Kris' ACL re-tear reconstruction

by Kristina
(Sparta, NJ)

Hi. I'm a 37 year old athletic woman & RN who enjoys running, exercise & being active with my family. Well, 20 years ago as a 16 year old cheerleader, I tore the ACL in my right knee. Within 3 weeks, I had ACL reconstruction using a hamstring autograft. Recovery was grueling where I remember the Physical Therapist pushing all her weight on my leg to encourage 90 flexion 3 weeks post-op. PT was 3 times a week for 3 months. I was back to running & gymnastics within 4 months. Since then, I've become an avid runner and have completed P90X and Insanity programs. Thought I was in great shape...


...20 years later I found myself re-tearing my right ACL graft from an improper landing when I jumped off several stairs (yes, bad judgement). My injury occurred in August 2011 so I chose to take the conservative approach and wait for my knee to "heal." I just had surgery last week, Dec 6, 2011, and the experience is WAY better than my first time!

This time my surgery was SAME DAY; received a femoral nerve block for pain control. I decided to take my right patellar tendon as the autograft rather than cadaver allograft. Due to my age, my doctor thought it would be best to take my own tendon but explained it would be more painful. I was discharged from the hospital with a Polar Care continuous ice pack already wrapped within my surgical dressing & leg brace.

My doctor gave me instructions with "WEIGHT BEAING AS TOLERATED" with or without crutches & with the leg brace "locked" position. The nerve block didn't wear off fully until 28 hours later! However, then the pain really started - felt like a blow torch was aimed at my right knee. With the help from the ice machine and 5mg Vicodin, the pain subsided. The second day post-op was OK. I maintained weight bearing without crutches but unlocked the brace. Not too bad. Following doctors orders, I removed my dressing and took a shower. With help from Vicodin 5mg every 12 hours, I could manage to ambulate throughout my house, perform post-op exercises, and very slowly make the 14 stairs to my bedroom. Of course, my husband and kids have been very helpful in my recovery, too.

One week post-op, I can fully extend my right leg, have 90 degree flexion, and have been walking with the leg brace without crutches at all. I know every recovery is based on the individual, but I'm doing better this recovery than when I was 20 years younger. I really believe that allowing my body to recover fully from the initial injury has helped with my rapid recovery.

I will see my doctor in 2 days for my first post-op! I'm looking forward to getting back to my normal activities.

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May 08, 2013
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by: Sondra

Tore my ACL at 23 snow skiing. Didn't have surgery. At 33 was tackled by a kid and tore my meniscus off 2 months later it flipped into my joint and locked my knee up. Had surgery to remove it. In August 2012 proceeded down the front stairs of my house and my knee just blew out. So at 38 yrs old in November 2012 I had ACL reconstruction with cadaver tendon. Recovery wasn't bad. Was back on my feet with no brace after a month, BUT... Now I can't sleep!! Toss and turn. Can't get comfortable. Doze for 10 minutes and jerk awake. Can't go back to sleep. I've taken hydrocodone .. Wide awake. I've taken gamapentin wide awake. I don't know what to do. Anyone else had this problem?

Aug 08, 2012
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by: Andrea

Hi, I would love to chat with anyone who has had ACL recontruction surgery and is over 40. I'm a 45 year old female and I'm having my surgery next week (August 15th, 2012) and I'm starting to get very nervous. It's nice to chat with people who have gone through the same thing. Thanks.
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Dec 21, 2011
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by: Josh

Hi Kris-

I agree that it is easier to let the knee heal first before having surgery. I tore mine in august of 2007 in a motocross accident. I knew something was wrong but was 5 years younger than I am now and was back at the motocross track the next day even though I couldn't hardly walk or bend my knee. I kept riding and would every once in the while dab my foot while riding and have really bad pain. FInally I had another motocross accident where I didn't quite make the landing for a jump in January of 2008 and this is what forced me to get surgery. My doc couldn't believe how i had utilized the other muscles in my leg to continue riding motocross without an acl. I think that going into the surgery with no swelling and trauma and a leg with muscle built up really helped my recovery. I was back riding dirtbikes in 5 months. Unfortunately I broke my talus this august and at the same time reinjured this knee. I am awaiting my MRI results this month.

Dec 21, 2011
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by: Bart - Sports Injury Info

what 20 years does with regards to advancing medical science. It sounds like you are doing great, and are on your way to a good start with your PT and recovery.

Letting the knee calm down after the initial injury is definitely beneficial for the post-op recovery. Allowing swelling to subside, and regaining range of motion and some strength can make a huge difference. If for nothing else, you aren't imposing the surgical trauma on top of the already established injury trauma and tissue healing.

I'm sure you will be in for some surprises with your PT this time around. Hopefully, it won't be exactly the same as the first time 20 years ago. I know I was constantly updating and changing the way I treated my ACL patients.

Good luck with your first post-op, and your recovery. Be sure to come back and update us on your progress!

Bart

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