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ACL tear, surgery, & rehab diary - Page 2

post #31 of 245
Hmm yeah that would be interesting. I had my ACL reconstructed using my patella and they cut out a piece of my meniscus. I'm up to 70 degrees as well, I'm prescribed to advance 15 degrees a day. I started PT today they were surprised at how much i could do(even if they were just saying that it still felt good to hear) I'm probably going to start taking some less serious drugs tomorrow just so I'm not so "knocked out".

But yeah good luck with everything and keep in touch.

post #32 of 245
A quick update. It's been 72 hours since my surgery and I've reached to goal my doc prescribed for flexion and extension on the CPM machine. I tried to do some leg lifts (one of 3 exercises he wants me to do the first week) and I could barely get my leg off the ground (after 3 reps I couldn't).

It's amazing how much strength you lose in a short period of time.


PS - Good luck to you as well.

PPS - Maybe we'll need to put together a day to ski with all the post ACL-injured next season.
post #33 of 245
Thread Starter 
Mike/mmckimson, you were at 5 degrees of hyperextension at 48 hours post-op? That's great! Those leg lifts (or rather, failed attempts at leg lifts) are quite an eye-opener, aren't they? It's such a simple thing that you think it'll be so easy, until you actually try it! When do you start PT?

Tim/SwitchSki, good to hear your PT is going well. Keep us posted on your progress.

I'm down to 1x a week PT now, because I need to focus on strength-building, which I don't have to go to the PT for. The biggest obstacle for me is my patellar pain. Because my VMO (the part of the quad that attaches right above the knee) is still weak, it's not pulling the knee-cap in the right track. I need to strengthen the VMO to get rid of the pain. But in order to strengthen the VMO, I'd need to do squats and other exercises which create pain in my knee-cap -- so it's a catch-22. So working on stationary biking, seated leg presses (those don't hurt). Also getting the electric stim unit at home to do terminal knee extensions with. It's already much better than before, but nowhere near okay.
post #34 of 245
Thanks for the encouragement. It can get depressing when all you are doing is laying around with a knee that constanly hurts. This is my 5th day since my surgery, and it seems to get a little better every day. I suspect I'll start my PT after my first post-op appointment this Thursday.

I don't try the leg lifts from the side as they really bother the meniscus repair. According to surgical staff that work with him I should be honored to have had mine repaired at age 53 as he normally doesn't do it if the patient is over 35, but I don't know that I'd consider it that!

One interesting thought: do you think our competitive natures make us sometimes try to rehab faster than we should? If so, might it not set back the recovery?

I plan on pushing myself (and the knee) hard, but letting how my knee feels dictate how much to do every day.

post #35 of 245


Hey yeah thanks for the encouragement. and yeah sitting around with that CPM is quite possibly the most boring thing I have ever done. But I went to PT today and managed to get 20 leg raises as well as other PT stuff and I'm up to 120 degrees on the CPM. It surprisingly feels pretty good most of the time except I know when I did too much and its time to call it quits. and just out of curiousity but how much black and blue did everyone have because mine seems to be really bruised.
post #36 of 245


Mike, this might not help you out if you don't like movies. But I found that a netflix subscription helps out with the boredom/depression a little.
post #37 of 245

I find it interesting how different doctors have different protocols. For example, my doctor wants me to stop at 90% on the CPM (because he did a meniscus repair), and encourages very little without the brace. He also wants me to use crutches (to aid in balance) for the first 4 weeks.

You are going to 120 on the CPM, while a friend of mine didn't get have a machine at all.

When I was changing clothes this morning (probably more information than you want to know), I tried some leg lifts without the brace on and managed 10 fairly easily although of course the leg is weak.

When are you starting your PT?
post #38 of 245
Thread Starter 
I had pretty bad bruising around the back of the knee -- it was almost deep purple. Kinda scary looking, but both doc and PT said it was quite normal as the Cryo-Cuff pushes all the blood to the back.

Tim, I can sympathize on the CPM boredom. I situated myself on the living room floor in front of the TV, and had my laptop with me. Even then, I was going stir-crazy looking out the window. And just sitting on the floor for 2 hours at a stretch were a pain in the butt, literally!

Mike, what you mention about everyone being different is very true. Not only is everyone different physiologically, but everyone has slightly different injuries. I know someone who was hiking at 1 month, and another who wasn't off crutches for 2 months! To complicate matters is the difference between different surgeons and PTs. It seems like ACL recon and rehab is still an emerging field, where new things are being "discovered". So depending on how up-to-date the doc/PT is with the latest thinking could also affect recovery.

As posted above, I was on the CPM machine the day of surgery. I had a few degrees of hyperextension, and was at 100 degrees of flexion in a few days. Extension is the critical thing to get back ASAP after surgery -- flexion will almost always come back with time (as swelling reduces). Regarding crutches, my doc said I'd be fine putting weight without crutches -- the only reason he wanted me to use them was for balance, so that I wouldn't fall and re-injure something.

Regarding pushing too hard in rehab, yes, it is definitely a possibility. Because we are so active, we want to get back to full fitness. But at the same time, being active, we are also probably pretty aware of our own bodies, and the bio-feedback we get. I think we can usually tell the difference between good pain and bad pain. That's one of the reasons I got off pain meds as soon as I could -- because I wanted to feel anything that was my body's way of telling me to stop, instead of being numb to it. I also talk to my PT a lot about the different feelings I get doing different exercises and activities. It's amazing how you notice the subtleties and complexities of something that you took for granted, like walking!
post #39 of 245
I started my PT two days after surgery and am prescribed to go 3 times a week. My doc said the only real time I need to be in my brace is whenever I'm walking (and have it locked at 0 when doing so) and I'm doing that with crutches(mostly for balance)

My PT doc told me today I can ditch the crutches as soon as I feel ready. which I find odd and contradics what my Doc said, which was that I'll be in a brace with crutches for 4-6 weeks as far as walking is concerned.

The reason for not worrying about my meniscus tear is because he simply cut the tear out, mine was on the part of meniscus without any blood supply and thus couldn't be repaired, apparently if mine was repaired I would be nonweight bearing w/ crutches for 6 weeks.

I hit the gym pretty hard(especially the stationary bike) before surgery to get my leg as strong as possible and from what I find leg raises are mostly from the quad muscle, I heard everyone talking about how much you lose after surgery so I was pleasantly surprised at how much i still have, but it does take a lot out of me.

what is your CPM regiment? mine is 8 hours a day 2 hours in, 2 hours out, so it pretty much takes up the whole day and I do that for 2 weeks(which I cannot wait to be over)

Goodluck with your PT if you didn't already start it by the time you read this. At mine I got this cuff at the end that was called "game ready" that compressed and iced my knee, its the best thing ever, I wish I could take one home.
post #40 of 245

Just out of curiousity how did you tear your ACL?

I demoed a pair of Atomic SX12pb's (probably a bit too much for me, really) and was going down a black groomer at Killington, underestimating the amount of effort those skis need to be pushed to stop. A trail was crossing the slope so I started to slow down but the skis wanted to stay locked into the turn, I hit a slight bump in the slope got twisted around and landed backwards with my right leg straight out, it stuck in the snow and the rest of my body kept turn around and I heard the pop. I ended up also having a slight fracture in the top of my tibial plateau and a few bone contusions as well as the meniscus and ACL tears. Moral of my story, I now dislike atomic neox bindings a whole lot, lol.
post #41 of 245
To make a long story short, I was free skiing by myself while one of my ski school pals was taking his LIII exam (mine was over) and lost balance on a run that I had probably skiied 15 times that weekend during my LIII exam. Unfortunately, too much of my COM moved in the direction of the next turn, causing me to have the typical yard sale that included a somersault while going about 35 mph.

Obviously, on my first roll down the hill, my right ski must have hit perfectly to cause an injury.

Interestingly enough, I too was skiing on new skis (next year's Volkl TigerShark 12), but the bindings were set exactly the same as my current set up.

post #42 of 245


So I've found a wall. Today my leg was real sore, not so much my knee but mostly my shin(feels kinda like shin splints), I'm guessing it was from PT and working it harder but however it happened it isn't so fun. Hopefully tomorrow's PT session goes smoother for my friday outcome.


Were those tigersharks everything they are cracked up to be? they look interesting and I enjoy most volkl skis, but are real sweet?
post #43 of 245
Put it this way - I'm getting some.

I ski on the Supersport now. The Tigershark 12 skied very similarly, but is a slightly wider ski so may be abit more versatile in crud and powder. I warmed up with the ski in the off setting and it skied fine, but preferred the on setting on the harder snow that was there that day.

Now I just need to figure out if I want the 12's or the 10's that I haven't tried.

I also have my first post-op appt today.

post #44 of 245
I just got back from my first post-op appointment, and I find it fascinating how different the various rehab protocols seem to be.

In my case, because I was "lucky" enough to have my meniscus tear repaired along with my ACL, the doctor doesn't really want me to start PT for another two weeks to allow the repaired meniscus to heal. The only PT they want me to do until then is to continue to work on increasing the range of motion (flexion limited to 90 degrees due to meniscus) and doing various leg lifts. Naturally, they want me to walk (with crutches) and bear weight on the leg as much as I can.

It seems as if others (Faisy and SwitchSki) have a much more aggressive regimen.

post #45 of 245
Thread Starter 
^^^ I think the difference may be the meniscus repair. From what I've read and heard, any time there's meniscal repair, the rehab process seems to be much more "delicate" and initially somewhat slow/prolonged. I did not have any meniscus damage or repair.
post #46 of 245
yeah, My PT doc asked what exactly he did to my meniscus and as soon as he heard he just cut it away and didn't actually repair it he was almost like ok good, lets get this done, and we jumped right into it.

but a quick update:
I had a PT session today and actually got to ride the bike, pretty excited for that! and my flexion is up to 110 degrees on my own, I can stop doing that lousy CPM so much too! My only real draw back is my ankle hurts a good bit and my bruising has moved down my leg a bit, I guess I haven't been keeping it up high enough.
post #47 of 245
Thread Starter 
Some of the worst post-op pain I had was around the ankles, all the way up to the calf. It was super tender to even the slightest touch. One obvious reason was that I was walking in a non-normal way because of my surgery, so I was putting different stress on my foot and my tendons were inflamed. My doc said just as important is that due to the surgery (which cuts into/around the main artery taking blood to the lower leg), blood pools in the lower leg -- there's no where for it to go, so it collects around the ankles. It went away on it's own after a while. Doing heel-lifts and ankle rotation exercises helped also.
post #48 of 245
While it's only been 8 1/2 days, I'm starting to feel better. Yesterday was the first day I had with a brace that actually flexed and I overdid it. I went to my office, did a lot of exercises with the leg, drove the car (yay!), sat with my son for 2 hours at the DMV while he got his learner's permit.

I am getting a fair amount of swelling in the lower leg as well, so today I'm going to keep the leg a little more elevated after doing my exercises!

post #49 of 245
I think I finally got most of the swelling under control, I had to tighten up my brace a little bit because it didnt fit my leg as well as it had yesterday. I had the scare of my life yesterday too, I was going up my stairs and my crutch slipped and I put all my weight on my bad leg for a split second before I caught myself, so hopefully I didn't do any damage but it doesn't seem like it, I still have just as much flexion and the swelling went down so hopefully not, I'm sure I'm just being paranoid.

Its good to see everyone is progressing nicely!

Good luck
post #50 of 245
I know what you mean about accidently putting weight on it. I did that and while our leg can probably support our weight, we're afraid to do so (just like I'm sure we'll be hesitant the first time we ski).

The swelling of the calf and lower leg seems to be my biggest problem as well, although today it seems to be quite a bit better. One thing I think I may have done a few days ago was to wrap the Ace bandage too tight which caused the blood to pool in the lower leg.

I've been going to the gym for upper body workouts combined with the leg lifts and flexion/extension exercises prescribed for me until I start PT. It feels great to be moving, doesn't it?

post #51 of 245
Damn, y'all are scaring me a bit here. I'm going to stop reading this diary until after my surgery, lol.
post #52 of 245
C'mon - I'm an old man (53) and it's not so bad...

What is disconcerting is how recovering from an injury like this makes you go from being a person who thrives on being active (skiing, biking, hiking, etc.) to a couch potato!

post #53 of 245
haha ahhh its so true, its not too bad, its just soo boring

post #54 of 245
I started some new things at PT today. i started doing leg presses on an incline total gym kind of thing, then a few things on the quad set machine.

I get to see my surgeon next week so hopefully he has me ditching the brace, but we'll see
post #55 of 245
Because of my meniscus repair needing some extra time to heal, I don't actually start PT until next Wednesday, which will be 3 weeks from the date of my surgery.

I'm jealous that you're ahead of me!

post #56 of 245
I'm sure you'll make up for lost time... Either way though we both have a ton of time before ski season...

Did you ask your doc how long before you can do "cutting" sports again? or how long before you can ski again?

Mine said it should be at least 7 months until the new graft is strong enough to handle it, so that takes me to the middle of december.
post #57 of 245
My doctor also said about 6 months, and as we both know that's with an aggresive rehab regimen. As one of my ski school's staff trainers, I need to be able to be on snow December 15, as that's when we start our hiring clinics.

The good news is the first weekend is spent teaching new instructors how to teach up to wedge turn, so I should be fine.

post #58 of 245
Thread Starter 
My doc also said about 6 months with good rehab. My PT said I could potentially start at 6 months, but he recommends minimizing aggressive "cutting" sports until 9 months.
post #59 of 245
for some reason the wedge makes me cringe right now, I don't think it would be entirely comfortable, I think I might try and ski in december/january depending on how things go, but probably just on early morning groomers. It all depends, I'm trying to make sure I'm not gun shy when the I do actually get onto the slopes is the whole thing.
post #60 of 245
By the time I ski, I want to be able to forget the knee... one way I plan on doing that is skiing the standard runs we use at our ski area for teaching and easing into skiing the bumps and chutes.

Today seems to be a "good" day (and I know the two of you know exactly what I'm talking about). It seems as if the more I do one day, the better I feel that day, but then I take a step back the following day.

At the same time, if I compare how I feel today versus how I felt the first few days after surgery, I am feeling much better.

Tomorrow I go for PT (first appointment) so I'll post an update then!

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