ACL completely torn for over a year

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by 18X20Newbie, Feb 15, 2010.

  1. 18X20Newbie

    18X20Newbie Rookie

    Dec 23, 2009
    No lie. 2 doctors and 2 MRIs have confirmed that my torn ACL is a very old injury. If I remember correctly it happened over a year ago. After the swelling went down and the pain went away, I played with a big box store hinged knee brace and kept playing. When I went in recently because my knee felt "looser", the doc gave me a professional custom brace and said keep playing since "it can't get worse" and I'm part of the 20% that can adapt to a torn ACL. He also said surgery is an option if I WANT TO (huh???)

    He said "Why put yourself completely out of tennis for 6 months to a year when you're already playing with a torn ACL and seem fine?"

    Besides the brace being a little bulky, is it even worth it to get the surgery?
  2. 18X20Newbie

    18X20Newbie Rookie

    Dec 23, 2009
    Bumpity bump..

    Anyone got the surgery and came back stronger?
  3. waves2ya

    waves2ya Rookie

    Mar 10, 2005
    Essex County, NJ
    Interesting doctor you've got there; maybe you already have something more complicated than just an ACL problem...

    If only ACL tear, it's the least of problems; if you 'wait until it gets worse', worse is a cartilage tear. That no one can fix.

    Fixed your knee while you can. And yes, I came back stronger - and so have lots of athletes...

    Select a quality surgeon, be patient, do the rehab and most folks will be better off in the long run - as long as they don't have cartilage problems...
  4. 18X20Newbie

    18X20Newbie Rookie

    Dec 23, 2009
    Thanks for the response.

    What's with the "I'm part of the 20% of people that can adapt to an ACL tear?" I've never heard of this... But I'm not a doctor.
  5. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    Are you sure the doctor knows how much you play and how you plan on playing for many, many years?
    There is competetive tennis and there is social tennis.
    It sounds like you play competetive tennis, and plan on playing for a long time, if at all possible.
    If that is really the case, you may tell the doc that what interests you is to play at a high level for a long time.
    It's possible, also that he is required under insurance plans to be conservative for at least a period of time to demonstrate he is not overly quick to push you to surgery.
    And it's also likely that he has seen at least a few complications from surgery, and even reinjury as players rushed back to soon without doing all the rehab and even gaining extra strength to protect the knee as much as possible.
    He may be "testing" you not to be mean-spirited, but to see if you seem ready to rise to the challenge of the long rehab inherent in going the ACL repair route.
  6. fantom

    fantom Hall of Fame

    Feb 24, 2004
    I'm coming up on my two-year anniversary from ACL recon, and I'm a better player now than before. I'd say it took a year to get back to where I was before the injury.

    I, personally, wouldn't play tennis on a knee w/ no ACL. Without the ACL to keep the knee stable, there is more wear and tear on both the cartilage and meniscii. You are risking an early onset of major knee problems as you get older.
  7. brad1730

    brad1730 Rookie

    Oct 29, 2008
    I had a torn ACL and lived with it for quite some time - although I didn't play tennis during that period. IMO, you can live with it, but it is only a matter of time before it snaps. I was playing with my kids on a trampoline, not doing anything aggressive, and out it went. I'm sure you can empathize with the pain.

    I had the ACL surgery about 2 years ago, and am much, much better. I had a very 'loose' knee before, and I don't think tennis would have been possible without the surgery.

    As with Tiger though, they say that it's about 1 year before your back to full speed. In my case, it was well worth it.

    Good luck!
  8. Charles Norris

    Charles Norris Rookie

    Jul 6, 2009
    Sounds like you have a good doctor too. Any M.D. who doesn't push surgery should be commended. Your body will never be the same once you cut into. Save that for "must" situations.
  9. BillH

    BillH Rookie

    Feb 23, 2004
    The loss of an acl compromises your knee and places you in increased risk of tearing other ligaments and deteriorating cartilage. I got by for close to 10 years without an acl repair. Most of that time I wasn't playing tennis though. After I started playing again, I wore a custom acl brace but after several years the knee got looser and required surgery. Two years later the other acl tore and I had it replaced also. It will take you about a year to get back where you were tennis-wise before surgery. If you have a good surgeon and pick a reconstruction process that suits you, your knee will be stronger and better than before. If you do not get an acl replacement, arthritis is most likely in your future. Find a surgeon that specializes in the reconstructive technique you choose and that does lots of them - you won't regret it.
  10. ProgressoR

    ProgressoR Hall of Fame

    Feb 1, 2010
    No Man's Land
    i ruptured my ACL when i was about 23, had 5 ops altogether. Rehab was tough, but very doable expecially if you want to play sports. My knee is not as strong as before, but I still did everything, snowboarding, surfing, real football, cricket etc, and now tennis. I do wear a soft support just to give it a better feel of solidity, and it does get a bit sore after a solid day of sport.

    Its about 90-95% as strong as before, i dont really feel it playing sport, but have lost a bit of flexibility at extreme bending, and it gets sore if i sit awkwardly etc.

    But I had to do it for sport, i wasnt one of those whose knee was still workable after the acl damage.

    If it hasnt stopped you doing what you want, then my first reaction is why bother with the operation? if it has, then I would consider it. Be prepared to work hard on the rehab though.

    Good luck on your choice!
  11. dyson

    dyson New User

    Jul 16, 2008
    was your acl tear a complete tear? does your knee give out with or without the brace?

    i tore my acl, had the surgery, and it took me about 9 months (with VERY aggressive rehab) to get even comfortable on the courts again. it's been almost 7 years since my surgery, and although i still wear an ace compression brace on my knee (all psychological), i move just as fast if not faster than i did before the injury.

    my wife is actually in the exact same situation as you. she had torn her acl and did not know about it for about a year. we only found out when she tried to go skiing. she's got pretty strong quads and hammies so her knee never gave out on her before that. she plays tennis without a brace, but not very well. if anyone hits it behind her, she usually won't get to it. the surgeon said the exact same thing that you were told (she can get by without it, and should wear a brace for activities that requires it). she opted not to get surgery, but that's because she runs more then anything else.

    everyone thinks surgery is great, etc. etc., but you have to remember, it's still surgery. things can go wrong. what may be a very, very routine procedure could go wrong. i opted for it. my wife didn't. it's all about your lifestyle and the risks you're willing to take. personally, if i were back in the same situation, i'd probably get surgery again because i play a lot of tennis, soccer, and basketball. just keep in mind that rehab is a *****, and that it is ALL about how much you put in to it. if you don't do the physical therapy, or half-ass it, it's going to take longer. even now, my repaired leg is slightly weaker than my other leg.

    hope this helps and good luck.

    p.s. i'm always amazed when people say that they don't remember tearing their acl, or just thought it was a sprained knee. i swear to god i thought i was going to die when i heard it pop.
  12. Ptrac

    Ptrac Rookie

    Aug 20, 2008
    I tore my ACL when I was 12 and because I was so young I never got surgery. Im now 21 and play d1 tennis with a torn ACL w/o wearing any sort of athletic brace. I passed sport physicals and my doctor says that my knee is as strong as it would be even after surgery. I credit that to my hard after puberty to build up the muscles around my knee to protect it and my young age.
    I do expect knee problems in the future but its worth it to me to keep playing tennis w/o those bulky knee braces that I use to wear when I was younger. I only plan on getting knee surgery if I have too because I really feel like my knee is strong enough to keep on playing.
  13. nkbond

    nkbond Rookie

    Feb 19, 2004
    Huntsville, AL
    I went 12-15 yrs. with a torn ACL before definitive diagnosis and surgery. I've got friends who play today w/ torn ACLs and do not wear an ACL brace. They are all doubs players (I prefer singles).

    There's nothing wrong w/ your doc suggesting you may be able to get by without surgery. Some folks can. If your body weight is light, and you don't stress it too much, it may be your best option. If you are highly functional in your normal life and happy in your tennis today, do not take that for granted.

    If you are aggressive and stress the joint a lot, you do risk meniscus tears and other problems with a compromised ACL. Most folks find that a compromised ACL/joint cannot handle high-stress, high-level tennis.

    Also, it's true as one poster states that surgery will forever change your knee. No operation is ever going to make your knee as good as it was originally.

    What can happen, though, is that you take your rehab seriously, drop some weight, and find yourself in better physical condition than you were going in. You start to focus on your game more, and voila, you may find yourself playing better tennis than before your injury.

    I just had a medial meniscectomy last week after having an ACLr and MM repair 7 months ago. Things just never felt 100% after the ACL was fixed, and I woke up one morning with a balloon for a left knee. As I sit here typing this, I feel fairly certain that this flap tear that was just cut out was causing me problems during most of my ACL rehab. Now, the knee finally feels normal, even though I've got a 4-6 weeks recovery in front of me.

    You just never know what's going to happen when you start on this odyssey, that is for sure...
  14. 18X20Newbie

    18X20Newbie Rookie

    Dec 23, 2009
    Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences, I really took it to heed.

    I've decided (for now) that I'll be NOT doing the surgery.

    I don't make my living playing tennis. I'm able to play 3 times a week 3 - 4 hours at a time. I have good friends, good competition, good fun and a good beer after the match.

    I don't think any of that will get any better with knee surgery...

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