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My ACL reconstruction

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I'm seven weeks post-op after a cadaver graft and am thrilled so far at how it's been going. The first week was pretty rough with lots of Vicodin and the d@mn CPM "torture" machine. I'm in PT every other day doing about 2-1/2 to 3 hours of hard work, but it's already starting to pay off. I'm doing lots of balance/proprioception and strengthening exercises and 20 minutes of non-impact cardio on an elliptical machine. The hard part is that they all tell me that right now is the most dangerous time because the graft hasn't "engrafted" with a blood supply, so it's still "mooshy" and I recognize that I feel like I'm able to do much more than I should. Hopefully, I've timed the surgery correctly---six months from June 13th for recovery should put me on the slopes just in time for the first big powder dump of the season. I'll keep you posted.
post #2 of 27
Good luck! The worst part is the post surgery depression. If you get past that, you're in good shape. Keep us posted.
post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 
Yeah--that's interesting you mention that. Went through a blue funk about three weeks ago where I was diong all the "what have I done...shoulda just lived with this all worth it" etc. That seems to have passed and now my attitude in physical therapy is "you want me to do lunges on a balance ball?? Bring it on!!!" Had my first skiing dream where I was fully recovered and floating down a fluffy powder run so that made me feel pretty good too!
post #4 of 27
I should've spotted this one earlier - I had the same graft plus some microfracturing the day after you - on 6/14/06. So I'm focussed on the very same page of the calendar, i.e., 12/06. Wish I'd had the surgery a month earlier, to have a little more margin of error in starting the ski season.

I was told just like you to cool my jets a little in recovery because revascularization takes so long. Next time my wife tells me to cool it though, I'm going to tell her one of my imaginary internet friends is doing lunges on a balance ball. Even if you were just kidding on that one, it makes me look downright reasonable.

Mentally, I probably would have had those kind of regrets if surgery had been any other time of year. Summer, I don't mind missing that much. Or if the ACL procedure was uncertain. But I've seen such good data, and heard such good random anecdotal experience, that for some reason I've (uncharacteristically) avoided any doubt, depression, deprecation, etc.

Now that I think about it though skiing is probably the one part of my life where dark thoughts have NEVER come up. Not that I'm a great skier, but when I'm skiing I feel great. So in some strange way, I've felt pretty good about the surgery.
post #5 of 27
Hello aclr victims. I am 7 days post op hamstring autograft.I am currently dealing with blood rushing to the graft incision and extreme pain when standing. Also my shin and ankle are on fire!!. I guess this is normal and will pass soon. I have been getting out of the house a little and have been dealing pretty well. My wife has been awsome. Feed me wife feeeeeeeeeeeed me!
post #6 of 27
Originally Posted by skier68 View Post
Hello aclr victims. I am 7 days post op hamstring autograft.I am currently dealing with blood rushing to the graft incision and extreme pain when standing.
Oh yeah...I hear where what you're talking about. That blood rush pain is not something you can easily forget (I too had a hamstring autograft - Nov '04). I remember I was still feeling it pretty good at 7 days post op as well. So yes, it is normal to feel that....and the good news is that it will get less and less as time goes by so long as you keep up your icing regimen, etc.
post #7 of 27


My son tore his ACL when he was 11 yrs. old. Typical reconstruction was not a good option due to the open growth plates and the risk of drilling thru them, so we opted for Dr. Steadman and his healing response surgery (same surgery Bode Miller had 5-6 years ago). He had only one day of pain after the surgery other than the stretching to regain his range of motion. This technique can only work with a tear at the femur where the microfractures can regenerate new tissue to mesh with the torn end of the ACL. Anyway, he started racing again a year later (w/ a brace) and raced USSA last season and will this season again. Dr. Steadman and his group are awesome if you have good insurance or can afford it!
post #8 of 27
All the very best. I had my acl reconstructed at the end of August a year ago - hamstring graft - and was hoping to be skiing and teaching in Utah by February. Mechanically it was (and remains) fine, but unfortunately I developed an infection around the screw in the tibia.

Four further operations (including plastic surgery on the calf to bring up a flap of muscle with blood supply over the replaced screw), a total of three weeks in hospital, my own personal IV drip around my neck for three months ... let me tell you about funks!

But let me also tell you, you get through them. As dedicated skiers, we're lucky; we have a focus and a target. I'm back playing golf and cricket, hitting the gym five days out of seven (now, if I can just stop hitting the pub as well), and planning to be standing on the Grande Motte glacier on October 15 for a month's training before heading to Park City.

I'll be using a brace to start off with, but at least I'll be on snow!
post #9 of 27
Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
Oh yeah...I hear where what you're talking about. That blood rush pain is not something you can easily forget (I too had a hamstring autograft - Nov '04). I remember I was still feeling it pretty good at 7 days post op as well. So yes, it is normal to feel that....and the good news is that it will get less and less as time goes by so long as you keep up your icing regimen, etc.
Hey Dude, Thanks for the input. I have a thread going in gimp central over at t gr. The blood rush pain didn't start untill day 5, It's now day 8 and is a little better but not much:
post #10 of 27


I had the ACL replaced in my left knee a year ago April. I found out very quickly that it was the right decision and that you must follow the protocol of your surgeon and your PT Team to the letter. Do only what they want you to do, how much, and how often. Too much and you risk re-injury. Too little and the range of motion doesn't come back to normal nor do you get your strength back.

I'm back doing most all activities now. Running, in-line skating, stair master, hiking, etc. But, it's a long recovery and you have to remain very committed to it. I'm north of 55, so it's taken a lot moreeffort to get the range of motion back. I workout almost every day now and last summer I was in PT three times a week with my own PT schedule in between even more rigorous then the PT Team required. All I can tell you is that it's all paid off.

Unfortunately however, I recently tore the medial meniscus in my right knee, so I'm now in recovery (no-surgery thank you), for that. But, with a little patience I'm now back at the workouts again and watching that closely. So, keep at it and best of luck to you and all those going through this ordeal. It will be worth it in the long run.

whtmt & Mackenzie 911
post #11 of 27
Glad to hear it's going well!! I'm just about 5 months post surgery......hang in there!!
post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 
Update: I'm 4 months post-op now and am up to an 8-minute mile pace on the treadmill. In addition, they have started me on "agility" drills---meaning hopping, twisting jumping around with weight type exercises. Each new one puts a little more "shear" across the joint and every one requires me to screw up the courage to get over the psychological part of it (as in I really hope I don't mess this up because I don't want to have to go through this again.) On the other hand I'm feeling way ready for the season. I see the surgeon Monday and I'm going to bribe him with his favorite red wine and the big puppydog eye look . ("I won't drink, I'll stay away from bumps, I'll only ski groomers, I'll wear a brace, but can you PLEEEEEASE let me go skiing over Thanksgiving???") We'll see how it goes...I'll keep you posted. P.S. My PT has been calling my right leg Ahnold and my left leg Chuck Norris
post #13 of 27
For what it's worth I had the same graft on 6/14 and my surgeon insists that the sixth month, i.e., from mid-November to mid-December - is the most dangerous time for re-injuring the graft. His reasoning is that (1) I'll be feeling strong and eager to go again after the months of rehab, BUT (2) it takes 5-6 months for the cadaver tissue to revascularize, and in the last month when the new vessels or whatnot are growing in, the graft tissue is at its softest and stretchiest. He's warned me that a couple of his patients have stretched out their graft tissue by stressing it in the sixth month or so. Not torn it, but stretched it and made the graft disfunctional, meaning the surgery is not doing them any good. So he says no matter how much strength I get back in my leg, until the revascularization process has had time to complete and my "proprioception" returns, to take it very easy.

He also says the month 6 vulnerability is not necessarily in the literature but he's seen it enough with graft patients to make it standard procedure to cut back PT and activity in that last month. (And he's seen a lot of patients - former US ski and tennis teams doc, spent 10+ yrs at Steadman clinic in Vail, etc.) My orders are to cut back activity by 50% starting Nov. 14 and stop all hopping, twisting, jumping etc. during that month.

Like you I'm really enjoying expanded activities -- I definitely feel like I could go out and ski today with my good brace on. In fact I feel much better now than in second half of last season when I was skiing w/o ACL but didn't know it and had a cheapo drugstore brace. But I really don't want to mess it up so I'm going to hold off until at least Christmas week.

YMMV - just thought I'd share this for you to make what you will of it.
post #14 of 27
Thread Starter 
Appreciate the input. FWIW, my doc, Steve Lombardo (doc for the Lakers, Kings and Dodgers) said that the graft is actually the stretchiest / gooiest at the end of the second month, and has hit about 85% of it's tensile strength( ability to resist shear) by now. The revascularization that is taking place now should only make it stronger, not weaker. It's in that second month when it is ischemic and, therefore, weakened. In fact, their protocol for their pro athletes, which they have been making me follow to the letter, specifically calls for "exercises specific to the sport with pliometrics" between the fifth and sixth month, with full return to normal activity thereafter. I will certainly ask him about the concerns you have raised, but given that he has written a lot of the literature on this subject, if he tells me go for it, I certainly won't hold back the horses!!! I'll reply after I see him Monday the 23rd...
post #15 of 27
Sounds like you are doing the right thing. If you become a supporter, i have two articles in the Lounge about ACL injury. The first is simply about the injury itself. The second describes the conventional and unconventional things I did to heal, both physically and psychologically.
post #16 of 27
doogie - what your doc says seems more consistent with what i'm feeling, and what it clearly sounds like you're feeling. my schedule doesn't permit pushing it anyway so i'm going to stick with the more conservative approach. but i'd love to hear how you progress and especially how you feel when you get out on the slopes again.

lisamarie - i'll look for the articles, i'd be very interested in your experience. thanks.
post #17 of 27
Thread Starter's the sitch. First thing out of the doc's mouth today was, "so when are you going skiing?" (At least he understands who he's dealing with...not a "Hi, how are you?" but a "when are you going"). I said , "as soon as you tell me I can," to which he replies "January." At that point I started the pathetic whining...I mumbled something along the lines of, "Does that mean Thanksgiving is out of the question?" His reply, "yep." Then he said, "tighten your quads as hard as you can," at which point I knew I had him because my PT has been referring to my right leg as "Ahnold" and my left leg as "Chuck Norris." I tightened them up and he said, "whoa! OK, we'll do isokinetic testing in 6 weeks and if you pass you can go skiing over Christmas!" So...I guess I should be really happy, because that's exactly 6 months post-op and I get to go skiing this year, but I was really hoping he'd say earlier. Oh, well...what's a few more weeks? I specifically asked him about the "slow down to avoid stretching the graft during the 5th month" question, and he said he didn't think there was anything to that. He said that the strengthening and mobility exercises protect the joint. So, 8 weeks until I'm making turns---YEEEEHAWWW!
post #18 of 27
Had an adaptive instructor friend who got the same news. Wait till January. Well he did, sort of. He didn't ski on that leg until January. He 3-Tracked on his good leg until the Doc gave him the go ahead. I don't think he told the Doctor that he was 3-Tracking. Where there's a will, there's a way.
post #19 of 27
doogie - interesting update. sounds like our two docs are giving the same answer, but for different reasons. interesting to hear he's not buying into the 5th month theory. i'm going to stay active in non-stressful ways - swim, bike hard, but maybe no plyos or twisting during that time.

anyway like you, i'm expecting santa will give my skis back this year. what more could we ask for?
post #20 of 27
Thread Starter 
I'm with you TS01! I had a full-on 3D ski dream the night after the know, the vivid in-your-face snow spray smell-the-pine-trees kind of dream. In it I was flying down the hill, everything felt great, and then about half way down the run, I stop and think, "wait, I'm not supposed to be doing this surgeon hasn't given me the green light!" Sheesh, I even have guilt dreams!
post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 
Update: 5th month out of 6 in Physical Therapy. Doing "sport specific" training now! Therapist had me hopping up and down onto various height boxes today while holding ski poles, jumping off and on the boxes. Not exactly skiing yet, but the right muscles are firing and NO PAIN and my knee feels more stable than it has in years!! YEEHAW I'm getting close!! (Now I have to perform a sacrifice to Ullr to get it to start snowing in the Sierras.)
post #22 of 27
doogiedoc - it's been a while since i checked in here. i also ski mammoth (many mvp days) where i blew my acl, mcl, lcls and some other stuff april 1st, 2005.

i'm a gym rat and spent hours in pt and lifting after my op. i was cleared to ski about 9 months post-op but didn't feel "big" so i rode snowmobiles for a few months instead. at 12 months post-injury i skied but did nothing more than stump, broadway, face of 3, type stuff.. i just didn't feel strong enough for the ungroomed places like the avy chutes, drop-out, wipe-out, etc.

that said (i hope) things have changed. i'm now 17 months post-op and am really looking forward to my 1st trip (jan. 2nd - need some pacific dumps!) - i'm much stronger!

lots of people will talk about 6 months to be back but my humble experience suggests you need to be patient - this is an ongoing deal that you need to keep working for some time until you forget about the injury (which knee did i blow?). i have a buddy back east who raced out of the stowe academy (strong skier - with a repaired acl) - his advice was to set a milestone at two years for 100%. at this point i think he's right - i still know (feel) the operated knee is weaker than it's mate.

the only other advice i have is to start riding a road bike (you may already). i do 30-70 miles a week in pv and it really has improved my strength - and lift, lift, lift... and when you're tired get on the slide board...

don't know where you live in so cal but of you're close to pv let me know.

good luck and hope you get back out there this season.
post #23 of 27
Good luck, man. I've been making turns on my bung knee and ... it's obviously weaker than the other one. I've joined a gym in Park City and it's back to work when I finish teaching for the day.

It's really a matter of how it feels. I can carve on groomers and even hit the gates (not very well, but it's the thought that counts), but yesterday I was in variable conditions with a few minor bumps and the difference was noticeable. I got through it but I'm really glad no one was videoing ...

Do what feels right. You sound like you've done a shedload of work, so have fun and good luck!
post #24 of 27
Good to hear everyone's stories about their experiences with their ACL surgeries. My wife had a hamstring autograft back on 6/27 which makes it 5mos post op. It's been a very long slow recovery. She's hopeful that she'll be able to ski in maybe another 1-2 mos depending on how she progresses. From the posts reading these posts, that might be a little optimistic.
post #25 of 27
I told my story in the injury poll thread. Hamstring graft April 13th. Clreared to ski as soon as the snow fly's here. Maybe by next week. Did the PT but no where near as rigorous as yours. I am no athlete. I do feel ready. Knee feels strong. Some of the stories here have some pretty hardcore training, like the olympics or something! I'm just going to get out there and cruise a while.
post #26 of 27
April 28th 2006 for my ham autograph. Just got an email that my local hill is opening tomorrow and am going for it. Not been doing PT at an Olympic pace but have got all my quads back, just lacking in the hamstring. Muscularly I feel fine, but the joint itself still gets pissed off every so often. Got the OK from the Doc last month at my 6 month so we'll have to see how the knee will handle my machine made east coast rattlely runs. I suspect I'll feel fine on the runs but will feel residual pain the next day, which will last a couple of days and back to normal. This is my second reconstruction, first one was done 18 years ago and over the years the knee just got loose so I went in and tightened everything up. I guess I would guestimate that it will likely take about two years for the new mating surfaces in my knee to wear in to one another, so I get to the point of completely forgetting about it.

Cheers and hope everybody has a great season on the slopes.

And hears hopping for one of those dreams mentioned above!!

post #27 of 27
Went out twice today. First to test out the knee, and then afterwords with my 3 1/2 year old daughter.

First run on the new new ALC was aprehensive, but all felt fine. By the end of the third run I had decided that I could take out my daughter on a harnest tethered to me while I snow plowed behind her.

So in total I did 8 runs today down a verry small green hill, three of which I was snowplowing behind my daughter and I must say all feel fines. Today is exactly 7 months, 10 days post hamstring autograph ACL opp.

I suspect that my knee may feel "pissed off" tomorrow but here is hoping that it isn't!!


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