surgery on Thursday 27 Jun. nothing special here except was told to come in @7:30 AM AM for surgery scheduled @8:30 AM.
was not taken to the surgery until 10:00 AM or so. (the doctor was late with enauther surgery before mine)
came too @ bout 1:30 PM , felt OK considering. a bit light headed and with a foul taste in the mouth but no pain :-) went home @3pm. got in the car by myself, lucky me, my father has a big car I had more than enough space to lay with the leg in an immobilizer splint.
got home, got out of car my self, got my crotches and walked home. no problems so far.
for the next 2 days could not really eat much. I am quiet tolerant to anesthesia but it curbs my appetite a bit for day or so. just ate some yogurt and light snacks with juice and tea.
could not feel my leg at all for the next 3 days. (nerve block rocks!)
was told by nurse to take the pain meds. as soon as I can before the block wears off. as once the pain kicks in the meds. might not do any good for a while. decided to skip it and weight and see (Yeah, that’s the way I roll).
biggest issue I had was sleeping, and going to the bathroom.
sleeping is difficult as I do turn at night and with full immobilizer it’s a problem
as for bathroom breaks well, my bathroom is not designed for some one who’s leg can not bend. had to seat literally sideways.
was told to keep the cast on all the time until the post-op that would be for almost 6 days.
as my post-op was scheduled to following Wednesday after procedure.
exception was to apply ice as needed. and not to try to walk until the block wears off (36 to 48 hours).

spent 2 days in bed not problem.
on third day block started to wear off. Pain was very manageable. I have not even opened my prescription meds. (yes they still in a sealed bag as brought them from the store.)
took couple of Tylenol during a day, and at night. that’s all.
after block was off could lift the leg OK. so could move and stand up.
could even put a considerable weight on the leg. almost stand on it fully.
went to post-op, was told that all is good, I could stand on the leg with no brace almost at full weight. could move and lift the leg no prob.
could even bend it almost 90 degree. and my extension was almost 100% pre-op status.
some stitches were removed then, and next visit was scheduled with in a week to remove the rest. PT was to start after all stitches are out. the immobilizer was also taken off.

I am in my week 3 of PT now, have been walking without crotches or walking stick for 2 weeks.
have full extension as per my PT and do very well.
I am walking normally, but have too be extra cautious since my right leg is bad and if it goes I might damage the new knee. so still walking on eggshells :-)
have some pain and discomfort in the leg but nothing to right about.

so a bit different experience for me.
no ice machine, no pain meds.

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Kris August 6, 2013 at 8:32 am

Wow, it sounds like you are having a great experience, that is wonderful!

Your nerve block lasted a long time, which I am sure helped too. I would still considering icing a lot though. Therapy will be rough on that leg.

Congratulations, and I am hoping for continuing healing for you!

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Lisa August 6, 2013 at 1:08 pm

THANK YOU SO MUCH to all of you who responded. I really think I’m going to cry the day I can make a full revolution. Kris, I did have a small meniscus tear, but my surgeon said he did not repair it surgically, that it was so small that it should heal on it’s own. I had my 2nd post op appointment with my surgeon yesterday and he said I’m a little behind, that he would have liked to have seen a little more extension at this point and that I really need to concentrate on how I walk to improve my gait. He said I need to be doing prone hangs twice a day for 20 minutes. When I’ve mastered that, then I need to slowly start adding weight. I’m doing prone hangs at PT with a 2 pound weight on but only for 8 mins at a time. Surgeon said that is not enough. That sent me into tears and I’m trying SO hard not to be a baby or feel sorry for myself. I’m aware that I could be in much worse shape, but sometimes it just sucks.

My PT only measured my flexion once at my first post op PT and I didn’t ask what the measurements were and he hasn’t measured me since.

Anyways, I can’t tell you guys enough how much better your posts made me feel. I cant WAIT to share when I can make a full revolution HAHHAHA. It’s the little things that will make me so happy :)

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Kris August 21, 2013 at 1:44 pm

How’s it going Lisa?

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Alice August 7, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Hi all,
Good to read these posts- they have been so helpful in preparing for what an ACL reconstruction is all about. Ruptured two right knee ligaments skiing at Easter and after a while on brace/ crutches etc and Physio had the op the day after we broke for school holidays- so hit two weeks today. Am 40 and so was not sure about surgery but in the end there were just too many things I couldn’t do without it. So far so good but a different protocol to others here. No brace after, only crutches.
I saw my Physio from day 5 and now twice a week and am attached to a cryro cuff and ice most of the day. Walked this morning independently but tired by mid day so took up one crutch. I think I have been quite gentle on the recovery but kept focused on the exercises set and daily meditation has helped. Good luck to all with on going recovery programmes- alice

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Leona August 14, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Hi Kris
I have just ruptured my ACL skiing. 3 weeks ago to be exact. I have also torn the medial cruciate ligament, torn the meniscus and have a segond fracture. Call it the Virgo in me to do a perfect job. I am doing Physio now to build up the quads. I felt the pop when I got taken out by another skier on the mountain through no fault of my own. I have struggled with this as I ski, mountain bike, and run. I have knee reconstruction on 17th Sept 2013. I am 45 years old and apart from a medial meniscus tear 10 years ago, which was nothing compared to this, I am scared shitless that being as active as I am that I won’t be able to do the above again. Not only because of being in this awful brace until surgery but also experiencing the most horrific feeling the other night of my knee giving away while not wearing the brace. In short, I want to ski again and run and mountain bike and it has depressed me to know end having this injury created not by my inability but someone else’s. I’m pleased I have read your blog, it has given me faith again that surely all will be good and that this is a glitch in the system. Thanks, Leo

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Kris August 21, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Leo,
I am sorry it took so long for me to respond to this. Spammers have been attacking my site, and it takes forever to sift through and find real comments.

Are they repairing the MCL or just letting that heal on its own?

For what it is worth, I can share my experience. My first surgery was 2 meniscus, ACL rupture and MCL sprain. I had zero stability, and when you mentioned the feeling of it giving out, I can still ‘feel’ it again in my mind, and it happened over 10 years ago. (My knee gave out the second time I tore my ACL, but not nearly as bad at the first knee.)

I have never been a skier (but I am a Virgo…), so I can’t say how easy it is to go back to that. However, neither of my knees stop me from doing anything I did formerly. I play tennis just as well as before, I run, I play racquetball, I bike, I do whatever I want. I still wear one knee brace for tennis because psychologically I am not ready to fully let it go. Other than that, I NEVER think about my knees at all.

I know that you cannot even imagine walking normally again from where you are at now, but you will. It sounds like you are in great shape. All you can do is focus on getting stronger (safely) and try and see surgery as an opportunity. Yes, physical therapy will be hard and it will be painful at times. But you will get stronger, and you will find great satisfaction with all the new things you can do again.

Hold on to that faith- you will have your life back again.

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Leona August 21, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Hi Kris
Thanks for your response. Apparently there is a tear in the meniscus which the surgeon said he will tidy up when he operates. The MCL is torn and still very sore 5 weeks post accident. PT said this could take 6-12weeks to heal on its own which is what the surgeon suggested we do. My left leg has an MCL sprain. Still sore but not nearly as bad as the right leg. The PCL has taken away a bit of bone which is called a “Segond Fracture”. This they are saying will heal itself also. I have my surgeon appointment next Tuesday 27th August to see how I’ve progressed so far in terms of being prepared for surgery. I am doing light squatting, calf raises, leg raises, swimming, heel slides in prep for this. From what I have read and heard from others so far, the Patellar tendon option is stronger over the hamstring option. Although I believe recovery can be longer with this procedure and little more uncomfortable. I really don’t care as long as its strong as I’ve heard a few cases of the hamstring option disintegrating or rupturing again.
No I can’t imagine walking normally again, I have forgotten whats its like to do my 6km run, ski and mountain bike. We are a very active family and I’m the only one sitting out on everything which mentally torments me. I am looking at surgery as an opportunity which I am (but not) looking forward to if you know what I mean? It means I will really be on road to recovery I hope and have my life back. Certainly makes you appreciate that you have your arms and your legs when something like this happens.
I’m really pleased that your experience has been a success and I’m holding on to that faith that mine will be too.

Watch this space!
Take care
Leo

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Alice August 14, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Hi Leona,
Just read your post and good luck with the Sept surgery. I had a torn MCL and the brace and pt plus 3 months fixed that. It was steady improvement each week and I was v careful to avoid any re injury but was working full time as a drama teacher so ideally I could have done with more rest and more exercises time. It was wonderful when I had the courage to get into a swimming pool but again I started with gentle movement and a float between my legs for upper body work. It took a month to get back to steady lengths and my kick back but by then my mcl was secure. Now I am 3 weeks post op and experience of the recovery from injury means I understand the process now and know a lot if the exercises. I saw my surgeon today for my first follow up and all was in good shape and he was pleased so that is a huge boost. I have followed all Physio instructions, lots if ice and a cryo- cuff( wonderful especially at night and now I am just getting out a little with friends means I can pop it on to cool the knee and stay out longer). I am 40 and into yoga etc as well as the skiing etc which was the cause my break. I had to let go of the terrible regret I felt as it just made me depressed. I think I had to ‘grieve’ for my lost acl and the ease at which movement and strength had been there all my life. That may sound melodramatic- but hard to explain the coming to terms with it. I just had to look ahead and focus on the daily improvement and discipline of the Physio. We have accidents- and that is all it is- accidents and obstacles we then have to overcome. I feel far more in control now so do hang in there. I didn’t rush anything but did do lots of massage, lots of breathing and stretches for the rest of my body and all the recommended Physio. I am aiming for a full and smooth recovery accepting my knee as it was has gone and I am working with a new one.
Today I bought a turbo charger for my bike so I can turn it into a static bike as Physio begins to add cycling. Good luck and try to get stuck in to recovery and keep the bleak feelings at bay. Alice

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Leona August 14, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Hi Alice, I replied to you via my ipod. Please let me know you received it. Not showing here. :-( If now I will paste it on here. Thanks hun.

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Alice August 15, 2013 at 5:49 am

Hi Lorna,
Don’t seem to have picked up your message so if you can paste it that would be great- thanks alice

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Leona August 15, 2013 at 6:49 pm

This is what I wrote that you didn’t get:
Thank you for your reply I hear you loud and clear. My goodness, the regret I have and the grieving has been hard. Think I’m at acceptance stage now but was in denial. You are not being melodramatic. I have cried myself to sleep but my physio said “Leo you need to get your head around whats happened and we need to get the surgery done and get you back to what you were doing. He said not unrealistic goal to look at being back on the slopes in 9 months.My physio has recommended to do swimming now till surgery, bit of cross trainer and other exercises. Thanks again for sharing your experience. Fingers crossed my experience with surgery will be a good and successful one.
Leo

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Alice August 15, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Hi Leo,
Sounds as if you are getting good advice and can get going in the pool. If there is a sauna even better. Get a good book or magazine for reading when icing the knee – I put on music to accompany exercises. Very glad to hear the shock of what has happened is passing and do go easy on yourself. The knee needs care now and become really demanding on time and energy.
I sorted my bedroom before surgery, bought lots of bottles of my favourite fizzy water which have been great especially through the first few nights- get a draw for the cup-
Also a solid stool in the shower to sit on once able to shower. I didn’t and just washed at sink as couldn’t easily get in. Left my hair too and was very selective about visitors in that first week post op. Massaged legs from day one with good quality body lotion – this was comforting. And I took all the pain mess coming off gradually after five days and had no pain problems. Sleep settled after about a week.
Lastly- get help for first week if you can- especially a early morning drink before you have to deal with getting up on those first few days post op. I had help with all cooking / washing etc for a week and that was so great and much needed.
My secondary plasters came off after ten days- then things seemed to get a little more normal albeit highly restricted!
Hope all if that helps snd wishing you all the best- Alice

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Leona August 15, 2013 at 7:21 pm

You have been extremely helpful and advised me on things I never thought of. Hey, a sauna, I can handle that. I will see if I can get help for few days after. You’ve been a star. Thank you. Leo

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Alison August 15, 2013 at 12:24 am

Alice,

Thank you so much for posting this! I am six weeks into my recovery from my ACL replacement surgery and what you wrote about grieving the loss of your ACL and the ease at which movement and strength had been there all your life…..I have been doing the exact same thing and you perfectly stated how I have been feeling as well. I am 46 and active as well. This has been a life changing accident and I love how you put this all in to perspective. I am not alone. You are not alone. Everyday brings a little bit more healing. I am using my bike and walking rather well with a custom brace. I can go up and down stairs easily now. I have great gratitude for every bit of progress. I am slow, but I will not give up.
Sending out wishes for great healing and strength,
Alison

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Alice August 15, 2013 at 5:59 am

Hi Alison, thanks for this post. Good to know where you are six weeks and that I am on the way there and that my comments made sense. Best wishes with recovery today – Alice

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Alison August 15, 2013 at 12:44 am

Leona,

I have been assured that a lot of patients return to their pre-injury activities. It sounds like you are in great shape. They do make braces that you can wear for skiing. My doctor works on a lot of professional atheletes….surfers, skateboarders, snowboarders, skiers, football, soccer…..and so on…and most of his patients return to their sports. Some wear a brace only while participating in their sport and the brace does not hinder them. I am so sorry that you were injured like this by someone else….that has to be so difficult. At least I did this to myself! But as Alice said…accidents happen as they happen.

I wish you all the best in your upcoming surgery. I know you will get through it very well. My best advice is the same as most on this site…..take your time, follow every instruction and do everything your doctor and PT tell you to do very carefully. It is a slow process and it can be painful as well. This can be more painful mentally than physically at times. You have to celebrate your progress each day and focus on keeping positive and being strong. Tomorrow will be there and you will get there in due time. This is a process that you can not rush for risk of injury. You can do this. If I can…..anyone can.

Keep us posted and go easy on that knee,
Alison

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Leona August 15, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Thanks Alison, I am not a good patient at the best of time. I can’t sit down and not do anything. I am trying to reprogram my thoughts and go with it. Stressing about it will get me nowhere quicker. The hardest thing for me is not being able to exercise. I was a personal trainer few years ago but now just get out there for myself. Acceptance is slowing sinking in. I really was in denial that this had happened.

Many thanks for your support.
Leona

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Alison August 21, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Welcome to week 7 of ACL replacement recovery.

I can bend my knee to 135 degrees and have full extension. So why do I still feel like my knee has a metal band that is attached to a vice? My knee still “catches” every now and then….don’t know how to describe this feeling other than it feels like my ACL might snap again and that is my greatest fear. Other than that, my knee doesn’t actually hurt and the stiffness is greatly improved. What hurts the most is my back and the cramp I keep getting in my butt cheek on the same side as my new knee. It just doesn’t go away! I’m wearing my big custom knee brace and find it difficult to walk without it. It’s also difficult to wear “normal” clothes with said brace.

I am still in PT two days a week and my therapist is happy with my progress, but I am not. Worst thing is that I met a lady this weekend who told me that she had ACL surgery 2 months ahead of me and she is walking great, totally back to normal, no brace and she was walking normal and feeling GREAT 2 days after her surgery. She even had my same surgeon!!! This just killed me!!!

I walk with a pretty normal gait, but when you have this brace on, so many people will strike up a conversation with you or ask you if you’ve just had ACL surgery. I have never even seen anyone in a brace like this in my life…..and now I see them all the time! Usually it is very positive.

Trying to keep positive and see the bright side of how far I have come….but I still have so far to go and “normal” just seems like it will never happen for me. I want to be one of those people who doesn’t even think about my knee anymore! I can’t imagine feeling this way. This knee is consuming me and my life. Broke down in PT yesterday….mourning the loss of my normal knee. I want it back.

Guess I will hit my bike and hope to feel better after breaking a sweat. I need to just feel grateful that I have my knee and the ACL replacement. I know that there are others who are truly suffering with a lot worse circumstances. I need to be grateful for my donor and their family who have made my recovery possible by suffering the worst consequence.

Sorry for the negativity today.
Wishing everyone a good knee day,
ALison

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sharon August 21, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Hi Allison,

Sorry you are having a tough time of it. I sure know how you feel, although, I must admit I think I’ve made pretty good progress as of late (surgery was June 10). I hit a major plateau after a set back early on, and ended up needing a cortisone shot which seemed to do the trick.

I too get that catching, tight feeling still a lot, and my PT says it’s normal. She also says this is a LONG recovery, as in months! I live near DC and look at RGIII with the Redskins. He is in uber good health, young, and had benefit of the best care money can buy and he still wears a brace when working out. I am wondering though why you still need a brace at this point? Of course working out I can understand, but general walking, etc, I thought one needs to build those muscles back up, which wearing a brace kind of “babies” them. Talk to your doc though before you stop wearing it though!

As far as comparing yourself to someone else, DON’T! I like to describe it like this—every BODY is different—you may be an apple, that other lady is an orange. You both had unique injuries, and heal differently. AND I might add if she is zipping around 2 days after surgery, I have the distinct feeling she will be paying for it later as I did. I overdid it week one and it set me back. My PT says MOST patients rest COMPLETELY for the first week or two, except for essential. So, food for thought.

You’ll get through this, and yes it’s going to take a long time. I work in the fashion industry and it’s KILLING me not to wear my heels! I hate flats, plus even with them on today I felt like I was hobbling along. I hope one day I’ll be zipping back up and down the halls in my heels again!

Take care,
Sharon

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Alison August 21, 2013 at 10:17 pm

THANK YOU Sharon. It’s hard to remind myself that this is a marathon, not a sprint. I bought three bibs for the Carlsbad Half Marathon yesterday for my family. I was supposed to run. It too, but that isn’t going to happen. I’ve now set a goal to run it next year.

I have a hard time walking without my brace. It feels like there is a bowl of jello in my knee when I do walk without it….which is rare. But I do agree with you that the brace is limiting my strengthening of the muscles. I’m shocked that so many of us on here never have the brace. I don’t like how I feel without it. I see my surgeon on Monday and I look forward to what he has to say..

I agree with you….. I can’t wait to wear my heels again!!!!!
Thank you for the support and encouragement.
Alison
PS….used to live in Montclair VA …one of my girlfriends works with the Redskin Cheerleaders and used to be one. Such a small world!

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Leona August 21, 2013 at 10:22 pm

Hi Alison
I hope I’m not being personal asking this, but why did you have a donor and not a reconstruction from your own tendons?
Leo

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sharon August 22, 2013 at 8:41 am

Hi Leo,
I’ll pipe in here as I had a donor (allograft) too. For ME (can’t speak for Allison :)) I am over that certain age that the docs don’t want to use your own tendon. Too hard to rehab 2 areas, age, etc. BTW Allison, my PT told me I could request a thank you note for the donor family which I did at surgery and I already sent it in. They give you a non identifying number and you do it on email. You could probably still get it from the hospital if you do a little bit of poking!
Sharon

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Jenna August 21, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Hi Everyone,

I am glad to hear from those who are recovering from surgery from surgery from the beginning of the summer, like myself. Good luck to those who have upcoming surgeries. Tomorrow I will be 9 weeks post-op.

I do fully agree that this is a life-changing experience. The physical part has been tough having so many limitations and not being able to enjoy my summer to the fullest. Although, I’ve tried to have fun considering the circumstances. Surgery and recovery is quite emotional as well. I am mentally and physically a strong person (have run 3 marathons under 3:06), but occasionally break down because it’s a long and frustrating progress. Sometimes your mind and body want to move faster, but realistically, it can’t.

I think as of last week or the week before, my flexion was at 119 degrees which I was surprised and very frustrated. Two weeks ago, my doctor said he was expecting to see more degrees flexion at that point, and it was disappointing to know that I was pushing my body as much as I could. So, I’ve been doing additional exercises for flexion. My knee is still very stiff around the incision and it could very well be the patellar tendon which was used. I’ve been going to PT 3x per week and doing my exercises at the gym on all the other days.

Other than that, I’m doing well. I have my eyes on the prize and my motivation is getting as strong and healthy as possible, so I am ready to begin teaching again in a couple weeks and hope to get cleared to beginning “light jogging” sometime in September. I want to make sure I get the okay from my doctor and that both of us are 100% sure it’s okay to begin that next phase. I’ve been a runner for 17 years and it has been a challenge not running for 8 months.

I keep thinking how awesome it will feel to go running outside and train for my first race back when it’s time. I know the feeling of accomplishment after this long journey, will feel amazing. I can’t wait for that moment! :-)

Sending positive thoughts to everyone. I keep thinking that having gone through this process, I can sure as heck get through anything.

Jenna

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Jenna August 21, 2013 at 9:48 pm

I am sending this again since I found a couple typos. It’s been a long day….

Hi Everyone,

I am glad to hear from those who are recovering from surgery at the beginning of the summer, like myself. Good luck to those who have upcoming surgeries. Tomorrow I will be 9 weeks post-op.

I do fully agree that this is a life-changing experience. The physical part has been tough having so many limitations and not being able to enjoy my summer to the fullest. Although, I’ve tried to have fun considering the circumstances. Surgery and recovery are quite emotional as well. I am mentally and physically a strong person (have run 3 marathons under 3:06), but occasionally break down because it’s a long and frustrating progress. Sometimes your mind and body want to move faster, but realistically, it can’t.

I think as of last week or the week before, my flexion was at 119 degrees which I was surprised and very frustrated. Two weeks ago, my doctor said he was expecting to see more degrees flexion at that point, and it was disappointing to know that I was pushing my body as much as I could. So, I’ve been doing additional exercises for flexion. My knee is still very stiff around the incision and it could very well be the patellar tendon which was used. I’ve been going to PT 3x per week and doing my exercises at the gym on all the other days.

Other than that, I’m doing well. I have my eyes on the prize and my motivation is getting as strong and healthy as possible, so I am ready to begin teaching again in a couple weeks and hope to get cleared to beginning “light jogging” sometime in September. I want to make sure I get the okay from my doctor and that both of us are 100% sure it’s okay to begin that next phase. I’ve been a runner for 17 years and it has been a challenge not running for 8 months.

I keep thinking how awesome it will feel to go running outside and train for my first race back when it’s time. I know the feeling of accomplishment after this long journey, will feel amazing. I can’t wait for that moment!

Sending positive thoughts to everyone. I keep thinking that having gone through this process, I can sure as heck get through anything.

Jenna

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Alice September 21, 2013 at 2:28 am

Hi all,
Into the ninth week post op- good to read the progress of others- well done.
Having been back at work ( drama teacher in a secondary school ) for two half weeks which has thrown my Physio routine but been good psychologically I think . Struggling with a weak leg but otherwise knee does keep improving and the Physio make such a difference. This weekend is a chance to get back to a better routine and build up confidence. I am almost back to where I was before the op. limitations are huge but I am taking it week by week. Best wishes for all – Alice in the Uk

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Sharon September 21, 2013 at 9:40 am

Hi Everyone,

Haven’t posted in a while but thought I’d give a shout out as things are really getting much better! It’s been a bit over 3 months since my surgery and after some setbacks I think I am really on the mend finally! I really hit a bad wall about 2 months out and the doc said I definitely had scar tissue building up inside. To avoid going back in he gave me a cortisone shot which for 2 days after made it hurt worse—-but low and behold, the next week in PT it all loosened up! HURRAY! I have full extension (not as solid as my “good” knee) and on my back flexion is over 140 percent. AND it doesn’t ache at night! I still have some bad days and have to be careful. It definitely doesn’t feel “normal” but SOOOO much better! Back to the gym this week and starting over like a baby doing squats with no added weight on the bar, lots of other leg work. NO leg extension machine though for a year at least according to my PT so listen to your doc or PT peeps!
Best to you all, and good luck on new folks on upcoming surgeries!
Sharon

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Jenna September 21, 2013 at 10:27 am

Hi Everyone!

I am now 13 weeks post op and finally got cleared to begin jogging this week! I was so excited and have jogged twice on the treadmill. It was a huge milestone for me and was great to jog for the first time in 8 months.

My leg flexion is 135 degrees, so I’ve made a bit of progress. Leg flexion was the toughest to get back. My other leg is 145 degrees, so I still have a little ways to go.

I go back to see my doctor in December and will be 6 months post op at that time. I will get fitted for a custom brace and begin the next phase of PT (lateral movement, jumps, start and stops, etc).

Hope everyone’s doing well! This is that most challenging experience I have ever been through in my life. Thank you for all of the support on here. It was always comforting to know how others were/are doing and that we’re not alone. Best wishes to all for a great recovery!

Jenna

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George October 14, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Hello all.

I am two days post op from ACL replacement. So far so good! I have been following instructions to the T…Spending 6-8hrs in the CPM and rocking the ice machine pretty much around the clock.
I am able to walk a bit around the house with no crutches although I am limiting that. First PT session tomorrow and although it is a long road back I am excited to get it going!

Good Luck to all you out there!!

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liss November 7, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Hi guys-

Been a while since I’ve written. I’m now 4 months post op and finshed pt. Hoping someone can shed some light on my situation. Had acl surgery 7/9/13 hamstring graft, no other damage or repair.  I completed pt as scheduled at the end of october and was cleared to begin a progressive jogging routine on flat level surfaces. Went and purchased a new treadmill to help with this.  The first week of jogging went great, minimal pain, no swelling.  Week 2 (last week) I started to feel pain afterwards but was tolerable with ice and motrin until my last workout on saturday. I’m now in feeling moderate pain and am scared I’ve messed something up. The pain is in a strange place and I will do my best to describe the location, about an inch above my kneecap. I have some it band pain but started having that at pt and was told its normal. The pain is worse when I’m bending going down stairs.  I’ve rested since sat but still pretty sore. I rode the stationary bike tonight and feel the same, it didn’t seem to aggravate it more.Do you think this is just overuse? I feel really disappointed, it felt sooo good to be back on the treadmill and back to real phyiscal activity.  Any thoughts or advice are appreciated! I’ve scoured the internet looking for anyone who has experienced this and I didn’t see anythibg. Anyone felt this?

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Sharon November 7, 2013 at 9:23 pm

I think you are expecting too much too soon. Sorry. I’ve been told it can take up to an entire year to be back to “normal”. I’m almost 5 months out from surgery and my PT is just cutting me loose but remarking about the whole “year thing”. She did tell me to be sure to still do lots of full extensions, squats without weight to begin with, wall slides, and to build up the quad again. It takes time and patience. I took two spinning classes last week and my knee was sore for about 3 days after the second class. Btw, what does your doc suggest for you at this point?
Take care,
Sharon

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Alison November 8, 2013 at 2:28 am

Hi Liss,

I had my ACL replacement with cadaver/donor graft on 7/3/13….so we are in the same window…sort of. I am still in PT and expect to be in PT for a while yet. I am working on the bike and elliptical. 4 months is still pretty soon to be running, even if running is something that you did pre-op. I am doing some weight training to strengthen my muscles as well. When I over do it I tend to get pain in the indention area to the outside and just below my knee cap. (mine is my right knee)…. Recently I have needed my crutches for the evening after a couple of workouts where I took it too far, but it is usually better by the next day. This recovery is SLOW and time and continued efforts are all we have. We have to listen to our body….my knee lets me know when I have done too much. My PT tapes around my patella with Kinesio Tape and this helps a lot. Remember to ice your knee for 20 minutes after your workouts. You may want to revisit your surgeon and try to get some more PT. I will continue with the PT for as long as they will allow….and then do my best to follow the guidelines as I work forward on my own. This can be a year to a year and a half recovery. The best lesson I got was from a professional football player who had his ACL surgery a month before me and we have PT at the same times….he is a BIG man and he was on the table next to me while I was in tears….he told me that it’s okay to cry because this hurts like hell. As a 46 year old woman….this strangely made me feel a lot better!

Cardio activity is great, but don’t forget to strengthen with weights, squats and calf raises and don’t forget to STRETCH and ice.

That’s just my thoughts. I hope you are feeling better with each day…..one day at a time.

All the best,
Alison

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Leona November 11, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Hi Alison
I’m 46 years old also and yes it hurt like hell. Can I ask did you do your ACL skiing? I know someone on here did!

Leo (Leona)

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Sharon November 11, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Hi Leo,

There may be others but I ruptured mine skiing the end of March, surgery beginning of June. Just wrapping up PT.

Sharon

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Alice November 8, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Hi all- good to read new posts and catch up with progress. I must be at about 15 weeks and am feeling a lot better as gym work is becoming more varied. Struggling with some parts of pt but know I need to put more time in so encouraging to read everyone elses experiences. I work in a school and one of my 15 yr old students had a similar op a month before we. I was feeling rubbish in the pool a couple of weeks back when Jacob appeared in the next lane. He was doing about 50 lengths and was ace at encouraging me to stick at it. Best wishes to all especially Leo and Alison from the posts when I joined. Thank you Kris for such a good thread- I learnt so
Much from here which has made all the difference – alicex

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AbBee November 9, 2013 at 4:25 am

Has anyone else been doing really well at 4-5 months then gone downhill after upping their exercise routine? I am now at 9 months and my knee cracks more than ever. I have had to stop running and tennis and am back to strengthening my VMO to help track my patella better. I am a hamstring ACL recon with no brace and little PT rehab. The ACL is fine it’s just the other mechanics that seem to be the problem! Very frustrating! Anyone else have these issues?

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EBiggs November 11, 2013 at 8:53 pm

I haven’t posted for a while. Perhaps I’m an oldie, I had my ACL reconstruct with patella graft on my left knee in June 2012. I still only feel like I’m about 90% simply because I know that I still give preference to the right leg and don’t always walk “normal” on my left. Now with that said I have worked hard, did lots of PT starting 3 days post surgery and continued for a couple of months thereafter. I was fortunate enough this year to continue with a goal that I had set prior to tearing my ACL. I completed 2 sprint triathlons (Irongirl) this summer, one in August and one in September. This was my first triathlon. I trained steady spring to summer and I listened to my body. I am 48 years old. I think the key is, listen to your body, we all heal differently and at are at different places physically when we have/had our surgery. I go through days when my knee pops (it feels like it ‘sticks’ and I can tell it will pop). Lately I’ve been feeling a little tenderness around knee, could be change in weather or maybe I need to still ice. I hope everyone will stay encouraged do your PT exercises at home consistently, in addition to what you do at the office take it seriously. I’m extremely independent but after surgery take advantage of allowing your family/friends to assist – don’t be too proud, I’m glad I did, everyone was great and wanted to help. Also, for those who haven’t had surgery yet, prep the house before surgery… have everything you need laid out, prep the shower for when you will be able to shower. To all be blessed and speedy recovery it will get better and those tough days will become old memories. (I should say, the first few days of PT I literally cried when my therapist had to bend my knee and I screamed-horribly just trying to spin once around on the bike – the pain was horrific!!!! but I made it)

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Surya December 22, 2013 at 12:56 am

Hey,

Great article!! I could totally relate to everything; my surgery was six months ago and I’m not fully OK yet. I feel an almost constant and rather small pain in my upper thigh muscles and all I do is walking and cycling. :( Hope it goes away soon, my doctor just gave me a muscle relaxant to take when the pain is too much.

Take care.

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ACHS May 3, 2014 at 10:13 pm

Hi:

On June 3, 2013, I posted a comment on this website. It was the night before my daughter’s ACL surgery — torn twice within an 8 month time frame — and the summer before her Senior year in high school. What a journey!!

As I stated previously, she was the captain of the varsity volleyball team and had been a starter on the varsity basketball team since her Freshman year. So these injuries were not an easy thing to swallow. But she rose to the challenge and overcame…

She started playing basketball again in Dec 2013 — 1 1/2 months into the varsity basketball season — and 6 months out, to the day, from her second ACL surgery. She really just wanted to play again — she had no fear.

This past week, the local news station ran a clip on her, telling the story of her two ACL tears. I thought I would post it here in case there was anyone who could use a little hope in their ACL trial. I know there are times in the journey where things can seem so bleak. Just keep your head up. http://www.kpvi.com/content/sports/story/The-Journey-Back-Firths-Ashley-Carpenter/5-lQCrkCD0-IvP7dEsyE_A.cspx

Thanks for the great website! I found much comfort here.

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Kris May 5, 2014 at 9:51 am

It was so nice of you to think to come back and share your video! I am so glad she recovered so well!

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soccermom May 24, 2014 at 12:09 pm

What a great story and outcome for your daughter. It gives us hope!

I never thought I would be back here. My daughter (14 at the time) tore the ACL in her left knee during high school soccer season. Had surgery Feb 12, 2013, and she also came back to competition exactly six mos. later. She was able to play for her comp team as a starter within a month of returning. Played until high school season started in December, and again was a starter on varsity. As soon as high school was over, she picked back up with her comp team. Three weeks into spring league (March) she did a cut that she’s done 1,000 times, but fell to the ground in immediate pain. About a minute later she felt fine. Went to the trainer and he said it didn’t seem like anything major based on her level of movement and no pain. But, she had a feeling something wasn’t right. Didn’t do an mri (bad on my part), but went to the ortho who checked her out, and said if we didn’t do the mri to stop practicing for 4-6 weeks to see how she felt. Did that, and then she went back to practice. She made a move, but then had immediate pain. Pretty sure that was the final straw. Had the MRI which showed complete tear, this time the opposite (dominate) knee. She just had surgery on May 22, 2014 (2 days before her 16th birthday, which is today!). Thankfully she’s moving well and has no pain. Using the Cryo-cuff religiously and swelling is down as we have had to tighten the brace quite a bit. She’s been doing the exercises to strengthen the muscle and is scheduled for PT next week after her post-op appt. She is determined to come back strong again for her Junior year. But it sucks that this had to happen again. Not that I ever want this to happen to anyone, but it’s hard not to say “why my daughter again!?”

Her biggest fear is that she won’t be able to play soccer in college. Her first reconstruction has performed beautifully and no one would ever know she had torn her ACL based on how she came back. But with two tears, it’s a concern. She’s been told that if she recovers like she did with the first, she could definitely play in college. I guess we shall see. I did some research, and it seems that it was a more than fair possibility she would tear the dominant knee at some point. Not sure exactly why, but it did happen. And being female was a strike as well.

We just pray that her recovery follows the way the first one did. And ACHS, I am so thankful you posted the great outcome for your daughter. Tell her good luck in college!

Soccermom

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Tara May 7, 2014 at 12:06 am

Hi! I’m Tara:) I’m a gymnast and I tore my ACL during practice on March 5,2013 it was a little less than a month before I turned 18. About a week after I hurt my knee I was walking with barely a limp. I actually walked into my MRI. The doctors thought it was just my meniscus since I was doing so well but we wanted to make sure. When we found out I had a torn ACL and my meniscus was torn and flipped we were shocked. So since it was spring break and my season was over we decided to wait till April 9th to do the surgery. Since I was technically an adult they had the normal sized instruments, they didn’t take into account that I am 4’9″ and was only 100ibs. They told my mom and coach it was gonna be 3-4 hours. Then 6 hours later the doctor came out to tell my “moms” that everything was fine they just had to be extremely careful because my knee was so tiny that they should have been using pediatric tools but they didn’t have any.
Recovery sucked, to say the least having to spend 3 months on crutches (a month before and 2 months after surgery because they didn’t want me to have to walk in crowds of people in the halls) was not fun. On top of that this was my first major injury so having to stop gymnastics was a foreign concept to me. So 5 LONG months later I was finally allowed to sprint again. Yes that is a little late but that’s because I couldn’t run on a tread mill because as a gymnast I run on my toes and the pt said it didn’t look safe. At the 8 month mark I was released to do just about everything I used to do unless it hurt of course. At the end of January I competed all 4 events and qualified for state which was HUGE because they told me that because of all the twisting and jerking gymnastics can do to your knee, I probably wouldn’t be good until the 1 year mark. But I proved them wrong! I qualified for regionals at my state competition.

Although I’m still in pain daily and my hamstring is still weak I believe anything is possible if you put your mind to it and I proved that to myself over this past year!

I was wondering if you have any tips on strengthening my hamstring. I can only lift my heel to about 90 degrees but if I grab my foot I can bend it all the way. Also when I try to lift my knee more than that it will cramp and that’s really painful. Has this happened to you?

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Kat Brennan May 19, 2014 at 11:33 am

Thank you for your blog! My niece tore her hamstring in color-guard and I was trying to get some incite of what she’ll go through for the recovery process. It sounds like you’re doing well and I hope that things are even better for you now. If you have any other tips that I could pass along to Cambri, that would be very helpful! http://www.omahaorthopedic.com/services.html

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Jeremy May 24, 2014 at 8:59 am

Thank you for this blog. I read all the comments and took in a lot of advice. I had my arthroscopy to see the damage on Wednesday. I have stage 4 cartilage damage in my right knee and a torn ACL at the age of 32. The damage is apparently years old and they are surprised I did not damage it further.
It has been 3 days since my arthroscopy and I’m walking without crutches and pain meds and still have a bit of trouble going down stairs but not up them.
I go in June 4th for cartilage repair then wait 4 weeks and go for ACL repair on 4th of July. If people still read this blog I will gladly post my experience as I go.

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Jeff June 1, 2014 at 12:50 am

2nd day postop, ACL and tore meniscus, I just found this blog and the post and all the comments are really helpful. I had to stop taking the pain medicine [Percocet] because it was driving me crazy, was having a really hard time urinating, getting dizzy and having really weird thoughts. The pain isn’t that bad now and going to the bathroom went back to normal. What really bothers me right now is the brace, is really uncomfortable specially at night, can’t sleep well since I’m used to sleep on my stomach, trying to figure that out. I’ll keep an eye on the blog during my recovery. Good luck

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TR June 23, 2014 at 12:39 am

Had ACL surgery last week. Everything went well except the femoral block had no effect unfortunately. Then the prescription pain mess also had no effect for 9 hours after I started using them. I have no idea why.

Once they kicked in it was a lot better, but I had to stop soon after because of a reaction.

Anyone deal with low-grade fever after the procedure (no sign of infection at all)?

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Rodhe June 27, 2014 at 3:48 pm

I had my shoulder surgery a couple weeks ago and your article and tips helped me so much in preparing for my orthopedic surgery! I was pretty nervous since this is the most invasive medical procedure I have ever had. I would not have said yes to an ice machine if not for your recommendation and it was such a great choice! Serious gratitude to/for you! Glad your recovery went well! http://www.drpatrickmeere.com

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Teena Tufts July 13, 2014 at 4:43 pm

Very inspiring thank you for your information. It is greatly appreciated. Too be honest I’m nervous about the acl reconstruction surgery on my right knee on Friday. My left leg ankle has plate and screws in my ankle from a previous Injury. I’m a single mom that supports her son and is off work. I love my job and trying to stay positive to be able to heal after surgery and get back to work and life so my son is supported and the mortgage is payed. When I read about your story and positivity it gives me hope thank you I’m 39 was wondering how old you were of that’s ok to ask thanks again

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Kris July 22, 2014 at 10:45 am

How did your surgery go? I had two surgeries, one when I was 43 and one when I was 34.

Thanks for your kind words, and I hope you are doing well.

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G October 18, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Amazing article! Am on day #3 oh my day #2 was very painful for me.
Today day #3 i feel discomfort where i think i have tge stitches. my kne brace is so tight it drives me nuts. Am been walking around with crutches but the worse is sleeping ar night the discomfort am been 2 nights with out sleep and ice packs seems not to help. i was instructed to not lose my knee brace while sleeping neither taking it off. My foot is swollen so as my knee. Am so ready to have this off and get back to normal. i hate the knee brace! i haven’t have a good night yet. Seems like every case is different and most i heard isnt bad but mine i feel is the worse nightmare ever.

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Jenn Davies November 8, 2014 at 12:45 pm

It sounds like you had a good procedure! I can’t believe you kept up such a good attitude through something like that. I think I would have found a lot less humor in the situation. Thanks for the encouraging article!

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