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Quadriceps Tendon Rupture, Repair and Rehab

post #1 of 11206
Thread Starter 
I am writing this to document my journey through a recent injury resulting from alpine skiing. I'd like to know if others have had this injury and hear about their repair/rehab experiences. I also want to be able to help others through the experience if (shudder - God forbid) this ever happens to them. Finally, I want to write this to hopefully, help me rehab my knee to the same or better condition it was in three short weeks ago.

About me:

46 y.o. male. 35 year skier. Former ski instructor at large Colorado resort for 8 years. Former ski racer. After children (2 - now young teens), moved to Idaho to get a "real job" - which involves sitting behind a desk and wishing I were out skiing most days.

Ski typically 30 to 40 days a year now - not even close to enough. Still love steeps, bumps, trees, terrain. Mostly ski at Bogus Basin near Boise, but take trips to Utah, California, Montana and Canada to ski steeps. I am a fanatic in the true sense of the word. I never, ever get enough. When I taught skiing, it was my goal to be the first person on the lift every morning of every season, and I very nearly succeeded. I would ski every day of my life if possible. In addition to alpine, I do a lot of nordic early season before terrain begins to open up.

Cycle all summer - both road and mountain. Long, long rides. I have a gang of guys my age and a little younger with whom I both cycle and ski - very fortunate that way. Also very fortunate that my wife (former ski instructor) loves the exact same activities as I. We both stay in shape, and in addition to cycling, I typically begin a lifting and conditioning program in early September to get my body in "ski shape."

Have had a previous torn left ACL approximately 5 years ago (repaired with a hamstring) from which I recovered well and have continued with my lifestyle ever since. I do have nearly constant patellar/femoral pain in both knees which I deal with through physical therapy, lifting, cycling, nordic skiing, etc.

The Injury:

The morning of Sunday, January 13, I was skiing with a friend at Bogus Basin. Having a great day - probably 4 inches of new. On about the 7th run or so, was following said friend down a steep face, making relatively high speed GS turns with a "must make" right hand turn down at the bottom onto a very narrow traverse out of an extremely steep sided, long, narrow, gully underneath a quad lift.

The "must make" turn at the bottom was perfect - beautiful, balanced, high speed . . . . until my left knee simply exploded in pain, and I went down screaming with my knee on fire. I ended up hanging upside down on my back, dangling from my left ski (which never came off), in incredible pain - looking up at the faces of numerous lift riders who were all staring back down at me (probably wide-eyed at the string of profanity I had just let loose with).

My friend came down, quickly assessed the situation, and helped me release the binding and get turned around with my good leg planted underneath me. My knee was extremely painful - absolutely on fire - and we quickly opened up the zipper on my shell pants and packed it in snow. Then, as we were in an extremely sketchy place for a rescue, attempted to get back up to the traverse (max two skis wide with a very steep drop off below) and as far down it as possible. My leg was simply unresponsive - dangling without any control at all. I hooded my pole strap into the bottom buckle of my boot, and was able to lift it and move it that way. Suffice it to say that the situation was somewhat desparate.

Patrol came and performed a rescue - while I appreciated their efforts, I was somewhat concerned for both their safety and mine. Despite a few bumps and problems, we all made it out without further injury to anybody else - I am sure it was quite a show for the fully loaded lift overhead!

The Diagnosis

Initially, as soon as I got down to town, we iced the knee and determined whether to go to the emergency room. As the pain was slowly subsiding, I determined to tough it out without paying the huge fee to have the ER doc tell me to go see the "Orthopod". Got into to see my Orthopod two days later. The knee was simply too swollen and too injured to make a proper diagnosis, although the doc suspected that the ACL hamstring graph had failed (he was really bummed as it would have been the first such repair he had done that had ever failed). He suggested that rather than getting an MRI, he should take several cylinders of blood out of the knee to get the swelling down and that I should spend money instead on PT - a suggestion that I think he later came to regret. We proceeded on the basis that we needed to get the swelling down and begin physical therapy to keep the leg as movable as possible. I agreed to come back in two weeks for further diagnosis and discussion of surgical options.

I went to PT, began building up the quad muscles through isometric and other exercises, began spending time on the bike and walking in the pool. I also used an "Iceman" (thanks John!) all night every night. However, I could never fire the quads enough to straighten out the leg, and it would simply collapse on me at any time - causing extreme agony. The PT suggested a partial tear of the patellar tendon below the kneecap.

On the second visit to the Orthopod - two days ago, he diagnosed a complete tear of the Quadriceps tendon (above the kneecap) and sent me to get an MRI to determine whether any further problems existed. There is some torn and loose cartilage floating beneath the kneecap.

He explained to me that the tendon simply "peeled" off of the kneecap under the extreme force exerted by my quads in the turn I was executing at the time. I now understood why the pain had been so incredible - 'twas nothing like the ACL injury I had experienced a few years previous.

The Proposed Surgery

The surgery is somewhat gruesome, so if you don't like blood, you may want to skip this part. First, they must open an approximately 8 - 10 slit in the leg immediately on top of the kneecap (no arthroscopic surgery for this procedure). Next, they drill four holes through the kneecap lengthwise, from the top near the femur to the bottom near the tibia. Then, he stitches a couple of pieces of permanent material into the quadriceps muscle and tendon using what he calls a "baseball stitch". These pieces of material have several "tails" each, which are then run through the holes in the patella and anchored with knots at the bottom. For a view of the surgery and a better description of the injury, see this link: http://www.arthroscopy.net/quadrep.htm

My Attitude

So, this will happen to me tomorrow morning. Hopefully I can quickly recover and begin rehab. I have a great feeling about this one - I know it will take awhile for rehab (6 months), but have done rehab before, and can do it again. Now, I can't wait until cycling season here in Idaho! I have many good friends, a great family, and am very fortunate in many other ways. The thing I keep remembering is that many, many people my age would never have this injury because they are not active enough to ever get hurt this bad. Between athleticism with an occasional injury, and couch riding without ever getting hurt, I'll take athleticism any day.

All of you with injuries, keep your chins up! Good luck to ya!
post #2 of 11206


Well, since I have a fondness for IDahoe.

Surgical repair for this injury is complicated because the remaining 'tendon' must be stretched out and fixated.

This effectively shortens the quadriceps and makes it difficult to contract the muscle.

It also places a good deal more force on the lower portion of the patellar 'tendon' and the patella itself.

The patellar tendon is unusual because it has a bone (patella) floating within it.

So, this area is prone to reinjury.

I wouldn't count on Mach, light speed, hip dragging turns any time soon.

Even if you can.

I once had a guy slip on ice, whipping his knee into extension in mid air. His patella spontaneously exploded. This was after the quad tendon was repaired.

So, get through the surgery first.

I know you are going crazy. Use the time to seek out a good PT now.
post #3 of 11206
Thread Starter 

Thank you.

I've got a great PT - she's worked with me before and works with a lot of skiers and cyclists. She'll help to hold me back this time. I know about the risks of this surgery - I'll take it easy for a good long while and will ski gingerly next season.

Really not too crazy - I've had way, way, WAY more than my fair share of turns in life - it's ok to miss a few. (Except for the fact that we are having an absolutelyEPIC year in the intermountain West this year).

Regardless, good advice - I'll take it. Thanks.
post #4 of 11206
Ouch! Man that sucks, best wishes to you and your recovery.

Once you get better, and if the doctors ok it, I suggest you make some serious leg training with weights part of your regular routine to get all those connective tissues strengthened.
post #5 of 11206
A friend and colleague had all a similar failure of the tendons attaching the quads to one knee the first day of last season. He's 70 and a biking fanatic, as well as an almost daily skier. His typical summer biking schedule is in the 3-4,000 miles range.

Anyway, from previous knee injuries resulting from youth football, biking crashes, skiing, etc., he had been advised that his knee tendons were partially calcified. That's what broke on him. He didn't describe the pain you did. But he had similar surgery. They had to pull the tendons/muscles down toward the knee and do the attachments you describe.

His therapy was sometimes "brutal", but he progressed enough to be back on his bikes by the time snow melted last spring. He managed 3000 miles for the summer and has been skiing five days a week this season.
post #6 of 11206
I think Einstein said something like..."I'm really not that smart, I just know where to look."

I found a couple of articles on medscape.com




Not to put you off but, registration is free, and there are many useful articles there.

Hope this helps.
post #7 of 11206
Hope you are not in too much pain, and feel better soon.
post #8 of 11206
Sorry to hear about that. Sending good vibes to you for a speedy recovery. How did you happen to land here at Epic---I notice you're a newbie.? Put in your two cents worth on the new member intro sticky on the general ski discussion section.
post #9 of 11206
Thread Starter 

Update: Post - Surgery 02-05-08

Well, I obviously made it through surgery as I am sitting in front of the computer sweating profusely trying to get this written and off. The first thing I would advise anybody with respect to this injury is DO NOT DO IT at all costs. I woke up out of surgery with my leg in a straight splint (in which it must remain for at least four weeks). Then, it seemed like they were just hurrying my wife and I out of there. They gave me one (count em - ONE!) hydrocodone "for the pain" - which of course didn't even touch the raging pain storm in my knee at the time. Despite my pain, "so sorry, very sorry, but you must move" they put me in a wheel chair and dumped me into our car for my wife to drive me home. We did stop on the way to pick up some more pain meds - more hydrocodone, oxycodone, and valium. Took those as soon as I got home.

Then, I don't mind telling you I was wracked in agony and sobbing for about two hours until the meds finally and blessedly kicked in. I was hoping to be back at the office by today - yeah, right. Now, I'm just hoping to be back at the office by next week. Went to PT for the first time yesterday - they unwrapped my poor pitiful knee (what I used to call a raging steel piston) and had to help me move it to even 30 degrees of flexion.

Ufortunately, this appears to be a worse injury than I had originally anticipated. Does'nt mean I won't be back on skis again, it just means it will be harder to get there than I had assumed. I'll update again soon. 'Til then, keeping making some beautiful turns - and make each of 'em count!
post #10 of 11206
Ya know...some anabolic steroids would make short work of that recovery.....just saying.
post #11 of 11206
Thread Starter 

Update: Rehab - 2-7-08

Back to the Therapist again today. She tells me I am doing well on my isometric quad sets, but do NOT at any costs, attempt to flex my leg myself - passive flexion with help only - tomorrow we can go to 45 degrees.

Drugs: I've stopped taking the oxycodone and valium - they were simply making me feel "fuzzy" and forcing me to sleep all day. I'd rather trade away some pain for a little more function in the brain.

Bored today - watched the film "The Devil Came On Horseback" online from Netflix while wife was at work and kids at school - wow - disturbing commentary on the genocide in the Sudan. Wanted to go back to work tomorrow to at least feel like I am doing SOMETHING, but the PT sided with the wife and said probably best to wait 'til Monday. So, another weekend of checking snow reports and watching my family run off to some early morning freshies. Ah well - better that someone I know and love gets 'em.

Best to all of you.\

Idaho Guy
post #12 of 11206
Thread Starter 

Update - 2-12-08

Thank you to those who have wished me a good recovery. I note that some of you have your own health problems - I also wish the best for each of you.

Today is my second day back at work. I have had my office set up with a Lazy Boy type chair - with a footrest - and a wireless keyboard and mouse (the mouse is set upon an Integrity Designs platform attached to my chair, so I don't have to reach far at all to do any work.) Yesterday I went to PT where they worked me over pretty hard - I explained to them how interested I am in being able to ski at the same level again - they believe that there is no reason that cannot happen - maybe not next year, but certainly the year after. So, I am working extremely hard on PT everyday - I can feel it making a difference in the leg. Called the Orthopod today and found out that I can put 50% weight on the leg in about three more weeks, so might be able to walk (with a brace) without crutches by then.

"Scar manipulation" - there is a term for you. The PT put a piece of theraband rubber over the scar yesterday and moved it around for awhile - excruciating.

I'll update more as more exciting things happen.

Thanks for reading.
post #13 of 11206
That sounds like 'cross friction massage." It is supposed to keep the skin from adhering to the fascia overlying the muscle. When the scar heals it starts laying down fibers in a random pattern. The fibers can heal downward to the fascia and adhere. This can make the skin pucker and limit movement. The croos friction helps break up adhesions and helps the fibers lay down along the lines of stress. Makes the scar more mobile and stronger. Why they used a piece of T-band is beyond me. I usually stack my middle finger over my index finger and rub perpendicular to the scar.
post #14 of 11206
Thread Starter 

Yep, you are right,

except that this scar is too new to be rubbed perpendicularly. Instead of that, he is using rubber to grab a "large area" and prevent actual reopening of the 11 day old scar. Regardless, all I've got to say is "OUCH!"
post #15 of 11206

Me TOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

I had the exact same thing happen to me the Friday before MLK weekend. Ironically, I was loading the car to go skiing.

I slipped on some ice, and in an attempt to keep my balance (an instinctive reaction), I tightened my right leg to brace it against the slip. But the ice was not hearing anything about that. My leg kept twisting and I heard a buch of poping sounds like a machine gun.

The first thought, before the pain, and before I went down was "That can't be good...". I was correct. Boy - I do not believe I have ever felt pain like that before in my life.

My right quad muscle detached itsemf from my knee almost completely. The Ortho-doc said I had one layer (thin) left, which is probably why it hurt soooo much when I bent the leg even a fraction.

OK - I had the surgery you did - only my doc said he drilled 3 holes in my kneecap. I am 4 weeks to the day from the incident. I am now in a brace and can walk without crutches. I am at 30 degree mobility in the brace, and am doing PT on my own (doctor recommended). The PT is just trying to stretch the tendons so that I can get back to full mobility. Right now I cannot bend the leg too much - barely to 90 degrees.

I cannot drive because it is my right leg - which is a drag.

However, like you, I am 47, and up until the incident, I worked out 5 - 6 days per week including a regular leg routing with squats, and all the rest. I believe my leg strength actually contributed to the tear - my quads were strong and were trying to do as I commanded.

I got permission from the doc to work out (upper body of course) and hired a personal trainer to stay in shape.

For me skiing is more of a thing I do with the kids and I am not a speed demon, although I had just bought a brand new pair of Salomon x-wings that I loved and only skiid on once.

For me its about being able to play golf as soon as the weather breaks here in the Boston area. I believe I will be able to play as early as April. We'll see what the doc says.

Would love to chat with you about your progess if you want. Let me know.
post #16 of 11206
Thread Starter 

oh man!

I'm really sorry, Robert. It is instructive to find out that you are getting along without crutches already - hope my orthopod gives me similar news when I see him tomorrow. My PT got my leg to about 65 degrees today - feels like 90 will be awhile coming. I asked my doc the question about whether the tremendous preparation I had done for the season contributed to the injury - he stated that he thought not - that it would have happened in any case - so, don't forgo your preparation for next season!

I'd be happy to speak with you sometime. How do we go about securely exchanging information?

Idaho Guy.
post #17 of 11206

Well what do you know?

I guess that misery loves company! I blew out my left quad tendon on the 24th of January. I wish I could say that the cause was a dramatic accident but it was not.

I am a 50 yo male on in the Army. I have pretty much done it all over the course of the career. Not as active as all but sport a very active lifestyle with wintersports, biking, running and working out. I am a classic Type A who works too much with high expectations of those around me.

I had a pressure coupling on my water main separate at about 3 am that day, my wife heard water running, I slipped on water while charging down the stairs to shut the main off. As I was going down the stairs my right foot slipped and my left leg simply took up the weight of my body. About the time my heel hit my butt, I heard the dreaded POW and that was it. I went to the ER later that am and they told me to stay off it. They told it was sprained pretty well.

The corker was that when the plumber looked at the water main, it took him literally 10 seconds to fix. He was not sure why it happened but said we probably had a minor reduction in pressure from the street. Who knows.

I followed up with the local VA Hospital PCP after a few days. They got me an Ortho appointment within 2 days (unheard of in VT) and the Surgeon gave me the diagnosis of a complete quad tendon tear after he got MRI results. We got that on a friday and I was headed for surgery monday the 4th of Feb. Funny thing was, in speaking with many people about this injury, most have never heard of this diagnosis!

Surgery went well. I sounds like the same procedure that Idahoguy had. Pretty straight forward from what the orthopod described. I was given a morphine PCA pump which allowed me to administer my own drugs (very nice) and I remained in patient for 2 nights!

Idahoguy, I believe it is malpractice that they did not give you the opportunity to stay at least a night. The pain that I endured even on my second day inpatient was crazy! They made me cry a few times while working with the PT. This injury has given me, by far, the most intense pain I have ever suffered in my life. My wife suggests I try having a baby to compare it.

I have a nice 28 staple incision line on my knee. My 6 yo counts them everytime we do dressing changes. I look like a modern day Frankenstien for sure. They gave me some percoset which was a very hard transition but they did the job post surgery.

I have my first follow up with my orthopod on the 19th of Feb. He is telling me 12 weeks in this velcro brace. No bending of the knee. I am encouraged to hear that your guys take a different view and are allowing some passive ROM work. Much of the on line literature states 6 weeks. Who knows? I do know that I will not take the chance on re injuring this site. At that point, apputation would be in order as I am sure it will be less painful.

The best part of this ordeal is learning a few life lessons. I am very certain that most of us take for granted our spouses when we are healthy and not needing them for every facet of life. I am guilty but will not be again. My wife has been a CHAMP through all of this! She is a quasi feminest most days but has taken on the responsibility of caring for me as "her job". I want to do it all for myself but she steps up to the plate without complaint. I am very grateful for her.

I will provide updates as they happen. My sincere wishes to you both on a 110% recovery. I do have a feeling this thing is going to take some time for all of us.

Regards from Vermont. It is raining today. Not a chance of me being out on that bullet proof ice!
post #18 of 11206

Getting better, slowly

Wow, I am so sorry to hear that you had to wait so long to get treated. I agree with the intensity of the pain, but post-op my intense pain was only for about 8 hours.

I stopped pressing the morphine button about 2am the night after the surgery, because I hated the meds. I haven't even taken one of the Percocets I got. I took some Advil after going to work the first day because having been up on it all day for the first time in 2 weeks really wore me out.

But the human body is amazing. I push myself and I get stronger. (Carefully....)

I totally agree with you and can report the same experience with my wife. She is one of the main reasons I am doing so well. At every moment, I had whatever I needed. What a great caregiver. after 5+ weeks now I am pretty independent. I can dress and undress, shower, etc without assistance. My leg is getting stronger, but it is still very weak - it will buckle if I use it too much - which is where the brace comes in real handy.....

I wish you both the best.

By the way - I am not using the crutches because I do not need them. There is very little pain (unless I am doing PT), and the brace does its job. The doc did not give me permission - but he did tell me I could set the brace for 30 degrees after 4 weeks. I see him again on 3/4 - and I am hoping he sees how much I can bend it and clears me to drive (because unless he acually says I can drive, my wife will not let me!!!)

I swung a gollf club last night in my basement and.... no pain. Now I am actually glad it happened on my right leg, because the left leg is where all the weight ends up at the end of the swing.

another hint - if the brace the doc gave you is not very comfortable (mine was not) you can find them everywhere online. Key "post-op knee brace" into Google and you will spend hours browsing. After you find the one you like, look on e-bay. I found the one wanted for 1/2 the price of the online stores (including overnight shipping). I ended up getting a Breg t-scope.

We are going away for next week (school vaca week in my state) and I am looking forward to a different environment......
post #19 of 11206
Thread Starter 

Update - 2-22-08

I'll echo both of your platitudes to your spouses. My wife has been incredible through this, and I am so grateful to her for her help and her refusal to judge my continued high-risk athletic endeavors.

I hope you both heal quickly as well. On another note, if you want to read about somebody who has had the same injury and had more problems than any of us, go read this guy's blog: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=2732&v=59

Saw the orthopod this week. He tells me four more weeks in a straight leg brace - only passive range of motion for that time - he knows me a little too well - without specific instructions, I will push and do more than I should. After the straight leg brace, it'll be a hinged brace for at least some time. He says I can go to 50% weight bearing with crutches immediately, and 75% in two more weeks.

Range of motion - up to 90 degrees this week, and 120 within three more weeks.

When I asked him about getting on a bike, he said we will talk about that the next time he sees me in four weeks.

PT continues to go OK - lot of pain yesterday to even get the leg to 75 degrees. Muscles in my thigh are going into spasms a lot as well - causing me to grunt in pain and grab my leg (and causing a look of great concern with whomever is in my presence at the time).

Not much to say today . . . a little down . . . wishing for some physical activity.
post #20 of 11206
I had my first follow up with the ortho guy tuesday of this week. He pulled the staples and gave me a new more restrictive leg brace. Surgical site looks great with no sign of complication.

I told him about both of your experiences and your physicians authorization to start passive flexion on you knee. In a most perochial tone he gave me the "every injury is different" speech and his tx plan will not allow me to bend this joint for another 3 weeks (early March appointment). Bummer. I have to be OK with this as he recounts a story of a patient that did not heed his advice and had to go back to surgery for repair of the repair. He probably sees that if he gives me an inch, I ill take a mile.

I have been trying to solve the driving issue. We own 2 vehicles that have 5 speed standard tranmissions. What were we thinking? As a rather tall individual, I have always had to manipulate my legs a little when I drive. I rented an automatic and went to work 2 days this week. Working from home the rest of the time. I am trying to get my wife to agree to get my vehicle to the mechanic to set up some sort of an arrangement where I can get an additional 3 inches of leg room. It can be done! Thus far, my wife has found every reason in the book not to assist with this. It is almost comical!

My 6yo was on break from school this week. He went skiing every day and was loving it. I would have taken most of this week to do that with him but..... Somewhat depressing.

Keep the updates coming guys. My best to you for continued success with this mend.
post #21 of 11206
I looked through this thread for a few minutes and I realize that I am back to the "since the world rotates around me" thought process. Very typical for me but not the best for those around me. Sorry for that. It is not all about me.

Robert and Idahoguy, congratulations on your success in making gains in flexion and ROM areas of your treatment. Robert, well done with the golf swing and losing the dreaded cruthes. These are huge accomplishments! They might seem small to those who have not had to deal with this injury but these are our ways to measure our success.

I have had many physical challanges in my life, from difficult Army schools to the mountains of Afghanistan but this is by far the hardest physical and emotional challange I have ever faced. It is humbling and somehow good for me.

Regards from Vermont. The skiing is great so Im told. Carl
post #22 of 11206
Hi guys

I accidently stumbled across this page whilst doing a search on this terrible injury.

I've had the misfortune of suffering a complete quad rupture just over a week ago. Based in London, we english have a habit of slating our National Health service, however I must admit, from the diagnosis to the surgery, everything thus far has gone well.

I did it whilst stepping out of a customers house. All I remember is losing my footing on one leg and trying to regain my balance, and trying to keep hold of a 1 ton tool box at the same time. The result was a hideous pop and explosion of pain in that region just above the kneecap.

At present I am in a leg brace which is locked in the straight position, and have been told absolute no weight bearing for 2 weeks. I've managed to wean myself of the pretty strong painkillers that the hospital prescribed, as it was making me ill.

The depression however is never ending. Watching your kids running around and not be able to chase and grab them to join in the fun, is a very hard pill to swallow. Having not known much about the injury, my knowledge database is slowly increasing. I feel for anyone that has suffered the same fate, and wish those of you who have had the misfortune, a speedy recovery.
post #23 of 11206
Very sorry to hear of your misfortune. I think that for all of us we were performing the in a usual way and the injury just occurrs very unexpectedly. I hate to say it but I have felt your pain!

I know what you are saying on the depression. It sucks going from total control over your world to flat on your back in a brace. I can only say that the time does pass and you will slowly improve. It does get better.

I am 4 weeks today post injury and 3 weeks post surgery. I have been able to catch up on reading that I have put off for over a year due to time constraints. I have also witnessed what a great partner I have. I have also found the best in my work relationships as well.

Best of luck for a quick recovery!
post #24 of 11206
Well I be hornswoggled! A forum just for us quad-rippers.

You'll all be happy to know that I severed my right-side quad tendon, seven years ago, snowboarding in the backcountry (off the Chin on Mt Mansfield VT. No crash - Just Ridin Along, I absorbed a quick compression, the knee collapsed, and I crawled and belly-slid a long long way back out to the ski area). You'll all be happy that my recovery, after the first few months of inactive misery, has been complete. Resulting in an absolutely pain-free knee, with full range of motion, absolutely full strength, no limit to any activities (pretty much everything - mtn running, snowboarding, skiing, mtn/road biking/racing/commuting 3000+ miles/yr, etc). If anything, I'm stronger than ever - I had endured 44 years worth of chronic pain in both knees before that injury, so I felt blessed to have at least one pain-free knee once recovery was complete.

Well, I had been feeling so incredibly blessed that on January 29th, I blew up my other knee, to match. Once again a JSA - I was having an incredible day, just one of those "totally on" days. And ripping the Chute at Mad River Glen, I sucked up a bump below some ledges, and the knee just popped (twice, very loudly). I was apparently luckier than the rest of you in my injuries - they really didn't hurt much at all when I did them. Just a big fat numbness, weird lack of control, general discomfort, but no real pain. It certainly hurt if I hit my foot on the ground funny, but otherwise it almost felt (wishful thinking) like I'd be fine if I just waited it out.

So here I am again, at 51 this time, in the same boat as before. Had surgery Feb 6th. As everyone agrees, post-surgery so so so sucked. But now, two-plus weeks later, all seems well. I'm supposed to be totally immobilized, just like the first time - hinged brace locked straight, crutches, etc.

However, I now have two small children at home, and a wife who works many evenings. With crutches you can move around ok, but just try that holding a kid or two. So though weight-bearing was supposed to be out, I thought I'd try it after a day or two. And it was fine - absolutely no additional pain at all. Since then I have gradually weaned myself off the brace even, unless I'm outside where I might slip. I figure I've spent plenty of time in no-fall zones in my life, so as long as I treat every step around the house or office as one of those zones, I'll be fine.

Nuff said for now - greetings and good cheer from elsewhere in VT
post #25 of 11206
Be careful being out of that brace man. My injury is so unstable at this point I am just leaving it on as much as that sucks. I have pretty much dumped the crutches in the house though. Where are you in terms of any bending your leg. Is your doc letting you do much of that? You know what the absolute worst is? 16"+ today and wednesday and here I sit!

Best wishes for a quick turn around
post #26 of 11206
Thread Starter 

Good Luck Sinrider and Hatpin

Best to both of you. Glad to hear that you recovered completely from your first one Sinrider - sounds like a good portent for the rest of us.

My PT bent me to 90 degrees yesterday - I came to work looking and feeling kind of haggard after that. Too bad this had to happen this year - it has been an absolutely epic year in Idaho. Traveled to McCall this weekend where the family nordic skiied and I hung around the room wishing I was skiing. The wife is skiing into a yurt this weekend with some friends - the kids and I were originally planning on heading up to the Masters World XC Championships in McCall at the same time to watch some of the best racers in the world, but it is just too hard to hobble around and get to good locations for watching. Hopefully I can get the kids up to the local hill with their friends so they don't miss too much skiing on account of their Dad.

Still, all in all - I think we are all lucky. We can all be fixed - unlike some years ago - we are fortunate to live when we do. Another of the good things about being injured is you have a little time to reflect on your life and make changes where necessary - a luxury not always available at other times. Also, I don't know about the rest of you, but as news of the injury spread, I heard from very dear friends that I hadn't touched base with for years - joyful to hear from them, even at this time. People really DO care - it affirms my faith in the basic goodness and optimism of humans.

Best of luck to all of you. I hope that all of you stay happy and optimistic - life is good!
post #27 of 11206
amen to that idaho. Glad to know that you are making good progress. Many thnx for the well wishes from all.
post #28 of 11206
Howdy 'gain folks - I posted a fairly lengthy response yesterday, but lost the whole thing when I hit the Back button to check on something. So I start again from scratch.

My doc wants me to keep the brace on at all times, locked straight, no range-of-motion exercises, no weight-bearing (crutches only), until I see him next on March 26th. The first time around (other knee), my other doc said the same thing, and I listened. After six weeks of absolutely no activity, my leg shrunk down to supermodel mode - skinny with no substance. My once mighty trunk of a thigh was reduced to squishy skin and bone. I had virtually no quad-flex capability. As they started to open up the brace over time, I had essentially no strength or balance in that leg, and was very very wobbly. I would never have considered going without the brace at that point - just the concept was terrifying. As I said, eventually I did have a complete recovery, but it was a long road back. It took months just to learn to walk normally again. The leg simply forgets - I had to focus 100% on what my good leg was doing with each step, and then try to replicate the same action with the other.

This time around, I did a lot of online research. And found there is a huge variety in docs' opinions of the rehab for this injury. Some say bear weight as soon as comfortable, some say none (my doc). Some say passive flexion exercises, some say none (my doc). Given that, I'm going for the better alternative.

So I ditched the crutches almost immediately - there was no pain at all the first time I tentatively put weight on the injured side, so why not? The repair has absolutely nothing to with the weight-bearing surfaces in the knee. And I've gradually been practicing without the brace, and am now very very comfortable without it. It's much easier sleeping, and I feel a lot safer moving around without the brace catching on things. I still wear it outside, where I might slip, but I moved the pins to the point where I can easily flex with complete comfort (50 degrees, at this point). Again - why not? If you can flex the knee easily to a certain point, then why does it need to be locked straight? I need to flex it to push the clutch to drive to work, if nothing else. I feel all this is to protect us from re-injuring the repair in case of a loss of balance. But we're athletes, and we know how to stay upright. And how to fall in case we don't. And we generally don't just tip over in the course of daily activities.

So I realize it's a risk, not wearing the brace. But instead of rotting away, I feel like I'm light-years ahead of where I was with the previous injury at the same milestone. I've been doing lots of isometric quad-flexes, and easy no-weight leg extensions. I balance on the good leg and keep the other thigh at an angle where foot hangs directly below my knee. And do as many extensions to straight as I can with no straining. Sometimes I balance on the injured leg in a doorway, hands and good leg ready to catch, and let myself down slowly to the comfort point and back up.

So this time, instead of having a dead leg to work with once full-on rehab starts, I've actually got muscle tone. I can walk almost normally already. And my left quad is not a whole lot smaller than the right. As far as quality of life goes, it's 1000% better this time.

So obviously I'm not a doctor, and do not at all recommend that anyone heed my reckless advice and do the same. But it's working for me. I feel stagnation rots, and activity heals best. If I do eventually go overboard and do something stupid and reinjure myself, I'll be sure to let you all know and eat a big pile of crow. But in the meantime, I'm having a great time having my mobility back.

A few suggestions, in case you haven't figgered em out already:

Use the foot on your good leg to move the other leg around - it's way easier on the back than using your hands.

When elevating the bad leg (like when sitting at your desk), put the other one up also - again, easier on the back.

As far as missing out on new pow goes, it's actually easier for me now that I'm out of commission. Normally on a powder day, I'd be frantically scheming some way to skip out on the family, work, appointments, etc, to hit the mountain and tear it up. But today, instead, I can look out the window (here at work) and marvel at how beautiful the new snow is, and think about how much fun my friends are all having. It's a much more peaceful way to be.

Best regards, all y'alls, and keep us posted on progress
post #29 of 11206

Here's a funny

I hear what you are saying Sinrider. My ortho is being very conservative with me. No bending for another 2 weeks. I can see what was a 25" quad wilting. Maybe I will grow a pair and do some passive work on my own.

We got about 16" of new snow last night. I have one portion of my roof that I always shovel from the ground as I get a pretty good ice dam build up if I dont. Anything to get outside really. This morning, I had to maneuver through the new snow to get where I could do this in my back yard. We already had a significant base. I reached up with the roof rake, pulled snow on myself and promptly went face first into the snow. Leg brace was on and it was a straight forward fall. I am then trying to get up which took me about 5 minutes as I was laughing like a fool because of what this little incident must have looked like. I guess that an inadvertent fall wont kill me. I did however neglect to tell the wife.

What a great day outside today.
post #30 of 11206
Thread Starter 


I am glad to hear that you are not following Dr.'s orders, Sinrider. I am doing some of the things you have mentioned, although I am a little bit of too much of a wimp to do even the supported small squats you describe. My Orthopod did my ACL about 5 years ago, and he allowed me to be VERY aggressive with my activity levels - I was hammering on both mountain and road bikes very early that spring, was lifting heavy weights late in the spring, and was in great shape headed into a superb ski season of bumps and steeps all over the West.

So, the fact that he is trying to slow me down in this case carries some weight with me. Nonetheless, I fully intend to carry his instructions about activity to the limit (and beyond in some cases) so that I can be rocking and rolling as soon as possible.
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