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Torn ACL, torn lateral and medial meniscus, torn mcl - skiing without surgery

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I learned to ski in Queenstown NZ when I was 56 - four years ago.  I'm most comfortable on green runs but can ski the M1 (blue run) in Queenstown and wanted to improve so booked a trip to Big White in Feb this year with my husband.

 

Unfortunately, I fell on my first day out in Big White in Feb and spent six weeks hoping my knee would be fine and trying to determine from the internet what damage I may have done.  I finally convinced myself that I had only torn my MCL.  When I first fell, I felt intense pain for about maybe one or two seconds and then no pain. I thought "Oh Im okay".  I heard no "pop". I removed my skis, and dug my ski boots into the hill and climbed up to our apartment. When I stood up and tried to walk my knee felt like something was giving way. So I went straight inside and found some ice packs in the freezer and commenced the RICE treatment (suggested on the internet).  After a couple of days, my knee, although weak, wasn't giving way, so I walked up to the village and bought a double hinged knee brace from the ski shop and then started to do some mild exercises that I also found on the internet.  So because of my mobility, not much swelling and ability to walk ok, I convinced myself that it was a torn MCL and would heal well enough to ski within about 3-4 weeks.  I tried a couple of times in the six weeks we were there, but my knee was just not good enough and felt weak and like I shouldn't push it.  

 

So I came back to Australia and first day went to see my physiotherapist.  He gave me a few tests and said he didn't think I had torn my ACL but that my meniscus was probably damaged because I couldn't get down and waddle like a duck.  I said I wanted to book to ski for the following season and that I would like an MRI done to make certain.  So, results from MRI showed torn MCL (which had healed), completely torn ACL, complex tear in the medial meniscus (parrot beak), and vertical tear of lateral meniscus. Also a bone shear injury.

 

So I made an appointment to see the surgeon.  The surgeon I chose was based on the fact that he holds the world record for the most ACL/knee reconstructions so I figured he would know what I needed to have done and give me good advice.

 

By this stage I was walking fine, with no instability.  He asked me what I wanted to do in life (bearing in mind I'm now 60).  I said I would like to ski again.  He asked me what kind of a skier I was - I said I wasn't interested in black runs, but would like to "cruise the blues". He told me that, because my knee was stable and hadn't given way on me at all, I should go and undertake some intensive physiotherapy and then go and ski.  He said if I experienced any instability or "giving way" that I should contact him and he would do the reconstruction. So that's what I did.  I have just got back from 8 days skiing in Queenstown where I was able to ski down the green runs with no problem.  I have booked to go back to give Big White a try again in Feb 2016. 

 

I really think that if he had told me to have the reconstruction, I would have had it but not returned to skiing.  I don't think I could take the stress of worrying about tearing it again after the long rehab required.  But with my knee the way it is, and being able to ski on it, I don't think I will opt for the reconstruction unless something changes in the condition of my knee.

 

I am posting this to help anyone else who might be in a similar situation.  

post #2 of 5

Welcome to EpicSki!  Glad to hear that you are back on the slopes.  I've been skiing without an ACL since 2012.  Losing the ACL had nothing to do with skiing so my rehab happened in the summer and fall.  As I looked around the Internet, I learned there are far more older advanced skiers without an ACL than you might think.  I turned 60 this year.

 

I found that doing more ski conditioning all year long and having lessons with very experienced instructors was very helpful.  As a result I ski far better now than 10 years ago when I started skiing more as the retired parent because my daughter turned out to love skiing.

 

For more about my story:

 

http://www.theskidiva.com/forums/index.php?threads/no-acl-no-surgery-no-problem-my-new-normal-as-a-coper.15049/

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 


Hi and thank you for your reply.  I do have a fantastic personal ski instructor in NZ - I might look for one in Canada when there next Feb.

 

When i first injured myself, i did read all your posts but I must say, because I didn't want to believe I had torn my ACL, I didn't pay attention.  But after my MRI results I did take a more in depth interest and was encouraged by what you posted, so thank you.  I think my main concern was that, even though I have been skiing for 4 seasons now, because of our short seasons and our distance from the snow, I have really only skied for about 30 days in all so am not so confident as to just put on my skis after a year and ski down the mountain so always start out on the bunnies.  So when I tore my ACL I worried that the turning I might need to do with my knee might make it "clunk out" as my physio describes the sensation.  But it didn't happen.  I realised that if I want to do this (ski) I must do what my instructor has been telling me for four years - "don't look at our skis - look down the hill at where you are going and your skis will do the rest."  Guess what, she was right so I think, like you, this situation may make me a better skier.  Fingers crossed.

 

Anyway, thanks for your posts.  

post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathyb10 View Post
 


Hi and thank you for your reply.  I do have a fantastic personal ski instructor in NZ - I might look for one in Canada when there next Feb.

 

When i first injured myself, i did read all your posts but I must say, because I didn't want to believe I had torn my ACL, I didn't pay attention.  But after my MRI results I did take a more in depth interest and was encouraged by what you posted, so thank you.  I think my main concern was that, even though I have been skiing for 4 seasons now, because of our short seasons and our distance from the snow, I have really only skied for about 30 days in all so am not so confident as to just put on my skis after a year and ski down the mountain so always start out on the bunnies.  So when I tore my ACL I worried that the turning I might need to do with my knee might make it "clunk out" as my physio describes the sensation.  But it didn't happen.  I realised that if I want to do this (ski) I must do what my instructor has been telling me for four years - "don't look at our skis - look down the hill at where you are going and your skis will do the rest."  Guess what, she was right so I think, like you, this situation may make me a better skier.  Fingers crossed.

 

Anyway, thanks for your posts.  

 

Glad you found my posts helpful.  Definitely useful to have a good local coach.

 

Starting out on easier slopes is recommended for anyone at the beginning of the season.  Especially for people who don't get to ski that much.  Only difference for more experienced skiers is that for them a blue at slower speed is "easy" so no need to start on greens.

 

I worry far less about what I'm doing on skis than when I'm walking around in ski boots on slick floors.  That's when I slow down and tread carefully.  So far, so good. :) 

 

How long will you be at Big White?  If you start a thread in General Skiing or Resorts, might be able to get recommendations for ski instructors there.

post #5 of 5

Im hoping my girlfriend can transition back to skiing as well as both of you have.

 

She's almost 5 months out from her initial injury, and now that all the resorts in N America have started their marketing, she's getting worried/upset about whether or not she will be able to.

 

Knee injuries are scary. Hers was a torn MPFL, dislocated patella, torn cartilage, and a chipped femur. She's walking again, and was instructed to keep a cane just so she has a visible indicated of being injured.

 

Her PT told her that she should be cleared to hit the slopes in February or March. And she's already realized she should start with a good instructor from the basics up again.

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