Still Deciding Between Date and Type of Surgery -Sasha's Torn ACL

by Sasha
(USA)

I'm a 17 year old girl who tore her right ACL skiing on December 21st, 2009, after poorly landing a jump in the terrain park. It hurt for about 20 seconds after the initial "pop," but felt alright (some minor instability), at least enough for me to ski another 2 hours to complete the day. After the swelling and stiffness increased, I went to my ortho on Dec 23, who thought I had a meniscus tear. The MRI results showed that it was a complete ACL tear with minor damage to the meniscus.


Since I am a student at a university with a dauntingly large campus, I have to have my surgery over one of my breaks in order to ensure enough recovery time before going back to classes. I had the option to have surgery on Dec 24 or wait until spring break (mid-March) or summer break (mid-June). I decided to wait, in order to gain more information about the surgery and regain some movement in my knee before the surgery.

Now I'm faced with the task of choosing when to have the surgery, as well as what type of graft to choose. If I have surgery in March, I'll be back to trying to maneuver my campus on crutches (ugh) and will have to balance the rigorous physical therapy with classes. If I have surgery in June, there will be an increased amount of time before I am able to return to my normal athletic activities, and my entire summer will be filled with knee pain.

When it comes to deciding the graft type, I'm lost. I've heard that the patella allows for a faster and stronger recovery, but can cause knee pain when kneeling and often leads to arthritis. The hamstring sounds as though it has a slower, weaker recovery process but with fewer long-term complications.

None of my options sound appealing AT ALL; I don't want to crutch around campus OR wait another 3 months to ski, hike, and play tennis again. And after watching a video of the grafts being removed, blegh.

Any advice?

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Sep 14, 2015
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Education NEW
by: Anonymous

Education is compulsory for building self-confidence and building social relations. Without getting education no individual can develop www.superiorepapers.com confidence. He cannot learn the way to develop strong social relationships with individuals of the society.

Aug 19, 2010
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5 months
by: sasha

hey everyone, i'm 5 months out and feeling great.

i stopped going to physical therapy after about 2.5 months and have been experiencing minimal pain.

i've been running, hiking, swimming (taking it easy on the kicking, though) and playing fetch with my dog, which is honestly the most painful. i don't know if it's the pivoting or how i balance when i throw, etc, but for some reason throwing always leaves my knee feeling sore...

hope everyone else is doing great, as well!

Apr 29, 2010
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2 weeks post op
by: Anonymous

I'm 2 weeks out now, Can walk short distances but a slight limp. I'm at 2 degrees ext and 110 flex. Hopefully I'll be back on the slopes come november!

Apr 09, 2010
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by: sasha

hey wesley and jessica,

sorry to hear about your knees! the park can be pretty brutal, although i still can't wait to get back out there, haha.

i've heard an increasing number of good things about the allograft, so that should go well. i ended up getting the hamstring graft- my dr said it would be the better option for the sports i'm involved in.

i'm 3 weeks out and doing pretty well- most of my pain is concentrated in my hamstring. i started limping without crutches on day 5 and walk almost normally now- i still don't have full extension, though. my strongest recommendation would be to keep your leg as straight as possible (with a pillow under your ankle) immediately after your surgery- take advantage of the nerve block/anesthesia as much as you can.

good luck to you both! if you ever have any questions, i'd be glad to help :)

Apr 07, 2010
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ACL Tear Too!
by: Jessica Rachel

Hi! I just wanted to share with you that I tore my ACL hitting a jump in the Terrain Park on my snowboard... the day before your surgery! I am 21, so a few years older. Been a couple of weeks now, and I can start putting weight on my injured leg.

How are you holding up? Which kind of reconstruction did you go for?

Apr 05, 2010
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Same situation
by: Wesley

Same thing happened to me on Mar 6 I landed short on a jump in the park and tore my ACL, partially tore my MCL, And and had minor Meniscus and cartilage damage. I go in for surgery Apr 15th. I chose to have an allograft so my own muscles would be intact.

Mar 03, 2010
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update
by: sasha

thanks for all the advice and good wishes, everyone!


the allograft has always appealed to me since you don't have to mess with any other parts of your body to complete the acl reconstruction. unfortunately, my doctor chooses not to do allografts because of the risk of disease transmission. it's a ridiculously small risk, but i guess better safe than sorry. i'm glad that yours has worked out well, though, jessie!


hey sla-

i'm really sorry to hear about your injury, but we will both get through it!

i've been going to physical therapy 1-2 times a week to prepare for surgery, mostly focusing on regaining strength and stability in my injured leg. i'd strongly recommend doing pre-surgery PT if your doctor suggests it; it's really important to have maximum extension/flexion and strength before surgery, since you lose so much afterward.

it sounds like you're already in pretty good shape since you progressed with running so quickly. every PT is different, but mine actually released me to run and bike as much as i want before surgery (just no pivoting). after surgery i don't think you can run for quite a while, which sucks, but i figure there will be plenty of PT exercises to do.

i know what you mean about sports being a necessity; this whole process really impedes on that need because you lose so much mobility for so long. i think the best thing to do is just focus on recovery- we'll be back at it with an even greater appreciation soon enough.

good luck with everything!

Mar 02, 2010
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meeting with surgeon March 17th :)
by: sla.

First of all, good luck with the surgery and the rehab. Thank you for shearing your story. The comments are very useful to me since I am going through a similar story, complete ACL and partial MCL tear due to skiing injury in February. Before the MRI results came I was almost sure it is just a sprain. I went back to running 3 weeks post injury and made it back up to 4.5 miles just a few days ago. Every step made me stupendously happy, and then the news ... no more running before the ACL gets fixed. The surgery doesn't scare me but the long rehab and time on crutches is. I am a sort of running addict (running = antidepressant, anti-anxiety, stress relief ...) and do not know how will my mind go through extended period without it.
What are you doing to prepare (physically) for the surgery?
Once again, GOOD LUCK!

Feb 27, 2010
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allograft
by: Jessie

Have you considered an allograft? I had it and recovered pretty quickly with a lot of physical therapy. Its been nine months and it still hurts but I guess thats normal for a lot of people. Good luck.

Feb 23, 2010
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Good Luck
by: Anonymous

Good luck with the surgery.

Feb 19, 2010
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Good Luck!
by: Denise

All the best for your surgery. I had a left knee ACL reconstruction last year and worked through the difficult rehab. Whatever graft you choose I'm sure it will work out well if you have a good experienced surgeon.
Denise

Feb 13, 2010
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graft
by: Anonymous

Good luck with your choice and surgery. I'm a sophomore who plays varsity basketball and at the end of my freshman year, i tore my left ACL & Meniscus. I was told it was just a sprain, but my dad tore his ACL and had me get an MRI, and found out that it was a complete ACL tear. It didn't show the meniscus, they found out during surgery. I had the hamstring graft and so far everything worked out well. Although, your hamstring may be weaker at first, longterm i believe it is better. I was unlocked in my big brace within the first few days, and off of crutches on the 2nd day! I was back to playing basketball within 6 months with an ACL brace, and released to do everything with the brace for a year, and then release to do everything without a brace. I recommend the hamstring graft, but that is just me. Do you think that you will be on crutches for a long time? Everyone is different. I hope your surgery goes well, and good luck with your recovery! God bless!

Feb 12, 2010
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I'd go for a patellar too!
by: Catherine

Hi Sasha,
I had a patellar graft at the beginning of November. I didn't need to use my brace at all - my surgeon reassured me that the knee was stable and I wouldn't need it, and he was right. I did use crutches for stability for a couple of weeks.
Each surgeon has their own way of doing things, but I was told I had to get a 90 degree bend before they would let me leave the hospital, I managed it the day following surgery and today I managed 135 degrees and am v. pleased. I do get knee pain and it is still very tender, but you have the advantage of youth on your side. The rehab is labourious, but am now able to mix up the exercises with some gym, swimming, aqua aerobics and pilates which breaks the monotony. Good luck with your surgery.

Feb 09, 2010
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update
by: sasha

hey guys,

thanks for all the information!

doom day is officially scheduled for 6:30 AM on friday, march 19th. i saw my surgeon yesterday- he also didn't have a preference for either graft type, but did say that the negative effects often associated with the patellar option are less likely to occur in someone my age (vs someone much older). right now, i'm leaning toward the patellar graft due to the faster recovery period, but i still have a while to decide.

i start my pre-surgery rehab tomorrow, which i'm a little apprehensive about. i feel like i've lost a LOT of muscle; any ideas on how long the process of regaining it will be? and regaining the rest of the motion does not sound pleasant. agh.

thanks so much everyone!

sasha

Feb 07, 2010
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Graft Choice
by: Anonymous

Hi Sasha,

There is very little difference in strength between the hamstring graft and the patella tendon graft once the are fully recovered. The only difference is that hamstring graft takes slightly longer to heal because it is bone to tissue. Bone to Bone tends to heal quicker ( So you would be 8 months recovery from hamstring graft as upposed to 6 months patella graft) so therefore I would suggest you go for the hamstring graft as once you knee is fully healed after surgery then you shouldn't have any long term problems unlike that of the patella graft where you're at great risk of getting pain in the front of the knee for the rest of your life and some numbness at the side of the knee. My surgeon has stopped doing patella grafts as the long term effect of the hamstring graft are far better than that of the patella. However if you want to get up and running about quicker (say 2 or 3 months sooner) then go for the patellar graft. I had a hamstring graft in September and I am ready to go back playing soccer in around 4 weeks and I have haven't had any knee pain for around 4 months.

Jan 31, 2010
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Pre Surgery
by: Anonymous

My brace was locked in at 30 degrees for i wanna say two weeks or three weeks for the mcl to heal. I started pre surgery rehab i 3-4 weeks after the tear. painful at first, bending it after keeping it nearly straight for a while. The fluid behind my knee was there for around 3 weeks but when i started rehab it hurt, but felt good to finally get motion back. took around week and a half to get most of the motion back.

Jan 31, 2010
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update
by: sasha

hey guys,

thanks for all of your advice! i've thought it through and i'm pretty settled on having the surgery over spring break (about 6 weeks from now). i'm already getting really restless not being able to play sports; i can't imagine forcing myself to wait any longer to get back out there.

i'm seeing my surgeon in a week to decide on the graft type. so far from what you guys have said, the patellar graft is sounding the best to me, but i guess i'll see what he has to say.

i also have to plan out my pre-surgery rehab schedule. right now i have full extension, can walk with only a slight limp, can go up stairs (albeit really awkwardly), but still struggle to go down stairs and have only 120 degrees flexion. how did your guys' knees look pre-surgery?

thanks everyone, and good luck to all of you :)

Jan 31, 2010
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Hey
by: Anonymous

Im 18 and I tore my ACL MCL and damaged my meniscus playing basketball in early December. I had surgery last Tuesday. I used the patellar graft, i have had almost no pain. I only used the pain medication for 3 days. Im starting to walk without my crutches today. I was told i only needed it for a few days for balance which i did. Talk to your doctor how long you would need crutches. The earlier the better, you don't want have to wait til next year to get back to sports

Jan 31, 2010
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lft knee acl tear 8 years ago..
by: Anonymous

The patella graph worked for me 8 years ago, the kneeling part is very true, I now have a 3 year old and horse back rides are hard enough and only on carpet not on the hardwood floors. My knee has held up great though! I just injured my right knee snowboarding this last week and may have torn my acl on my right leg this time. That is what the docotor told me that if i was to tear an acl it would be my right because the reconstructed acl was stronger...seems he was right. Not sure that i tore my acl on my right yet but it is a good possibilty! Well good luck and try not to baby that leg after surgery takes a lot longer recovery time.

Jan 29, 2010
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hey...
by: Anonymous

Hi Sasha,

I tore my acl in December 08 while playing football for my university.. however was originally told that it was only a sprain. i didnt find out until march 09 that it was an acl and pcl tear.. i was absolutely gutted as it was that worst possible new i could get as i am doing a degree in sport science!!

because i didnt find out til march i had to wait til july to have the surgery as it also wasnt possible for me to have it during term time because of the layout of my university (theres hills everywhere). my surgeon decided to use the patella graft as this is ment to heal faster and has a better outcome if you plan on being active. however there are a few down sides to it.. im 6months out of the op now and cannot kneel on my right knee.. the surgeon said it will get easier but there will always be pain.. also where they make the incision for the patella graft means they sever some nerves on the outer part of your knee.. this causes some numbness which isnt too bad us weird at the start.. you do get use to it but it hasnt subsided at all in the last 6months!! i have been told that the patella has a higher success rate so i would recommend it!

I no getting around campus may be hard for u if you get the operation sooner but i would recommend to get it sooner rather then later.. the longer you leave it the more unstable your knee will get.. i was waiting for 7months before i had the surgery and had many incidences where my knee jus went from under mean which caused alot of pain and when i went to see the surgeon he told me that because it happened so many times that i have now damaged my cartilage too..
to avoid this you should get the surgery as soon as you can! it means the recovery process can then be underway.. its a very long process so the sooner you do it the sooner you will be back to doing things you did before your injury!!

if you have anymore questions my email address is cladababe@msn.com feel free to message me

good luck!

Karen

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