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Torn ACL

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

ok im a 15 year old girl , i tore my ACL 2 weeks ago while playing handball.


Doctors say that i can't do the ACL reconstruction because of my young age , and that if i do it, one leg might grow taller than the other. I'm in a handball team and i have to get back to sports as soon as possible.


I can now walk but with a limp and i can go up and down stair with little pain. If i work very hard on my quadratic muscles , can i get back to playing handball ?


P.S : Hanball is a very rough game with alot of physical contact ...

Please help

post #2 of 10


I have no medical training, but my recommendation is to get a second opinion.  The legs not growing evenly seems odd since I know a boy your age that just had ACL reconstruction done.


Also, should it be accurate that you can't have the surgery now, you should talk to your doctor about getting a presciption for physical therapy and a brace.  You can then have the surgery later.


Have you seen an Orthopedic Surgeon or just primary care?


Heal fast,


post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

I have actually just seen primary care , im going to visit an orthopedic surgeon soon.


Is that boy you know in good shape now? Can her play sports on his knee?


Thank you very much Ken

post #4 of 10

Go with what Ortho says.


He's in very good shape.  He's in several sports.  I believe he spent the winter playing hockey (wore a brace).  For some reason I think he plays basket ball too.  I don't know him personally.  I work with his mom.  I know that he and his sister are in sports all year long because she's always talking about how she has to rearrange her life around the sport of the season.


Your leg/life hit a detour and will require hard work to get back on track.  There may very well be a period of time you won't be able to do the things you love to do, but if you are disciplined enough, you will get back to them in short order. I'm 51 and will be having my third surgery in three years the end of this month.  This one will be for ACL reconstruction.  My injury meant that I missed half the season of skiing - the thing I love - but I'll be back at it next season.  I have been able to schedule my surgeries around ski season and be able to go back to them at the beginning of the season.  I don't know what the handball season is, but based on what I know, you can expect that you won't be allowed to play any sports that could potentially injure your knee for 6-9 months.  I know it's a tough pill to swallow but it is better than the alternative.



post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

Im very happy to hear that the boy is doing well , that gives me some hope on getting back to playing sports.


I know it will take sometime, but im willing to do what it takes to go back to playing handball.

Why are you going to do the third sugery ? does it get torn again that easily?


Im very thankful for your help. I hope everything will be fine with you when you do your surgery.


Best of Luck,


post #6 of 10
Originally Posted by Louren14 View Post

Why are you going to do the third sugery ? does it get torn again that easily?



All the surgeries are different.  July '08 was for left ACL, Apr '10 was rotator cuff repair and Mar '11 is right acl.


I don't think there is any evidence showing they tear easily once healed.  I do think that people that tear them, are prone to tear them again because they continue to do the thing that originally tore them.  That is just my opinion though.



post #7 of 10

Good luck with your surgery, Ken.  Louren, I would echo Ken's advice to go with your Ortho's advice - just make sure you tell him/her from the git-go that you expect to return to hard-cutting sporting activities and see what the recommendation is.  Many can return to sports(about 1/3 of them) without having a knee reconstruction done.  I tore my right ACL completely in Dec. and I was able to ski again last week(twice) for the first time since(after 12 weeks), without having the surgery.  I had other injuries too, so the 12 weeks was a bit longer than would normally be expected to return from an ACL tear if you don't have surgery.  Remember, 2/3 of the people cannot recover from this injury without reconstructive surgery.  I feel lucky to be able to get back to skiing again and avoid surgery(so far) and, at my age (~3x yours), you want to avoid surgery if at all possible.  Like Ken, I am NOT a doctor and this is only my opinion, but, it is my understanding that at a younger age, a person that wishes to continue pounding their lower extremeties for sports endeavours for years to come should look hard at having it done.(surgery)  


I still MAY elect to have surgery in the future, if I don't feel that I can perform up to par without it.(I won't know til my next ski trip out West) It is really up to YOU in the end.  You're the only one who really knows how YOU feel, and if the knee feels too weak to be your old self again soon, you'll need to decide what you want to do.  You'll want to make an informed decision for yourself, so be sure to check out the ACL wiki here, as it is a very helpful read. (A big shout-out to kcxd & our fitness forum moderator for their great work on it, BTW)  This should give you some good info for knowing what to expect, whichever way you go with it.  Even though it says "for skiers" I think it is general enough to apply to young handballers, too. wink.gif  For stories here of others' experiences with this injury, the "ACL tear - Looking for thoughts on recovery time" long thread here is good, too.(although this is wee bit more "skiing" specific)  This season starts around page 6(?) I think.  Good luck with your decision.  Let us know what you end up doing.  

post #8 of 10


I talked to his mom today.  He was 13 when he tore his acl, 13 when he had the surgery, will be turning 15 in a couple months and has grown 5 inches since the surgery!  equally on both legs.


You doctor wasn't incorrect.  My friends son saw a specialist in the field of pediatric orthopedics to make sure his growth plates weren't affected.  She said there is a separate procedure for this surgery on children to avoid growth plates and a separate physical therapy protocol.  His Doctor is at the Childrens Hospital in Boston and she said that kids were coming from all over the east coast to be seen there.  I don't know where you are at but if you PM me, I'll get you his information so maybe your ortho can talk to this ortho?


To what MNator said.  I agree.  My first ACL surgery was never completed so I've been without an acl on the left side since 2008.  THis was my third season skiing on it without an acl.  The concern without having one is that an injury that would tear the acl, will instead tear the meniscus.  The acl is reparable and there is little to be done to the meniscus.


A surgeon told me ; "There is nothing surgery can't make worse."  You have to weigh the risks.  With that, I'm planning on getting my left acl reconstructed in the future.  It still bugs me now and agian, and I can't run on that leg without it swelling a great deal.  I have a ski buddy that hasn't had an acl for over 10 years.  You would never know it.



post #9 of 10

Hi Louren,

it seems like everyone is giving you lots of good advice. Do see that OS as I'm sure you will be able to have surgery. When I ruptured my ACL in January, I contacted a friend of mine who is a doctor, to ask which OS has a good reputation. I got the surgeons name but she also told me her daughter had ACL reconstruction last year when she was 15, and has made a full recovery back to her pre injury fitness level. My friend's daughter is a fanatical surfer - she rides a longboard. She has started competing on the junior pro-am circuit late last year. So good luck with it all which ever way you go to recover from your injury. If you decide to get surgery have a good look through some of the posts in this section - lots of good tips about pre and post surgery.Also have a look at forums too. One of the best ones given to me was after surgery (including in hospital) elevate that knee above your heart = laying flat on your back with 2/3 pillows under your knee, and lots of ice. Sounds incredibly boring but I had tons less swelling than when I injured my knee and no bruising except for a tiny patch where they took my hamstring tendons from.

Good luck, be positive and patient!



post #10 of 10

Ouch Louren - Im sorry to hear about the injury. Like others have suggested, get that qualified opinion...or two. In fact, have you had an MRI to confirm the tear? I'm sure any orthopod is going to want to see the images to confirm. 


Also, like others, I'm no doctor, but I have torn both my ACLs and although I'm a little older than you, I'm back to 100%...or as close to it as I'm likely to get :)


Is your limp due to pain and swelling or instability? In other words, does it feel like your knee is slipping out of joint and buckling? If you are not unstable, then you might do well to work on quad strength for a month or more before surgery. My left ACL injury was catastrophic - I couldn't walk without crutches and a locked out brace, so surgery right away was pretty much my only option. With my right tear, I didn't even have it confirmed until after the ski season, it was not particularly unstable, just hurt with some movements. Having that extra time to be in the gym between diagnosis and surgery made a huge difference in my recovery. My quad bounced back very quickly, much to the surprise of my PT and doctor. Unfortunatly, even with the strong quad, docs mandate a 6 month recovery window due to the bone graft and nerve reaction times. The good news is that you can return to non-cutting supports (handball may not qualify) in 3-4 months...your milage may vary.   


Interestingly, there has been some research about the effectivness of PT versus surgery, particularly in younger patients with no instability problems. There was a report from Europe in 2010 (can't find the link, know NPR reported it) which suggested the outcomes are exactly the same...again, provided you don't have stability issues. With stability issues surgery is the only viable option. I said I'm not a doc, but my friend Howard Luks is, I think he has some info on his site:

he's all over facebook and twitter, you might shoot him a note for an impartial opinion. 


Good luck on the recovery - keep us posted! 


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