Claire - 50 being operated on 12 February 2010

by Claire
(Alberta, Canada)

I partially tore my left ACL back in the 1980s during a skiing accident. It was not diagnosed as such at the time, but the physiotherapist I see now thinks that is when the real damage was done. The ACL finally popped off in 2007 while I was carrying a pack on a glacier and twisted to talk to someone. I had to walk out of the bush with the torn ACL--very unpleasant!

It took a year for the torn ACL diagnosis to be made--late 2008. It was originally identified as a ligament sprain. I'd be fine for weeks and then the knee would give out, but I could still cross-country ski and jog, so it was just this weird problem I had getting down steep slopes.

Finally a physiotherapist identified my problem as an ACL tear. After that things went pretty quickly--MRI and a date for an arthroscopy followed by probable surgery set for 12 February 2010. My surgeon is concerned about my age and initially tried to scare me off surgery, saying I could still have an adequately active life using a knee brace. He's right in some ways, with the brace I can cross-country ski, run and hike, although I have taken a couple of falls. The brace certainly gives me much more confidence in doing outdoor activities.

My worry, is that since the diagnosis and the wait for surgery, I have let my fitness slip, especially as it's winter here and I haven't made much time to get outside. A result seems to be that the knee has given out more often and more drastically than it normally does. I'm not overweight, which I know is a plus.

Thank you for posting the pre-surgery exercises. I will do those as well as use my balance-board again (my physiotherapist swears by the latter). Better late than never. I've got two weeks to prepare for this surgery and I'm very nervous. I'm having a patella graft and possible meniscus clean-up.

Question: If I fall off the knee just before surgery and hurt the medial lateral ligament, can this delay surgery?

Thanks for this column.

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Mar 15, 2012
We are similar NEW
by: Elizabeth

Hi Claire,
How did your surgery & rehab go? I would love to hear. I am 53, and tore mine 10 months ago. There was possibly a slight tear about 10 years ago, but it was never unstable. When not teaching, I live an active life; X-Country skiing, biking, climbing, backpacking, kayaking, etc. The diagnosis took a while, I tried the strengthening, and denial route, but am now on a waiting list of perhaps 3 months. It is a scary one. Though I recovered enough this year to be pretty active, it is not right and has given in plenty of times. I am wondering if favoring the leg has reduced the bone density there. I am determined to keep up my active sports.

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