seeing as i am currnetly off games and on rest following my knee giving way i thought'd i'd share my experience of the last 18 months - of particular interest to younger active people who have sustained ACL injuries. I am female, 28 and a ski instructor in Europe and am almost at the end of the British qualification. I am a pretty active person esp with sports that involve going up and down things - climbing, MTB and road biking, skiing and touring and have always been reasonably fit.
I originally injured my L knee whilst GS (giant slalom) training in France - a complete ACL rupture and strain of MCL. The french Dr also diagnosed a meniscal tear but the UK Dr didn't with both looking at the same MRI. The MRI was done a week after the injury and so there was still a reasonable amount of swelling. I am from the UK and so returned there to see a specialist who i saw 1 month to the day after the injury. By this time I had given up on the full leg brace the french had given me and was walking almost without a limp as long as I went slowly. I had started rehab exercises and using a balance board etc from a physio and the knee felt stable.
The Dr was pleased with all the stability tests and the strength I had gained over the month and we agreed that I would try a conservative approach for 2 months of intensive physio etc. I spent 2 months back in the ski resort in France where I spend the winters going to physio and started classic x country skiing which done gently on the flat to start with was brilliant.
Three months on I was feeling strong, not 100%, but my knee definately didn't feel unstable at all and I wasn't getting any swelling anymore. I started climbing and bought a mountain bike to start riding around on as I was about to kill myself listening to French music TV in the gym!
The summer and autumn were spent riding a bike as much as poss (100 - 200 miles a week) and up biggish hills in the Alps, doing weights and core exercises to be ready for the winter. Come November (11 months on) I was the fittest I had been in a long time and desperate to get skiing again which I did with no problems. I skiied for 2 1/2 months with a brace which included a month of GS race training, bumps, off piste, touring and teaching with no pain or swelling, and my legs felt great! They were so strong from all the rehab they didn't get tired that much and the L knee felt better than the R. And then in a split second whilst on a L legged turn to the R in a GS course it all came crashing down. One second I was turning and the next I was sliding headfirst down the snow into a snowdrift at the side as my knee had given way. I was only able to rest it for a day as had a ski exam to do so I carried on skiing and ate alot of ibufrofen and after about a week felt ok again.
Only a week later it gave way again this time standing on my skis on a flat bit of snow having my photo taken with the group I was teaching. busiest week of the season and so was unable to rest it and had to carry on skiing. Felt ok again after about a week and then a few days later it gave way again getting into the lift queue and someone skiing into the side of me. So I am now on day 4 of rest and it has made an emormous difference to the knee swelling has pretty much gone and movement is almost back to normal and ready to ski gently to the end of the season as I have a living to earn. I am now researching and planning to have it operated on as soon as I can after the winter.
I think what I was lacking was any real rest and recovery which over a few months took its toll and the muscles had just had enough. Interestingly every Dr I have spoken to here in France and Switzerland have said if you are young and active you should definately have surgery.
So there we go every knee is different and even the same ones become different. if you do go down the no surgery route it is definately do-able, but you need to factor in rest and recovery and really look after it. unfortunately in the ski teaching industry it isn't always possible! Good luck to everyone on here!