New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

ACL Recovery Without Surgery

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hello.

Joined the forum with hopes of getting some insights on my recent ACL tear.

Skiing at Whistler on December 18th, knee gave out from under me after pivoting in heavy, deep snow.  Could not put any weight on it and came down mountain in sled.  Sent to a clinic, but was not seen my the doctor in a timely manner so decided to RICE on my own.  No real swelling at all, but elevated and iced.  Also bought a brace.  Two days after accident skied again albeit quite gently.  Saw that the brace gave me good stability and that the side to side motion on a green or blue was fine for the leg.  Skied lightly for two more days after that.

MRI on January 4th revealed a torn ACL.  Live in Manhattan and have seen one orthopedist and have plans to see another.  First orthopedist advocating surgery.  He is the orthopedist to the Jets so I know he's good.  Also, I would not have expected him to offer a solution other than surgery.  He has suggested either a hamstring or cadaver graft (as I am female and in my mid 30s he discourages the patella graft).

Wondering if I can recover from the ACL tear without surgery.  Skiing is my main sport.  I also play tennis, practice yoga and run occassionally.  Admittedly am not in the best shape and have never considered myself an "athlete" though I love to ski and pre accident could ski anything, but the super difficult double blacks out West.

Any recommendations?  Have read about arthritis and other complications as a downside to NOT getting the ACL repaired, but ACL recovery is long and tedious and am wondering if there are other ways of healing.

Thank you for you input!
post #2 of 12
You can go without it, but the laxity in your knee will take its toll over time. Using a prescribed brace by your ortho may alleviate discomfort and slow or eliminate supplimental damage. I went about 15 years w/o an ACL in one knee and used a brace for sports. Eventually the discomfort even from simply walking got to be too much and I had it reconstructed (patellar tendon). Subsequently tore other ACL, got a patellar tendon graft right away.

Both knees are great now, no brace even for racing.

You can go without the surgery, although you may still need meniscus surgery as meniscus tears go hand and hand with ACL tears. Your doc will tell you.
post #3 of 12
What he said. You are young and you can recover from this. If you like to do all of the things you say and have hopes of skiing far into your future - have it done now.  To me, this is a no brainer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MastersRacer View Post

You can go without it, but the laxity in your knee will take its toll over time. Using a prescribed brace by your ortho may alleviate discomfort and slow or eliminate supplimental damage. I went about 15 years w/o an ACL in one knee and used a brace for sports. Eventually the discomfort even from simply walking got to be too much and I had it reconstructed (patellar tendon). Subsequently tore other ACL, got a patellar tendon graft right away.

Both knees are great now, no brace even for racing.

You can go without the surgery, although you may still need meniscus surgery as meniscus tears go hand and hand with ACL tears. Your doc will tell you.

 
post #4 of 12
Hi suskier,

My name is James and I can offer my insights. I have had 5 knee surgeries total, including a replaced ACL in each knee. First one (right, 1998) was patellar graf; second (left, 2006) a cadaver graft. I am in your age bracket.

In short, while I have not had perfect success w/ACL repair, I would suggest it, as a loose knee is trouble.

More specifically, might right ACL surgery went fine. Knee is basically OK -- a little loose, perhaps from my martial arts and stretching, but OK. My left knee was loose a few years ago, too. ACL had apparently broken inside its sheath, so it looked sort of OK on the MRI. Unfortunately, it still felt loose after the surgery (the surgeon has to decide how tight to make it, and quite possibly he was just adjusting it pari passu with the other (stretched?) ligaments).

This bugged me off and on. Yesterday, actually, I momentarily second-guessed myself while weaving through some stopped skiers (on edges that I'd sharpened but not dulled on the tips and tails, so they were too grabby) and took a fall. I'm home w/left knee elevated and will see what the damage is soon, but my point is that in a torsion-type wipeout, forces tend to find the loose knee, as they did in my case. Had this knee been repaired to full tightness, I think (though can't prove) things would be very different.

Happy to chat more or discuss any questions, and best of luck,

-James
post #5 of 12
Hello  Folks,

I was skiing in Winterpark - fell (and this is infuriating) on a totally easy but icy slope: tore my ACL and meniscus. This happened
about 4 weeks ago and I am at the gym now trying to rebuild muscle.
I am a female and my age is 52. Although I am not a muscle pack, I do like to play and ski.

I can sense my doctor's reluctance to do surgery. But I am not so comfortable with that - I need to rely on my reactions at work
and still want to be able to play soccer!
The doctor has said that I should look at both options of living with and without ACL reconstruction. Any thoughts, experiences, and reading suggestions to help me evaluate my situation?

 

Thank you all!
Manika

post #6 of 12
Get the meniscus repaired/fixed as best as possible. The ACL repair is probably optional. If you feel pain and/or can't deal with a brace for your sports get the ACL reconstructed.

Get a second opinion from a doctor who specializes in sports injuries if you still have questions. Sports specific docs will understand your need for performance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MastersRacer View Post

You can go without it, but the laxity in your knee will take its toll over time. Using a prescribed brace by your ortho may alleviate discomfort and slow or eliminate supplimental damage. I went about 15 years w/o an ACL in one knee and used a brace for sports. Eventually the discomfort even from simply walking got to be too much and I had it reconstructed (patellar tendon). Subsequently tore other ACL, got a patellar tendon graft right away.

Both knees are great now, no brace even for racing.

You can go without the surgery, although you may still need meniscus surgery as meniscus tears go hand and hand with ACL tears. Your doc will tell you.

 
post #7 of 12
Been there and feel all of your pain.  Had 4 knee surgeries.  right knee had a partial ACL tear and was scoped.  then scope on my left knee twice ending with ACL reconstruction (patellar tendon).   First surgery was when I was 17 and last surgery was at 21.  Did Patellar tendon because using your own body material also helps in the aging process later on.  

Get the surgery.  The knee that was reconstructed is great the one that had the partial tear is strong but not as strong. They said the partial ACL would heal over time but the knee is still weaker.  My feeling after going through tons of PT is its better to get thing fixed right away.  Plus when you tear a ligament there is other damage in the knee.  I totally agree with what others were saying about the future.  you have to ask yourself how do you want to live the rest of your life?  I avoided the ACL reconstruction for over a year and it was one of the worst decisions.  I went to PT like crazy and then ended up having the surgery and had to go through PT all over again.  So to me it would have been much smarter to get it done right away and go through the process once. Injuries happen but being in the best shape you can makes a huge difference.  I am so glad I got it done and live a very active life.  I keep on top of my health which helps.  

Also the younger you are the better your body will adapt to the healing.  Regardless of the age if you do not fix it you will always stand the risk of total destruction of the joint.

My best advice is go to the best doctors to get it done.  I live in Long Island and had my surgery done by the same doctor as the Islanders and the Jets.  Doesnt guarantee success but the more surgeries the Dr. has under his belt the more likely he knows what he is up against. He will also know recent advancements concerning the surgery.  Also Dr's who deal with athletes understand the athletes mind.  Which is really important because they know how bad athletes need sport in there life.  Made a huge difference for my recovery.  My Dr. knew what equipment to put me on for home recovery and what to do at PT when I started.  Today if the Dr knows what he is doing the recover is shorter then when I got it done 20 years ago.

So that was my experience and today I ski 6 and 7 day in an row with out issues.  Ski a lot wiser then i did when i was younger but actually ski more technical terrain then any other time in my life.  Just remember to stay really positive and make the life changes needed to better help the process of healing and recovering.

Not the best club to join but definitely tons of recovery stories of success.  Good luck!!!
post #8 of 12
Welcome to Epic and best of luck...I'm glad I had my surgery, but others seem to have done fine without it...you'll find additional info in some older threads including http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/69400/acl-recovery-without-surgery
post #9 of 12
Had a ruptured ACL and also meniscus tear 8 years ago, managed to strengthen my leg so almost back to normal with the help of a brace occasionally. Problem was I still had alot of bother form the meniscus tear  and also general aches and pains from old injuries. I tried a supplement I heard someone talking about called Body Elements and after a few months I started noticing much more supple joints and unbelievably less aches and pains, my knee had no pain at all . I then came off it because I found it hard to believe and it all reappeared! I now take it every day without fail and it keeps everything supple and pain free which is a huge relief!! check it out at www.coreelements.co.uk
post #10 of 12

Sususkier - what did you decide to do? How have your outcomes been?

 

found this thread via google while researching alternatives to surgery....Thought I'd share my story along with the others in this thread

Last April, we were out in Vail on the first day of a week long trip. My dad and I separated from my mother and my wife to go ski outer Mongolia in some soft but quite nice spring snow. Since he had the video camera, I had him go first with the intention of rocking through the bumps and getting some ego footage. I had a great run and took my time coming to a stop at the relatively flat bottom… as I was coasting slowly I lost my balance, the back of my ski dug in to some lose snow and I went over like a slinky. I heard the pop, shouted some choice words and lay there in pain for at least 10 minutes.
I actually skied down the front side of Vail, mostly on one ski (thanks years of race training for that useful trick!).


I had the reconstruction at home and this winter was back on the snow, skiing better than before the fall. It was a painful surgery and the rehab was hard - mostly b/c it was boring and time consuming, not all together painful.


On the one year anniversary, to the day, of that fall we were out in Steamboat. Same story- the old man and I hitting the back bowls. On our way back to the front, we came upon The Boat's section of double black diamonds. So I did the reasonable thing and sent my father ahead with the video camera. My thought was to git a video to send to my orthopedic doc to show him my full recovery. Right as I was taking off, Dire Straits Espresso Love came on my iPod. I'd been avoiding listening to that on my skiing mix since it was playing when I went down last year…but I was in mid turn and decided to ignore it. I skied a fairly iced out steep pitch nicely, although not as gracefully as I would I have liked. I took a pause and came to a gliding stop and thats when it happened. The same, exact fall. Right knee this time. Same pop, but not nearly as much pain and no loss of range of motion (no swelling)


I again skied off the mountain and even skied the rest of that week; followed by another two trips out west of some seriously hard skiing. In fact, I even bought two new pairs of skis this year because I was skiing so well. But this right knee just has not changed. It is no worse, but no better either, there  is a constant dull pain. I've been in the gym pretty hard (squatting 360lbs often) and it feels stable when I run. Walking is another story, it does not totally slip out like my left did pre-surgery, but it locks up a bit with some significant pain at random times.


I broke down, had the MRI and consult and the diagnosis is a torn right ACL. I can do the surgery again, but I'm wondering if I need to. Like I said, I am in the gym, I skied hard the rest of the season and am able to be as active as I want to be. I am worried about continued damage and future repercussions of that sheering force on the meniscus and cartilage. I'll probably schedule it in the next few weeks.


My hope is, since I did not swell and do not have the resulting muscle loss, that I can do an abbreviated PT schedule and get back into the gym sooner. I'd rather not lose the ground on the weight loss and fitness while I convalesce for another 6 months.
 

post #11 of 12

Nick,

 

First, remove Dire Straits Espresso Love from your iPod, and stay indoors on that injury anniversary date.

 

I'd still get the ACL surgery, but since you are very functional, strong, and not limited in your activities, you have the luxury of perhaps scheduling the surgery when it makes sense for you.  Given how functional your knee is, rehab and a return to full pre-surgery activities should be much more rapid than for most people who undergo the procedure.

 

Best of luck.

post #12 of 12

Hmmm, Nick, you are learning what my orthopod said to me in 1989 when I asked him if I could learn to ski. I'd just had my 2nd ACL reconstruction in my right knee. He told me the anatomic abnormality that caused me to be at risk for ACL tears was in my left knee, too...

As for squats, don't bend your knee more than 90 degrees doing them. Any deeper a squat and you're putting too much strain on the ACL. Plus, tone the hamstrings, too-they are important for knee stability, also...

 

I've used glucosamine for at least 10 years because with my first ACL surgery, at age 17, I was told I'd need a knee replacement before I was 50. I'm 46 now and, even though I have no medial meniscus left in my right knee at all (and haven't since 1989), I have no knee pain. I wish I could say that the medical evidence completely supported the use of glucosamine, but it doesn't and, PLEASE, it's okay to check the site here for info, this site should NOT be used to sell untested products...(see web link above)

 

Good luck, remember, your knees need to last a few more decades!

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav: