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Torn ACL- With Meniscus Tear

Updated on March 12, 2013
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My husband tore his ACL and partially tore his meniscus. Before he had surgery he was looking up peoples experiences with this kind of injury so he would know what to expect. He found that there wasn't a lot of information on the ACL with meniscus tear, so he wrote this:

On October 20, 2012 I went to play basketball with some friends, like I often did, not knowing that this time would be different. As I went to chase down the ball that was passed to me unexpectedly I slid on a slick spot on the floor. As I fell to the ground my right knee bent in an unnatural direction. My whole leg went numb almost immediately because of the pain. I went to turn over on my back but I was unable to lift my leg. As I came to, I realized that the pop sound that I heard did NOT come from me hitting the floor, but came from my knee. And so began the long journey that I am continuing to this day!

Right after the incident I had my wife come pick me up to go to the ER. I couldn't put any weight on my leg/knee. They took a few x-rays to find that no bones were broken, but I would need to schedule an MRI. The soonest they could get me in was a week later. During the week my knee steadily improved, but I still couldn't put full weight on it.

I went and had 2 MRI's done so that the doctors could look at the ligaments and tissues of my knee. It took about another week before I got the results, and my knee continued to improve. It was feeling like I had just strained it and that everything would be better in a few weeks. When I finally received the MRI results I learned that not only did I completely detach my ACL from itself, but I had some meniscal tears as well. This was probably the worst new that I could have gotten.



Pre-Surgery

The next step was to schedule my surgery. The soonest they could get me in was December 4th. In the meantime I had to meet up with my doctor to discuss which procedure I wanted him to do. There are a few procedures that can be done to fix ACL tears. Unfortunately, a torn ACL cant be repaired on its own. The torn ACL must be removed entirely, and a new ACL needs to be created using other healthy tissue.

I'm not a doctor, so I won't go into all of the options, but I chose the patellar option. This means that they surgically removed the ACL and then a tissue graft replaces it through a single hole (arthroscopically.) With my surgery I also had a small meniscal tear, which I will later elaborate on how that set me back a few weeks with recovery.

I also had to go to a pre-physical therapy appointment so that she could see how swollen it was and how much bend I had. She also massaged it and seen how much strength I had.



Surgery

After about 5 weeks, the day of the surgery came. Man was I nervous! When you go in for this kind of procedure it will most likely be outpatient. I was in and out in about 6 hours. My surgery went well and my doctor printed off a few pictures for me that he took during surgery. When they prepped me they also inserted a pain drip into my upper thigh that drips down to my knee to numb a lot of the pain for a few days. Unfortunately for me, mine stopped working after about a day and I ended up having to take it out.

I was obviously pretty out of it for the whole day because of the anesthesia and I was in a lot of pain. I had a small dinner, but other than that I slept for most of the day/night afterwards.


First Days After Surgery

My first 48 hours after surgery was the worst for me. Make sure to STAY STAY STAY on your schedule for your pain medicine. Even if it doesn't hurt, keep taking them as prescribed. For me it was every 3 hours! If you stop it is hard to get the pain under control again. One thing I wish I would have done was to bend my knee more my first week after surgery! Because I didn't, I had a lot of scar tissue build up. It was extremely hard and painful to get it back to where it needs to be with a lot of scar tissue in there!


0-2 Weeks

The goal of the first couple of weeks after surgery are to reduce swelling and to regain partial weight bearing. Physical therapy started the week after surgery. I had to start off very slow because as I mentioned, I had a small tear in my meniscus. This prevented me from putting any weight on my knee for a month. It is extremely important to ice! I had 2 icepacks (one on each side of my knee) in my brace that were switched out a few times a day.

My physical therapists massaged my knee and iced it. They had a big ice pack they laid over my entire knee. She bent it a very small amount to see how much strength I had. It was about zero at this point.

Breg Fusion Knee Brace
Breg Fusion Knee Brace
2.5 months after surgery
2.5 months after surgery

4-12 Weeks

About a month after surgery I could finally do a bit more. My meniscus had healed to a point where I could start to put some weight on it. I went to my physical therapists 2-3 times a week to work on getting my knee bent and straightening it. She would bend my knee by having me sit on the edge of the table and push it back, and also by having me put my foot on the table and pushing it closer to my body. To work on straightening she had me put my leg as flat as I could on the table, then she would push down.

She put a gel on my knee and used a plastic tool to break up scar tissue. We continually and gradually (with release from my doctor) began more and more excessive exercises. We began more stretching and putting more pressure to get it straightened.

After the 5-6 weeks I began to use a stationary bike. Gently and slowly I worked my way back and forth, inching closer each day to make a full rotation. I also had a lot of stretches to do at home.

This is the time when the meniscus is extremely vulnerable and it is easily re-torn. My doctor prescribed a custom fit brace that I wear whenever I do any sort of activities. I have a fairly active job where I walk the majority of the day and it took me 2.5 months after surgery to get back. My biggest tip is to not rush things! The last thing you want to do is re-injure yourself and have to go through another surgery!

I am still recovering. I was just released to start jogging (3.5 months after surgery.) I will continue to update this with my progress.

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