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Author Topic: Learning to walk again after complete ACL tear  (Read 474 times)

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Offline Valentin

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Learning to walk again after complete ACL tear
« on: January 09, 2018, 09:53:38 PM »
I recently tore my left ACL skiing. Silver lining is that there was no meniscal damage (according to the MRI, which I was told is 85% accurate, so there's still a 15% chance of a false negative), and other ligaments are "intact" (don't know if that precludes the possibility of their being sprained, though). However, I do have a "large joint effusion" (i.e., massive swelling) and "small nondisplaced intra-articular fractures" of the tibial plateau, the latter of which I was told would take about 6 weeks to heal on their own.

Unfortunately, the orthopedic surgeon who saw me was in a bit of a rush, and outside of explaining ACL reconstruction surgery to me, didn't give me any other details on how to walk again after the injury (I'm using crutches at the moment), other than telling me to stay off the knee for 3 weeks.

This might sound extraordinarily basic/simple, but does anyone have suggestions for learning how to walk normally again after tearing their ACL?

I'm absolutely TERRIFIED of my knee giving out, falling, and injuring yet another part of my knee. (Due to logistics, I won't be able to have surgery for a while, so it's very important that I regain mobility and independence.)

I've tried putting a little bit of weight on the leg, while balancing on crutches, but it feels very unstable - like it might buckle if I put any more weight on it.

I also don't have access to PT, so I'm basically dealing with this on my own. :-[

Any advice would be much appreciated! :)

Online Vickster

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Re: Learning to walk again after complete ACL tear
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2018, 10:14:22 PM »
Are you using an ACL brace if concerned about it giving out?

I'd personally not be doing anything for the next three weeks other than resting, elevating, icing and being careful when moving about on crutches.

Why can't you see a physio?

There's some good info about ACL and rehab in the learning portfolio above  but you really should get professional advice based on your own case

Good luck :)
« Last Edit: January 09, 2018, 10:23:55 PM by Vickster »
Came off bike onto concrete 9/9/09
LK arthroscopy 8/2/10
2nd scope on 16/12/10
LK New MRI shows lat & medial meniscus tear & other stuff
RK MRI lat meniscus tear
8/1/15 RK Steroid jab,
RK arthroscopy on 5/2/15
Lateral meniscus trim, excision of hoffa's fat pad, chondral stabilisation

Offline jackson7

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Re: Learning to walk again after complete ACL tear
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2018, 12:06:22 AM »
First of all, im one of the unfortunate that got a false negative on not one, but two MRIs from to different offices.  The false reports encouraged me to use my knee in situations i shouldn't have and helped ruin my knee even worse...i will never trust MRI again.

Anyway, yes, definitely get an acl brace. When/if you do feel you can walk without crutches, use BOTH your ski poles (w/ rubber traction on the tips) to supplement your balance and catch you in case you trip.  Dont do anything other walk on flat surfaces until you recover from the reconstruction.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2018, 12:12:04 AM by jackson7 »
12/2015: slow speed bicycle crash
1/16: many x-rays & 2 MRIs only show tendinosis
3/16: bone scan shows uptake in all compartments
8/16: cortisone jab (no effect)
3/17: diag scope (part med meniscectomy, med fem chondroplasty, full synovectomy)
4/18: Pain finally diminishing. 65% function.

Offline Audice

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Re: Learning to walk again after complete ACL tear
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2018, 12:57:53 PM »
After I did all the damage to my knee I had an MRI but didn't see an orthopod for two weeks thereafter & by then I was walking quite well. My knee did give out occasionally. The swelling was still there but the pain was minimized & I was doing more walking every day, even doing hills.

The orthopedic specialist said no surgery on anyone my age (I was 67 at the time) but he did order a custom brace which I wore quite a bit that first year post injury.

However the doctor felt I had sufficient leg strength not to need any physical therapy. He said. "Whatever you're doing, continue to do it." So a month after the injury I was back to riding my horse daily.

I was never offered a cane or crutches or told to stay off it. So I resumed my normal activities as soon as I felt I could. Now, almost 13 years later the knee is still holding up. Guess I was one of the lucky ones.

And good luck to you.
April, 2005 - ACL rupture, medial meniscus tear within posterior horn to articular surface, abnormal signal within lateral meniscus, partial tear MCL, bone contusions tibia/fibula, Baker's cyst.
No repairs.

Offline Valentin

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Re: Learning to walk again after complete ACL tear
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2018, 05:46:45 AM »
Thank you everyone for all of your advice! I will definitely get an ACL brace. At the very least, I think I will feel less fearful wearing a brace.

Considering how many people on this forum were walking within days of tearing their ACL, I wonder if the reason the doctor told me to stay off the leg was because of the tibial plateau fractures rather than because of the ACL injury itself.

Anyway, I'm nearing the end of my 3-week-ban, and I've been focusing on regaining full extension of the leg, while gradually testing it with a little weight now and then, and the leg seems slightly stronger. But I will definitely feel better with that brace. :P

@Vickster, PT sadly isn't an option because of my location.

@jackson7, that's really scary! No wonder you're MRI-shy. I definitely hope that doesn't turn out to be me. :( Thanks for the tip on using ski poles! That is super helpful.

@Audice, that's interesting that there's a "cut-off age" for ACL surgery! What about arthritis? I know my doctor is a proponent of surgery because, although an ACL tear predisposes you to arthritis either way, going without surgery generally makes it more likely you'll develop arthritis sooner.

Offline Audice

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Re: Learning to walk again after complete ACL tear
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2018, 01:02:38 PM »
Valentin, I suspect my doctor was a bit archaic in his thinking. Chances were excellent that although I was decades older than he, I was far more active physically. But the bottom line is that beyond some minimal aches & pains in that knee, it's holding up far better than I ever thought it would.
April, 2005 - ACL rupture, medial meniscus tear within posterior horn to articular surface, abnormal signal within lateral meniscus, partial tear MCL, bone contusions tibia/fibula, Baker's cyst.
No repairs.

Online Vickster

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Re: Learning to walk again after complete ACL tear
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2018, 01:16:59 PM »
I believe from what Iíve read on the forums that there is also research that having an ACLr may not mitigate the increased risk of arthritis

Given we are generally living longer and are more active into older age,  we mostly will end up with joint wear and tear regardless

@Valentin can you not communicate with a Physio virtually. Are you in some sort of super  remote location where there are none?
Came off bike onto concrete 9/9/09
LK arthroscopy 8/2/10
2nd scope on 16/12/10
LK New MRI shows lat & medial meniscus tear & other stuff
RK MRI lat meniscus tear
8/1/15 RK Steroid jab,
RK arthroscopy on 5/2/15
Lateral meniscus trim, excision of hoffa's fat pad, chondral stabilisation