Originally Posted by MastersRacer
More comments, as I didn't have the time before.
A properly fit brace will not interfere with your skiing. It will provide some 'comfort' as you will realize it is there and it does provide some support.
I would recommend going with a brace, at least for a while. You are probalby still on the same deductible year, so the price for a custom vs. an off the shelf unit likely won't matter. Custom is nice, off the shelf will work well, too. I've had both.
If your leg is strong and you don't feel and strange movements in your knee while you are using the brace and
you don't have any discomfort in the joint after skiing hard, try skiing without the brace on a short ski day. If you don't have any more discomfort or strange movements in your knee, you may want to consider retiring the brace. On the other hand, if you have discomfort without the brace and none with the brace, stick with the brace.
By 'strange movements' in your knee, I am referring to the dangling by a thread feeling that you can get if your ACL and/or your muscles arent' able to keep the knee joint from separating. You may already know this feeling just from walking.
One way I test myself is to jump off a low wall or object (2 to 3 feet). If I can land without favoring one leg over the other, than I am confident that my knee is strong. If I've tweaked a knee recently and do the test and favor one leg over the other, then I get out a brace.
FWIW, My first ACL tear (left knee) occured 25 years ago and I didn't repair it until I was getting chronic pain, just from walking. I was completely ACL deficient for 15 years. I was moving out to CO so I had Dr. Steadman replace my ACL in March 01. The next winter I skied with a brace, mostly telemark. The next season I started alpine racing after a 25 year hiatus (stopped racing at 19 when I broke my back). I had been using the brace since the operation and continued to use it for the beginning of the race season. I was winning in class and not feeling any pain despite skiing quite hard. After the 9th race, I tore my other ACL training GS. I had that one repaired as well and used a brace on the right leg without utilizing the brace on the left leg. Both legs felt fine. I have subsequently ceased using a brace on either leg.
Occaisionally, I get the 'strange movement' in my right knee, never my left. I did have a strain on the right ACL subsequent to the repair, so it may have a bit more laxity. The key thing is that I always ski strong, I dont' just 'idle' down the slope; that is when accidents are more likely to happen. Deliberate skiing insures that I am always aware and that my muscular-skeletal system is always 'loaded' and in action, ready to deal with anything that comes.
BTW, the meniscus is more likely to be an issue than the ACL; it is generally a victim in any ACL injury. Tears and cleaning up will take a toll on this essential material that separates your thight bone from your tibial plateau. With it you have lubrication and cushioning. Without it (or with it damaged) you have less lubrication and cushioning. Smooth skiing is better than rough skiing, soft snow better than ice, staying on the ground is better than jumping when considering maintaining your meniscus.
MSM, Glucosamine and Chondroitin are your friend and will help your meniscus, not your ACL. Try them. They don't give immediate results, but over time and with continuous use, they generally provide good results. Try using less than the recommended dosage once you notice there beneficial effect. You can save $ that way.
Welcome to the ACL club, too! Unfortunately this is a big club. Fortunately ACL repairs have come a long way over the years.
Best of luck with your 'new' ACL. Take things a step at a time, don't over do it and before long you will know just what your limits, if any, are. It is quite possible that you'll be able to rip on the hill just like before. Just remember that ripping in the present may
affect your ability to rip in the future.