To Repair or Not to Repair - Is that the Question?Even though Jane may no longer even be reading this thread, I can't resist jumping in here.
While there's no question that you can find plenty of anecdotal stories of people who've torn or severed ACL's and then chosen not to get the repair, that's a route that ought to be *very* carefully considered.
First off, I'm convinced that many of these stories are told by people who have probably torn, but not *severed*, their ACL. A severed ACL leaves the knee unstable, period. The ACL is there for a reason and if it's gone, that knee won't withstand the stresses a normal knee will. While strengthening will certainly help, there are certain movements that will threaten the soft tissue of that knee if the ACL isn't there.
The decision depends on your age, physical condition. level of activity, your willingness to go through rehab, and how concerned you might be about the risk of cartilage damage (and related arthritic pain later in life). While we hear these stories about people who have chosen not to repair, isn't it interesting that elite-level athletes who tear an ACL overwhelmingly undergo the repair? People whose livelihoods depend on physical strength and structural stability almost invariably choose repair.
My experience with an ACL replacement is almost identical to Bong's (same graft, same CPM, same cold water circulation, same drugs, same rehab - Bong, you didn't have yours done at Duke University by any chance, did you?). What pain I experienced was easily manageable and the rehab is rapid enough that you can feel things constantly getting better.
While I have no desire to do it again, I wouldn't hesitate an instant to repair an ACL again if I tore one. I skied without an ACL for a season. I guarantee you that post-repair I skied with more stability, confidence, and strength than I did before the repair (even though I had a fancy brace before the repair).
Sorry for the rant, but I think people who are waffling about having the surgery might latch onto these stories about people who have "successfully" chosen not to repair. In most cases, a repaired ACL is going to yield far better results later in life than an attempt to faith-heal it.