Monday, February 1, 2010

Guest Post: ACL Reconstruction 18 Years Later

The reason I started this blog was to communicate with others who experienced ACL reconstruction and recovery. I found very little information on ACL recovery after one year? five years? Last week I received an email through my Wellsphere account. With permission, I am sharing the contents of the email. This is a story of ACL Reconstruction 18 Years Later.

Michele, are you still looking for acl information?

Here's my story.

August 1981, 19 years old, beginning of school, total tear of left acl.

December 1981, end of semester, scope to repair cartilage.

Due to insurance & basic lack of knowledge, acl left as is for 10 years. In that time, knee gave out 5 times. I was very active, played one year of college baseball, wrestled at times as a form of conditioning, work construction. Learned what "positions" to avoid having the knee give out.

January 10, 1992, 29 1/2 years old: acl reconstructed by Dr. Howard J. Sweeney. (About 10 years ago I learned he was one of the best, if not the best)

January 31, 1992, began physical therapy, 3 times a week for 7 months (august), had some swelling, and had to take 2 weeks off at the end of July. I was told by physical therapists that most patients that had surgery a few years or more after initial injury had some kind of set back. From what I remember, I began running around august (7-8 months post-op). Began testing in august. Once a month until end of October (total of 4 times). Released from supervised PT.

On my own from end of October 1992 to end of February 1993. Tested in March 1993 & given OK by surgeon to compete in baseball without brace. Doctor recommended I not wrestle until I complete at least the next baseball season and consult with him.

After the surgery, I had lost 3 inches in circumference. After my rehab, I had put on 3 1/2.

I’m now 47 1/2. In 1999, someone landed on my left knee. I only felt strain to medial ligament. I have been active the whole time. I don't wear a brace. I still play baseball in an "over 18" league. With some modifications. I know have some torn cartilage in both knees which will need to be repaired. And I’ve put on about 20 pounds. I know this doesn't help.

I do have to work my knees/legs. Everyone needs to do something, but in our case, we will always need to do a little more for our "weak" area, but should not have any problems continuing as we did before our injury.

During a pre-surgical consultation with my doctor, Dr. Sweeney indicated that as long as I did what he said, I should return to 100%. (Within reason. always best to never have the injury). But you know what I mean. That was good enough for me. I did as he said and I’m as good as can be expected.

I became and remain good friends with the physical therapist who worked with me the most during my formal rehab. He now has his own business. I trust him and his experience.

He has indicated that if I have any tears, it is not uncommon and can be the result normal wear and tear, in my case, because I am not only active, but intensely active. As I stated, I still play baseball and sometimes still compete in the 18+ divisions.

Two weeks ago, my knees have been the worst they've ever been. With my new job, I've not been working out as much as I would like. Last week, my friend was here and he indicated I need to do more for my hamstrings. I'm taking a month off from running, bike only, low weights with high reps (25-30 reps), next week i am to start riding the bike standing up. With the increase in hamstring work & time off from running, I can already feel a difference. I'll let you know in a month when I start running again.

If in fact I don't have any torn cartilage, this again is just a reminder that only because of age, but because of our past injuries, we must always be doing some type of rehab type of work.

At my age, 47, I need to modify further still what I do (training, competition) with duration & intensity and rest. Although I like to think of myself as 100%, I/we are never 100% like we were.

Just part of life.

Thank you for sharing your story.


Kim said...

Are we ever 100% after surgery?? Last year I had surgery on my Peroneal Tendon (ankle tendon). Still not 100% - 95, but not 100.

Michele said...

I always say my knee is 95%. I don't think it will ever be 100%.

Just think about what percent it would be if we didn't have the surgery! I would say somewhere around 50%.

LisaKG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LisaKG said...

I had an acl recon 28 years ago and I am starting to have some problems. I would love to connect with anyone 20 or 25+ years post acl recon surgery. I am 50 and was active until a couple weeks ago, and I would love to know what my future may hold!

Michele said...

Hi Lisa, Thank you for commenting and visiting my blog. I hope your knee feels better soon. I started this blog when I was looking for information on the long term outlook on ACL surgery. I found a lot of information about what happens the first year but not long term.

Would you care to share your experiences and write a guest post on ACL recon after 28 years?

Mar said...

I can comment on my experience.. hope it is useful..
I'm 37 years old and had an acl patellar reconstruction 12 years ago after tearing my acl and meniscus during soccer practice).

Today I feel my knee is at its 90% during everyday activity and 100% when playing field hockey (a highly competetive sport).

In the first case, my leg feels cold in the mornings and I have a just a little trouble climbing or going down the stairs. I still feel a slight numbness on the side of my knee, I can't fully flex my knee or kneel down comfortably without using a cushion. Maybe this doesn't sound very good, but I lead a absolutley normal life and these small inconveniences have not stopped me from practicing in a competitive sport.

Everything changes when I work out (when my knee is warmer) and practice sports: I forget about everything and it feels like I never had surgery at all! It's amazing!

Hope this helps you all! :)

Mar said...

Hi Lisa: I would like to contact you to see what problems are coming your way. My mail is Hope to hear from you! Bye!

Anonymous said...

I had surgery acl surgery at 16 years old using the IT band on the side of my leg. I'm now 43 years old. I pretty much did anything I wanted until I hit 40 and started playing tennis and I think I might have done something at the gym. Xrays show arthritis. I now religiously use the elliptical and do not do jogging, squats or lunges anymore and that combination has given me relief for now. I am still playing tennis and paddle. When I was in my 30s I was asked to play field hockey and turned it down. I do not feel comfortable racing and being physical as I think mentally I would forget about my knee and do something dumb during competition. Now my 16 year old daughter has torn her ACL so the cycle continues. boo hoo