Knee popping and tenderness common after ACL cadaver replacement?

A year ago I had a complete ACL cadaver replacement.

I followed all of the Doctor's orders and I went to all of my physical therapy appointments. When the PT released me (5-6 months after surgery) he told me I could return to working out normally but with limitation. I returned to my normal workout routine (squats and such - weight lifting and jogging lightly). Everything had seemed fine.

I am now enrolling in the Sheriff's academy and it has been a full year since my ACL reconstruction. I have been running more and been trying to stay in good shape for the boot camp. My knee however has been getting pain in it every so often... the front of my knee and the back part of my leg as well.. nothing major - it does not impede any activities, and it does not look swollen at all. It seems as if it is just irritated and slightly tender.

My Ortho DR that did the surgery took a look at me only 2 months ago and fully released me as well saying I was 100% recovered and my muscle balance and strength in the leg was great. He did not do an MRI however.

What could be possible reasons for this pain/ache every so often - after exercise and such?? Is it just not used to it quite yet? Or is there something else possibly wrong with it??

(note - originally he mentioned a meniscus tear - but after the surgery he said he could not find anything wrong with the meniscus... maybe this is acting up?)

I have an appointment with my DR next week.

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Sep 29, 2010
ACL Replacement
by: Anonymous

I had mine replaced approximately 3 years ago (however my new ACL was grafted from a chunk of my own patellar tendon). I get the popping constantly (almost like knuckle cracking, but in my knee). I've yet to have any problems in it other than discomfort when I kneel for any extended period of time.

Good luck, and best wishes!

Mark from Wisconsin

Apr 08, 2010
Pain and popping
by: Bart - SII

Popping after ACL reconstruction is common. It can be from scar tissue, tight tendons, and many other causes. Most of the time this is not something to worry about, as it is not damaging nor does it indicated damage.

The ache you describe sounds somewhat like overuse, given it occurs primarily after activities, and does not have an acute mechanism. This is also common after ACL reconstruction, even a year out from surgery. While strength is vital to restore normal function after surgery, it is also imperative that normal neuromuscular control be re-established as well. This includes activities like balancing, multi-plane strengthening exercises, and jump training (if you are returning to strenuous activities). These types of things sometimes get left out when the major focus is on restoring normal strength balance and quad size.

You can find more information on strength and balance at ACL Prevention. Be sure to follow the links at the bottom of the page for specific strength and balance info.


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