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Recovering from a multiligament knee injury

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  • Recovering from a multiligament knee injury

    Four months down...8 to go.

    Seven months ago, I had an accident that set back my riding goals for a very long time. I had a 4 year old Voltaire mare who was just about ready to begin showing on the rated circuit. I am a junior rider, and don't have many years left before I am an adult, so I was really looking forward to finally having a promising horse under me to take me somewhere. Then on Thanksgiving day, while playing a game with my cousins outside in the dark (I know, dumb idea, but hindsight is 20/20) I was running full speed and collided with a metal sign in my grandparents' yard that hadn't been there before. Long story short, after being told different stories (ER Dr. said it was a strained hamstring and I would be off for a week, and othopedic physician's assistant upon initial exam told me it was ACL and would be off for 12 weeks after surgery), the MRI confirmed a complete tear of my ACL And LCL. The surgeons in my area had to send me to the best in the state up at Geisinger, and he was able to do surgery on January 16th. It has been a long journey, and a very disappointing one. The bad news...I wouldn't be able to ride for an entire year. The good news, however, is that my knee will eventually return to almost normal function. I have made tremendous progress, and continue to do so every day, but the fact that I'm not even half way through yet is quite disheartening. My younger sister has been riding my mare for me, and she is coming along well, but it's very tough to sit back and watch. Does anyone else have similar stories to share? Riding was my sole passion before this happened, but God has taught me a lot by allowing this trial in my life, and I now realize that there is more to life, and I have learned to appreciate many things that were previously taken for granted. This has changed my life completely, and I hope that when I can ride again, I won't get so soaked up in it that I forget everything else, but focus on what is important in life. Anyways, thanks for reading.

  • #2
    Best wishes for a complete recovery.
    My Equestrian Art Photography page


    • #3
      A full year?? That seems incredibly long--I had an ACL and was back on in under 5 months. Was there other damage beyond the two ligament replacements? Are you in PT with a sports medicine PT? Sorry for the 20 questions but your timeline seems excessively long or conservative.
      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


      • #4
        I'm 3 months out from a PCL tear, 7 weeks post-op. It's been very tough. We are building an outdoor arena and I really want to be able to ride in it!!!! My friend has kept my horse going which is a tremendous help. As you know, it's not just waiting around for things to heal - it is hard work and there is a lot of pain involved. I had my moments when I thought my knee would never be normal again, and I was incredibly frustrated with not being able to do things. Things are gradually getting better and I'm hoping to start riding in a month. When I'm really feeling sorry for myself I try to focus on the fact that I'm lucky my injury was treatable and that I will recover.
        I had a particularly bad time when I realized I was 2 months in with 2 months to go. I know how you feel, I really do. I wish you the best in your recovery!


        • Original Poster

          If I had only injured my ACL, it would have been 6 months. But the fact that I injured the LCL (the most complex ligament of the four, the hardest to reconstruct, and the least often injured) is what made it a full year. My surgeon is the best in the state (Pennsylvania) and world-renowned as a multiligament knee surgeon. He has been one for 30 years, so I'm confident that he knows his stuff. The LCL is on the outside, and because your legs go down around the horse, a lot of pressure is put on the LCL when riding. It takes ligaments, especially cadaver (which is what I had) 18 months to heal completely on the cellular level, but it is strong enough to resume sports after a year.
          Kestssu, I know exactly how you feel. I'm glad that your knee is getting back to normal and that your recovery is almost finished.


          • #6
            The PCL almost always heals because there is good blood supply, so does the MCL. Mine did heal, but the recovery would have been a year if hey had to repair it. I had to have an arthroscopy because I also tore the capsule and developed a thick, inflamed band of plica (I had never heard of plica before). So your long recovery doesn't surprise me.


            • #7
              Been there, still in the middle of it

              On November 26, I took a misstep, my ankle rolled out slightly and my knee dislocated - my knee bent backwards and the ACL, PCL and LCL ripped off the bone. And I had instant drop foot.

              On December 2 they replaced the LCL with a cadaver Achilles tendon, and on December 16 they replaced the ACL and PCL with the same.

              In a wheelchair with leg on an elevated attachment until February 13. Walker only until about four or five weeks ago, when I switched to a cane. Stopped using the cane at home after two weeks, but always have it with me outside of the house and use it about half the time.

              I have been going to PT 3X per week since mid-January. It may end Friday, it may not, depends on if surgeon's office can get another month's extension with insurance company - fortunately, if I do not get the extension it will be okay with the PT, and I have everything but a leg press machine at the house now too.

              The surgeon says I should be able to get on and just walk around before the end of the year, but that's still close to a year of not riding. As frustrating as it is, it is necessary. I need the knee for the rest of my life, and I am not going to do anything before I get a green light from the surgeon. He was the surgeon for an NFL and NHL team, and played football as well, so he totally gets the addiction!

              BBer Medical Mike has good tips for when you can go back to riding.

              Hang in there, it's just such a bummer but you can't turn the healing clock forward.


              • #8
                Wow. Just sounds like torture! I'm sorry!

                I had ACL replacement with a cadaver tendon. I feel pretty lucky right now. Once I had the surgery, I was able to get on and walk in about 8 weeks. I gradually worked up from there. I had someone ride before me and then I would get on only if the horse was calm.

                I was very careful dismounting, FWIW, lowering myself very slowly. Mounting was OK because it's my right knee. The left would be tougher.

                It's been a bit over 2 years and the knee feels pretty good. Riding, stairs, etc don't bother it.

                Hang in there!
                Born under a rock and owned by beasts!