Tips

ACL Surgery Tips
These are ACL surgery tips from real people who have had ACL surgery.

This info comes from open ended survey responses from a December 2010 survey; their open ended ACL surgery advice is listed here in its raw form.

Click here for the ACL surgery results.

  1. Find a surgeon who focuses on athletes (my doc was a former team doctor for the Redskins). He specialized in knee surgery.
  2. If you need ACL surgery, I recommend doing it right away to avoid further injury to knee. I chose my own hamstring and now wish that I had chosen a cadaver. Why? 1. The only study I found about types of grafts showed cadaver had higher fail rate for young athlete in contact sports, and I’m triathlete so less impact chances and more linear movement. 2. I do feel my age has been an issue in recovering/rebuilding my affected hamstring. Hope this helps.
  3. Hamstring surgery has a faster recovery time, but you will loose some range of motion (knee fully bent) – Patellar surgery is more painful and longer recovery time but the result was better for me.
  4. Do not hesitate and do it asap, in order to have his / hers normal life again :)
  5. I would take more time getting healthy before and after surgery. The human body is amazing and no matter how much work you put into rehab, it really just takes time. Be patient and it will feel better.
  6. PREHAB! Work hard before the surgery and listen to your doctor and your therapist. Make sure you have a system for icing and pain management and surround yourself with people to care for you for the first week.
  7. Keep up with physical therapy even after you go and its important to regain your motion.
  8. Have ACL surgery. A person needs a stable knee, especially if they are active, and even if they aren’t, the risk of arthritis and further injury as you get old is too great.
    And if done properly, the hamstring graft (3-5 strand) should give you a stronger ACL than you started with. :)
  9. It is a tough long recovery….be patient and work hard.
  10. 1. For the active folks, I would say prepare yourself mentally for being out of action for a while. That has really been the hardest part for me. I teach fitness classes and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE working out. I kind of rely on it for stress relief. I have really tried to focus my energy on rehab, but we all know it’s not quite the same.
    2. Make sure you feel comfortable with your doctor and the surgical team. You really do want to feel like you are in good hands.
    3. I also read “Prepare for Sugery, Heal Faster” by Peggy Huddleston and found it extremely helpful as I prepared for the procedure. The surgery was a breeze, but it does help to go into it in a good frame of mind.
    4. Rehab takes a while. Just be patient, don’t rush, and listen to your body.
    5. My most important piece of advice is to just keep a positive outlook-things are going to get better and if you do the rehab, you’ll get a little better every single day.
  11. Yoga Good for ACL Surgery

    Yoga is good for strengthening muscles before and after ACL surgery

  12. Be sure you trust your doctor. I went to 2 who wanted to operate but were jerks to me. The 3rd was really cool and re-xrayed my avulsion fracture, which had healed itself. My knee is doing great now.
  13. If you’re young enough to play sports, do it cuz it will improve your life considerably but dont if you do not participate in such activities much. Patella is the strongest, hamstring the least painful and allografts the weakest and for sissies. i went for the patella for the strongest graft. if pain something you can endure for a week or two, patella tendon is best.
  14. Hamstring,hamstring,hamstring….no pain…quicker recovery …no question a better option
  15. Ask people for their advice who have had the surgery. This is a very common injury in Ultimate Frisbee, so I had advice pouring in. It was a little bit overwhelming. Different tears also require different treatment. I was only eligible for the hamstring and the cadaver. I also weighed the pros and cons of each and tried to figure out what would be the best fit for me. It’s a personal answer. Which is why I can’t properly answer the question “Which is better?”. I don’t know which is better since I’ve only had one! The biggest factor in making me choose cadaver was one of my teammates saying that he completely regrets having the hamstring vs the cadaver. He was very passionate with his argument. I had surgery October 1st and I am doing alright! Initial recovery was a nightmare but now I can walk and drive myself to PT. It feels good to move around again. I can’t wait to be able to run.
  16. Think long term. Patella is simply the better bet-all others refer to theirs as being as good as Patella. The skill of the surgeon makes a difference too. Ask surgeon for references. If they tell you that xxx graft is just as good ask for studies and research. We were told that the allograft was just as good but they couldn’t produce any long term studies. We did find some but the majority of the studies say patella is still the gold standard. See Dr. Benjamin Rubin in Orange CA, highly recommend.
  17. Research your options, talk to everyone as all experiences are different, consider the future, work hard at rehab, dont rush back post surgery, take your time and make sure you’re really ready both physically and psychologically!
  18. ACL Rehab Pilates

  19. I have torn both of my ACLs and had replacement surgery both times. My biggest concern heading into surgery was the type of graft to use. On my first tear, I used a patellar graft. On the second, which I’m currently almost 4 months removed from, I used a hamstring graft. The patellar graft never gives me any trouble, and the hamstring graft is also coming along extremely well. I’d say to go with whatever your surgeon recommends, assuming your surgeon is good. Both grafts are sound, but there is a TON of internet “literature” out there that will exaggerate the pros and cons of both grafts. Don’t pay too much attention to that. From first-hand experience, both surgeries are good.
  20. Do it as fast as posible and choose the strongest graft. Also try to use resorbable screws, would save you for another operation to remove the titanium screws.
  21. If you have the hamstring graft, you are having TWO surgeries; it makes it worse. Have the surgery and one STRONG piece of advice DO NOT STOP PHYSCIAL THERAPY until you absolutly MUST or you are completly healed. I stopped after 20 visits and ended up back there 3 months later.
  22. If you do the patellar one you will have pain in the front of your knee cap for a long time (maybe forever). It doesn’t bother me all that much, but I can’t kneel without discomfort. Just something to think about if you do things like kneel to pray, or play on the ground with kids, or yoga.
  23. Had two ACL surgeries, first used Patella tendon, it tore third game back after rehab. Second surgery used hamstring still strong after 2 years. Also did quad fold.
  24. Do physical therapy both before and after surgery
  25. Get a doc you can trust, and then the best physiotherapist + 100% commitment to physio
  26. find the best surgion that fits you, and your lifestyle. REASEARCH the different grafts and proceduers. when its all over… HIT THE GYM and PHYSICAL THERAPY! workout workout workout. get stronger and good luck!
  27. Mentally prepare yourself for a long, difficult, but ultimately rewarding process. Don’t give up. You are more than half the battle to recovery.
  28. ACL Rehab Stretching

  29. Do a lot of research for which ACL reconstruction will work best for you. Patellar is a harder recovery but the strongest of the 3. Don’t get dependant on your brace after surgery. Stop using it as a crutch after 9 months. You REALLY don’t need it after 9 months but most people wear them forever. PT, PT, PT… attend PT as much as possible and do as much as you can at home. All the best!
  30. Listen to your doctor and physical therapist and don’t skip on doing the rehab fully. And there are lots of good blogs out there with real first-hand experience info to let you know what you’ll go through!
  31. ACL rehab has ups and downs, and if you stick through it, you’ll come back 100%
  32. its painful, but worth it in the end, its a slow process patience is the key
  33. Gather as much information as possible to make an informed and correct decision for your scenario.
  34. research it fully in order to try to decide which graft choice would be best for you.
    dicuss it with your surgeon, and only choose a technique which your surgeon is familiar with and does many of.

  35. Go with the procedure that your O.S has suggested and has had the greatest success with. Age is also a factor considering Patella procedure pain can linger and hamper rehap for older patients.
  36. Wait until your knee is dry and muscles are strong bofore the operation
  37. During the recovery take a balanced approach. Don’t overdo it because of something you saw online and don’t be lazy either. Keep close communication with your doctor, get them to respond to your questions, issues.
  38. Do your research & strengthen your legs pre surgery!
  39. Do it, otherwise you’ll spend the rest of your life thinking ‘what if’. For a couple of days of not being that mobile it’ll be worth it
  40. make a research better to be a good acl after surgery…and give more tips to improve stronger the knee every patient…not only for the athletes
  41. deffinetly get it because it changes your world for the better just make sure you go to a surgeon you would trust with your life because thats basicly what you are doing
  42. Only use a knee specialist, use patella or cadavor (sp?), be prepared for pain, use the meds your prescribed, get your knee drained if it’s too swollen to even do therapy, ask for a stim machine if your quad won’t fire by day 3.
  43. do it ! My knees work great. I had the surgery on both knees.
  44. Don’t have it too soon after injury. Work as hard as you possibly can in re-hab.

57 thoughts on “Tips

  1. I am 17 and i tore my ACL presidents weekend, i had surgery on February 24th and used my hamstring. we had this same debate and eventually decided to leave it up to the doctor and what he was comfortable doing. I was able to walk three days after surgery and 22 days out i have full extension and 100 degree flexion but i am still in a brace and walk with a serious limp. I’m an athlete and before surgery i was lifting weights every day and have very strong legs. It is very important to get quad strength up before the procedure because it makes the recovery a lot quicker. That being said, I had a cadaver graft in my right knee in 2003 and it has held up wonderfully, no problems at all. I am not sure that the hamstring graft is better yet because i do have a lot of pain in my hamstring and i worry that it will never be the same. Cadaver is least invasive, hamstring is strongest, and patellar is easiest

  2. Thanks for the information. I’m having ACL reconstruction on June 2, which is next Wednesday, and still haven’t decided.

    I’m a wrestler and Brazilian jiu jitsu competitor so I want whatever is strongest. Problem is that a lot of BJJ consists of grappling in a kneeling position, which makes me feel that hamstring will be better for me.

    Thanks for the information.

    1. I’m really torn between which one to do as well. Hamstring or Patellar? I do Bjj and Muay Thai, so kneeing people in the head is a given and going on the ground is assured. Need to to be flexible and strong. Surgery is in 14 days, but I’m not sure if I what the Patellar when I’m so dependent on my knee for so many things. Anyone who’s done combat sports have an opinion?

  3. 2 weeks post op and walking around the house fine. I pre-habed very hard and could sprint before my surgery. I had to wait 3 months after my tear and i think it was worth it. have full extension and half felxion. I can flex both my hamstrings and quads very well and raise my leg on my own. However, my surgeon told me to still take it easy. I think this is for freak accidents hat involve falling. I think the key is to realize that you had your surgery onn the ACl not the hamstring of quads. So why not try to use your ham string and quads as normal as possible after surgery? only you know your body the best and it is important to not let the doctor mentally freak u out. after all, everything is mental after a certain point. The sooner you can overcome the mental aspect the sooner u will be better and everything will be easier

  4. It surprises me that this post which was posted two-years ago is still very active. Reading all the stuff here has been really helpful, and it makes me feel that i’m not alone.

    I’m 16yo, female, and I tore my ACL last December while playing Basketball. I’ve been playing for four years then and it was hard on me that I got injured, I remember crying every time i saw a doctor, when they told me i couldn’t play the next month with a broken ACL for our biggest league that year. Well, the doctor warned me that if i didn’t get surgery I would most likely have arthritis by my 30s, so the obvious choice for me was to have surgery. Since I was graduating at March and i didn’t want to miss all the pre-grad activities I didn’t have the surgery until 2.5 weeks ago. My basketball coach, who was also a sports science major, told me to go on a strengthening program pre-op because he said it’ll make recovery easier, and so i did. I went for physical therapy three time a week for strengthening, focusing on strengthening my quads and hamstrings. And i regularly went on a stationary bike. So for the surgery i took the hammy route, but i didn’t have much choice. The doctor only did recon with the hammy. Which actually brought me here, I wanted to find something that would make me believe that the hamstring was the right choice for me (even though it wasn’t exactly a choice), and after reading all these stuff I feel pretty confident with it.

    I got an epidural when i had surgery so i was awake the whole time and couldn’t feel my legs, but i got to watch the surgery. I was apprehensive about watching at first but they said it was just like watching Discovery, and it was, after that I was in recovery and waited for the anesthesia to wear off, it was hard to walk with the brace at first but it was ok after. I also made sure to take my pain-meds on time and i practically felt no intolerable pain up until now (and my pain tolerance is pretty low)

    I’m now 2.5 weeks in recovery and I have 110degrees range of motion, at my first PT session I was at 90degrees, so it’s an improvement. I think its true what the others say that you shouldn’t be dependent on the crutches and brace. I had my brace a week and was scared to even walk, so i spent days lying down. And when my PT got my brace off my range of motion went from 92 to 100degrees in just two days, then 100 to 110 after that. So every now and then i try to walk around, to stretch my legs out and get used to walking. I also think that my pre-op strengthening helped a bit, my PT says that my quads and hamstrings are doing better than others’ after the surgery. Almost no pain for me too, even during PT, just a little stiffness.

    I also agree that the result of the surgery really depends on the surgeon, my surgeon was an orthopedic surgeon, but specializes in sports medicine, he’s supposed to be one of the best around my country, and performs sports injury related reconstruction about 3 times a day, plus, he was the doctor of the pro-basketball league of our country. I could have gotten a surgeon who charges half the price, but i wouldn’t feel as confident about the surgery.

    After reading all the stuff on this thread, I’m left with two important decisions to make. 1) When, or if I will start playing again? and 2) If I should get the screws out? (i got titanium screws), but i heard there are bio-absorbable screws which dissolves, so you don’t have to worry about them being taken off after a year or ringing when passing bu metal detectors.

    Also, anyone recommend anything that will prevent the scars? The hamstring-graft didn’t require a really big incision but i still don’t want a scar. I heard that vitamin E helps, does it really?

    *Wishes everyone luck!*

  5. I completely tore my right ACL on May 30th. I am a 33 yr old professional MMA fighter. My surgery is scheduled for June 21st in Pittsburgh. I beleive my fighting career is over but I plan on continuing to train in Jui Jistu and wrestling once I am at 100%.

    This site has helped me a lot preparing for my surgery. I talked to a lot of friends that have had the surgery and I have gotten mixed reviews for both. I am leaning towards the hamstring surgery based on the chance of rupturing the patella post surgery.

    I’ll update you guys once I get the surgery. Thanks for the help.

    Joe

  6. Micheal M says:

    Hi Guys,
    From what i have been taught at university, pre hab-ing (strengthening etc) the hamstring from which the graft is being taken significantly helps during the re-hab period. Consult your physical therapist on their opinions.

    hope this helps

  7. My daughter’s hamstring graft tore in her first game back. Her surgeon thought it would provide less pain long term, but he gives patella a slight advantage for dependability (i.e. tight wihtout retear). Even if you’ve been cleared & are running alot, be careful kicking, planting, cutting, etc. excessively your first few games. She was playing SO well that the coach kept her in, had her take a penalty kick instead of the 9 other girls on the field, she planted, and it collapsed. And our surgeon is one of the best in the Chicago ‘burbs. She had done all the PT, PT tests for clearance, etc. Also would say if you’re menstrating first few games back, you may want to wait until you’re not, for the reasons you’ve probably read if you’re on this site.

  8. aclsurgery says:

    Sorry to hear that. How long did she recover before going back? Less than a year?

  9. I’m person #2 in survey, and I wanted to clarify my answers.
    “Do it right away…”- I waited 15 years! Did “strengthening exercises” instead and frequently re-injured my knee. Now have bone cartilage loss which is bad news. I believe this could have been prevented by ACL surgery which would have stabilized the knee.
    “my age in recovering from hamstring graft”- I was nearly 50 at surgery and taking material from my hamstring might not have been best idea since IMO muscles don’t recover as easily as you age. I feel I could have gotten away w/cadaver to protect my own hamstring.

    1. I’m getting for acl surgury and arthrosurface(due to arthritus) in less than a month on my right knee. I am 49 and I injured my knee 32 yrs ago playing football. I have had issues with my knee, but it always seemed to hold up, until about 4 months ago. I agree with you when you said get it done right away. I was told by my doc that I may not have got arthritus if my acl was repaired when it happended.

      1. Well, I had the arthrosurface and ACL replacement surgery done in the same surgery. It has been a little over 6 weeks and it has been very painful and still need pain meds to sleep at night amd after rehab. I have had some good days recently. I have been going to rehab directly after surg at 2 times weekly and have another 5 weeks to go. Rehab can cause pain, but seems to be making things better. I am really suprised how much my muscles seemed to have left me, but I am building them back up and am able to walk up an down stairs – very slowly. My doc thinks I will be able to return to golf in a month – we’ll see. I am interested to hear from anyone else who had this multi-surgery.

      2. I’m 52 and tore my ACL 31 years ago doing judo. I was young, dumb and uninsured so I rehabed it on my own and kick boxed a couple years later avoiding bad angles on the bad knee. I tore the medial meniscus in the same knee last year and now I’m old and dumb, but I am insured so I had ACL (allograft) and meniscus repair done in March. It’s been a slow but positive recovery with patella tracking issues; however, I am improving incrementally every day. Fortunately, even with the kick boxing, there was no arthritis in the knee as seen from the surgery images. I guess I’ve had dumb luck and I’ll push it by taking up Muay Thai and Brazillian Jujitsu. One thing that I will do is wear a Donjoy eXtreme Action Armor knee brace when working out to protect the knee. It is a “off the shelf” brace that has a lot of good reviews. The best price I found was from jointhealing.com for $445 w/free shipping. Normal price pushes $700+.

  10. Wow, great info. Thanks for sharing.

    The graft really depends on what level of sports and activity you’re trying to do. I’m in my late 30s and very active, but I didn’t want a cadaver and got the hamstring. Glad I did, I didn’t want to risk knee pain by doing the patellar.

  11. Sheri Jennings says:

    I was just told today by my orthopedist that I need ACL reconstruction and a repair to a meniscus tear. This Doc is very highly regarded, is a sports ortho and treats one of our local pro teams (SF Bay Area). He looked at the MRI scan but didn’t have the radiologist’s report yet when he gave me his firm opinion. Then I come home to the preliminary MRI radiography report, e-mailed to me, and it doesn’t even mention the ACL! I have a cyst, tendinosis, but no ligament tears seen. This is a “prelim” report, and I’m still looking up the terms.

    Of course it’s the weekend, so I’ll sit with this till Monday. I really think I need another opinion – did any of you get more than one diagnosis and/or see more than one orthopedic surgeon? I’m so glad to stumble onto this site, and hope it keeps going.

    BTW, I’m a 55 yo (woman) competitive equestrian – no pain when I ride, but some when I go up and down stairs and bend my knees to pick things up – I actually have to press my left hand against my left knee to get up with less pain. Hope you all are still out there and thanks for the info and inspiration.

  12. Good tips on this site, here are a couple more practical ones: girls, get a nightgown. Think moo moo. By the time u brace up, and hobble to the bathroom, it is great to not have to fiddle with anything, just lift and whizz. 2nd, first few days your leg is too sore, but now I have a bathrobe sash to loop around my foot and gently hold up my leg as needed. 3rd, make sure all the cords for your cpm or ice cuff machines are hidden. Yep almost tripped on those! good luck all!

  13. I’m now 25 and almost exactly 1 year post-op after a patella graph to repair an ACL tear and also ripped the meniscus in half, luckily i was able to have the meniscus sheared off saving me some rehab time but i definitely recommmend a patella graph to anyone with that option, it is a little more painful and more rehab but its well with it (at least it was for me). I was able to return to a very active job after 6 weeks. I waited on returning to organized sport due to being a little worried about reinjuring it, but after getting past the mental block was able to return at nearly 100% and it has continued to get better as I’ve been able to regain confidence in the knee and build strength and flexibility…

  14. GREG SIRICO says:

    I had an ACLr using a BPB autograft in Sept 2010 that has now failed and I am planning on fixing it again. Any advise?

  15. It’s been 6 weeks since my surgery and I still don’t have my full extension back, I’m 3 degrees short, i can get it to “0″ But putting some weight on it. As soon as I stand up, it bends. I’m getting worried, they gave me a kneehab to see if my quad will wake up but i’m scared I’ll stay like this forever

  16. aclsurgery says:

    I’d try not to worry and give your quad some time to strengthen. It loses strength so fast and takes months to build it back up. I had electroshock treatment on the quad too to try to wake it up- not sure if it helped or not- but my quad is back and strong now a couple years later (a year after the surgery I felt pretty strong).

    As far as extension, I had fluid buildup (blood, water, etc) in my knee and it restricted my range of motion. It wasn’t until they stuck a needle in and drained it that I felt so much relief! It constricted my motion. Also, it just takes time. Not everyone is on the same time table. Basically, just keep trying, strengthening, working on flexing, give it time and try not to worry. Worrying really doesn’t help anything.

  17. Anyone have suggestions where I can rent an ice machine for my knee post surgery? I live in Southern California.
    thanks.

  18. I’m a mother of 3 and 25 yrs old. I was jumping on a trampoline and tore my acl and have severe sprains of my medial and latteral ligaments, plus and impactin fracture on my shin. I’m currently in physical therapy 3 times a week and they won’t do the acl surgery until my other 2 ligaments are healed. Im only 2 weeks out from the injury and I was pretty scared of the whole “surgery” aspect and have had nothing but horror stories told to me about the physical therapy and pain after. Reading this site has given me a little more confidence in having the surgery but anyone who can give me any information on what to ask the surgeon about or what kind of graph to use would be EXTREMELY appreciated. Right now they are telling me they want to use my quad for the graph….any suggestions as what graph to use seeing that im a mom and a runner?????

  19. aclsurgery says:

    Hi Holly, this site has a lot of information and if you haven’t done so already, I recommend reviewing every page- the links at the top, plus the ones in the middle of the homepage. It covers advice, what graft to choose, finding a doctor, cost, insurance issues, and more. There are lots of comments to learn from too. If your primary concern is a graft, I’d recommend printing this page out and just taking it to your doctor and asking questions from each of the opposing thoughts about graft pros/cons: http://www.aclsurgery.us/patellar-vs-hamstring/ – I’d also be sure and see the survey results- there’s 2 on this website: they show that the majority believes hamstring is best, of course this is a generalization, averaging people of different athletic needs and abilities. The other survey is on every page, and shows out of 231 votes that hamstring is the most popular choice among the 3. Best of luck to you in your process of Q&A and learning about your options.

    1. Thank You so much and I love your site it has helped so much and eased my fears by making me more knowledgeable about my choices!!!

  20. Well it’s been a while since anyone has posted on this page but I figured I would throw my 2 cents in now.
    I’m 24 years old and just had my second ACL surgery on my second knee on 6/13/2012 and by 6/23 I had full range of motion for 0 degrees to 138degrees.
    My first surgery on my right knee was a patella graft and it is holding up very well after 6+ years but I do have discomfort in the front of my knee and kneeling causes some pain still.
    My most recent surgery was a cadaver graft on my left knee and I’m recovering 1000x faster than I did with the patella graft. After one week I could walk without crutches, and 2 weeks in I was off my brace and had full motion in my knee and complete control of my quads.
    The patella graft has been very strong and I’ve put it through many trials being in the Army and running in multiple half marathons but the recovery time was quite long and gruesome.
    The cadaver graft still isn’t 100% since I’m only 3 weeks out but it feels very strong and I have high hopes for it.
    If it finishes healing this quick, I would suggest cadaver to pretty much anyone. Being able to get my knee fixed and recover quickly is extremely important to me.

  21. I am due to have ACL surgery (my first) on August 20…. I’m a very active 50yr old female. I tore it a month ago on a faulty landing during a TaeKwonDo maintenance test. :-( Within a week all the swelling went down and I had full range of motion.
    While I was pleased with that, my quad had already lost a lot of strength.

    I’m doing strengthening exercises now but am climbing the walls because I haven.t been doing anything cardiovascularly. My left leg feel much better.

    Anyway, I am very worried, given my age, that I won’t bounce back. Also, the injured leg has always been noticeably weaker that the other, so I just cannot imagine it getting that much worse.

    In all honesty, do you think I can get back into shape (or better?) within about 10 months? (I know I have to do rehab and I will… )

    thanks

  22. Looking for advice…I tore my ACL playing ultimate frisbee, but my real sport is running (I would love to qualify for olympic trials in the marathon) and cross country skiing (skate skiing and biathlon). I’m concerned about patellar graft for the sake of kneeling (both for work and sport), but worry about a hamstring graft because I run sooo much and rely heavily on backside mechanics.

    Is there anyone out there who runs a lot and can offer me their 2 cents?

  23. I thought I sprained my knee back in March 2011 playing basketball which I’ve played for over 20 years, but it hadn’t fully come back, and finally saw my doctor who suggested I get an MRI, which of course, let to me seeing an Ortho Dr. who said I had a complete ACL tear and slight meniscus tear. I’ve already decided to get surgery, but reading all the stories has helped me at least get ideas. I’m 39yr old male and hurt my knee the day after my 38th birthday in March of last year. I’m not sure which type of surgery I’m gonna lean towards, but this site has given me alot more information than I had before. I’m gonna check the rest of the site out before I decide. I have been playing on the knee for the past year or so, probably started playing basketball again after about 2 months, and I know its not the smartest thing, but I just love to play so much that I just gotta get out there. I hope my surgery goes well, and recovery is in the lower end rather the higher end towards time, like six months, but well see.

    1. Hello, i was reading your expierence about your torn ACL & I’m surprised how long you went with it torn and continued to play. While you played with it did you have any problems with your knee? You said your knee didnt fully come back; what was wrong with it. Also did you have any complications for not having surgery right away.

  24. My 14 year old son tore his acl and meniscus three months ago due to a dirtbike accident, I just wanna know even after surgery next week and physical therapy will his knee always bother him, it always gives out on him now will that continue to happen.. dnt know what to except, we have never been through this or known of anyone to have it happen.

  25. madelaine says:

    It say´s above that you should have it done ASAP… But I had mine done last year and I was told that I had to wait between 6-8 weeks to have surgery for it to have the best results, which I later still think is what´s right.

  26. aclsurgery says:

    Hi Madelaine,

    The responses (tips) above were from various people. What the person meant is don’t wait 30-40 years or late in life, but do it while you’re youngish. ‘Right away’ means different things to different people, apparently. Elsewhere on this site, it always says to wait, that there’s no risk in waiting. Wait at least a few months until swelling in your knee subsides completely and you have full range of motion. And you should pre-hab (strengthen your knee) to prepare for surgery as well. All this takes time and in my vocabulary does not mean ‘right away’, but should you wait 50 years? Probably not, unless you’ve decided to not have ACL surgery.

    1. If i got injury in December and waited till the summer will that be bad?

  27. Duties called me back quick says:

    I had acl replacement surgery, meniscal & tendon repair on June 13, 2012 I chose the cadaver option. It is now Sept 18 & 3 P.T. down. I am 27 & have 2 boys ages 8 & 3 with that said I had no choice but to recover a.s.a.p as I am a singleparent. Honestly I would have to say the most challenging part of this whole experience would have to be letting go and realizing I was not super woman! I have always been pretty independent so not being able to walk, stand hell I couldnt even us erl the restroom or put my underwear by myself

  28. Hello! I came across this website and I honestly wish I came across it sooner because it would’ve really helped me understand what ACL reconstruction would be like, pre-op and post-op.

    I’m a 16y-o female and I completely tore my ACL in the right knee, but avoided the “unhappy triad” (tearing of the ACL, meniscus, medial cruciate ligament). So it was just the ACL. I tore this when I was playing netball and tried to change direction whilst breaking for the ball and heard a pop noise and collapsed to the ground, in a lot of pain. I had no idea what was going on so urged my parents to book an appointment with the physio.

    Thank goodness my physio was able to diagnose me before I saw the surgeon because he helped me align my knee (it was really out of shape) and stabilise. I tried to regularly ice it and elevate it but school made it pretty difficult to nurse my leg. I got to surgery within 2 weeks of my accident and the surgeon did a pretty good job. Although, I wish I had asked more questions in my initial consultation because then I would’ve known more about the whole accident.

    I am now 2.5 weeks post surgery and there has been little to no pain (I got a hamstring graft. My surgeon didn’t offer me a choice between patella, hamstring or cadaver. Looking back, I think he chose the right one!). I do my exercises everyday and noticed a lot of improvement since being discharged from surgery.

    On the first day when I tried to do the exercises, I was in so much pain and my leg was really weak. I couldn’t do half the stretches I was required to do and I got really worried. My physio helped me with the stretches and told me which ones to do. I think after the visit to the physio (1 week after surgery), it really helped because I could now lift my leg up (which I couldn’t do a couple days after surgery) and noticed my leg get stronger.

    I now have to work on my ROM and get it to 90 degrees, otherwise I’m behind the schedule. My leg is in a brace but it gets taken off during stretches. I’m a bit worried about how I will go about to school because I’m not very confident with walking around a lot and I do use crutches.

    I’m hoping my experience with ACL can help others and thanks to everyone here who’ve shared their experiences!

  29. I’m 26. Never broke a bone in my life, this is my worse injury to date. I was playing soccer and an opposing player scissored slide tackled me from behind. My feet were caught between his legs and I buckled over tearing my right ACL. It sounded like a shotgun when it popped. I scream initially just cause the sound was terrible. I was able to get up and put full weight on it and was able to sprint in a straight line… Not knowing I had no lateral support, I stayed off it for a couple of weeks and played again 2 weeks later and tweaking my knee again…. At this point is when I knew something wasnt right. I had an MRI done and my ACL was completely torn. From my time I scheduled my surgery I had a few weeks to decided what type of surgery. Research, research, research! I googled the crap out of the different grafts… I give lots of credit to all of you who posted and shared your experience. Everyone before pretty much lead me to doing the hamstring graft. My reason for choosing the hamstring graft was the bone-patella just seems way to painful and I would be in a crap load of pain when I get older. I think if you are an elite athlete, in high school, college, or pro… The bone-patella is your surgery, examples.. Adrian Peterson… Derek Rose… REHAB!!! The cadaver just seem to weak with all the treatment to the tissue its just not as strong. I think if you are a person who is going to have ACL repair and not play sports then this your choice. I would say im a very competitive soccer player, I think this hamstring graft just fit. I am committed to the PT and the REHAB, 3x week with therapy and pretty much all the stuff I can do at home.

    My first 2 days, I was completely numb, 3rd day rehab started and i was walking with crutches and weight on my leg. I was at 90 degrees at the first week, 120 degree a few day later. My extension is great with almost full exertion. ROM and extension is my number 1 priority. I did have a slight set back with my hamstring comfortness. Stay away from hamstring exercises for a while… Your hamstring is weak you have to let it heal.

    Best advice before surgery… WORK OUT, cycle, wall sits. Strength your quads! I won’t be playing soccer for a year…. even though you feel amazing after 4-6 months post surgery it is still healing. Get cleared by your therapist before attempting anything!

    Good Luck!

  30. MelonLord says:

    I’m about 2.5 weeks post allograft surgery. I tore my ACL on a light hike last August hopping down a 2 ft ledge. When I landed I had the strangest feeling like my shin went one way and my thigh went the other way, and felt the pop. It hurt for a few minutes, but the pain subsided enough to hobble back to my car. By the next day I forgot all about it.

    Until I tore my MCL in October. No pop, but it HURT. That took me out of commission for a while, with only a really boring story to tell for it – I hopped over the garage door sensor to avoiding tripping the safety stop, but landed on pain so explosive I can only imagine this is what stepping on a landmine must feel like. If that happened on a trail, they’d have to medivac me out.

    MRI showed both tears. My doctor refused to do surgery until the MCL healed and I completed PT, but he warned me I’d be feeling so much better that I might change my mind about the surgery. He was right, both to wait and about how much better I’d be feeling, but I didn’t change my mind. So here I am 2.5 weeks out. I hoped to have less swelling and more ROM by now, but apparently I’m right on track.

  31. Thanks so much for all the comments everyone! I was laughing about the nightgown/moomoo tip… great tip! I’m a 37 year old woman and completely tore my ACL skiing on 12/29. I’m very active: have completed day long mountain hikes in the fall and snowy & icy winters, did a Spartan Race (although I don’t know if I should do that again, haha), play recreational tennis, paddleboard, kayak and love strength training at the gym. After tons of research, I thought I was definitely going to go with the hamstring before I spoke with my doctor at Hospital of Special Surgery in NYC (1 of the best orthopaedic hospitals in the country), but he said for a 37 year old he strongly recommended the allograft for me. Autographs are the way to go for younger athletes but unfortunately, he said I wasn’t quite in that category despite being so active. He also said that RG3 the athlete who recently tore his ACL went with the patellar graft from his OTHER uninjured knee. I can’t wait to get this all over and done with! I will be going with his suggestion and will have surgery in about 2 weeks, which is just under 6 weeks from the tear. I hope that’s not too soon to have it! In the meantime, I’ve been doing lots of at home physical therapy. I need to get on a bike asap and I will meet with a PT asap. Here’s to a speedy recovery to everyone!

    1. hi kim. i tore my acl completely on dec.28. i went to hss as well. your doc recommeneded allograph because of your age or the recovery?

  32. I found this site about 2 weeks before my surgery and wanted to leave my story for those who end up with a recovery like mine. I tore my acl playing soccer on Nov. 4, 2012, did prehab, which was worth it and got close to feeling my normal self (had full ROM, no issues) right before my surgery on Dec. 11. Since then dispite my best efforts I have struggled with my range of motion. Tomorrow is 6 weeks and only today did it get to 100 degrees finally and was able to ride the stationary bike without having to rock back and forth because I could not get all the way around. However, I did not give up and neither should you, we all heal and respond differently. So “play” through the pain and tears ( I broke down full out balling in frustration so many times), and despite being behind the curve by at least two weeks now and still have some ROM to gain, just remember we are all different. I will keep you all posted ;) Also the nightshirt/moomoo idea was so helpful (for the ladies out there) the first few days ( sorry guys, but then you also have an easier time with peeing)
    - 31 year old female, allograph with an intermeniscal ligament repair

  33. What did your doctors say about skiing? I am in the same boat. I just tore my cal skiing with the kids on 1/19/13. Last Saturday. Met with surgeon and he wants to schedule surgery for feb 15th.

  34. Justin Tyson says:

    So glad I found this website… I am a police officer and I just recently tore my acl while I was in a foot pursuit with a suspect. I was running just fine when I went to turn the corner of a house and my leg locked up and I heard a big pop like a rubber band. I drove myself to the hospital where they did an X-ray and scheduled a MRI. Sure enough the MRI showed I had a complete tear of my acl. So now I am sorting through the best surgery option so that I can get back to doing what I love. Thanks for the info and support.

  35. So I had my surgery on Feb 7th (12 days ago). I had left acl reconstruction with hamstring graft and repair of the medial meniscus. I was given general anesthesia with a nerve block. Surgery went very smooth from what i was told. And from how I have felt so far I would have to agree. Let’s start with the pre-hab. SO IMPORTANT! I can not stress this enough! For a good month or so prior to my surgery I went hard at the gym doing my own pre-hab. Lots of leg work. SO IMPORTANT! Next, the pain afterwards. I will admit, going into the surgery I was a nervous wreck. I have never had any surgical procedure before and from reading some peoples stories i was afraid of what the first two days would bring. But on a scale of 1-10, i would say i never felt any pain higher than a 6, and most of that pain was caused by standing up after being seated for a period of time. Felt like a rush of blood to the knee! That pain lasted a few seconds each time for the first few days but is now gone. I believe that staying ahead of the pain was also key. I took my meds on time each time and i also set my alarm in the middle of the night to take them if the schedule called for it. Pain management was very important to me so i made it a priority and stayed on top of it. i started taking my meds way before the nerve block wore off. I did not get the ice machine, i used ice packs instead. I imagine the ice machine is easier but I opted for the old fashioned way. I iced the knee while elevated at least four times a day the first few days then backed it down to 2 times a day once i started therapy. Hobbling around the house on crutches was challenging at first (you dont realize how many obstacles you have in your way until you have to watch every step you take) but i got used to it and now 12 days later I am not using them at all. I started re-hab 5 days later and it has been going really well. The swelling is ALMOST completely gone, you can still see that it has some swelling, but compared to day 1, there is GREAT improvement on day 12 and hopefully within another few days or a week it will all be gone. I am pretty much at full extension, as my therapist said “just a hair to go” and I am at 100 degrees flex. Therapy is awesome! I love it! The ice and stim feels amazing, I could fall asleep on the table when i get that! My therapist is very pleased with where I am at and says I am well ahead of where I should be at this point. My advice to anyone having the surgery is to #1 do a good month (minimum) of pre-hab before, you will see and feel a huge difference immediately after. #2 stay on top of your meds to keep the pain to a minimum. My percocet said take 2 tablets every 4-6 hours but no more than 8 per day. I took 2 every 6 hours to the second! #3 start re-hab A.S.A.P.! #4 dont waste your time being afraid! I did and as i found out afterwards it was a waste of time. Do your research, ask questions, and ask for help. You will be fine. Please feel free to ask me any questions related to me experience so far! Good luck!

    1. hi. i read your story. how are you feeling now? i ruptured my acl on dec 28 2012. im doing my own home pt. before surgery which has yet to be scheduled. plus i live in a walkup. how are steps for you?

      1. Hi Jenn,
        i am doing really well now. I will be one month out of surgery this week. PT is going great! I love going! I could sit there all day getting stim, ice, and heat and doing exercises. Swelling is almost completely gone. I am no longer us crutches. Steps for me were not really an issue. My house house three levels but i took over the family room downstairs which has a bathroom etc for a week which limited the amount of stairs i had to climb. When i did climb stairs i went one step at a time very carefully. Take your time, go slow and you will be fine.Either I have a high pain tolerance or this surgery is not as bad as people say(I guess everyone has different experiences though). I stayed on top of my meds taking them every 4-6 hours as instructed, I even set my alarm in the middle of the night in order to stay on schedule. So far I could not have ask for a better experience from the surgery to PT. Definitely do pre-hab before surgery and go hard! Hamstrings, quads, calfs, and hips! Push yourself as hard as you can before the surgery and you will see a huge difference post surgery. Let me know how it goes

  36. John Agahan says:

    I really appreciate the feedback on this website. There’s a ton of useful information here. I am currently overseas in Korea and after having an MRI and XRAY done the doctors here have concluded that I completely tore my ACL, damaged PCL, MCL and a few others to go along with that. I went snowboarding and came of a 15foot kicker and fell flat on my feet thats when I heard the loud pop noise and pain shot up my left knee. This happened 3 days ago on Tuesday February 19th.

    I am now trying to figure out a way to get surgery done asap when I arrive back to the US this Tuesday. I am really hoping to go straight to a knee surgeon and schedule versus having to go through my primary physician to give me clearance to see a knee surgeon. I really don’t want to have to do another MRI and XRAY as I’ve already done that here in Korea. Any thoughts on how to get the ball rolling with my surgery? Do I really need clearance from my primary physician.

  37. I had the hamstring graft and it was some of the worst pain I’ve ever felt. Much worse than actually tearing the ACL in the first place, which was no picnic.

    And this is coming from a guy who has pulled his own teeth while completely sober.

    I’m honestly shocked to read people say they had almost no pain. I can’t understand that.

    My hamstring felt like I had the worst pulled muscle of all time and the anterior aspect of my tibia was badly bruised for 4 months at least because of the holes they hammered into the bone. It hurts to this day, 7 months later.

    The insertion point of the hamstring actually hurt the most. It felt like it was being torn from my leg every time I accidentally flexed it.

    The knee itself, ironically felt fine.

    Maybe my experience was different because I had a very thick hamstring tendon.
    Over 10mm, my doctor said the average is around 6-7mm.

    I was actually playing sports just fine without it. I had some pain in my knee, went to a great sports medicine facility and found out my ACL had been torn for 5 years. Which I had suspected.

  38. So I tore my acl march 3 playing football. I was running and did a sharp turn and as soon as I adjusted my body my knee just popped and I knew something was wrong. I finally spoke to a orthopedic today and he said He wouldn’t operate until I can fully extend my Knee. And since I don’t have insurance he wants the payment up front and will not do payment plans. How long will it take for me to be able to extend me
    Knee forward so they can operate on it? And I’ve been walking on my
    Knee for this week without a crutch. Just been able to walk with minor pain. Is this normal ? And after surgery how long til I can walk again ?
    If anybody could help me I’d really appreciate it.
    I’m Jose from Chicago

    1. Lydia Lee says:

      Hi Jose

      PRE-Op PT & recovery is just as important as surgery/Post-Op PT. Don’t rush to do surgery immediately. Do PRE-Op PT to gain as much flexibility as you can, get all swelling down, your PT should show you how to sit (or lay back) to flex your quads to push your knee down. When you can flex your quad so that there’s no air space between the knee & floor, you are ready for surgery. For me, I worked really really hard with my PRE-Op PT, week 2 after injury I was able to spin on exercise bike, by week 4 I was able to flex quad to get knee to floor with no air space & laying on my chest could flextime my leg so my foot can touch my butt again!!! Don’t rush!!! The better you heal BEFORE surgery, the more successful your recovery will be after surgery. Be patient (as I am still, I’ve read many many books now since injury). Good Luck :D Beija-flor

  39. Lydia (Beija-flor) says:

    1st of all, I want to say THANK-YOU to everyone that contributed content & comments to this great website!!

    I’m a 52 year old female who “Lives to Summit Mountains” – biking or hiking. I’m active, healthy, energetic, happy, and live BIG every moment. LIFE IS TOO SHORT :D Just this January 2013, I summit Mt. Kilimanjaro and experienced being in heaven. 2 weeks after I returned, I sadly tore my ACL doing my routine Capoeira workout at my gym (Brazilian martial art). I was incredibly sad. I was in incredible pain. Mentally & physically depressed

    Statistically, not many 50+ year old people remain active enough to tear their ACL. But when they do, generally, 50+ year olds do NOT bother with ACL surgery, they opt for changing their lifestyle and simply adapt with a detached ACL. While I was doing my Pre-Op PT (physical therapy), I struggled with this decision. In my heart, I knew I’m not a “typical 52 year old person”. I’m a kid that cannot grow up so am I kidding myself to not do an ACL repair surgery? I visited several Sports OrthoP surgeons and when I met the surgeon I finally selected, his opening statement to me was “you have a 35 year old body, who are you kidding, you definitely should go for ACL surgery”. Decision #1 – DONE

    Next is where I appreciated this website so much!! Again with my age, I couldn’t decide if I should harvest from cadaver vs. doing autograft from my hamstring. I had already decided NO to harvest from my patella. I referenced medical journals & websites. But this website was what I needed, reading comments from ACL “real patients” was the exact reassurances I needed. I decided my 52 year old body will heal from hamstring autograft, which are more successful (vs. harvest from cadavers). Decision #2 – DONE

    It was last week that I had my ACL surgery. All went well, except my body could not tolerate the narcotics pain killers. After popping 2 pills & suffering, I stopped the narcotics and just sucked up the pain. The first 3 days Post-Op pain was seriously bad !!! But with determination, routine usage of Iceman (cold therapy unit), & daily 6 hours rehab on the CPM machine, every hour, every day, I’m getting better already. Had my 1st Post-Op doctor visit & PT visit already on Monday (day 6) and it’s thumb-UP!! Swelling is less than average, knee cap is moving well already, and my PT said the surgery feels clean as he massages & move my knee/leg.

    Thank-You again to everyone that contributed to this great personal website. I hope to get back on my PT bike next week. Just can’t wait when I get back on my real road bike for the outdoor cycling & climbing that I love so much here in the SF/Palo Alto areas. I know I will make a comeback and once again, bike & summit the Pyrennes & the Alps as I did just few years ago – Cols de Tourmalet & de Galibier, I will be back very soon with BIG smile & strong ACL/biking legs. Cheers!! Beija-flor :)

  40. Deborah C says:

    Thanks to everyone for sharing their surgery experience and such helpful information!

    I am a relatively active (distance cycling/power walking) 59 year old female who is scheduled for ACL replacement surgery June 24, 2013 after completely tearing it in March 2012. I would appreciate if someone who is near my age would share their surgery and recovery experience and any helpful tips or advise.

  41. I’m 15 years old and I tore my ACL and miniscus playing softball. I know unusual for softball. Anyway, my doctor decided to do miniscus first and then wait 6 weeks and then do my ACL. I’ve already have my miniscus done. I’m 2weeks out, but I was wondering if I should’ve gotten them both done at the same time. Oh, and I’m getting the patellar graph.

  42. Im having my acl surgery done next week, im thinkn of using the hamstring graft. Can anyone tell me how many days/weeks will it take me too walk again?

    1. Hi Keegan,
      Technically you will be walking the day you have the surgery. Every case is different. I had my surgery(hamstring graft) this past February. I was walking on crutches with my knee in the brace in the locked position for about 2 weeks(probably would have been unlocked sooner but 2 weeks after surgery was the only time i had available for a follow up appointment). After the brace was unlocked i continued to use the crutches for another 2 weeks, but only when outdoors because it was winter and we had snow here in NYC so i wanted to be extra careful. After that i walked with no crutches, knee in brace, unlocked. My experience has been nothing short of fantastic from the surgery all the way through rehab (which i currently still go to, I LOVE IT!). Take it one day at a time. Your first concern above anything else should be to control the pain the first few days after. Stay on top of your meds. DO NOT wait to feel pain, take your meds before you feel pain. My meds were prescribed to be taken every 4-6 hours or as needed. So i would take them every 4-5 hours and if one of those time frames came during the middle of the night i would set my alarm so i would wake up and take them.

  43. Well here it goes. June 28 of this year will be 2 years ago since I have torn my ACL playing basketball. I am a 25 year old female and put it off because raising kids and being down isnt an option.

    Now I have the help and I have made an appt to see the dr. I had an MRI done 2 years ago after it happened and was told that it was torn. I have since then not been able to play sports but I am able to jog with a knee brace on flat surfaces but I have to favor my right knee because if I step off of something onto it it will buckle and down ago.

    I guess I am just looking for advice on what to expect when I go to the dr in a week. Will I have to have another MRI? Is there a good chance I messed up other things because I have gone so long? I am super nervous and I want to make sure I can go in there with all the right questions.

    Thanks for the help!!!

    1. Hi Whitney,
      I had a similar case to yours. I initially “damaged” my left knee 2 years ago playing hockey. I did not go see a doctor. Last year I blew it out in a backyard accident and at that point I knew i had torn the acl, i heard “the pop”. Again, did nothing about it until last November when i finally decided to go see a doctor. He did the Lachman test and from that you can tell if the acl is torn. I knew it was, he confirmed it with the test. He gave me the option to go for an MRI to see what else could be damaged but i opted not to. If he was going to do my acl he could do whatever else needed to be done while he was in there lol. I had the surgery done in February, left acl reconstruction, hamstring graft and i also had a torn meniscus. I am 4 months post surgery and doing amazing! Ran a 5k last week!

  44. Hi I just had my ACL reconstruction done it will two weeks ago on Thursday so I’m 12 days out ….and it is full of pain ….and it feels swollen still all the time I just barely maybe 2 days ago started trying to walk without crutches here and there and bending it a little and when ever I try to straighten it out I feel like my leg is as straight as it can go but my knee is so swollen it wont go straight down all the
    way … Is this ok I’m super nervous …..I go to my first rehab tomorrow I’m nervous am I ok or behind

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