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Guest Post: ACL Reconstruction 18 Years Later

Posted Feb 01 2010 6:03pm
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.
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