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Author Topic: Tore ACL graft -- What now?  (Read 691 times)

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Offline guera

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Tore ACL graft -- What now?
« on: June 29, 2012, 04:46:51 AM »
Hi everyone!

In 2009 while playing volleyball (championship game, match point, no less!), I landed on my hyperextended leg and heard that dreaded pop before falling to the ground. Nothing hurt, but I knew something was up and stayed down. The trainer checked me out, said everything was OK, I got up, took a step, and BAM. Because everything was not OK, my knee was under stress (probably had blown the ACL at that point) and just gave out that I dislocated my kneecap, doing some additional damage along the way. An ambulance ride, a surprisingly painful kneecap reduction, and an MRI later and the diagnosis was a complete ACL tear, partial tears of both PCL and LCL (can't remember the grades) and meniscus damage. I checked every box! My surgeon said my PCL tear was borderline for surgery (I have extra "bendy" limbs), and decided to put me in PT for a couple months to see if it would heal up a bit a strengthen to the point PCL recon wasn't necessary. It ended up working, and I got away with just ACL recon and meniscus repair. (same-leg hamstring autograft, age 20)

Rehab was (purposefully, as a precaution to protect the PCL) longer than most, slow and steady, but everything went just fine. I was loathe to return to volleyball, so I just stuck with cycling, running, and occasionally basketball (casual, not competitive). Eventually I did play a few games of sand volley, but made it a point not to try for any heroics. After two years I braved picking up my skateboard again, but have stuck to simple tricks and no far drops or anything that could be considered remotely risky. For three years, I rarely had any problems with my knee. Sometimes it would be a tad sore if I had an overly long or more intense workout than usual. Besides that, stability always felt good.

Last week, ironically a week or so after the 3rd anniversary of my surgery (now age 23), I had gone on my usual one mile run and was shooting around with a friend. I was walking up the court dribbling the ball, and suddenly had the unpleasant sensation that my bones were moving in ways they shouldn't. I felt a weird grinding/shifting sensation, stopped, looked at my knee, and sat down. Nothing hurt, everything was in its rightful place as far as I could tell, but I called it day anyway. (I walked home no problem.) The next day, everything felt fine--no soreness, no instability, range of motion seemed fine, VERY minimal swelling. Walking was still not a problem, and I climbed up and down stairs at work without a second thought. Still, I tend to err on the side of caution with my knee, and scheduled an appointment. By the time Monday rolled around, I was *this close* to canceling my Tuesday appointment. Everything felt that OK. Lo and behold, after doing the usual tests and movements, my doctor thinks I tore my graft! I couldn't believe it. I felt perfect, and wasn't even doing anything! He suspects (hopes?) that one or two of the four pieces of hamstring are torn, and maybe some meniscus damage. I'm having an MRI in a few days to find out.

It's now a few days after that appointment, and what little swelling there was has all but disappeared. I find my knee tracking a bit now upon extension and while walking, sometimes with a crack . It is also a tad sore below my knee(cap). I assume this is a result of the swelling subsiding, allowing for more movement. To be clear--I am still walking with no problems besides the occasional sound effect. My knee does not necessarily feel unstable at all (it feels solid, but i know that the cracking means that it's not). Stairs are still doable, though going down often evokes a lovely, non-painful crunching sensation. From experience, I know all of this probably isn't the best indication.

The timing of all of this is beyond poor, as I am/was set to move abroad in August for grad school. I've gotten over the initial shock, and know that there's nothing I can do at this point but wait for the final diagnosis. But, after spending a looooot of time online researching second ACL recons, I feel like I've just read a grab-bag of information/opinions.

So, if anyone could give me their experience with a second ACL recon on the same knee, I would appreciate it. (Which graft you had the 1st and 2nd time, how the 2nd rehab period was in comparison to the 1st, if you were able to return to the same activity level as before, if the 2nd has held, etc.) Any tips or input on how to move forward, sustain the 2nd graft, and avoid a 3rd would be wonderful.

I'm not at all wanting to play ball sports at a competitive level, and would be completely okay with avoiding high-impact sports even at the casual level entirely (read: I don't want a 3rd surgery!). I *would* like to be able to return to running a mile or two a day, cycling at a semi-competitive level, hiking from time to time, and just generally keeping active and fit.

Wow. I've really rambled here. My apologies, and well wishes to all you knee people!