Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Week 4 - ACL Surgery Recovery



Welcome to my ACL surgery recovery blog where i have been keeping tabs on my progress from my second ACL surgery in the past 10 years. My surgery was on May 22nd, 2008 and I'm now finishing up week 4 of the recovery stage.

ACL injuries are in the news more these days. The latest famous victim, Tiger Woods who announced that his season is over due to a torn ACL which he has been trying to play though. Also, some interesting stats also come out today from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:

  • About 200,000 ACL injuries occur annually in the United States, often in conjunction with damage to other knee ligaments and cartilage. (wow!)
  • Doctors perform roughly 100,000 ACL reconstructive surgeries nationwide each year, mostly on an outpatient basis.
  • ACL surgeries have a long-term success rate of 82 percent to 95 percent, depending on numerous factors.
  • Rehabilitation takes about half a year, or longer for certain athletic activities.
    Post-surgical limitations can include stiffness, some loss of motion and less stability for the knee than before the injury.
  • Sports commonly associated with ACL tears and ruptures include football, tennis, basketball and soccer.
  • Women have a higher rate of ACL injuries than men, for reasons ranging from estrogen's effects on ligaments to gender differences in the alignment of the pelvis and legs
Okay on with my progress report. Everybody is different when it comes to recovery time but the main thing to remember is that you must put your full effort towards your physiotherapy schedule. I'm told for only being 4 weeks out of surgery that I'm doing very well but despite the positive response to physio, it's hard mentally not being able to do many things outside when the weather is nice.

As you can see in the pictures below, the bruising from the surgery is all gone and the scar is healing nicely, however, I've been told that I'm not massaging the incision area enough and the scar tissue is building up. So they did some ultrasound therapy on it and I've been giving strict order to massage the area as ofter as possible. The swelling is still there a bit in the quad and knee. Its gone down but still noticeable.

In addition to all the previous exercises, they added in some balancing on a trampoline. Unfortunately I'm not allowed to do any jumping. Booooo!!!! Its challenging, especially with your eyes closed. Also balance on one leg and throwing a ball against a wall. Not much else in the way of new stuff. I can't stress enough how important your physio program is and should be followed as instructed. This will help in a quick recovery.

Anyway, that's it for week 4. Thanks for reading my ACL surgery recovery blog. Next week I've been told I'll be doing some new exercises in the pool.

If you have any questions, leave a comment and I'll answer it.

Here are some more picks of my knee taken today (June 18th, 2008):







48 comments:

  1. Hi
    Were you able to fully strighten your knee (exact 0 degrees) or did the swelling above your knee prevent it?
    I had ACL surgery 18 days ago my progress seems a lot like yours (except that im still in crutches) but i cannot fully straighten my knee due to swelling. So i wondered if it was the same with you

    Thanks
    Very very good job with the block

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  2. HI My husband is 33 yrs old & had his ACL surgery last Tue(Aug 19). I was wondering how long the swelling lasts and whwn were u able to fully straighten your leg?

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  3. Hey, i just found your blog and wanted to thank you greatly for posting this detailed blog! im from richmond hill and just got my acl done at sunnybrook a few days ago! Its so depressing and frustrating and reading your blog gave me a view of the light at the end of the tunnel. Was it painful for you to stand up out of bed? how long were you on painkillers for?

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  4. Hey everyone. I'm 36 and had ACL surgery on 4/30/2008. 3 months in I was really worried that my knee wouldn't straighten out but at about 3 1/2 - 4 months it worked itself out. Now I can get it straight and 'lock' it by flexing my quad muscles. All in all it's better than I thought it would be at 6 months. I feel ready to start playing ball again. If anyone wants any advice or has any questions i'll help you out. jgallagher33@msn.com

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  5. Hey, Im just noticing that people are posting comments under some of my older posts (i had the email setting turned off) so my apologies for not responding.

    To Ahemet, I was not on crutches very long this time but my first ACL surgery i was on crutches for a few weeks. Its different for everyone.


    To both Ahmet and Subs, It did not take me long at all to fully straighten my knee. less than a month. At this point im now 19 weeks in an have my full range of movement. Swelling comes and goes. If I'm doing heavy weighted exercises, i can feel it swell a little bit.

    and to Booden86, I was not on pain killers very long. I still have most of them in my medicine cabinet. I guess it depends on your tolerance for pain. I hope your recovery process is going well.

    Take care all.

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  6. I'm 15, I had a partially torn ACL and a torn meniscus. I had the surgery four weeks ago, and I'm still on crutches, but my physical therapist said i can put pressure on it, that's fine, but my knee is still pretty swollen, some days i can't even feel my knee cap, any suggestions? I already ice it about 4 times a day.

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  7. Hey Dil, other than taking anti-imflamitories, icing and elevating your knee, there's not much else you can do. When i had my first ACL surgery on my left knee in 1999, the swelling took quite a while to go down and i was on crutches still at 4 weeks too. This surgery on my right knee, i was off crutches after a week. Its always different for everyone. You just need to be patient at this point and keep doing what you're doing and stick with your physio.

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  8. Thanks, do you know if it's okay to do physio twice a day?

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  9. going to physio twice a week is good. They should be giving you a routine of exercises and stretching that you need to do on a daily basis too.

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  10. Thanks for the advice, get well soon.

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  11. Hey guys, I had the double bundle procdure on 11/4/08. This is a pretty cool board by the way, and could really help people! I was searching for how long it would take me to get off my crutches! After a week I had full leg extension but still had swelling so I'm not sure why some people have lags. When I first tore it I did have an 8 degree lag but it went away after a couple months of PT. I am an avid athlete and cannot wait to get back but my worry is that my leg just feels really unstable trying to balance on 1 leg... I'm almost three weeks in now and it does really suck with the swelling and only being able to bring my knee 70 degrees on my own....back to square one is frustrating. Anyone else have anything to say about thier results from a duble bundle...

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  12. That unstable feeling will go away as long as you rehab it properly.

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  13. I had double tunnel ACL reconstruction using a hamstring graft 14 days ago (12/1/08). I was able to fully straighten my leg 2 days after surgery. Actually, I've been measured 1 week post-op as being able to hyper-extendi it a couple of degrees. I attribute this mostly to the fact that my post-op nurses counseled me to keep it as straight as possible immediately following the surgery to take advantage of the window of time before everything tightened up. I have been down to a single crutch for a week and off my stailizer for a few days. Around the house I don't even use the crutch anymore and am hoping to ditch it completely within the next day or two. I am able to get to about 90 degrees on it's own, a little farther by using my other leg to bend it. All in all, the swelling is still moderate. Better after icing and elevating, but it swells quickly when I use it. Compression wrapping it is still a must when I'm up and around. I just hope the swelling isn't too hard to get rid of.

    They say everyone recovers at their own pace. I think a great deal of it has to do with your level of fitness when you were injured. I have just been trying to follow the PT instructions and try to get a little more movement in it each day by pushing it to right the pain threshold but not beyond. Strength has not been a major issue yet, although I am only trying to walk normal for now. I intend to get aggressive with the PT once I am able to walk normally.

    Has anyone tried any online products marketed to speed in recovery (like the Goode wrap or the ultrasound machine from www.aidmymeniscus.com)?

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  14. Hi,i have Acl and meniscus surgery before 18 days,even iam in 3 week iam still not able to walk without cruches,i have no pain,iam traying to bend my leg everyday there is
    progresion but is very slowely,fisio say i must try to band it 90 d in my 4 week.i dont belive i will make it in next 5 days beacuse iam bending leg now very littel.Wound is ok i have no any infection,heamatoms around knee are going out as well slowely but I hope they will desapear at all.I need liitel to strengt my leg at all.
    Iam very worry about my walking and when i can bend my leg more,then i will be able to walk normal.And ofcorse if somebody can say more about stiffnes in knee?How long period is normal to feel stifness?Is it possible that something is wrong in knee since iam still not able to walk?
    I operate leg 2 weeks after i get injured,they say that they must do it earlier couse of meniscus.

    Regards
    Ana

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  15. I had my ACL reconstructed just before Thanksgiving and I am 5 weeks post-op. I too have instability in my leg that concerns me and there's still a considerable amout of swelling. At times, my leg can feel stiff and I have a shooting pain in the center of my kneecap that I have concerns about. I ditched my crutches about a week ago but I am still in the brace. I've been following the doctors orders to the letter but I'm feeling frustrated that I should be able to do more.
    Has anyone else experience this pain that I'm talking about.... I'm worried that it may not be normal.

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  16. hey, i am playing football from 3 year but before 1 month my left leg get ACL tears little bit. i under goes surgery now 16 day over i can bend my leg upto 120 degree but above that i feel pain now i had to much swelling to. what should i do i pressure it make brackage in my ACL?

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  17. sorry for mistake
    i mean did banding it with pressure make i break internally? i feel too much pain while bending above 120 degree....

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  18. Hi My name is Krystle and Im 3wks into recovery from my acl tear. My ACL was completely torn. I am no longer on cruthces and i am walking normally for the most part. Sometimes my knee gets so stiff and how i help that is by massaging it and then bending it and streching it. I ice it twice a day that seems to work for me.

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  19. Hi, I am Ganesh 36 yrs old and its been 4 weeks into recovery from my right knee ACL tear. I am off the crutches for the last 10 days and I have started walking around my neighborhood slowly with my miniature version of the knee brace for support, Swelling has subsided 80% and slight stiffness if felt when posture of knee changes. I can fully straighten my leg now ( almost 98% i can say ), All in all i am better off than those first 2 painful weeks and better days are ahead of me. I hope my experience is very similar to some of your's too, send me your feedback if any.

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  20. Hi all, I'm Thomas, 42, and recently underwent ACL hamstring graft about 14 days ago. I can walk about the house without crutches. My concerns are inability to regain full knee extension and really, the swelling, which doesn't not seem to be going down and I'm afraid its affecting my ROM rehab. Any ideas?

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  21. Hi my names Duran, I'm also a recovering ACL and Meniscus..olic

    I'm coming up on 4 weeks in a few days.
    I'm walking on and off with a single crutch.
    I was able to straighten or hyperextend my leg pretty soon maybe 4 days after surgery. Bending to touch my butt is another story. Hopefully a short one.
    Good luck everyone....It's hard not getting your dose of heart thumping exercise everyday.

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  22. Hi all,
    I had my ACL reconstruction surgery on May 29th, so I'm into week 4 now. I'm doing physical therapy 2-3 times a week but I'm a swimmer, so its driving me crazy not to be in the pool. My doctor says that I need to wait until the wound is completely closed so as not to risk infection. It looks completely closed to me...does anyone know how long after surgery its safe to go swimming?

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  23. hello i am 16 and i had my surgery ( completly torn acl and miniscus problems) on june 22nd and everything went pretty good, i was walking without crutches on the 5th day after and every since about the 8th day i have not been able to walk at all, i can barly stand on 2 feet, and my calf is really tight and its hard to bend my ancle. but other than the pain in my calf everything eles is good, my knee is bending well and the wounds are closed. so if someone could let me no whats wrong with my calf that would be great.. and would smoking pot slow down the healing process? lol

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  24. Four weeks - went to rebab, but unforunately tore my hamstring two days beforehand playing with my son! though since I cant run anyway its quiet manageable

    at the moment. Could still do most exercise which are centred on rebeilding the quad muscles.
    R.O.M has plateaued now and the last 8-9 cm will be much harder to gain on. The stiffness in the knee since the operation has started to go and the knee is

    getting looser. Sitting on chair I can now comfortably bend the knee under past 90deg and place the leg under the chair.
    Going up stairs is almost normal now, just slow, going down stairs now is more comfortable, though the hamstring made it difficult again.
    At rehab: much of the same stretching, 25minutes on the bike (increased resistance now) calf raises, samsons chair, step ups, ball squats and half squats,

    balance pad. At home for a balance pad I am using an inflatable hiking sports seat cushion/mat. Its a about 35cm square like a mini "thermarest". Infalted as

    hard at it will go and standing on it with shoes (much harder than bare feet) it works prefectly as a balance pad. didnt do the Aufbau german soccer hip

    exercises because of the hammy.
    Physio said my R.O.M progress is excellent but the muscle is still too weak, the contraction of the quads is poor. I am trying but the quads are stubbornly

    refusing.
    The physio taped up my leg and it was great - left the tape on for 2 days afterwards. Still icing (ice massage) at least one a day, sometimes twice and using

    a an icebag sometimes.
    Aside from the hammy, its going well.

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  25. I wish you recovered well after all the ordeal you've went through.

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  26. I had acl surgery 3 weeks ago, i am now using 1 crutch, my range of motion is 0 to 100 deg, i feel good but its still hurts and the swelling is not gone or even reduced.

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  27. Hi There,

    I am entering week 5 after having an allograft ACL surgery and fixing my medial miniscus. I'm doing very well, although I do keep getting swelling above my knee cap, and I'm not sure why.

    I have starting riding my bike down to the pier and back, which takes about an hour and a half....maybe it's too much? :-/ It's so hard not to be able to get your heart rate up and burn calories!

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  28. well hello,
    im 16 years old and am having acl surgery. i play soccer and am obviously out for this season. But my high school season starts in august. do you think i will be ready to play by then?

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  29. Hi! I'm also 16 years old and I'm a few days shy of 4 wks into my recovery from surgery. My range is like 0 or 4 to almost 100...my quad is tightening up nicely but tediously:] I've had a difficult time emotionally with this and it's nice to look up here and see other people to relate to. I'm on my school's track/field team, I'm a gym monkey, and I'm a very active person. It kills me not to go out and do all I want to do, and I swear I'm getting fat! Four wks into my recovery and my PT just unlocked my brace 30 degrees so I can work on bending it when I walk. Anyone know any general time frame for swimming, biking, push-up-esque things? (involving legs) Thanks!!

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  30. I had a complete tear of the ACL, MCL, and miniscus from playing volleyball. I also had a boney contusion. I had to put off the surgery for almost two months to cover for vacations at work. Even with my brace on, my leg would go out several times a day. In this time I did not get full extension or flexion back. After surgery, March 10th, I found that the cause was from the ACL being all bunched up. The MCL I'm told heals on its own. They cleaned out the miniscus and reconstructed my ACL using my hamstring. I go to therapy twice a week and just did ditch my brace. Peaceful not hearing Velcro! I'm 5 weeks out and still lack a few degrees on straightening and I can bend to 123 degrees. Very tight! Still have a lot of numbness and some swelling that doesn't seem to want to go away. My quad muscle spazes and have a difficult time locking my knee. I'm hoping I will see a significant change in the next week or so. It helps to read other's progress, keeps me from getting down on myself.

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  31. im 4 weeks in and it still feels loose. i can walk alot better without crutches, is looseness normak with the swelling. dgreg87@yahoo.com

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  32. paschalldebra@yahoo.comJune 11, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    I'm 52, had surgery 31 days ago. I've been walking without crutches since week 3. Flexion is 105 and complete extension to lock hasn't happened yet due to all the swelling above the knee. I still have alot of numbness below the knee. Very frustrating! Thanks for writing in, it helped me.

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  33. I am 8 weeks, 2 days and 6 hours post acl allograft surgery (but who's counting ). I was off the crutches by day 10 and, according to my PT I am doing well. I have had 130 degree flexion since week 3 (now almost 140) but my extension is not passively zero. I am worried the passive extension will never return to normal. I am doing lots of things like prone hangs and propping my leg up via my ankle to try to stretch it straight but no change. Is is too early to worry or should I be talking to the surgeon? THANKS

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  34. i am 4 weeks out and behind my knee is so swelled up it feels like a rock .. hurts really bad .. when i dont feel the brace it feels better.. getting depressed bcuz i cant flex knee at all or straighten it. what can i do to get the swelling down. taz2572@yahoo.com thanx john

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  35. My situation is pretty similar to Sheila in that I tore my ACL playing volleyball, had bone contusions but only sprained my MCL. Waited 2.5 months before I could get my surgery to decrease stiffness, swelling and activate my quad. Am now at week 5 post-op allograf surgery with full extension and 125 degrees flexion. Went off crutches at week 3-4. Recently stopped wearing my brace when walking but I think it's still premature since my knee starting to acutely swell near my tibia. I have major tenderness on my tibia near my ankle; my surgeon says this is a typical side effect and prescribed me a cortico steroid. It only cleared it by 50%.

    I tend to agree with the physical therapists - your recoverry progression is very much based on how quickly your body rebuilds the muscle that stabilizes your knee. I noticed this during my pre-op MCL recovery and am noticing during my post-op ACL reconstruction.

    Do the exercises, commit to physical therapy (at least twice a week), stretch, ice and eat well. Protein, calcium, Omega 3's - you'll get there soon!

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  36. i'm 3 weeks post ACL reconstruction with an allograft. i'm getting worried because my extension is at 14 degrees and I'm working so hard to straighten, but nothing seems to be working..

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  37. keep going to physio buddy and get them to help you work through your range of motion

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  38. hey everybody, i had surgery on my acl august 18. my question is how soon where you guys doing rehab after surgery. my doc didn't give me any instructions at all. i started riding a stationary bike a week and a half ago, and my range of motion has increased past 90 degrees, and i can almost lock my knee out. i'm thinking that the swelling is preventing me from fully straightening it out. any tips are welcome and appreciated. thanks!!

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  39. I'm 2 weeks post Acl with hamstring graft and had cartilage surgery back in Dec the best advice I can give is ice rest elevate and exercises as per physio and the compression bandage keeps the swelling to minimum if the swelling is getting away on yu rest ice and compression and an ti inflammatories this will help so yu can exercise the knee to regain range of motion and extension I am at 125 degrees flexion and cmplete extension so hang in there and it will come

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  40. It has been one month since my surgery and I was wondering if you ever got any bumps or an allergic reaction????

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    Replies
    1. I had right ACL surgery on 3/16/12. I had a severe reaction to Oxy requiring ambulance ride to ER. Really messed me/my system up, some mental, mostly digestive. I'm going on Day 10 and have been off strong pain meds (only taking 600 mg of IBuprofen 2x day) for 7 days and just "dealing" with the pain with ice/rest as it occurs. I would highly recommend more research/discussion on this part of the post op recovery process since my Dr. informed me most Dr.'s want their patients to be comfortable and prescribe the "strong stuff" when it may not be necessary. Again, not being able to breath and having to dail 911 was the result...

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  41. I'm five weeks post-surgery (hamstring graft) and am feeling reassured that everyone's experience is so different. I was still on crutches at week 4 and have been without them now for the last week (I still use one for longer distances). I'm only at 90 degrees movement and have lots of swelling. I'm apparently on the slower side of things and as someone who accomplishes most everything ahead of time, this has been mentally difficult!
    I have big summer plans ahead of me, involving lots of walking and am worried I won't be in the shape for it. But, it's 5 weeks away, so I hope to see progress soon. Reading about what recovery will be like just didn't prepare me for how hard this was going to be, physically and mentally.

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  42. i turned 35 on march 29th, 2012.. I tore my acl on March 30th playing basketball. On may 1st I had surgery with the hamstring graft.I have not been using crutches since week 3 and am still wearing the brace whenever I leave the house. The Physio set the brace to full range of motion so i can bend and fully extend it. Every day i feel like i am getting better and am able to put more weight on the leg. Just last week i am now able to get my legs a full cycle around the stationary bike, now i can even do it with some speed.I can even go up steps without going one at a time.. going down steps is a whole other thing.. The one thing that is so hard to deal with is the swelling.. It suks,, i still have the ice machine i got post op, so i use it religiously.. I know this is going to be a long road to recovery but it gets very frutrating b/c you want to push it but you know you can't push too much to soon.. any one who just had the surgery... hang in there, it gets better.. just keep going to the pt and keep using ice, and dont try to be superman

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  43. I realize it's been a few years since this blog post, but hopefully you can help.

    I'm 4 weeks post op today.
    I'm back at work mostly desk work (but put my feet up when no one's around :)

    The problem is edema. I swell up around the ankles and pitting.
    Wondering if this is normal. I look like a sausage stuffed into socks!
    A little bit of massaging and elevation take care of it, but as soon as I start walking around or put my leg down, back it comes.

    It gets worse at the end of the day. Where it's uncomfortable, but not painful.

    Thank you for any advice.

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  44. Hi everyone, so good to hear different recoveries. I have been very athletic through out my life, my first acl reconstruction I was a junior in high school, I have had nine acl reconstructions on my right leg through out the years playing different sports, I'm now 47 and on memorial day tore my acl and meniscus in my left leg,playing badminton! I knew what happened when it happened from previous experience.so on June 14th I had my 10th acl reconstruction and meniscus repair. I'm almost 4 weeks out still on crutches,still pain,still stiffness. Each surgery and recovery for me has been different. But this one stands out a little worse with pain and swelling.I did have an allograft on this one because I had nothing left to harvest from my other surgeries.I'm hoping it gets better soon,I still take pain meds also. I am a female and they say females are more likely to get this injury due to their body makeup. Just be careful everyone it can happen over and over and I was in awesome shape. Guess I need to learn to slow down.don't know if that's possible, but after 10 surgeries I've had enough, especially after this one. This surgeon never put me in a brace, wanted the leg as close to natural movement as possible. Still on crutches with no weight bearing though.not sure I feel comfortable without the protection without a brace,this is a first for me. Good luck everyone, keep those knee muscles strong,it can still happen again.

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  45. Hi everyone, so good to hear different recoveries. I have been very athletic through out my life, my first acl reconstruction I was a junior in high school, I have had nine acl reconstructions on my right leg through out the years playing different sports, I'm now 47 and on memorial day tore my acl and meniscus in my left leg,playing badminton! I knew what happened when it happened from previous experience.so on June 14th I had my 10th acl reconstruction and meniscus repair. I'm almost 4 weeks out still on crutches,still pain,still stiffness. Each surgery and recovery for me has been different. But this one stands out a little worse with pain and swelling.I did have an allograft on this one because I had nothing left to harvest from my other surgeries.I'm hoping it gets better soon,I still take pain meds also. I am a female and they say females are more likely to get this injury due to their body makeup. Just be careful everyone it can happen over and over and I was in awesome shape. Guess I need to learn to slow down.don't know if that's possible, but after 10 surgeries I've had enough, especially after this one. This surgeon never put me in a brace, wanted the leg as close to natural movement as possible. Still on crutches with no weight bearing though.not sure I feel comfortable without the protection without a brace,this is a first for me. Good luck everyone, keep those knee muscles strong,it can still happen again.

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  46. Chiropractors and Podiatrists are competent professionals who treat and diagnose foot problems, strains and sprains. Usually, aerobic exercises play a prodigious role in boosting agility however individuals engaged in high-impact exercises are vulnerable to stress fractures, sesamoiditis, plantar fascists, Achilles tendinitis and heel spurs.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete

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