ximian's ACL reconstruction journal

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by ximian, Jun 16, 2010.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Aug 31, 2006
    Hey, I'm sorry about the setback. I'm just popping in to say that the estimates surgeons often give for return to activity are, in my experience, wildly optimistic.

    I say that just so you won't get worried or freaked out or think you did something wrong or think the answer is another surgery. Better, I think, is to relax and give it some more time.

    I had a meniscus tear repaired by surgery, and I had a bout of . . . . dang, what's the name for it? Bad tracking resulting in scuffing of the articular cartilage, but I can't remember the exact name for it. Once they get in there and mess around, it can cause some unpredictable stuff. Just being patient with it and sticking with the rehab helped it resolve on its own without injections or surgery.

    Good luck. We're all pulling for you.
  2. ximian

    ximian Rookie

    Oct 4, 2005
    6 Months

    My 6 month update was on Monday. Hard to believe time has flown by this fast -- especially since my knee really does not feel close to 100%. But at least I've been cleared to play tennis again!

    With the help of a steroid shot to calm down that strange pain I've been experiencing, I've hit the courts for the first time. It was a good hit, my strokes were not nearly as rusty as I expected, but my movement was fragmented and hardly as natural as before. A lot of work is ahead before I can feel strong and fluid on the court again, let alone ready to compete on the Open level. Nevertheless, I'm incredibly pumped to at least be back on court. I'm still trying to do rehab everyday, with a regime that will include about an hour of biking, with some tennis-specific footwork and strength training as well. I hope that in about 3 months (when my steroid shot will fall off) my right leg will be back to normal and I'll feel a lot closer to 100%.

    Right now, it just feels good to be back on the court! Even with the steroid shot, it doesn't feel right, but with the rehab regime that should change. :) I'll update soon on how my game is improving. Hopefully in a week or more I'll play my first competitive match and things will be progressing.

    At least things are looking up! The goal right now is to be back to 90% by this summer and be able to compete on the Open level again. Here we go!
  3. ximian

    ximian Rookie

    Oct 4, 2005
    7 Months

    The steroid shot seems to have calmed things down a bit, although there is still some pain. But its not around the joint line and it comes and goes -- probably just par for the course with ACL surgery.

    I'm not rehabbing as much as I'd like, probably only getting in the gym about 3-4 times per week but I'd really like to make it 5-6 again and really make a push to completely strengthen the muscles before the steroid shot wears off. As it is, my rehab is a combination of strength and cardio. I try to get about 40-60 min of biking along with a good hour or so of strength exercises (nothing too heavy).

    While I can play tennis, I try to limit my time on the court to once or twice a week to make sure I don't overdue it with my knee. I have a feeling that without the steroid shot my knee wouldn't like tennis so much so I try to keep myself in check. So far so good. In combination with tennis, every time I rehab I get in some agility / rope ladder / footwork exercises to help me move on court. Its a slow process, but I am improving. I'd put my knee at about 60-65% right now. Good enough to play, not good enough to win at the Open level (yet).

    That said, I played my first match two days ago. I thought I'd only play one set, but it felt so good I kept going. First set was solid, I was hitting the ball pretty clean and there wasn't a lot of rust, but I really felt it in my movement. If I was balanced and got in position properly, I could crush it. But many times, short floaters and feeble attempts at inside-out backhands or running forehands didn't pack the same punch simply because I was a little off-balance. My right leg just doesn't cooperate like it used to, but that's to be expected. I won a tight first set, but the next two (yeah, I played three sets!!) were completely one-sided. I haven't lost two sets that badly in a very very long time, and I could tell I was losing stamina fast and the first thing that went was my balance and footwork. It was pretty obvious. On a related note, I'm ridiculously sore! All that serving is something I haven't done in 8+ months, and wow do I feel it!

    Anyway, I'm stoked to be back! I'd consider the first match a success, I'm surprised how little rust I'm showing and I think the road to real rehab starts now. I'm marking the summer tournament schedule as the time I'd like to be around 90% with my leg, giving me a shot at some of these tourneys. We'll see how it goes, for now I'm off to rehab again!
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2011
  4. ximian

    ximian Rookie

    Oct 4, 2005
    1.1 Years

    Hard to believe my last update was in February, and this will likely be my last update. The knee's improvement has been largely linear from my last post. The past three-four months I've seen quite a bit of improvement in my knee, as it seems like things have just "calmed down" a bit and it's feeling much more natural. Back in March to April I would've put my knee at around 60-70% recovered, but now I think I'm closer to 85-90%, which has made a big difference!! Since my last post I've been playing tennis a few times a week (sometimes as many as four-five times per week, although that's rare) and still doing my rehab regimen at least twice a week, usually three to four. I think it's very very important to the muscles strong and to train for tennis-specific movement, and I can really start to feel a difference. When I go for a stretch without any rehab, I can actually feel it a bit when I get on court, so I know how important it is to keep the regimen up. Likely for the rest of my life.

    Very soon I'll be starting a lot more intense footwork / agility / flexibility training, with an eye to using this coming off-season to really train the muscles and my knee, hopefully hitting 100% by next summer!

    All this said, I played a few Open tournaments this summer just to see where I'm at. I entered two very difficult PNW Open Prize Money tournaments, where both times I eventually lost badly to a seeded player. I've got some work to do, and even if I'm 100% healthy those guys just seem a step up for now. I also played a smaller, low key tournament and I felt like I played very well, posted some strong results, and I'm very encouraged by my play at a year out! I think all the hard work is finally paying off.

    As an end note, it seems everyone who's gone through the ACL process will testify that it really does take almost 2+ years to really, finally get the knee back to normal. Now I understand what they said, and they're right. Yeah, you can play at 6 months, but you really won't be your old self. Even if you're an NBA stud (watch David West and see what happens), you won't really be 100% until at least a year. For us mortals, likely two years. So next summer is when I aim to finally feel 100% on court!

    If you've got any questions, go ahead and ask in this thread, I'll still check it from time to time. I hope this journal has been useful to someone out there. Be encouraged, ACL tears are not the end of the world, and it seems you can recover to 95-100%.
  5. eliza

    eliza Rookie

    Aug 10, 2011
    so young!! I am so sorry to hear this, best of luck, and all wishes of a full recovery. Keep us informed on you progress post-op....
  6. waves2ya

    waves2ya Rookie

    Mar 10, 2005
    Essex County, NJ
    Nice entry - thanks...

    And yes, you'll rehab for life (acl '92); however - there lots of other fun things that can go wrong...!

    (pre-hab those)
  7. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

    Jun 18, 2004
    Thanks for the 1 year update. Hope things continue to go well and hope that you win some big tournaments.
  8. ximian

    ximian Rookie

    Oct 4, 2005
    3 Year Update

    Stumbled on my blog recently and figured I could do a 3 year update. All is well! My knee has fully recovered and been completely normal for over a year now. It's funny reading my progress and remembering all the little hiccups I had and what I really went through. But it was all worth it, my right leg and right knee feel just as good (if not better) than my left!

    Movement on court and footspeed is back up to par, and I've been feeling strong on court for a long time now. The ACL is honestly almost a distant memory now.

    The only real lasting effects from the surgery is slightly less ROM on the right side. If I squat down, my heel can touch my butt, but not as easily as my left knee. But who cares? That doesn't effect anything. The other thing is a noticeable stiffness after lifting. My right knee gets stiffer after lifting compared to my left, but that subsides relatively quickly and it really wouldn't hamper anything at this point anyway. I've also noticed slightly slower reactions in my right calf compared to my left. This likely came from unavoidable nerve damage in the surgery, but again I don't think it really affects anything in the end.

    So all is well! I'm very aware people with that ACL surgeries have a statistically higher chance of having another ACL injury, either in the same knee or the other one. I think this could be attributed to a lot of people taking shortcuts on rehab, and not doing the necessary strengthening and conditioning necessary to trust the knee again 100%. But there likely is other effects in play, and I continue to do "rehab" in the form of strength and conditioning. My legs are much stronger now than they were pre-injury, and I've done a lot of other things to prevent other injuries.

    One side-effect of the ACL drama for me was actually found on the left knee. During my rehab I was biking a lot, and unfortunately didn't know that you should keep your cadence high and resistence (relatively) low. While I always had a cadence around 80-90, the high resistance caused some petallofemoral tendonitis under my left kneecap. It's a quirkly little problem that I've dealt with for the last few years, at times sidelining me from tennis since it's technically an overuse injury and requires rest if it flames up. But recent strength and stretching regimes have really improved the condition, and I couldn't be happier.

    All in all, I'd say my recovery is a great success! I don't think at all about my ACL injury any more, and all the side-effects seem to have subsided completely. My advice for others facing ACL surgeries is to never ever skimp on your rehab, and DON'T DO MORE THAN YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO. Keep the schedule, be patient, nothing you do can speed up the time it will take to feel 100%. At 6 months the graft will be strong enough to play with caution, but you won't feel normal. A year out, and you should be well on your way. But really, you won't be 95%-100% until 1.5-2 years out. So be patient, your future self will be glad and you'll look back on the saga as an afterthought.

    For those who are currently uninjured, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I don't do any sports that carry a strong risk of ACL injuries simply because it's not worth the risk. I don't want to take 1-2 years and a tough surgery to get back to normal again! Also, strengthen your body all around! Get flexible! It's amazing how well that will work toward preventing future injuries.

    Good luck to those facing ACL surgeries!
  9. RogueFLIP

    RogueFLIP Professional

    Mar 23, 2013
    Your timing couldn't be better....recent ACL threads popping up....hopefully the guy who's getting surgery soon sees this.

    Glad to hear that everything worked out in the end for you.
  10. mars76

    mars76 Rookie

    Jul 22, 2008
    Hi ximian,

    Could you also please post info regarding how much it costs to get the ACL Surgery and Physical Therapy.

    How much of it is covered by the insurance.

    It might be really beneficial to lot of people who are planning go for the surgery.


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