Torn ACL - Surgery??

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Anonymous's picture

Three weeks ago I tore the ACL of my right knee. I now have to decide to opt for surgery or not.
As explained to me by the doc:
W/O surg - I would be able to walk and bike fairly normally. I would probably not be able to run, ski, play tennis or any other activity that would require any sharp turns or twists. With the help of a brace I might be able to do one or more of these activities, but to a limited degree. There is also the incresed risk of arthritis down-the-line.
With surg. - normal activity after rehab. 3-6 months. Only downside seems to be the surgery itself, and period of rehab.

Would appreciate any input from anyone who has had similar injury. Thanks. Stan Oldak

Anonymous's picture
Magic Pawlowski (not verified)
ACL Surgery

I tore my right knee ACL in my junior year of high school playing hockey and the consideration for surgery or not didn't even exist for me. From what I heard then and I still hear now, going without the surgery is risky and restrictive. I still wear a custom brace made out of carbon fiber whenever I do any stressful sport but for biking I have never used it. Biking was part of my therapy, which by the way took close to a 9-12 months for full recovery. I could suggest to you to get a bunch of opinions from orthopedic surgeons and I can refer my doctor who did a great job on my surgery the first time and the second time I retore it after being stupid during my original recovery.

Anonymous's picture
seth prince (not verified)
My experience

I tore my acl in the winter of 93-94. Didn't get surgery, just went for rehab and had a custom brace for when I wanted to do anything more than cycling, walking or running (in fairly straight lines on level ground, i.e. no trail running). Every once in a while I would have an episode where my knee would give out (with or without the brace). I was never 100% confident. I still went skiing and did martial arts with the brace until I re-injured my knee in martial arts class one night. That's when I HAD to get surgery because I tore up some miniscus. The actual proceedure was nothing. They preped me, druged me, woke me then shuffled me out the door. It was the next 6 months that were almost unbearable. If I wasn't rehabing my leg, then it was locked out in a full leg brace. I could barely do anything for myself. I was on crutches for so long I forgot how to walk on my own. Even walking with crutches was almost impossible. The pain of rehab was EXCRUCIATINGLY horrific!! I was in rehab for almost 4 months, first to get mobility back and then to build up the leg. It shriveled down to a point where my thigh was about the same diameter as my neck.

I had the surgery in september '98 and wasn't back on my bike until the following March. And I am only now back in the shape I was in the summer before my surgery.

I think my case was more extreme than what others may experience. I still don't have full mobility in my right leg and I get a little pain from time to time. But I'm glad I did it. I have 100% confidence in my knee now. I haven't been skiing since the surgery, but only because I haven't had the opportunity. I plan on going this winter. I will probably not be doing the double black diamonds though. I don't do martial arts anymore but that's not because of my knee.

Hope this helps


Anonymous's picture
andrew messick (not verified)
acl reconstruction

i tore my left acl in 1990 and chose surgery. i had a mid-one-third patellar tendon autograft. i took rehab seriously, and after about six months i could move around without too much trouble. within a year i was pretty much back to normal.

today i ride, ski, hike and never think about my knee. the surgery worked out well for me and i am happy i did it.

Anonymous's picture
Lee (not verified)

I agree get more opinions.

Check out Hospital for Special Surgery
Dr Thomas Wickiewicz 606-1450. He is a pretty well respected sports doctor (he is the Giants associate team doctor) and also deigned to do my knee surgery. I had a torn meniscus and some other stuff but it was not as serious as an ACL.

Also at HSS is Dr. Joseph Feinberg 606-1568 who is also a biker but he may be more of a back specialist.

Good luck.

Anonymous's picture
Paul Spraos (not verified)

I tore the meniscus in my left knee when I was a teenager and my prognosis was exactly the same as your's--Without an operation I'd be able to run in a straight line and bike, but I wouldn't be able to do anything involving twisting of the knee.

I had the operation and don't regret it. After two years of rehab I was doing everything I did before the accident. Still, that knee underperforms the uninjured one in life in general. However, the only cycling implication is that my left leg is quite a bit weaker than my right (I may be wrong, but I attribute this to the accident).

So, based on this sample of one, I would say that the operation can be a definite help, but don't expect a return to 100% of your pre-injury capabilities.

Anonymous's picture
Ludwig Vogel (not verified)
ACL surgeries

You have several surgical options for ACL repair. The patellar reconstruction is the most widely used, but it features a slower and more painful recovery than the graft repairs. There are autograft and allograft repairs, but allografts seem to be more po pular.
If you are older, orthopods are starting to favor cadaveric allografts over the traditional patellar surgery. The recovery time is a lot quicker. (One woman I know had patellar, another two had cadaveric.)
The outcome will be determined by your pe rsonality more than anything else. Don't hesitate to operate as soon as the swelling is down, and follow your rehab instructions to the letter, and don't ever view this injury as disabling. You will get better, but if you keep a positive attitude you will recover a lot faster.

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