Andrea's ACL Surgery & Recorvery Story

I'm 38 years old and tore my ACL skiing. I also sustained damage to my meniscus. After the initial injury my range of motion was limited (I could not straighten my leg all the way and could not bend it past 85 degrees). My orthopaedic surgeon made me wait 6 weeks for surgery during which time I went to physical therapy twice a week but was not able to improve my range of motion. He finally determined that the meniscus damage was preventing me from fully straightening and flexing my knee and went ahead with the surgery on Feb. 25, 2011. Donor tissue was used to construct a new ACL and he was able to repair my meniscus without having to remove any. The first week after surgery was pretty rough. Worst pain I have ever experienced in my life, despite being on pretty strong pain killers. I used a continuous motion device right after surgery and through the first week. I also started physical therapy two days after surgery and have been going there 3 times a week (1.5 to 2 hour sessions each time). It’s been over a month now since my surgery and I am still having a very difficult time getting my range of motion back. I can finally straighten my leg all the way but can only flex to 90 degrees (and even that brings me to tears). I have not been slacking and have been doing all my exercises as directed. I am wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience. The pain during physical therapy is excruciating. My doctor drained fluid from my knee a couple of days ago, gave me a cortisone shot and prescribed steroids to kill the inflammation in my knee. Since that shot my knee feels even stiffer than before. My knee is still swollen and things just don’t feel right in there. I'm getting very frustrated and discouraged. I am tired of the constant pain and I am so worried that I'll never get my full range of motion back. Walking normal is even a challenge, I keep compensating with my hip, trying to navigate stairs is even worse. My goal is to be back on the slopes next season (by December 2011). I was in excellent shape before all of this happened, I can’t believe that I’m having such a difficult time recovering from this injury & surgery.

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Apr 29, 2013
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Back on the slopes! NEW
by: Andrea

After a total of three knee surgeries and a lengthy recovery I am happy to report that I was able to ski this past season. I did use a knee brace the first couple of times but that was just to make me feel secure; my knee didn't need it for stability. Getting in good enough shape to go skiing again was a real challenge after three knee surgeries. It took a long time to get the muscle mass and strength back in my left leg. I have good range of motion now and only occasional discomfort (mainly when I really challenge myself in my workouts). My advice to anyone looking into having their ACL repaired: Do your homework when you are looking for a surgeon! I thought I had picked the best guy possible but was wrong. Listen to what others have to say about that doctor and research them on-line.

Feb 20, 2012
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stay positive NEW
by: Kelli

How terrible for you to have to go through so many surgeries. Try to stay positive. I hope everything goes well for you with your next surgery. I have been through a meniscectomy and had trouble getting my range of motion back too. I did finally get it back, now trying to decide whether or not to get my ACL repaired. So I know it sucks to be down for several months. It has been almost 6 for me. I wish you the best and I am glad you were able to find out why you were having so much trouble. Too bad it took so long. I feel your pain. It is hard to make sure you have a great doc and sometimes different docs have different opinions so it is hard to decide what to do. I wish you the best!

May 06, 2011
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First Surgery was not done right
by: Andrea

Thank you all for the kind and encouraging comments. I have not been on this site in a while, things have been kind of a mess for me. I finally went and got a second opinion at an orthopaedics speciality hospital in my area. The doctor there figured out immediately why I was not making any progress. Apparently when my
ACL craft was secured, the screw was put in there in a bad angle and was protruding into my knee joint. They did a CT scan, the 3D image of the screw poking into my joint was scary! I am so upset and can't believe that my first surgeon messed it up so bad. He actually teaches that procedure, unbelievable! Also, for him to let me go that long when I kept coming back to tell him that I'm in constant pain and can't bend my knee.... I have an excellent surgeon now that I trust. Problem is that it will take two surgeries to fix this mess. I had the first two days ago. He pulled out all the screws and the ACL craft. The goal now is to give me time to heal, get strength and range of motion back. Next step will be to go back in and redo the ACL craft (this time we're using hamstring). I can't believe that I am going through this all over again. Pain is much less compared to the first procedure but still. I will consult with a lawyer. I'm determined to not let this guy get away with this. Sorry if I'm rambling on but it feels good to get all of this out!

May 06, 2011
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Keep At It
by: D

Sounds like you're going through a rough patch at the moment, but keep working at it, you'll get there eventually. I had similar problems after ACL replacement surgery in 2009, but today I'm more or less back to normal, although my balance insn't quite 100%.

Apr 08, 2011
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ACL
by: Shawandas

Hi Andrea

I completely tore my ACl {left knee} in Sept of 2010, my 1st surgery was in Oct 2010; 2nd surgery Dec 2010. My doctor used my quad muscle and my patella tendon. I opt out to use a donor graft.
I'd experience the same thing that you are currently going through. The first thing I did was changed Physical Therapist; not that I was not happy it's just that I wanted someone who was strictly experienced with ACL injury's. It made by therapy much better and less painfull. Today, I'am bending at 130-degrees {flexion}and my {extension} is at -2. Still working on getting it to 0. I will tell you this I'am having trouble walking down stairs, and even just walking around my apartment or at work. My leg would buckle and I would fall to the floor; it happens to me so much until I'm use to it. Although, I still have some swelling and stiffness that just want go away.

They said it will get better but, it is easier said than done. I hope things go well for you.

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