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Author Topic: New member -ACL reconstruction  (Read 1394 times)

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Offline michellec

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New member -ACL reconstruction
« on: November 07, 2008, 10:24:22 PM »
Hello,
Please let me know if this is not the right place to talk about my operation...  I had an ACL reconstruction using a patella tendon graft just over three weeks ago and by all accounts all seems to be going well, although not sure what to expect as recovery seems very slow in terms of what I can do.  Swelling has gone down really well and scars are great (I mean they are not going to be too noticeable).

I have not yet had much pain so am sort of dreading when it is going to kick in, e.g. when I start exercising more?  I can feel more pulling now where the patella tendon has been taken from.  Until a week or so ago, this area all felt a bit numb and it still feels strange on my left hand side of the knee cap.  There is no bruising or anything in this area so am not sure if this is where something has been done inside?

I have two little children so am finding things very difficult but am now just on one crutch around the house which helps.  It is my left knee so cant contemplate driving at the moment - how long till I can think about driving?

I am having physio about twice a week which at the moment is just showing me small exercises which do not move the knee joint but try to exercise my hamstrings and quads together with extensions and lifting with straight leg.  I have some type of treatment with a gel and electrodes I think to break down the scars.  Apparently, I will be starting a structured exercise programme from next week.

I cant stop thinking about the horrendous experience of having the drain removed from my knee when in hospital - this was the worse thing I have ever experienced, is this normal?  It has frightened me so much about ever having another operation and it still makes me feel sick to think about it.

Just would like to chat to others about their experiences with this operation as I feel very alone and a bit down as not sure what to expect (physio says I am doing fine but I have nothing to compare to).  I am going ski-ing in April but only plan to ski very gently with little boy and not every day - is this feasible in fact?

Many thanks for listening!

Michelle




Offline clarky_vl

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Re: New member -ACL reconstruction
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2008, 10:45:04 PM »
Hi Michelle

i think it sounds like you are doing great if you are down to one crutch, your swelling has gone down, and you dont feel too much pain. its just important to do all the exercises but i am sure you know that! how is your ROM?

sorry i cant help you with the driving thing as i dont drive, but i have undergone an ACL reconstruction (and recently a revision) and there are lots of others here who i am sure can help you with that and who can also share their experiences with you, and you should ask your physio or surgeon what they think about when you can drive too. I had hamstring grafts both times with mine.

sorry about the drain ordeal! i havent had one of those either times, but that doesnt sound too nice! :o

also ask you physio or surgeon about the skiing, but by then you will be 6 months post op which sounds like a great goal if everything goes well, and also see how you feel nearer to the time!

have you read through some of the old posts in the cruciates section? they are really useful for seeing everyones experiences, and also some post op diaries, but as everyone will tell you, dont worry about comparing yourself to others too much, everyone is different. you could also try posting on the cruciates section if you dont get many replies on here, i hope someone else can help you with the driving question!!

Vicky  :)

11/10/07 ACLr-hamstring, lat meniscectomy, microfracture
29/7/08 ACL revision-hamstring/LARS
7/7/09 ACL revision-quad/LARS
20/2/10 Screws out, bone grafts, arthroscopy.
6/7/10 ACL revision-BPTB allograft
14/3/11 Screws out, bone grafts, arthroscopy.
Then: ACL revision + extra-articular repair

Offline lenorem9

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Re: New member -ACL reconstruction
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2008, 11:10:38 PM »
Welcome to the KG's Michelle.  Like Vicky says the best place for ACLR info is in the cruciates section.  Also you might want to start a postop diary for yourself.  That way we can follow you from start to finish.  A lot of people search the diaries to find similar surgeries to theirs.  I think you'll be really encouraged from what you read there. 

It sounds to me like you are doing wonderfully and progressing even quicker than most.  Doing physio twice a week is excellent.  You should have no problem skiing very gently by April. 

As far as driving, it's really up to you.  I drove with one foot and my op leg in a huge immobilizer brace across the passenger side but I wouldn't recommend that to everyone.  I had practiced plenty before hand and felt very safe doing it.   The Dr's usually tell you that you should drive when you feel safe enough to react if necessary.  That means jamming your foot on the brake if necessary.   

Feeling "alone and a bit down" is par for the course.  Everyone here has gone through it and we're glad to help when you feel that way.  You'll find so many wonderful people on here and such great information.  When your friends and family just don't seem to understand you'll find the support you need right here. 

Can't wait to read more about your continued progress and your skiing in April.  Keep up the good work Michelle!
07/07Injured @ Taekwondo
11/07ACL allograft, Posterolateral corner recon
01/09 Scope for scar tissue, notchplasty
02/09 Diagnosed w/arthrofibrosis/IPCS
04/09 Scope for scar tissue, lateral/medial release
05/09 MUA
11/09 Scope for scar tissue, chondroplasty
Learning to "live with it"

Offline michellec

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Thanks for making me feel better
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2008, 08:42:50 AM »
Hello again,

Thanks so much to you both for your reply, maybe daft but it's really cheered me up to be able to get in touch with others going through the same thing and its really encouraged me that it should be no problem to ski with my little boy in April - he's only 4 so it will be really gently.  My physio is not a skier and he is a bit negative about the skiing but I think he is assuming I expect to ski normally which I dont.

Will have a look at the cruciates section and diaries.  Physio has mentioned me getting a brace, particularly for ski-ing and suggested I get one from the US a Donjong or something like that - any recommendations?

Am not sure what ROM means - is this range of movement?  I can bend more than 90 degree but have not really practised this much and I can straighten out my leg and lift it up (which I couldnt do at all at first).  To be honest, although the exercises are easy, during a normal day I forget to do them as I have two small children and I just tend to do some when I think about it - usually first thing in morning and last at night but physio seems to think I am doing fine (but is he just saying this to be positive?).

I have a manual car so although I think I could probably press the crutch, not sure about slamming it down for an emergency stop.

Anyway thanks again for getting in touch, any information about drains would still be much appreciated as I just dont feel I'm going to ever forget it!

Kind Regards and good recovery to all, Michelle




Offline Kaputt_Knee

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Re: New member -ACL reconstruction
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2008, 09:13:08 AM »
Hi Michelle

welcome to the ACL-Rehabbers Club first of all! I wouldn't worry too much about doing your "exercises" as you put it - with two young children you are probably doing loads more than most! I too have had both knees repaired over time using Patella Tendon grafts.

Work on your extension - without full extension you will always have a limp - degree dependant on how much you are off full. With flex (aka bend  ;) ) your children will take care of that as you run around after them picking them and their things up.

In the cruciates section you will find lots of advice at the top of the board with loads of exercises, it also helps to read the information in the Information Hub about ACL repairs so that you understand more about what you have actually had done to you. You will get used to the terms that your surgeon or his staff will use as well as your PT.

I am also a skier - I live in the Alps and have been an instructor for longer than I care to remember. So I understand your wish to get back on the skis. Does your 4-year old already ski? If not than you will be better off helping him without the skis. What you think of as a gentle pootle around with a 4-year old will actually put a lot of strain on your graft and you may have problems. If you are a confident experienced skier with good technique it is actually easier to return to normal skiing than to go back to the Baby slopes. In April you will be between 6 and 7 months post op, the earliest I returned to skiing after an ACL was 9 months and then I did not teach at first. Contrary to popular belief, working with beginners and little children is much harder work on the knees because you spend so much time with the brakes on on the snow-plough position. You will be able to return and you could probably return without a brace once you have the strength back in the muscles around your knees. I wear a brace when I'm skiing but just to prevent another ligament injury if someone skis into me (an occupational hazard and the reason I ended up in the ACL Club to begin with  ::) ::)) I reckon the ligaments will be protected and the bones will break before the soft tissue - bone breaks being easier to heal than soft tissue. I use a German made knee brace made of aluminium and with foam padding. I do not get on with the Don-Joy and similar because they are much bulkier and use something on the neoprene linings that causes me skin problems. If you do go for a brace, make sure that you have one that is specific for ACL repairs and that you are properly advised and fitted by a qualified orthopaedic technician. There is a lot of expensive rubbish out there marketed as "off the peg" but they can end up doing more harm than good. I am about to fork out for a very expensive specialist one because I want the structures I had reconstructed well protected this winter.

Take a little time to read around the Cruciate information and the topics stuck at the top of the board and you will have a better overview of what you have had done and what you need to do in order to fulfil your dream of returning to the slopes. For what it is worth a prominent OS in the UK told me after my 3rd repair to my ACL using the Patella tendon (the other 2 had been artificial fibres and had just snapped) that I would never ski again and that he would see me in a "couple of years" for a total knee replacement! I was back on the slopes in 9 months and teaching again by the end of the season.

Sue

1989 big trauma R. knee - sorted
1990-2004 3ACL recons and 20+ arthroscopies -RK
3/06 LK ACL torn!
4/06 ACL recon, kneecap broken
09 &10/06- 2x meniscus trims
3/07 - Notch Plastic & Lateral Release
14/8/08 complete revision ACL plus LCL/PLC recon
6/2/09 returned to skiing! Whoopee

Offline michellec

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Re: New member -ACL reconstruction
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2008, 10:02:41 AM »
Hi Sue - thanks for taking time to explain what sounds a lot more complicated  about going back ski-ing than I thought. 

It sounds like you've been through the mill with your knees - did you ever have a drain removed?

I also lived in the Alps for a couple of years, in Morzine before I had the children.  Where abouts do you live.  We go back now every April for a couple of weeks.  I see what you mean about snowplough with my 4 year old, he has already started ski-ing and had lessons last year but will still need me to hold his hand although I expect he'll progress this year as stronger.  Would taking him on a drag lift cause any undue strain do you think?  So I think I will have to play it safe and put him in lessons again.  I snowboard so wondered if that might be easier on my knee..

Would you have any ideas for an appropriate brace for me which would obviously only be for those couple of weeks a year...

Many thanks again for taking trouble to reply

Michelle

Offline Kaputt_Knee

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Re: New member -ACL reconstruction
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2008, 10:43:21 AM »
Hi Michelle

I live in Germany on the border with Tirol and Salzburgerland so I have the world at my feet so to speak - I can be in most Austrian resorts in less than 2 hours - St Anton being one of my playgrounds  ;D ;)

I know Morzine quite well but from way back when I was training with the ESF in Chamonix. Chamonix is still one of my favourite places to ski for me! I love the whole Haute Savoie region having skied it for years.

I would definitely put your 4-year old in class - if he already has one season under his belt then he will be the "Pro" this year. I often work with the little ones in the Ski Kindergarten, and have noticed we only get tears and probs when Mum/Dad are still around. As soon as they go out of sight the children seem to calm down and get on with enjoying themselves in the snow!

Taking him on a drag lift is extremely dangerous for your knee if you are talking about going up with him and is in many communities illegal despite it happening quite a lot. There have been some nasty accidents as a result of this practice over the years. Let the ski school progress him according to his age and ability, they know what they are doing in terms of the child, the resort and the conditions.

The dreaded drains - yes I've had them and they are gross but very very necessary. Here they like them to stay in a minimum of 3 days and only take them out when there is nothing more to come out. I think the tensing of your body in anticipation of pain on their removal is the main factor behind our problems. I usually have 3 bottles hanging from my knee here in Germany after knee ops! One time as I was shuffling on crutches into the loo with all my bottles and also a drip bag, I caught one on the tubes on something as I was sitting down. As I stood up, the tube flew out of the flask and sprayed gunk all over my bathroom. That was when I found out that the drains work by using a vacuum. Talk about being grossed out, it was disgusting!  :o :o
I cleaned up as much as I could reach, stuffed the tube back into the bottle and hoped none of the nurses would notice. I then bribed the cleaning lady to wipe down all the surfaces I couldn't reach. I found out later that they knew I had done it, but said nothing as they noticed straight away that I was being super good while I thought I had conned them!

I'm a skier but have heard that boarding is better as the chances of catching an edge with one ski no longer exists. If all goes well this season I am going to learn hopefully sometime in March and then use boarding to return to off-piste and deep snow skiing once I have mastered it.

With regards to a brace, think more about getting your knee muscles fit again and you will not need one. I'm pretty sure mine is just a psychological crutch. With a brace it is pretty well swings and roundabouts, yes they support your knee, but they also inhibit the muscle rehab. If you start using a stationary bike and train as if you are entering the Tour de France then you will be much better off in the long run. A good functional brace is going to cost you. If you are as I believe in the UK, take a look at the Snow and Rock on-line catalogue or Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports' as well. Then check out an orthopaedic technicians shop site. I would say for a good brace you would be looking at a couple of hundred quid minimum, and that for just a couple of weeks a year? Fitness is the be all and end of knee protection in skiing and snowboarding.

Take it easy with your knee - you don't want to mess up your repair. Better to miss one season to make sure that you don't miss any in the future!


Sue

1989 big trauma R. knee - sorted
1990-2004 3ACL recons and 20+ arthroscopies -RK
3/06 LK ACL torn!
4/06 ACL recon, kneecap broken
09 &10/06- 2x meniscus trims
3/07 - Notch Plastic & Lateral Release
14/8/08 complete revision ACL plus LCL/PLC recon
6/2/09 returned to skiing! Whoopee

Offline michellec

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Re: New member -ACL reconstruction
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2008, 11:56:50 AM »
Hi again,

Thanks for drain story Sue, it made me laugh!  I didnt have to walk around much with it on so no accidents fortunately.  I would pay to be put out to have one removed again though - do you think it is just bad for knees.

Should I still be icing my knee at this stage - it feels a bit warm as I look down on it (left knee) to the left of the long patella scar - there's nothing on the surface here but it feels very odd, sort of numb and hard so dont really understand what has gone on in here as there are two other diagonal hole scars on the other corners of the knee.

I am going to get going on my stationary bike today!  It is the physio who is suggesting the brace - the make he suggested Donjon? is about 80 from the States.

I want to try really hard to do a bit of ski-ing in April (I wont be doing anything other than slow wide turns on blue runs).  There wont be any kindergarten when we go as its the end of the season so last year we had to just pay for one on one which was worthwhile anyway but expensive this year if we cant ski together.  The drag lift we went on together is just the nursery slope drag (he puts one ski between mine) but hopefully he should be able to manage himself this year.

Yes I am in UK, but always yearning to be in France once snow arrives!  The thing about snowboarding is that you rest quite often on your knees so I wondered if that would be possible really.  My husband had the same op 12 years ago and for years he was not able to kneel on the operated knee (he skis fine now which is a good sign).


Thanks again for chat

Michelle

Offline zak3737

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Re: New member -ACL reconstruction
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2008, 06:09:55 PM »
Hi Michelle,

I cant help about your post op recovery I'm afraid, but thought I'd post this link for you.

I have skied for over 20yrs with a Knee Brace after ACL injury when I was 18.   I had a Donjoy neoprene one for a few years, but hated it. 
The Neoprene made my knee sweat horribly and when sat on chair lifts, it cut into the back of my knee and was just generally horrible.

I decided to invest in something more specialist, and bought one of these :

http://www.technologyinmotion.co.uk/products.cfm/pid/1118/Knee/Edge_Knee_Brace


Absolutely wonderful in comparison, very comfortable. Expensive mind you, but worth it for me.

As others have said, you may be able to build up your knee to a level where you wont need it, but if it were me, after ACL reconstruction, I'd want some safeguards and would definitely wear one.

Hope it helps.


Offline michellec

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Re: New member -ACL reconstruction
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2008, 08:04:03 PM »
Hi Zak,

Thanks very much for info on braces, really useful and encouraging that you have had no problems for 20 years!  It looks like something out of the bionic man, but I guess it wont make me ski any better...

Will have a look, thanks again

Michelle