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Author Topic: Torn ACL - Hamstring Graft - 34 Y/0 Male --- length of time to recover?  (Read 528 times)

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Offline muutdaddy

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Hello,

I am in good shape and active - workout 4-5 days a week.

Playing flag football - stepped on a girls foot -- heard a pop in knee.   Good ROM and not a ton of swelling after injury -- did xray 2 days later --- little signs of damage -- -they recommended MRI to be sure.. after viewing MRI - surgeon said fully torn ACL ---

Getting surgery tomorrow and wondering when Ill be
1 - walking without crutches
2 - cycling
3 - golfing
4 - playing sand volleyball


Thank you in advance -- First time having knee surgery.

-David
« Last Edit: April 25, 2018, 07:36:07 pm by muutdaddy, Reason: added information »

Offline jackson7

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most people react to knee surgery differently.  People can state their experience, but no one really knows how your knee will react (not even your dr...though he/she might act like they do).  There are many possible pitfalls.

When I was in rehab, there was an 18 yo kid with acl surgery and he was walking (limping) without crutches after a couple months.  He said there was no pain, but still couldn't get his knee to straighten completely (don't know how far he ever got).  I'm sure youth had a lot to do with the speed of his recovery...and, of course, genetics.
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 juliaelizabeth

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Hi there David,

I will tell you a little about my ACL reconstruction (some similar aspects and some differing) but I am of the opinion that any personal stories and advice can help in some way, whether it be mentally or physically.

I tore my ACL when I was 14, like you, I was playing football (soccer). In my instance, my sister slide tackled me and hooked onto my ankle. While my ankle was caught with her food, my leg kept travelling and I did a full ACL tear and partial tear of the medial collateral ligament.

I had a surgery performed at 14, but used an allograft from my (generous) dad's hamstring, so didn't have to undergo that aspect of the surgery. I had the allograft attached with two titanium screws. It was day surgery and I returned home the same day.

My surgeon and physio strongly encouraged being vigilant and aggressive (within reason) with rehab. The day after my surgery, I was doing my exercises around 4 times a day, really working to get the ROM and strength back. I saw a physio once every week or two. I found that doing the exercises religiously was the single most important part of my quick recovery, and when my physio gave me the ok, pushing myself even more with more difficult exercises. The main priority is bending and straightening the leg- do not leave this too long, or it will make matters worse and more difficult. Ideally, you'll start non aggressive exercises the day after the surgery (check with your OS and physio that this is right for you).

My surgeon encouraged me to walk without crutches as soon as possible, and for me this was less than a week (but really varies depending on the person and how you feel comfortable)- it's a good idea to take the crutches out with you for that safety blanket feeling. If you are a fit and healthy 34 year old otherwise and don't experience complications in the surgery, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by how soon you will be able to walk.

Both cycling and swimming are fantastic ways to aid recovery of the ACL surgery, and you will probably be able to get back into swimming after 3-4 weeks (no breastroke) starting out with kicking and freestyle, but being gentle - you also need to ensure your wounds are healed. Would think about the same or a little longer for cycling (probably indoor first), and then progressing back onto the bike- use extra caution of you use cleeks. You need to check this with your OS but more likely your physio- emphasise how important your health and fitness is and that you want to do whatever you can to get back at it as quickly as possible.

Golfing and volleyball both involve twisting movements and beach volley is an absolute hit on the ACL with twisting, unstable surface, jumping and weight bearing with changes in directions. My personal advice would be to not think about doing these sports (especially volley) for minimum six months. If it was me, I would not go near sports such as volleyball, football, basketball for a year. You really want to focus on your knee rehab and then exercises that will help get your knee stronger and in the best condition possible- you do NOT want to put in all this effort on rehab, only to re-tear 5 or 6 months in- it's just not worth it.

The realisation that you need to stay away from sports you love for quite an extended period can be hard news to chew- but unfortunately if you care about your knee and your long-term usage of it, you need to stay away to give yourself the best chance at doing these sports long-term in the future. You will be able to run in a straight line and do plenty of other sports/ gym exercises that aren't so tough on your knees.

My timeframe went something like this: walking after a couple of days but still using crutches to feel comfortable for a couple of weeks, focus on strength and ROM for the first 4 weeks- also did stationary cycling and swimming, running in a straight line at 6 weeks, working out in the gym and getting back to strength training two months, doing zig zag and jumping exercises with physio around the same time. At 3 months feeling good and strong, but knee still feels a little 'foreign'. Felt perfect at 6 months but didn't go back to soccer or basketball for a year to protect the graft, although did all other kinds of sport. Knee felt fully my own after one year, and stronger than the other.

Hope this (essay) helps haha.
My ACL lasted 12 years perfectly and I did all the sports I love relentlessly. Am now 1 week out after a meniscus repair and will have ACL done in three months- so I know what you're going through... and as you can tell by my lengthy reply, have too much time on my hands ahaha.

Best of luck and feel free to ask any questions you may have.
Julia.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 06:36:21 am by juliaelizabeth »

Offline muutdaddy

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Thank you for the lengthy reply --- doing surgery this morning.

How did you re-tear your ACL?


Offline juliaelizabeth

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No worries. How did the surgery go and did you get similar advice from your surgeon and physio?

Offline muutdaddy

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No worries. How did the surgery go and did you get similar advice from your surgeon and physio?

Surgery went well -- 3 days later (Today) - I am getting around fairly well --- really is most sore at night.

Im meeting with doc tuesday morning to start discusing rehab -- Im fairly optimistic at this point as knee feels pretty good.


Offline juliaelizabeth

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No worries. How did the surgery go and did you get similar advice from your surgeon and physio?

Surgery went well -- 3 days later (Today) - I am getting around fairly well --- really is most sore at night.

Im meeting with doc tuesday morning to start discusing rehab -- Im fairly optimistic at this point as knee feels pretty good.


Hey, how are you going three weeks out?

Offline alessio_db

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Hi David,

I think with everything I've read, everyone's experience is different, though it does really help going into the surgery being as fit and healthy as you can be as your muscles will degenerate in your leg and its these muscles that you really need to support a new and weak ACL graft.

I had my ACL reconstructed about 10 years ago (22yrs old) - I tore it playing indoor soccer after landing from a rotating jump on one leg. The leg buckled and the ACL went PING - not great. I had surgery a year later (yes quite a while, but was as a public patient so it took a while to get through the system), and what was planned to be a hamstring graft ended up being a patella tendon graft. Supposedly the hamstring graft failed while they were harvesting it so they went for the patella - basically meant I had more pain than what I should've had! I was pretty sore for 2-3 weeks, but that might have been too much on my feet the first week which cause all the swelling to run into my lower legs. I managed to ditch the crutches in the 3rd week, and then from there recovery was quite fast. I managed some jogging at 6 weeks and and 8 weeks I did an 8km run! This was under guidance from my PT so said only straight line running, and stoping to walk corners/turns and that. I  also combined this with static cycling to get ROM up, and tried a lot to get my full leg extension back to normal.

When I went in for a 3 month review with the surgeon, they were quite surprised that I was running at 3 months as they said they only really start that at about the 4 month mark, so they were happy to give me the green light to go back to surfing as well as they believed that was fairly low impact. I had my first surf at the 4 month mark, and it seemed all good as well. I even had a day of snowboarding at the 7 month mark with no issues. 10 years on and I don't notice it - sometimes I get a little bit of pain after running, but really not that much. I don't think its quite 100% the same, but I reckon its at least 90-95%. I've done a 4 month ski season with lots of falls on it with no issue, and lots of running (inc marathon) and riding, swimming, etc, so yes I think you can easily return back to what you were doing before given enough time.

I think the thing to stress here though is that rehab exercises and regaining strength in your leg muscles is critical to getting back to your normal activities - I'm just a bit lucky that my natural leg shape/muscles are big, so I believe they bounced back from atrophy easily. If you have quite skinny legs to start off with, it might be more of an issue. I think with the hamstring graft you get less knee pain, but you just need to also take care of your hamstring for the next few months as well as they've taken a good chunk out of it so you don't want to injure that too. I've heard 8-12 weeks post op is where the graft is at the weakest, so just be careful during this period.

Make sure you get yourself a good PT who is experienced with ACL recoveries, as they will advise you when you can return to certain sports. Definitely running (straight line) swimming (inc pool walking) and stationary cycling should help your recovery. Be positive and diligent, and you should have a good recovery :)

Offline Snowy

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I tore my ACL as a fit and active 33 yr old female. As noted below everyone's experience is different, but here's a little summary of my recovery:

Off crutches - 6 days
Swimming - 2 weeks, in a pool with beach entry and with a float to keep my legs still. Gradually reintroduced kicking over several weeks
Cycling (outdoors) - 5 weeks, with advice to proceed extremely cautiously, stay in easy gears, and no hills for a bit.
Snowshoeing - 4 months
Skiing - 7 months, on piste only for the remainder of that season

I was exceptionally diligent about doing all of my rehab exercises, and I had an excellent physiotherapist. Both of these things were essential and there's no better advice I can offer you than to make sure you're in the same position. For me the big dream was getting back to skiing, and I knew that would only happen once the surgeon considered me clear for "release to full activity." It was hugely frustrating being away from it for so long, but also a huge motivator to stick to the program and give myself the best chance of a full recovery.

Remember that in early rehab the graft is still very vulnerable, so that's the most essential time to follow instructions to the letter and not subject the knee to undue stress. Once you get to about 16 weeks out you'll be able to reintroduce activities that place lateral stress on the knee, and after that things feel like they progress a lot more quickly. Early rehab is tedious as all get out because activities are so restricted, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Hope all goes well with your recovery!
Mar 11: R Biceps femoris tear (skiing)
Jul 10: ACLr (hamstring autograft)
Mar 10: L ACL rupture (skiing)
Feb 06: L partial ACL tear (kickboxing)
Dec 03: R bone edema (motorbike)
Jan 01: R patellar chip (motorbike)
May 93: R ACL sprain (hockey)
Ongoing: bilateral PFS and OA

Offline BornToRun

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Hi David, wondering how youíre getting on with your recovery? I had my surgery a couple of weeks before you, on 13 April. The biggest barrier for me so far has been mental- either worrying that Iím not making progress, or worrying about re-tearing the graft from the smallest thing.
Hope youíre having a smooth recovery!
6 Mar 2018 - skiing fall, ACL rupture, MCL and LCL sprain, lateral meniscus tear and bone bruising
13 Apr 2018 - ACL reconstruction with hamstring autograft, small meniscus repair