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.

Return to ACL Surgery Stories.