Eric's ACL surgery

by Eric
(Atlanta)

In October 2008 I was playing an intramural soccer game and landed on my right leg after a jump. There was a snap and it was too painful to move. I was taken to the hospital and shocked that it might need surgery. Next followed a long string of doctor's appointments.


After seeing a few doctors I was scheduled to get an MRI and wait after that to hear. I ruptured the ACL and had complex meniscus tears. In late November I had the surgery. It was excruciating. I couldn't barely get in a car to go home. I was on oxycodone and the pain was still constant. Nonetheless, I was very determined. I could walk after 2 weeks or so, and it started to improve from there. I was starting to be optimistic. I attended rehab and learned some of the same exercises my doctor told me about.

After a handful of appointments I started doing the exercises on my own and visiting less often. With my busy schedule I figured it was easier to do the same exercises at home than go wait to be seen. Then, without telling anyone, I started jogging 2 1/2 months post surgery. It felt good. My surgeon and physical therapist said my knee was looking good.

I naturally started upping the mileage (was a track and cross country runner in high school and I missed it a lot.) There was no pain and I reached around 35 miles/ week. It wasn't about defiance or anything it's just something that makes me feel good emotionally. I signed up for a marathon in late March.

One day I was running 6 miles (after a 13.5 mile run the previous day) I turned left and heard a snap. I was depressed the whole following weekend. After getting an appointment with the doctor, an MRI was ordered. 2 weeks later I found out the ACL was partially retorn and the meniscus was torn in 2 places. After a thorough grilling I waited 6 weeks without running a step at all to see if I needed a meniscectomy.

6 weeks later it was inconclusive. I've had no symptoms of catching, but I have some pain during daily activities. Also, it clicks as I move it around, though the clicks themselves are not painful. Everyone just expresses that I "got what I deserved" and am "impatient" and "don't listen". Everyone advises "don't run" but no one seems to know how long it will take to recover or if I need another surgery.

Running is one of the joys of life for me. Other activities have come to a standstill and I live between doctor's appointments, rehab, icing, pain pills, reading everything on the internet about knee injuries, and swimming a lot.

After being passed around for advice between my surgeon and physical therapist without a definitive answer or timeline other than the very long term (knee is stable but I can't do soccer or other twisting sports again without tearing the ACL), 4 3/4 months post surgery I've run this week again. Clicking has exacerbated. I can't take the waiting and no answers any more. If the menisus was going to heal it should have by now, right?

My knee is the only thing on my mind but when I tell people about it I just get a condescending "I would have listened to what the doctors say". I've run my whole life but now what? With or without surgery the future looks grim. Those around me are offended by my attitude but I don't think anyone but other runners might understand my struggle. Even if I wait and don't run is there any improved chance that it will get better? I truly have nearly lost hope that my knee will ever feel healthy again.

Return to ACL Surgery Stories.