Saturday, May 15, 2010

ACL Reconstruction - Three Years Later

I almost missed writing this post. Wow...Has it been three years?

I started this blog seven months post surgery. I would definitely say that months 6-9 were the toughest time for me. It is the period of time where the mental challenges of this injury out weigh the physical ones. There were many first hand accounts on the Internet that detailed surgery, physical therapy and rehab immediately after the procedure. At the time I started this blog, there was not much written about what happened after the release by the surgeon and physical therapist. Most of the first hand accounts were soccer players, skiers, rugby players and snowboarders.

I wanted to know:

What happens next?
How long until my knee feels normal?
Will I ever fully return to my previous activity?
Will I always fear re-injury?
How has an ACL injury affected other martial arts practitioners?

I receive emails throughout the year from people who are dealing with ACL injuries and surgery. Some have questions and other thank me for sharing my experiences. A major portion of my blog traffic is from people searching, like I did, for ACL information and first hand accounts. When I look at the list of search items, one stands out as my favorite. People find this blog using the search term "ACL success story".

What is the status of my knee three years post ACL reconstruction?

My knee is doing just fine. I feel my knee has returned to 95% pre injury. I do not "think" about my knee on a daily basis. For those of us who have/had knee problems...this is a big deal. I am active in Okinawa Kenpo and Tai Chi. I go to the gym regularly or fairly regularly I should say. I played racquetball last summer. I do not wear a knee brace.

What is the other 5%?

There are a few things that bother my knee. There is one move in the bo kata Chounokun that regularly reminds me that I had knee surgery. A few others...kneeling in seiza for extended periods, embrace the tiger, snake creeps down, running and jumping. I do not like lunges. Damp, cold weather makes my knee ache.

What do I need to work on?

Running and jumping. Before I continue...I must confess that I was not much of a runner or jumper before surgery. However, I should be better at it.

Is there anything activity I did pre-injury that I do not do now?

Roller skating, skiing. I have not gone skiing for years but if I had the opportunity I would decline because of my knee. I was not a good skier...I fell too much. I will probably roller skate again.

Overall, my knee is serving me well.

If anyone finds this blog and wants to share their ACL story as a guest post, please contact me. If you have a blog about ACL surgery and recovery and would like me to add it to my blogroll, feel free to post a comment or email.

If you find this post because you have an ACL of luck on your recovery!

Read my 2 Year Update.
Read my 1 Year Update.

Disclaimer: This blog is my personal weblog regarding my ACL surgery and recovery. Please note that I am not dispensing medical advice rather I am documenting my personal experiences.


Kicker said...

Thanks for this post. Nice to read. Since I'm still on crutches and just had surgery I'm far from this, but I've been do you learn to trust it again, especially doing things like sparring? The thought of ever going through this again scares me. Thanks.

Michele said...

Thank you for commenting. My response to your question is the subject of my latest blog post. I have included your site in my ACL Stories blog listing.

There was a time, shortly after surgery, that I considered giving up karate. I kept thinking that I never want to go through this again. As time passed, I felt more "normal" again and remembered why I had the surgery to begin return to doing something I loved. I found this injury to be a test of patience.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

Unknown said...

came across your blog while searching for sucess stories..this surgery is becoming vry tough fr me 2 handle(mentally) its nw been 5 months n its still difficult on many fronts..i dnt knw how will i ever do things without thinking again..

Michele said...

Hi Rashi,

Thank you for visiting. I wish you the best for your ACL recovery.

Months 3-9 after surgery were the hardest for me mentally. In fact, the mental recovery was far more difficult than the physical one. It is the time frame when I started the blog searching for people to share their story. I can tell you (from my experience) it does get better. It takes time and...the most difficult part for me...patience.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Michele, Thank you so much for this wonderful and inspiring site. I am sorry you had to go through this, you have helped so many out there. I tore my acl performing a routine tornado kick, right before I was to try for my black stripe. It was actually on my birthday, nice present. It was a crushing blow. I am a 41 year old mother of two, and karate was one thing I really wanted to do for myself. I started at a very late age, 38. I 100 % agree with your test of patience, I am going through the surgery in June, and I am expecting a long road ahead, and the emotional and physical challenges of getting back to what I love. Also, the confidence I lost after the injury, I know will be a challenge to regain. I appreciate you sharing your story, makes you feel like you are not alone in this. No one, family ,or friends can really understand this predicament.

Michele said...

Anon: Thank you for your kind comment. I wish you the best in your upcoming surgery and recovery. A tornado of my blog friends, "Hack Shaft", tore his ACL doing the same kick.

Please let me know how you are doing.


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Anonymous said...

Great to see you walking well after the ACL reconstructive surgery. The podiatrists did help too?

Shahzad said...

Your knees and ACL can take a lot of stress through their life. Once of the most common problems with knees that people need to get fixed is anterior cruciate ligament ACL surgery. Some of the other most common knee problems include cartilage/meniscus damage, arthritis and other ligament strains. Centers for ACL surgery in Thailand

JhenC said...

Being courageous to face the present situation is a great help for fast recovery from ACL Surgery. Thanks for posting your story that can help me add courage that life doesn't dead in such surgery.Undergoing a major surgery and an elective one; meaning that the patient, in consultation with the surgeon, decides whether or not to proceed with the operation. As with any other surgery there are risks and benefits, visit to read more about this risk and benefit we (ACL patient) experience.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your encouraging posts. In my third week post-op after ACL reconstruction with a cadaver graft, I find myself wondering if life will ever be the same. I find it enormously helpful to read the blogs of others who have gone before on this long road.

To make my own contribution that I hope will help somebody else, I have started a blog about my ACL experience as well as life as a working mother to a big family and a country preacher's wife. It can be found at Thank you so much. --- Valerie Culp, RN

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Unknown said...

Hi Michele, I am ~7 months post-surgery, and I completely agree with what you said about months 6-9 being the toughest. I tore my ACL doing taekwondo and underwent reconstruction using a cadaver achilles tendon. I did rigorous physical therapy and am still doing it, but the weather changes with the change of seasons has been making things tough. Lately though, the worst part, is people feeling the need to tell me that maybe I should consider never going back to taekwondo. I can't even imagine doing that. I spent the summer teaching because I couldn't stay away from the dojang. Needless to say, I found your story incredibly encouraging, especially at a time where I feel like I need it the most. Here's to hoping my doctor clears me to return soon! Thanks again for sharring.

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Anonymous said...

Hi, nine months ago I rupture my ACL at Karate. I am steel waiting for an operation. Becouse I dont have orivate insurance. All this time at waiting and not being able to do sport, was the hardest time of my life. It scares me when I think after the operation, I have to wait another probabil 9 months to be able to start again . I think its more hard mentaly for me, than fisical pain.

Unknown said...

I am currently on month 4 of post-acl reconstruction.

I am a karateka living in Japan. My blog is a little basic, but I try to cover as much as I can.

I hope it will help others.

Unknown said...

You may want to check more ACL Repair Centers in India. Solving the this health issue is more about the center/doctors you decide on.


Anonymous said...

This is Dip.My age is 23+.I had a ACL torn 3 years ago.I didnt go for operation that time because my exams were running.then after 2-3 months i felt good.and played cricket.But that time i got injured but not like the first one i had.I had taken rest then it was fine.Now almost 3 years gone.Last october i got injured while dancing(i was drunk),then i took rest..but after that day i haven't felt any good with the knee..the doctors said that i need to do a i am thinking for this operation.My question is that after ACL reconstruction,can I run,jump,and do the other activities as before?please help me cause I am very scared..

Sunil Medapati said...

Anterior Cruciate Ligament, Reconstruction Surgery is Done For Injured Ligaments of the Knee.Most ACL tear injuries happen during sports and fitness activities that can put stress on the knee:
Suddenly slowing down and changing direction (cutting)
Pivoting with your foot firmly planted.
Landing from a jump incorrectly.
Stopping suddenly.
Receiving a direct blow to the knee or collision, such as a football tackle.

ACL Reconstruction Surgeryshould be done because of following reasons:
If you have also torn a meniscus or if you have torn more than one ligament then surgery to reconstruct your ACL is likely to be your best option.
People who choose not to have an ACL reconstruction are at high risk for secondary injuries such as a meniscus tear or an injury to the cartilage or cushioning on the ends of our bones. Both of these injuries dramatically increase your risk for developing arthritis in the knee.

After the Surgery ACL Rehab Exercises for 2-4 weeks should be done like :
Build range of motion (ROM) to zero to 110 degrees.
Start heel slides: Sit on the floor with legs outstretched. Slowly bend the knee of your injured leg while sliding your heel/foot across the floor toward you. Slide back into the starting position and repeat 10 times.

OAKS Clinic said...

The technique used for ACL reconstruction surgery in Mumbai might slightly vary depending on your autograft used or other aspects. However, your knee specialist in Mumbai will explain the entire procedure of the surgery well in advance.