Michelle's ACL Injury

by Michelle
(Ohio)


Hi, I am a 22 year old female. I tore my ACL playing softball on August 3, 2008. I am getting my surgery around Thanksgiving and I am scared to death. I don't know which graft I should use and that is causing even more anxiety.


I have always been very active, and have been dancing (jazz, tap) since I was 4 years old. It's just a hobby, not a career, but it's a passion of mine. Not being able to dance again would really take a big piece of who I am. I worried about this affecting my ability to leap, jump, turn, etc. the way I used to before the injury.

I am also a first year middle school science teacher and am worried about having to take time off school. I really do not want to miss time with my students, but I guess I don't have a choice.

I guess if anyone has suggestions on which graft they would recommend, I would love to read them. I have researched online extensively. The patellar tendon seems to be a better choice as far as the healing process goes, but then I am worried about the knee pain. As a teacher, I am always kneeling down so I can be eye-level with my students, and I don't want the pain!

I am extremely scared and nervous about the whole thing. I still can't believe I tore my ACL. I thought there would be a lot more pain if I tore a ligament.

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Nov 18, 2008
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blacking out
by: Bart - SII

It is a lot to take in the first time you see your knee all swollen and such - you definitely aren't the first one to feel queasy.

I actually had a patients mother pass out during an initial evaluation once. I had him sitting on the table with his feet hanging off, measuring his flexion and she was sitting next to him...next thing I knew, she was lying on the floor - passed out and fell off the table! needless to say, I made sure that both patients and their mothers/fathers were in safe positions during future evaluations.

Those "ripping" exercises will be better once your swelling goes down - it will feel like the knee is going to pop but it won't!

Bart

Nov 17, 2008
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sounds like you're doing great!
by: Allie

good luck!! it made me sick feeling at first too, but you will get used to it I promise! & its I always hated the exercises that make you feel like your knee is ripping apart, I totally understand. But it won't! Hang in there, the hardest part is nearly over!

Nov 17, 2008
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Exercise begins
by: Michelle

3 days after my surgery, I am doing ok. The pain is showing up a little, but I have also cut down on the meds from 2 to 1 every 4 hours. I had a post op visit and a mini physical therapy session. They gave me some exercises to do, and some make me feel like my knee is ripping. I usually love watching surgeries and looking at photos of that nature, but when I saw my own knee I blacked out and had to lie down for a while. It was humiliating!
I hope the swelling goes fast b/c it is making me nauseous to have to look at it and "move my knee cap" for one of the exercises.


Nov 15, 2008
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pain meds
by: Bart - SII

Take those pain meds regularly - that way it will never get out of hand - tomorrow will likely be worse. And the second day after is often the worst. Good luck with therapy Monday!

Bart

Nov 14, 2008
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I had my surgery today.
by: Michelle

I had my surgery today....I just got home and (fingers crossed) so far I am doing great! I am taking the pain pills but so far I have had no pain. I have to wear an immobilizer until Monday and then I start physical therapy. My doc said tomorrow will probably be the hardest.
I was soo scared. I am glad the surgery is over.

Nov 11, 2008
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surgery date?
by: Bart - SII

Just wanted to check and see if you have a surgery date - let us know how it goes.

Bart

Sep 10, 2008
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and PS
by: Allie

I had a hamstring method reconstruction 4 years ago, it has retorn twice since and the pain and stiffness in my hamstring was excruciating after the surgery. Some might say otherwise, but since you are a dancer and your flexibility is very important to you, I'm sure, I would definitely say no to using the hamstring. (I am a competitive cheerleader & dancer for 13 years now).

Sep 10, 2008
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don't be too nervous!
by: Allie

i would definitely recommend the Allograph method. I have had the allograph method, hamstring method, and patellar method-- and the allograph is the best for getting back on your feet in the fastest amount of time possible. as for returning to dance- it IS possible! it will be difficult, but do not give up! go to physical therapy, and do EVERYthing the P.T. tells you to, work on it at home too.
it is normal to me nervous before having a reconstruction, but it will be okay! it seems like 6-9 months is a long time right now, but its not very long at all. good luck and best wishes:)

Sep 07, 2008
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Thanks
by: Michelle

I appreciate everyone's advice and opinions about the graft choice. After meeting with my surgeon the other day, I have decided to go with the patellar tendon graft. Even though I will have more pain post-op, I feel more secure with this graft in the long run. My surgeon does both types, but he recommended the patellar for me based on my lifestyle, and he also believes this is generally the better graft choice.
I am comfortable with my decision, now I just have to sweat it out until November when I get the surgery!

Sep 07, 2008
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Graft Choice
by: Bart - SII

Choosing a graft is sometimes a hard decision, especially if you are not in the medical profession. My opinion is based on the patients I have seen, and their general recoveries.

I believe that the patellar tendon graft is the best choice for the long term status of the knee. I have seen many more patients who have had instability problems with their knees 3-5 years after surgery with the hamstring graft than with the patellar tendon graft. The fixation of the graft within the tunnels because of the bone plugs allows for a more stable graft and long term stability.

There are many out there who swear by the hamstring graft because of decreased post-op pain, less quadriceps strength loss, and less anterior knee pain after surgery. I would agree with these things, but again feel like for the long term health of the knee the PT is the best choice.

When it comes to kneeling, pressure on the front of the knee is going to be uncomfortable for many months after surgery with the PT graft, but it will also be uncomfortable with the hamstring graft initially. Kneeling or squatting will be difficult at first with both because of the flexion restrictions, but you should be able to restore normal motion and be able to squat all the way down without pain with both grafts.

You may also consider using a patellar tendon allograft (cadaver). This is a good choice for individuals who lead an active lifestyle, but are not participating in high level (collegiate or professional) sports, or high contact sports. The recovery is less painful, quicker initial progression, and you get the benefit of the patellar tendon graft choice.

Bart

Sep 04, 2008
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Mey Michelle
by: Anonymous

I would highly recomend the hamstring graft. I have opted it for my surgery for the fact I am a training paramedic and I am required to do alot of kneeling. My doctor highly recomended this graft because with the patellar graft, it is not unusual to have pain up to and beyond 2 years and it is a longer recovery time, with pain kneeling for the same amount of time as I stated above. With the hamstring graft, it is not intrusive on the front of your knee, so you will not be kneeling on the patellar graft site, which will be tender for months to years. The hamstring graft is recomened for frequent kneeling and a faster recovery time with a better range of motion faster after surgery. It usually is only minor discomfort and few people complain of a feeling of weakness in the graft site or muscles, which usually clears up with physiothereapy. so it does have its cons too but the pros are better for a faster, more comfortable recovery, with less pain or discomfort kneeling. This is only my opinion though, you should go with whatever you are comfortable with. Keep doing your research, it is not wasted knowledge and there will be no suprises on surgery day. It will help calm your mind to know exactly what to expect on the day. Dont hesitate to talk to your doctor, as he would have delt with similar cases with other patients and he can recomend a graft choice to suit your needs, and he is the one who does the surgery, so he will know what is best and which has the better recovery for you.

Good luck with your surgery and keep us informed on your recovery!

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