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Author Topic: What does a torn ACL feel like in real life?  (Read 134732 times)

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Offline funkadelica

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What does a torn ACL feel like in real life?
« on: May 16, 2008, 10:28:46 PM »
I fell and injured my knee last week, and have been researching knee injuries every day since.  I'm familiar with all the symptoms of an ACL injury, but I see the same information over and over - a knee with any torn ligament will feel unstable and is likely to give out.  However, I know that lots of people live without an ACL, so the information is conflicting.  I hardly think that the people that have lived without an ACL were stumbling and falling all the time.

I can't stand doctors (I'd really rather keep as far away from them as possible) but I know that if something's seriously wrong it needs to be corrected.  I just don't want to waste my time, energy, and money going to a doctor who could very likely end up telling me they don't know what's wrong with my knee and just to "take a wait-and-see approach." 

I can get around mostly OK now (it's been 7 days) as long as I wear my neoprene sleeve for a little extra support and don't bend my knee very far while I have weight on it (like squatting).  I haven't had my knee buckle at all, but it does feel very loose and not at all right, and occasionally like it's about to dislocate (only while bending it), but it's not so unstable that I think I will fall.  I did have my chiropractor do an anterior drawer test, but he said he couldn't tell whether it was torn a little or completely through.  The test did not hurt, which to me seems to indicate that either there's nothing wrong with my ACL at all, or it has completely detached.   

So, my question is, what did tearing your ACL feel like to you?  What kind of instability did/do you have?  What was your recovery like?  I'm just trying to get a real-life answer as to what it's like to experience an ACL tear, and what it's like to live without an ACL in the first few days or weeks after the injury.

Thanks! 

smelly

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Re: What does a torn ACL feel like in real life?
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2008, 11:13:17 PM »
I lived without ACL's in both of my knees for about a year.

I skied (with acl specific sports braces), jogged and continued with gym workouts. Only issues were stability, it occassionally felt like it would give way.

My injury felt like what you have just described. Just get it checked out and then you will know for sure, there is no point trying to guess. Everyone is different and for some its more of a problem than others.

I had my right knee acl recon a week ago yesturday and so far so good. I dont need to use crutches anymore and it has been easier than I thought it was going to be.

Good luck with what ever you decide to do.

 

Offline rocketman

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Re: What does a torn ACL feel like in real life?
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2008, 11:59:26 PM »
A good orthopedic surgeon specializing in knees will be able to tell you about your ACL and not give you a wait and see answer.  The two I have known/met were very personable too so definitely get it checked out by an experience ortho.

Tearing my ACL(and meniscus) was painful.  Afterwards it was just very,very sore to walk on.  I don't really remember any instability because I basically limped around until I had the surgery.
ACLR 1/16/06 w/ Lateral Meniscus trimming

Offline Audice

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Re: What does a torn ACL feel like in real life?
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2008, 12:07:02 AM »
It's been 3 years since I ruptured my ACL & from originally buckling w/o warning, there are very few times in the last 2 years that it's happened. I would definitely say my knee isn't unstabile. However, I'm not involved in a sport that necessitates an ACL. I have a horse; I ride & I work around horses every day.

On the rare occasion my knee does buckle, there's a momentary feeling of bones sliding then whatever pain was there is gone. What my knee does more often is hyperextend & most times I can feel it about to happen & can stop it.

Because I've injured both menisci, that's where the aches & pains come from but there is no pain from a long gone ACL. I know my limits & can work within them.

I will wear either a custom brace or a neoprene sleeve when I know I'm going to be doing something that might cause a problem - like working a horse on a long line where a thousand pound animal definitely has the advantage over me & could pull me right off my feet.

Because I'm old in years my OS wouldn't even attempt a reconstruction so I live with what I have & manage to do amazingly well. Wishing you well...Ellie (70 yo)
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 feeny

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Re: What does a torn ACL feel like in real life?
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2008, 01:29:54 AM »
I tore my ACL, MCL and LCL... along with the medial meniscus - what did that feel like? IT HURT!
But then a few days later the swelling went down... and I was normal.

There was no instability at ALL - not only that - but 2 OS failed to deect instability and show me that my knee was injured.

I did however have an MRI that kind of showed clear fuzziness in there - so I knew something was wrong.

In the 5 weeks between my injury and my reconstruction - other than the original pain and swelling from the injury itself - I had no sense of instability or torn ligaments at all in my knee.

Sep-05 ACL rupture, Medial mensical tear, MCL rupture
Oct-05 Had it all repaired (hamstring graft, meniscal rivet)
-and then-
4.5 Months post-op Snowboarding like a demon
7 Months post-op Successful return to indoor soccer (YEH!)
-and then-
Mar-2015 Arthroscopy to fix meniscus

Offline spartanpele

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Re: What does a torn ACL feel like in real life?
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2008, 07:01:32 PM »
What did a torn acl feel like?  Well, for me it was like being electrocuted/burned from the hip to toe..., followed by severe throbbing pain, weakness...and then the reality that I just ended my career playing soccer.  Basically the worst day of my life so far..   >:(  About the only other pain I had that was close to it was when I broke my ankle.  Ah..what great memories of playing sports...   ;)

Offline GoCards

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Re: What does a torn ACL feel like in real life?
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2008, 07:36:44 PM »
What did a torn acl feel like?  Well, for me it was like being electrocuted/burned from the hip to toe..., followed by severe throbbing pain, weakness...and then the reality that I just ended my career playing soccer.  Basically the worst day of my life so far..   >:(  About the only other pain I had that was close to it was when I broke my ankle.  Ah..what great memories of playing sports...   ;)

Well, kind of like that ^^^^   ;D  but without the electrocution part.  I felt my lower leg stick and my upper leg shift to the left and then POP.  I went down and my knee moved back into to place.  It hurt pretty bad but wasnt excruciating.  I was carried off the field and I too knew my soccer days were over.  I was 37 though so.......

I couldnt walk at all for the 2 weeks leading up to my surgery.  I couldnt bend my knee and couldnt imagine putting weight on it.  I didnt want to try either knowing full well I was having surgery.  I didnt want to do anymore damage to my cartilage.    When I would lay on my side and lift my leg it would sag really badly.  Very unnerving to look at.   I knew it was trashed.  I still cant imagine someone walking off the field after tearing and ACL OR getting back to some normalcy without it but some people do.   

Best of luck to you.  I really hope your injury is minor but really only a doc can tell you that.   
3/01/2006 Torn ACL and Meniscus - Indoor Soccer
3/15/2006 ACL Cadaver Allograft
1/21/2009 Scope with Scar tissue removal around kneecap
3/23/2009 ACL revision w/ Femoral Condyle patch for a 1.5 cm defect, medial meniscus repair, and microfracture in the patella groove

Offline Jaspy

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Re: What does a torn ACL feel like in real life?
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2008, 12:56:19 PM »
I'd have to agree with the inital pain being severe but then it disapered and I though I was fine. Then I stood up and tried to walk and imediatly fell over when it gave out. After about 20 mins of iceing I tried again and the same thing happened. Went to A&E and they made me stand, again it gave out. so they straped it in bandage gave me crutches and sent me home to rest, diagnosed as a sprain. Lots of swelling but not much pain over the next few days and then it started to feel normal again. Went back to work and it started to give way regulary mainly when turning or putting all my weight on that leg or simply when I forgot to protect it, all of which which also hurt a lot! 2 years of this and they an op to fix.
Accident: June/July 05. Tore ACL. Ping!
Sent to Physio: Didn't stop instability, told to test the knee.
Skiing: March 07. Injured knee more, now locks and aches when used a lot.
ACLR: Done 19 June 07

Offline jb-knee-geek

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Re: What does a torn ACL feel like in real life?
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2008, 02:11:57 PM »
you won't know if you tore your ACL unless you have an MRI or are given a manual test by a competent OS.

I'd get an MRI they're pretty definitive for ACL and other soft tissue damage. Have it read by a competent radilogist and OS.

For some, a knee sprain can have similar symptoms as a torn ACL  and can take a few weeks or  months to recover.

Instability weeks or months after a sprain is a bad sign....
torn RK ACL March 2001, surgery Aug. 14 2006, after 4 knee sprains since Oct. '05.  Allograft, ~40% medial meniscus removed, some wear in the trochlear groove. Everything else looks good.

Post-op diary: http://www.kneeguru.co.uk/KNEEtalk/index.php?topic=29749.

Offline GoCards

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Re: What does a torn ACL feel like in real life?
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2008, 03:15:57 PM »
One further note.  My doc could not tell that my ACL was torn by pulling on my lower leg when I was awake.  I think you all are probably familiar with the test that I am referring to.  The MRI showed that my ACL was trashed.  My OS said that once I was asleep my lower leg was all over the place.   He thought my hamstring was protecting my leg when I was awake.  I guess I would tense up when he would pull on it. 
3/01/2006 Torn ACL and Meniscus - Indoor Soccer
3/15/2006 ACL Cadaver Allograft
1/21/2009 Scope with Scar tissue removal around kneecap
3/23/2009 ACL revision w/ Femoral Condyle patch for a 1.5 cm defect, medial meniscus repair, and microfracture in the patella groove

Offline Alison Hughes

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Re: What does a torn ACL feel like in real life?
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2011, 08:27:03 PM »
im 16 a week and have done my ACL TWICE!!!!
the first time i did it my knee collapsed in and it felt like my knee dislocated, i was carried off the pitch and a few minutes later thinking i was fine went back on. the minute i went to run my knee collapsed in and the pain was unbelievable! I didnt get my reconstruction until 5 months later because i didnt know what was wrong as my knee was perfect until i tried contact sports! .. i stayed out of sports for 8 months after the operation and my first night back my ACL tore again.. the pain that time wasnt bad at all but i knew i had torn it because it popped and my knee swelled, im still waiting to under go surgery for the second time and once again .. im only 16!!!
>:(

Offline MUMofpain

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Re: What does a torn ACL feel like in real life?
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2011, 09:14:17 PM »
What an interesting read, how variable each accident is.  All I can add is that when my son tore his acl last September he had to be helped off the pitch by his mates and couldn't get up off the ground himself.  When it went he heard an amazingly loud pop and was immediately in extreme pain.  By the time I got to the field from home (10 mins) it had swelled up enormously.  He couldn't put any weight on it and had to be in a wheelchair at the hospital.

He was on crutches from the date of the accident till his op in January this year and that caused other injuries - tendonitus to the elbow and shoulder.  He was extremely unstable and fell over a couple of times.

Another woman at his acl rehab group said her pain was worse than childbirth when it went sooooooo, I wish I knew why some are so much more painful and others are not and how some people can manage without one and others can't.  He is extremely sporty and fit (or was at the time!!!) and he did no other damage or anything like that to his meniscus etc.
27th September 2010 - Tore acl at football
12th January 2011 - ACL reconstruction (Hamstring)

Offline baseball13

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Re: What does a torn ACL feel like in real life?
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2011, 12:06:45 AM »
I tore my ACL playing American football when I was 12. I took on a lead blocker who vastly outsized me, my knee buckled and twisted clockwise. I went to the ground in the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced. The next day there was minimal pain but massive swelling, the torn meniscus caused my only pains and caused me to walk with a limp but I did manage to play kickball the next day at school at recess. Diagnosed with a torn right ACL and torn medial meniscus, the surgeon however was very reluctant to operate because of my age. So I had my meniscus trimmed and rehabbed. Had no problems for 6 years and was a multi-sport athlete in high school, they called it a 'functional ACL tear', so once again once I was of age approved by the surgeon to have the ACLR we did not pursue it because I had handled it so well. This summer at the age of 18 I was playing American Senior Legion baseball, had a base hit, rounded first base hard and my knee buckled under me. Continued playing the game at the catcher position, I came up out of my crouch after a pitch and my knee locked on me. Diagnosed with a severly torn medial meniscus. Opted to have it repaired and finally the ACLR, which resulted in the loss of my college baseball scholarship. I am now 3 months out of ACLR and moving along in rehab well.

Offline Audice

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Re: What does a torn ACL feel like in real life?
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2011, 11:36:20 AM »
Hard to believe it's been 3 years since I last posted on this thread but here I am still w/o an ACL & with both torn menisci. To this day I have precious little buckling of the knee. The pains come from the torn menisci which believe it or not seem to be helped by wearing one or the other of my braces. So perhaps there is some laxity in my knee that I'm not consciously aware of.

I do understand that age is beginning to be less & less of a consideration for ACLr, which is a good thing, but I honestly feel no need to undergo surgery as my lifestyle is still not being impinged on by lack of the ligament...Ellie
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 iamsuperrat

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Re: What does a torn ACL feel like in real life?
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2011, 05:11:24 PM »
For me, I have a completely torn ACL. I fell, and then tried to stand up, heard a "pop", it was loud enough my friend beside me heard it too. Tried to walk it off, I couldn't move nor hop at all. X-Ray showed nothing so ER sent me home with instructions to ice/painkillers and they gave me crutches and brace. Knee felt much better after 1 week, weak, less pain, not able to bend much but did bend to some degree, but the follow-up with the doc, he suspect MCL tear, sent me for MRI and I also requested to see a PT. PT did the lachman test, and he was 80% sure the ACL is almost/completely gone. MRI results came 12 weeks (this is Canada) after my fall, and the PT was right. The thing was, I didn't think it was that bad as the pain from the 1st day subsided greatly on the 3rd day. So I thought I had an MCL sprain but ..... hope this helps.















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