Lori's ACL and meniscus surgery

by Lori
(Tucson, AZ)

I wrecked my knee while out dancing with friends about a month ago. The floor was slippery, and that's really all it took :) The MRI shows a torn ACL and bucket-handle meniscus tear. I go in for surgery this week. I have been working through deciding whether to go the patellar or hamstring graft route, and I think I will be choosing hamstring.


I find that I am more nervous about recovery and rehabilitation than the actual surgery. I have had surgery before (non-knee), so I have an idea of what to expect of the day. For recovery, I just don't know what to expect, and long-term, I want to be able to do all the activities I love, and not have to stop doing something because of this. I do have a pre-op appointment with the surgeon, and he has been great about answering my questions and thinking up things I wouldn't have thought to ask.

My biggest short-term fear is that I live on the 2nd floor (no elevators). Being able to navigate stairs soon will be important! Fortunately, I have a number of people around to help me out.

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Sep 11, 2011
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response to Clint
by: Anonymous

Clint - My surgeon tried to stitch the meniscus, and it just wouldn't hold. I believe there's no way to properly stitch the ACL and have it be stable. They really do need to bolt the graft in there. Age has something to do with it - if you're over 18, it takes longer to heal. I'm at nearly 3 years out from surgery, and things have been back to normal for a long, long time. My experience was that staying active and doing what the physical therapist told me (and then some!) really paid off. The first couple of weeks after surgery was not the most fun I have ever had, but I made the right choice for me. Good luck!

Sep 11, 2011
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ACL & Meniscus surgery 10/3/11
by: Clint from Phoenix

I'm having surgery next month and I to mostly worry about the recovery. I also wonder if I am making a mistake. I know the meniscus needs to be repaired but I often wonder if the acl can be sutured or stitched, (basically the same theory of a donated graft, the proteins, healing, etc.) instead drilling and replacing the acl.

How did you surgery go? Do you have any advice?

Thanks,
Clint
cjazrider1988@yahoo.com

May 30, 2009
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Running & Jogging
by: Lori

Hi Alan,

I hope you're feeling good! My physical therapist had me trying light jogging and plyometrics at about 2 months (on a treadmill and carpeted surface). It really didn't feel bad at that point, but the doctor just released me this week for starting running again (I'm at 5 1/2 months from surgery). I haven't tried running on roads yet - that has more to do with my overall leg strength than the knee itself, which feels good. I've been spending time in the gym getting my surgery leg stronger so I'll be more comfortable mentally. I've found that's the hardest part for me - getting over what my brain is telling me :)

Good luck!

May 29, 2009
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Knee
by: Alan

Hello Lori,
I had the same surgery as you and I am in 3 weeks after surgery. My question is how long did it take you before you can start running again. Thanks, Alan

Feb 24, 2009
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Update
by: Lori

I'm at week 11 after surgery, and things are going GREAT! I think I will have my last PT appointment this week; they are happy enough with my progress to cut me loose :) I know that my work continues even after formal PT is done, but this milestone feels pretty good! Thank you for this site; it's been a huge help!

Jan 21, 2009
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progress!
by: Bart - SII

YEAH! For full extension!

Bart

Jan 12, 2009
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4 weeks!
by: Lori

I'm almost at 4 weeks from surgery, and things are really coming along. I am at full extension and 120 degrees of flexion. At PT, they have me working on strengthening exercises that protect the hamstring (the graft site). I have been off crutches for over a week, and it feels good to walk on my own again, even if I'm slow! :) The hardest part of PT and the exercises I do at home is balance...that one is going to take me a while.

Dec 30, 2008
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you are doing great
by: Cathlyn

Lori,

You are doing great!
I'm about where you are with ext and flex - will take time and patience to get us further- keep up the good work!

Dec 30, 2008
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Update
by: Lori

It will be two weeks since surgery on 12/31. I had my first PT appointment yesterday, and it went pretty well. They got me down to one crutch walking, which feels far more free! I'm at 4 degrees extension and 101 for flexion. With the kind of meniscus tear I had, I couldn't straighten my leg from the injury to surgery (about 4 weeks), so it's no surprise that I'm having to work to get down to 0. My "homework" exercises are going well!


Dec 22, 2008
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good for you
by: Cathlyn

Wow- you are off your meds early!
Sounds like you are doing fine!
I too, couldn't wait to get rid of my compression sock! The docs office asked me if I wanted to keep it...I said- 'What for? No way!' the assistant laughed and tossed it for me!
Keep well! Enjoy the holidays!

Dec 22, 2008
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you don't love the sock?
by: Bart - SII

I can't believe you don't like the compression sock! lol...just kidding.

I actually had a patient shred the sock with a pair of scissors the day i told her she didn't have to wear it anymore...right up there with the patient who demolished the hinged brace after they were released from it.

It sounds like you are doing well!

Bart

Dec 21, 2008
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5 days in....
by: Lori

Things are going pretty well...frustration and boredom are high :)

For the first day, I ended up being a big fan of the femoral block! It helped with pain, and meant that they didn't have to give me a ton of anesthesia to keep me asleep. I didn't feel as muddy as I thought I would.

I'm not in favor of the sexy orthopedic sock. I think I may set it on fire once the doc tells me I don't have to wear it anymore. I want to stay away from blood clots, but this thing is so uncomfortable! I will put up with it as long as he tells me to, but I won't be happy about it LOL

I've been off pain meds for 2 days. I can't believe how quickly my pain went away!


Dec 18, 2008
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good to hear!
by: Cathlyn

Good to hear you are doing so well- enough to post same day as surgery! Take it slow- you will be up and attem' in no time!!

Dec 17, 2008
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recovery!
by: Lori

I got home from surgery a couple of hours ago. Everything went great, and I feel pretty good, considering :) I appreciate everyone's positive comments, they really help!

Dec 17, 2008
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Hamstring graft
by: Steve in Kane,Pa

Forgot to mention I had a hamstring graft, worked out fine and glad my surgeon suggested that. Also offered a cadaver graft, but I wanted my own tissue. Has been fine. Healed fast, one month post op today, and, have been up and walking, driving, doing stairs, for one to two weeks already. Just take it easy, I try not to over do it, difficult, but, have to. I go tenatively, carefully, take a little extra time, but, getting there. I just posted a comment, but anyonymously as I did not notice name slot.

Dec 17, 2008
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Go for it!
by: Anonymous

I just submitted my story, but, like you, wanted to be able to do anything , with as normal knee as possible.
Go for it! You'll be doing those stairs soon, therapists will help a lot. May have to go slower for a while, but, well worth it if you are an active person, as you describe. Good luck ! You'll do fine!

Dec 15, 2008
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I agree
by: Evonne

I'm about 5 days post-op... Despite my worries (my biggest one was being sore after the surgery) everything was fine. They put me on pain medications and as far as that goes, you just need to keep up with your doses to keep the pain in check. Stairs are not as bad though I try to avoid going out all the same(I had the allograft, so my experience is probably going to be different from yours).
It can get exhausting but just remember that it's only a temporary set-back. In the long run things can only get better. Now if only I could get my boyfriend to help me keep our room clean...

Dec 14, 2008
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thanks!
by: Lori

Thanks, Bart and Cathlyn! Your comments help me feel a lot better about this :)

Dec 14, 2008
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you'll be ok with stairs
by: Cathlyn

After your surgery, tell the nurses or docs at the hospital that you need to do stairs immediately- that is what I did and they brought a physical therapist who showed me exactly how to do it- and we practiced prior to leaving the hospital. Makes a huge difference!

I had 3 sets of 8-10 steps to climb up the same day as my surgery. The way I was taught:
Going up: Good leg goes first, then bad foot and crutch go next. Going down: Bad leg and crutch always go down first then the good leg. Take one step at a time.

Wasn't as painful or as difficult as I thought. Challenging, but doable! Good luck!!!

Dec 14, 2008
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stairs
by: Bart - SII

Stairs are a pain, that is for sure, but they are manageable with crutches. Just make sure you go slow and take your time...and if you have someone to help you carry things, that helps a lot.

Good luck with your surgery and recovery.

Bart

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