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ACL Surgery

PeaceupAtownPeaceupAtown Member Posts: 7 Member Member Posts: 7 Member
Hello everyone! I tore my ACL two months ago and underwent surgery yesterday to get it fixed and got the Patellar Tendon Graft. I’ve never undergone surgery before so I’d love some general advice about exercise, diet, and overall recovery for the next few months if anyone has good tips to prevent weight gain and stay active during recovery. I’m an Athelstan so I’m used to be active, so I’d love advice from anyone who has had an ACL repair as a result of a sports injury. Thanks!


  • corinasue1143corinasue1143 Member Posts: 5,814 Member Member Posts: 5,814 Member
    Never had it done. Trust your Dr. and physical therapist.
  • Theoldguy1Theoldguy1 Member Posts: 2,078 Member Member Posts: 2,078 Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    ACL is the one knee ligament I haven't damaged!

    Prevent weight gain - eat at maintenance calories for your current activity level.
    Diet - an overall healthy diet.
    Exercise - follow your rehab plan that your Physio gave you diligently and sensibly. (Sensibly would include not going back to the gym far too soon and tearing out your sutures when you had been told to be resting..... Ooops!)
    You can exercise other body parts of course. You do need to learn to understand your soreness and pain signals and what they mean in different circumstances. Not all soreness and pain is bad but they can also be very bad - be honest with your Physio.
    Next few months - rehab can get terribly boring but suck it up and prioritise long term recovery, it does get more interesting when you are allowed to return to what feels more like "proper exercise".
    Prevent weight gain and stay active during recovery - diet is by far the biggest contributor to preventing weight gain but activity helps with making a dull experience less onerous. I made myself take a two mile walk every day on crutches and did some one-handed gardening projects during recovery from my worst knee injury. Built some good traps, walking on crutches is hard work.
    I’m an Athelstan - Athlete? That's where the MyFitnessPal method of taking exercise into account works, you only eat what you actually do. You should also be used to following a training plan.

    All of the above. It may be hard given the current conditions with the virus but when I had orthopedic surgeries I tried to do much of my rehab at my gym. Even though I wasn't doing anything like I normally did it helped to keep the habit of going.

    Also based on your doctor/therapist's direction do as much as you can activity wise.
  • ahoy_m8ahoy_m8 Member Posts: 2,500 Member Member Posts: 2,500 Member
    Just echoing the priority on long term recovery. Do all the activity your doc/PT proscribe, and adjust caloric intake to match that. Eat all the calories you need to maintain your weight with the proscribed activities. Don't eat in a deficit when healing. Weight gain increases strain on joints, so avoid surplus eating, too.
  • sgt1372sgt1372 Member Posts: 3,922 Member Member Posts: 3,922 Member
    I have a 3-way ligament tear in my left knee (ACL, PCL & MCL - the works) that I got while skiing about 30 yrs ago. Foot plant & turn but the ski did not turn wc tore the ligaments. Ouch!

    Got a referral to an ortho and sn MRI, watched the knee surgery video (wc scared the *kitten* out of me) and was told rehab would take 6 mos to a yr until full knee/leg strength would be regained.

    Decided not to do the surgery.

    Skied again w/the use of a custom molded carbon fiber brace that keeps the knee from rotating (the cause of the injury) and even went thru the police academy w/the injury - running, climbing fences and all.

    My knee would just "pop out" of position every once in a while wc would cause acute pain but eventually these occurances stopped.

    Just had to pay attn to NOT to planting my left foot and rotating my knee, as I did when the injury occured, and I still pay attn avoid this movement in order to avoid dislocating my knee again to this day.

    I assume the strength training that I did and continue to do many years after the injury are the only reason that I can walk, hike, bike and other normal activities w/o the need to wear a brace all of the time, not just while skiing that I gave up sbout 10 yrs ago.
  • SummerSkierSummerSkier Member, Premium Posts: 2,744 Member Member, Premium Posts: 2,744 Member
    Best of luck with your repairs. I tore both my ACLs (at different times) in the late 70's and at that time they were not doing the repairs. Even in the 90's when they started doing repairs it looked like horrific surgery (watched a friend go thru it) so I declined. I avoid snow skiing but other than that and NOT taking muscle relaxants or jumping out of planes I am fine for running, tennis, waterskiing, horsebackriding etc. I will be following your recovery as I am always impressed by the vast medical improvements we make over the years and I bet you have a full recovery. I have met others who's knees were completely unstable without surgery so I get that my particular instance might not be the average bear.
  • MikePfirrmanMikePfirrman Member Posts: 2,762 Member Member Posts: 2,762 Member
    I had my right (ACL) knee done after dislocating it and yes, Sijomial is right. Calories and listen to your therapist. Rehab and calorie intake is all you can really do.

    If it's an ACL without a meniscus tear, the main pain will come from the Patellar tendon graft. I couldn't kneel for two or three years after but I had a lot more damage than just the ACL.
    edited June 2020
  • GiddyupTimGiddyupTim Member Posts: 2,819 Member Member Posts: 2,819 Member
    When I was having my ACL replacement, I asked my nephew, who had had the procedure a few years previously, how long it took him until he was recovered. He said he was about 90 percent at one year.
    I think that is pretty accurate.
    It seems you are getting comment here from people who either did not have surgery (considered a very viable option -- for SOME) and people who had their surgery a while ago. But my sense is that things have changed a lot in the past decade.
    My brother tore his ACL playing soccer back in the late 1980s. As he recovered, he did TONS of gym rehabilitation. Exercise bike, etc. After mine, about six years ago, I saw the rehab guy twice. Maybe three times. But the appointments were so brief, they were eminently forgettable. So I don't know. He gave me a handout each time, which gave me directions for a few simple exercises, like jumping from one square to another, and back. Eventually, I think, he also told me that when I finally got ready to go out and run a bit, I should spend a week or so skipping instead, first.
    What the heck? I wondered. What happened to the rehab?
    So I asked a sports therapist I know, "Why didn't I get extensive rehab protocols? I had my surgery done at the university. They ought to know what they are doing."
    They do, he said. But the surgery today is not your grandmother's surgery. They are extremely precise in ways they did not used to be. For instance, they line up the replacement tendon exactly, using lasers, and every aspect of the surgery is arthroscopic (small openings, less collateral tissue damage). For those reasons, you don't need rehab, he said. Now, you just heal from the surgery and you are ready to go!
    From what else I know, that is true.
    About 6-8 years ago, coaches and rehab specialists were really pushing athletes to get back to sport as soon as possible. Soccer players were being encouraged to return to the field in as little as six months. Adrian Peterson, the NFL running back, was playing in the league again in nine months! Nine months. To professional football!
    The experts have since learned, however, that Adrian and those others are freaks. While it is possible, not many people can get back that fast. Now they recommend you follow your own timeline. Some people will be back faster than others. I would guess that one year to be back -- feeling free to do what you used to do without thinking about it (much) -- is average. Maybe a bit longer.
    Regarding staying active, that is a tough one. My own experience was a bit different because I had a cartilage defect fixed at the same time which delayed my recovery greatly. But I will guess that if you had only a standard ACL replacement, they'll have you on the exercise bike within six weeks, maybe eight. I used to hobble around the block on my crutches to get out a bit. And, I used to go to the gym and use the machines to do upper body exercises I could do sitting.
    As for calories? I was extremely active before my surgery: six-mile runs three times a week, soccer at least twice a week. So I was in the habit of seconds at dinner. I learned in a month that, WHOA! I cannot do that anymore. I gained 10-15 pounds right away.
    So I recommend watching your portions and keeping them small. Even if you are trying, you won't be moving very much in the first month or two. First you're in a straight leg cast, which makes going anywhere a hassle. Then you are in a flexible brace, which isn't much better given the swelling. Etc.
    But hang in there. You will definitely be in very active rehab within two months, and you will probably be starting to run again in anywhere from four to six months.
    Good luck.
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