ACL, PCL and MCL surgery

by Beth
(Wisconsin)


I had surgery to reconstruct my ACL and PCL with a cadaver graft and also repaired my MCL on July 6, 2009. I am now nine weeks post-op and in the rehab process. I am at 89 degrees flexion and can get to 0 degrees extension, but have to loosen up to get to that. I am in a neoprene hinged brace after being in a much larger brace locked at full extension for several months. The new brace has caused my incisions below the knee to pop open - the Dr. thinks that my sutures under the skin are poppong through. She is not worried, but put me on anitbiotics. I am very motivated for rehab, but have struggled with gaining range of motion. I am still using one crutch to walk even though I am at 100% weight-bearing. I struggle greatly with feeling like I will never have a pain-free flexible knee that I can just forget when walking, sleeping, etc. - much less the fear that I will never get back to the sports I love like Tae Kwon do and running. I would love to get out of a brace, but I am scared to death to be without it. I can't say that pain has been horrible throughout this process, but it is constantly uncomfortable and stiff. I would welcome communicating with others who have been through this process to compare notes and to help me have some idea of what to expect.

Comments for ACL, PCL and MCL surgery

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Apr 03, 2014
ACL, PCL, MCL surgery and ercovery NEW
by: Colin

Hi Beth,
keep the chin up. I suffered a complete dislocation of my left knee in a game of Gaelic football (full contact indigenous Irish sport)in Feb 2010 resulting in grade 3 ruptures of my ACL, PCL and MCL, severe bone bruising and a lot of damage to the meniscus. Basically I was told I would struggle to run again never mind get back to contact sports.
Following surgery in May 2010 (allowing max period for pre-hab)it took 2 full years working with an exception physio on 6-week progressive rehab programmes to get back running. I am now back playing Gaelic football, soccer and mountain running.
The surgeon opted for a patelar tendon graft for the ACL reconstruction and decided to leave the PCL (much of my rehab focused on strengthening my hamstring to over-compensate for the loss of this ligament).
I was in a locked full-leg brace for 3 months post-op and suffered a lot of muscle wastage. A huge challenge was that I developed tendinosis (chronic tendonitis) of the patellar tendon from which the graft was taken due to over-loading it in my initial 3 months of rehab (trying to do too much too early). This was a nightmare and set me back mentally and physically for a long time.
I couldn't recommend getting a buoyancy belt highly enough. I did endless hours of running and plyometrics in water before I could on dry land. It felt so good to even do that and got my body back into believing it could achieve that state again. I also did a lot of work on a mini-trampoline - but this was carefully prescribed by my physio allowing me to progress week-on-week. I also invested in a quality exercise bike and that allowed me get a good sweat up and keep my cardio-fitness ticking over in the darker days of being housebound. Every opportunity I got I would work on my proprioception (people were constantly finding me balancing on my left leg with my eyes closed!)
My initial forays into the realm of contact sport was frightening but now I don't even think about my knee in a game. I'm 38 years-old now and my knee actually responds better when I am exercising it than when I'm idle. Slow and steady is the way to go - but make sure your physio is experienced in dealing with an injury this complex - it's nothing like a simple ACL reconstruction (while not minimising the impact of that injury in any way).
Sláinte (as we say in Ireland),
Colin

Apr 02, 2014
ACL, PCL, MCL reconstruction NEW
by: Gary

I had a horrific bike crash rupturing ACL, PCL & MCL. Hamstring graft was used to re-build PCL, LARS ligaments used for other 2. Despite the extensive repair my physio was poor to say the least. I returned to a lower level of rugby nearly 2 years later after playing professionally before my crash. Needless to say my ACL went again, but the MCL needed replacing again because the surgeon needed to get to the ACL without compromising the PCL. This time allografts were used. 1 year on with a proper aftercare I am running & lifting weights, I am also starting plyometric training. I will never play rugby again, I could, but if I injured the knee again, it cannot be fixed any more, there are 6 screws & the knee is lax but that's expected. Anymore damage & it's a knee replacement!!!
Though hard work I can keep fit & choose a sport that doesn't require twisty turny actions (I know,,, bloody hard) don't give up heart & work your nuts off, running & keeping fit is a realistic target. I have many scars, I have gone from my toes pointing behind me to being a very fit lad, the crash could have killed me, I should count my lucky stars it was just a bust knee. (Although very bust)

Sep 16, 2012
Recent ACL and MCL repair NEW
by: Nique in Hawaii

I just had my repair done on 9/4 and man am I sore. I am up to 30 degrees flexion and I still have my large brace on. I am seriously scared of reinjuring my self. It will be great to know how things are going with your surgery.

May 25, 2010
Knee deep in bother
by: Colin

Hi Beth,
yea I'm about as Irish as they come. Born and raised in the Northwest, the least populous county of the 32 - Leitrim. It's a rough and ruggedly beautiful part of this little island and I live just n the Atlantic coast.
Gaelic football is an indigenous Irish sport - commonly compared to a mix between soccer and rugby for the uninitiated (check out www.gaa.ie if you're interested in funding out more) - which I have played all my life, reaching the highest level, that of inter-county. It's big in the Irish enclaves of the States, and I've played it in Chicago, Boston and New York.
I dislocated my knee on Feb 21 when an opponent ploughed into the outside of my left leg, which was fully extended with my studs (what you call cleets I believe) firmly in the ground. It resulted in Grade 3 tears to my ACL, PCL and MCL plus considerable cartilage damage. I'm just a week post op and the surgeon reconstructed my ACL and MCL but decided not to intervene with the PCL hoping with the correct rehab I'll be able to compensate for it's absence. From my research they usually try not to reconstruct a ruptured PCL if it's done in isolation. The problem I am facing lies mainly with the extent of the damage done to the MCL and how much the stability of the knee has been compromised.
It's wonderful to hear you have returned to your sport and are progressing well. I fully appreciate your relief at getting back walking without crutches, while you seem to be making great strides beyond this. I'm 34 now and lived a ridiculously active life up to my injury and am determined to return to a similar level.
I guess I was just wondering if there was any elements of your rehab you found particularly beneficial, perhaps any supplements you used and what sort of time frame you faced post op to getting back into some sort of activity.
Thanks for getting back to me and I hope the sun is shining as favourably on Wisconsin as it is on Leitrim right now.
All the best,
Colin

May 25, 2010
Knee deep in bother
by: Colin

Hi Beth,
yea I'm about as Irish as they come. Born and raised in the Northwest, the least populous county of the 32 - Leitrim. It's a rough and ruggedly beautiful part of this little island and I live just n the Atlantic coast.
Gaelic football is an indigenous Irish sport - commonly compared to a mix between soccer and rugby for the uninitiated (check out www.gaa.ie if you're interested in funding out more) - which I have played all my life, reaching the highest level, that of inter-county. It's big in the Irish enclaves of the States, and I've played it in Chicago, Boston and New York.
I dislocated my knee on Feb 21 when an opponent ploughed into the outside of my left leg, which was fully extended with my studs (what you call cleets I believe) firmly in the ground. It resulted in Grade 3 tears to my ACL, PCL and MCL plus considerable cartilage damage. I'm just a week post op and the surgeon reconstructed my ACL and MCL but decided not to intervene with the PCL hoping with the correct rehab I'll be able to compensate for it's absence. From my research they usually try not to reconstruct a ruptured PCL if it's done in isolation. The problem I am facing lies mainly with the extent of the damage done to the MCL and how much the stability of the knee has been compromised.
I guess I was just wondering if there was any elements of your rehab you found particularly beneficial, perhaps any supplements you used and what sort of time frame you faced post op to getting back into some sort of activity.
Thanks for getting back to me and I hope the sun is shining as favourably on Wisconsin as it is on Leitrim right now.
All the best,
Colin

May 21, 2010
Hi Colin- my story
by: Anonymous

Hi Colin,
I am so jealous - football in Ireland? Or are you Irish and live there all the time?:)
I am a 44 year old Wisconsin (USA) who came to love sports later in life, but never team or competitive sports. I have done a lot of running, mostly long distance and then all other types of exercise/fitness activities as well as teaching dance. I started Tae Kwon Do about 5 years ago because my daughter was in class and I didn't want to just sit and watch. Martial arts are about the last thing I ever thought I would do or like, but I came to just love it. I am a first degree black belt with one test completed toward second degree. We were working on self defense in TKD class one day and we were learning to do hip throws and my daughter, who is approximately the same size and weight as me, was just too easy to throw. I decided to try a hip throw with my husband who is 6' 1" and 230# ( I am 5'7" and 140 #) for a bigger challenge. I got him off his feet and off-balance on my hip, but since we were learning it in relatively slow- motion, I hesitated with him there rather than dropping him on his back ( he had a lot of back injuries) and in that second, he fell on my leg, which was planted locked straight behind him. His weight fell right on my knee and pushed the leg inward, making it bend at an unnatural angle and snapping the three ligaments. We both heard "pop, pop, pop" and thought that I had broken my leg. My knee was swelling but I could walk on that leg, which I did until the end of class, out to my car and almost to the desk of the ER where I decided I better go to check this out. At that point, my knee folded inward again and I collapsed.
I bet you have a better story( or at least one that doesn't make you sound like a complete moron like my story!). Let me know how you are doing and what if any questions you have. Also, I would love to hear more about Ireland so I know where to go when I visit some day!

May 21, 2010
ACL, PCL and MCL Grade 3 ruptures and dislocation of knee
by: Colin

Hi Beth and J,
it's great to head from someone who has been in the same situation - I've been searching the net for such accounts since I dislocated my knee back on February 21 playing Gaelic football in Ireland with Grade 3 ruptures to my ACL, PCL and MCL and extensive cartilage damage.
I had reconstructive surgery on the ACL and medial one week ago and I'm in a fixed brace for the next 6 weeks with minimal exercises including flexion up to 30 degrees before I can get into any real rehab.
My surgeon decided not to reconstruct the PCL as he felt there was still a definite end point with it.
I'd love to hear more about your rehab experiences. I'm a sports junkie and while I'm coming with terms with not being able to return to playing football at the highest level again (if at any level at all) I want to get back running, cycling, surfing and hopefully hiking at all costs.
How did you both injure yourselves?
Colin

May 04, 2010
acl, pcl and mcl surgery
by: Beth

Hi, I was glad to see your post and at the same time, I am sorry that you also need this surgery. The bad news is this - there is no easy recovery from this injury. My PT often expressed frustration that anything good for one ligament while rehabbing from this would be bad for the other ligaments - especially the acl and pcl. The mcl is also difficult to rehab if the acl or pcl aren't stable, any resulting instablity in the knee can endanger the mcl.
I have been in PT since a couple of weeks after surgery to reconstruct the acl and pcl and repair the mcl. That in itself was good news ( that they fixed all the ligaments in one surgery, they thought I would need two), but the recovery has been long. I am now ten months post-op and am returning to PT to work on cutting movements. I have acheived a good range of motion ( still can't sit on the bad knee with leg folded under, but I vow that I will) with almost the same amount of extension as the good leg ( -8). I just returned to Tae Kwon Do class, but cannot ever spar again and will have to take the kicking and fullforce movements slow.
I hope that this doesn't discourage you. I got so low in my hope for the future after this injury that I honestly felt incredibly lucky just to walk without crutches again. Having said that, I cannot beleive the things I can now do - running for 30 minutes at a time, kicking, jumping, sitting on the ground with legs crossed, etc. Please let me know if you have specific questions. As for the surgery - I recommend it wholeheartedly - without it, I wouldn't be wlaking now.
Good luck in whatever you do, and have faith! I will try to answer any questions you have and will also try to encourage you. It is so worth it to feel whole and strong again ,even if I am changed.

Apr 28, 2010
Recovery
by: Anonymous

Greetings,

I am interested in undertaking the same surgery you are speaking of. Please note I have had ACL and MCL rebuild a few years ago and now face them plus the PCL. How is it working rehab with the different extensions required with both PCL and ACL operated on? I do hope all is going well for you.

Your advice and doctor recommendation is highly apppreciated.

Regards,
J

Click here to add your own comments

Return to ACL Surgery Stories.