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Author Topic: keen footballer. acl tear, rehab no surgery  (Read 2620 times)

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Offline sfabie12

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keen footballer. acl tear, rehab no surgery
« on: March 04, 2012, 01:29:59 AM »

I was an active footballer and played up to 3 times a week, a few months ago i tore my acl. Im not too sure how bad it is yet as iv not had the scan results back.

I was told at my first appointment that I would either have to get re constructive surgery or possibly just rehab. I live in the UK so I will be treated by the NHS.

 It seems that in the majority of cases the knee specialist will recommend the rehab as opposed to the surgery. I assume they do this to save money as a knee injury is not going to be life threatening.

After doing some research im quite alarmed, it seems that having rehab and then going on to play football 3 times a week is a huge gamble and your acl will eventually give out.

interested to hear if anyone has gone on to playing football after just the rehab, and how successful this was for them? or even after the surgery ?

Just to be clear that its soccer im playing if any of our friends from across the pond are reading.  :)


Offline MUMofpain

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Re: keen footballer. acl tear, rehab no surgery
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2012, 05:05:32 PM »
Hi. My son tore his acl in September 2010 playing football and had his acl hamstring reconstruction surgery in January 2011.  Its 14 months later and he hasn't touched a football yet.  He is back at the gym and cycling but is being very cautious.  Not having the surgery was never an option for him as he could hardly walk during the intervening months and had to have crutches for support otherwise he fell over.

What I have found amazing is how well some people do manage without their acl being reconstructed just by strengthening exercises but it seems the surgery is usually done someway down the road, even if it is years later.

There are alot of success stories of people going back to football after their reconstructive surgery, and various other high energy sports, but from what I've learnt over the past year is it is more to do with getting over mental hurdle of accepting that the leg is strong after the surgery, it seems to be a very individual thing.

Wishing you all the best.

27th September 2010 - Tore acl at football
12th January 2011 - ACL reconstruction (Hamstring)

Offline emergRN

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Re: keen footballer. acl tear, rehab no surgery
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2012, 05:50:57 PM »
Some people do fine with an ACL tear.  I think it very much depends on the degree of laxity in your joint, and the overall condition of your surrounding muscles.  Most people who do have the surgery are able to return to full activity within a year.  I will caution that a lot of what you read on KG's are the experiences of people who have not had the normal post operative recovery, and have had complications!  I am one of those for sure.

I think in the end, it is a personal decision whether or not to have this surgery done.  It comes down to the choice of modifying your activities, or having the surgery to maintain your desired level of activity!  Compliance with the rehab protocol is key to a successful recovery.  That applies to both doing what needs to be done to regain strength, and to not push it past the point that the graft can handle!

Have you had any episodes of the knee giving out?  I think that in itself will help you make your decision regarding reconstruction!  Some folks have complete tears, and continue on with sport.  Others may only have a partial tear, but have a very lax joint!  This is all very individual.

I think you may want to do some research into the long term effects on the knee joint of an ACL deficient knee.  You will be living with your knee a long time after your football years are over.

Good luck with your scan results.  I hope you have a positive outcome, and that you have not damaged your knee too badly!

Rt.knee scope-1990-91Dx with Partial ACL tear
Rt. ACLr with hamstring graft-2010
Rt. knee scope- partial lateral menisectomy and plica excision 2010
ACL revision quad tendon graft- 2011 
Rt. Knee partial lateral menisectomy, debridement 2012
Rt. knee partial lateral menisectiomy, debridement 2014

Offline NIGAV

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Re: keen footballer. acl tear, rehab no surgery
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2012, 10:46:39 AM »
are you having many 'giving way' episodes where your knee buckles under you? How long since the injury?
 im 8 weeks post surgery this wednesday. when i saw the surgeon in april last year i was having this problem of my knee buckling without warning. I injured my knee at motocross. He strongly advised me against returning to racing even though i felt i could, as further giving way episodes would probably damage the meniscus. He agreed that at 31, i was too young and active to no have it reconstructed.  Older less active people can go the conservative route and adjust their lifestyle to suit i guess.  As it turns out, during the op, they found that i had no meniscal damage thankfully.  this was probably due to the fact i had quit the mx and concentrated on no impact exercises for 9 months like cycling and swimming and the usual squats etc to prepare for the surgery. Though to be honest i hadnt had a giving way episode for 6-7 months pre op. As the date for the op came closer i almost felt like i didnt need it such was my confidence and strength of legs that supported the knee joint. But i knew it had to be done for the long term. I suppose i had learned what to not do to protect the knee.  I waited exactly 9 months for surgery as i wanted to have one of the top surgeons here in Belfast do the reconstruction.
To reassure you somewhat, i have 2 friends that have successfully returned to football after 12-15months post surgery and 1 returned to amateur rugby after same period of time. Sure look at Man Utds Vidic he tore 3 ligaments i think including ACL and PCL and hes due back for next season possibly less than 12 months! The surgery is done to get you back to normal pre injury activity levels and if you follow the rehab protocol which is the key, you should be 100%. One thing i guarantee will surprise and maybe shock you is the rate your quad muscles waste away in the 1st 2 weeks post op.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2012, 10:56:24 AM by NIGAV »
full ACL tear 19/06/2010 motocross incident
MRI scan 20/03/2011
onto waiting list 19/04/2011
surgery 11/01/2012

Offline 2020

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Re: keen footballer. acl tear, rehab no surgery
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2012, 03:15:14 PM »
John Elway (american football) is an example of a professional athlete who played well without an acl for many years.  It seems to be very dependent upon your individual anatomy.  I attempted tennis without acl surgery and re-injured the knee (medial & lateral meniscus tears) so wound up having an even more complex surgery.  You yourself probably have a good feel for how unstable your knee is.  I would base my decision on that (and wish I had). 

Offline sfabie12

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Re: keen footballer. acl tear, rehab no surgery
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2012, 12:51:30 AM »
Firstly thanks for taking the time to respond,  very much appreciated. Its good to know that there's light ahead of the tunnel in most cases.

With regards to my stability the knee feels fine. However whilst im sure there's no danger of my knee giving way during everyday life, i cant help but feel that without the surgery and through rehab only, the knee wouldn't withstand full contact football up to 3 times a week. In fact so far I havent seen or heard of a single case where someone in my position goes back to playing and not relapsing with just rehab. The exception being professional atheletes who whose muscles are big enough to give their knee stability without an acl. 

Whilst no one wants to go though an unnecessary surgery the last thing I want is to go through months of rehab only to re injure the knee, make it worse and have to go through surgery then another set of rehab. 

I guess I will just have to wait till Thursday to find out the extent of the damage and what course of action I have to take.

Offline DennisKnee

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Re: keen footballer. acl tear, rehab no surgery
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2012, 07:50:46 AM »
The current condition of my knee aside, I functioned for what doctors assume is somewhere between 10 & 15 years on a knee with a full-thickness ACL tear.

In Sep 2010, I was playing in a national netball comp when I landed and felt a bit of a pinch. I tried to shake it off but was forced to come off the court a couple of minutes later. Came off, took a couple of Nurofen, re-strapped my knee and attempted to play again later in the day. That was Monday. Woke up Tuesday morning and my knee was quite swollen. Saw my doctor and physiotherapist that day and was sent for an emergency MRI (work commitments). All thoughts and indications pointed towards a meniscus tear and when the results came back that yes, I did have a meniscus tear but also had a long standing full-thickness ACL tear, it was hard for everyone to believe.

I tried to think back to a time when I might have injured my knee and could only remember doing some bar work when I was a ballet dancer and my leg gave way and I fell to the floor. Details were sketchy as it was 15 years prior but that was all that came to mind. At that time, I was put in a brace for a couple of weeks, given anti-inflammatory medication - no rehab, no MRI, no physiotherapy and off I went nonethewiser!

Since that injury in 1996, I continued to dance, play representative sport at an extremely competitive level, joined the military and maintained a high standard of fitness. My 'team' of medical professionals that are treating me now attribute these achievements to excellent quadriceps bulk that made for a stable knee.

If not for my netball injury in 2010, who knows how long I would have continued to play sport, not knowing that my ACL was torn.

Now, I have a couple of more serious knee issues and some argue that there's a relationship between the ACL and what's happened since. Some disagree but my personal opinion is that it makes sense that additional stress and strain will be placed on other ligaments etc within the knee if they're having to pick up the slack from injured pieces.

My achievements are testament to the fact that you can certainly function without an ACL but I wouldn't recommend it!

Good luck  :)

Sep 10 - confirmed ACL & medial meniscus tear
Dec 11 - chronic patellar dislocation - MPFL tear
23 Feb 12 - scope, MUA & 50% medial meniscectomy
17 Apr 12 - ACLr and MPFLr

Offline Shawn.W

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Re: keen footballer. acl tear, rehab no surgery
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2012, 11:43:22 AM »

I have to apologize ahead of time for my post if it seems discouraging, but it's just my honest experience with football and ACL tears.

I originally tore my left ACL 5 years ago playing football. I was told it was partially torn, but without an MRI I don't think there is a conclusive test.  I kept playing football and had many incidents where my knee slipped and I would have to take a few weeks to a month off playing for my knee to heal. Eventually I got a hinged knee brace that protects your ACL and that helped catch my knee when it began to slip so I didn't have any major blowouts after that.  I would get a brace if you are going to play without a reconstruction because with each blowout you risk doing damage to your cartilage/ligaments and that can cause alot more problems now and later.

I am not 100%nsure if my first ACL tear contributed to this happening, but a year ago I tore my right ACL playing football so I had two torn ACL's at the same time (one of which I have had reconstructed now ) . To be honest with you I would be really careful how you proceed because your at the point where I wish I would have said enough is enough football is fun , but I have to think about how future injuries are going to affect my life. I just wanted to play, it was fun and I couldn't see myself not playing.  I had an awful problem with a buckethandle miniscus tear from my second ACL tear that would get caught in the joint when I knelt down and I wouldn't be able to straighten my knee properly for weeks. Kneeling is a part of my job so it happened several times and I missed many days of work.

 I would at least consider a sport where you know someones not going to kick the ball/your foot and blow out your knee (that's how my right ACL was torn), but if you must play football consider the knee brace, rehab to strengthen the muscles around the joint and loose any excess weight to keep the strain on the knee to a minimum.

Good Luck  :)