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Knee surgery - jingles, suggestions for recovery and brace welcome!

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  • Knee surgery - jingles, suggestions for recovery and brace welcome!

    I injured my left knee skiing in February, and I'm having surgery next week to reconstruct the ACL and the lateral collateral ligament. The LCL surgery is open and has a long incision, and 6 weeks total non-weightbearing. It's going to be tough because I have two daughters in elementary school, and my mare and my daughters' ponies. The horses are boarded right now luckily. Suggestions for recovery would be welcome, as are jingles.

    I'm also wondering about suggestions for a custom brace when I start back riding. My surgeon doesn't normally require bracing for the ACL, but the LCL is a more delicate procedure. I've already tried one brace by VQ Orthocare, and there's no way I can ride with it. I've searched the old threads and seen people like the Ossur CTI2, but I'm not sure if they are still making that.

  • #2
    First of all-- hugs to you! Man, that sounds awful. I've had 3 knee surgeries on my left, but none as bad as that...I was at least weight bearing. You will have a ton of PT to do, once you are back on your leg. Do it all, and it will suck and hurt. You'll lose a lot of muscle (you don't say your age, but at 44, my last surgery left me with a smaller left leg, despite a bunch of PT and exercise) and it will be about a year before you are 100% is my guess. Ice will be your friend, as will pain killers. I found massaging my thigh and calf muscles helpful, as they spasmed (sp?) constantly. Get really good crutches--your sides will get rubbed, no matter what you do, and your shoulders will ache, but your tummy will develop some great tone! Rolling chairs are easy to use in the house. Your husband will have to put your underwear on, as well as socks--Mr. CC hated that part.

    As to braces, I haven't found any (through my 3 different surgeries) that I could ride in. They rubbed my saddle. After all your PT, your knee will be quite strong, I assure you.

    Keep us posted--there is a lot of support here, and you'll have some really down days and feel like it will never get better or be the same again.
    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


    • #3
      Good luck with your surgery. I have had two ACL reconstructions and they aren't fun but your leg will be better and stronger. Please, please, Please do all the God awful PT exercises that they tell you do to. It makes a huge difference!
      Do you have help with your two young kids? Glad to hear you don't have to care for the horses. I just had knee surgery myself on my meniscus and my MCL about three weeks ago and it is starting to feel much better, as yours will. My advise is, don't try and do to much ( I always do) until you are sure everything is healed. In the long run its far better to follow the doctors orders than risk injuring it again.

      This is the brace I ride in and it seems to work. I actually use one of these on both knees since I also need a TKR in the very near future.


      Hugs to you and you will be up and running in no time.


      • Original Poster

        Thanks for all of the suggestions. I've been doing PT to help strengthen my leg before surgery, and I'm apparently a freak of nature because I was able to ski the day after the injury and I have been able to walk around without crutches. I'm not looking forward to losing all that muscle and having uneven legs. I event at Prelim level and my mare has been going well, so It's also hard to realize I'll probably miss the whole season.

        The rolling chair sounds good, and the braces listed there look a lot more manageable than the one I have now. My husband is a professor and can come home early most days to help pick up the kids, at least for the first few weeks.


        • #5
          I have a question that goes with this thread....I totally severed my left ACL a couple of weeks ago. Hurt like the devil at first but I iced and elevated etc from the Sat afternoon that I did it until getting into an Ortho clinic that Monday. I haven't had much trouble with it, doesn't collapse anymore and doesn't hurt, just feels weak and strange. I am starting PT tomorrow to see if a month of PT will stabilize it enough to live with it that way. I am 51 and not into any athletic sports other than riding but not competitively anymore. I am also tentatively scheduled for reconstruction the first wk in May but can cancel that if I decide against the surgery. Anyone with a totally severed ACL here that has not had it fixed and been ok with that? I have a good job and good insurance so that is a plus. With my job, the best time to be laid up would be may- August so that is ok as far as timing. Pros and cons, anyone? Thanks!


          • Original Poster

            I've talked to several people who are avid skiers who have been able to get by without their ACL. If you google ACL and conservative therapy or copers you will pull up quite a bit of information. My knee was also relatively stable post-injury, but with the LCL also damaged it seems I need surgery if I want to go back to eventing and skiing. But I would encourage you to try explore the conservative approach, especially if you are fairly stable and not having pain. I've been told the total recovery time for the reconstruction is 12-18 months, at least with an allograft, which is what they recommend if you are over 40.


            • #7
              Sure there a lots of folks who never get their ACLs replaced--it is a calculated risk for the person in question. Your ortho can help you decide which route is the right one.

              My ACL rupture looked complete on the MRI, and I did 6 weeks of PT prior to my surgery. Mine, too, never felt unstable. Once the surgeon got a look inside, he realized that I had only had a partial avulsion, so a piece of my femur had pulled away with just part of my ACL. They left it alone, as it had already formed new bone/connection (hence how strong my leg felt), and I went into intense PT to rehab the muscles. My MCL was stretched, but not torn, and that does give me a bit of trouble. I have a hinged brace for anytime I go on intensive hiking, play basketball or soccer or similar types of exercise.
              Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


              • #8
                I'm one of those copers! I've been sporting around with a totally ruptured ACL for over 2 years now. It never actually gives out, or even really hurts, but after a full day of schlepping around the farm in heavy boots it can definitely feel funkier than the good knee. A small price to pay for the opportunity to enjoy my favorite activity: surgery avoidance.
                Dreadful Acres: the chronicle of my extraordinary unsuitability to country life


                • #9
                  You might try one of these:


                  • Original Poster

                    I survived! I had surgery yesterday morning and the damage was more extensive than originally thought. In addition to the ACL and lateral collateral ligament reconstruction, they also found a pretty big tear in my medial meniscus, which there were no signs of on the MRI. They were able to suture it together, so they didn't have to remove any of the meniscus. They gave me a gameready and the combination of ice and compression is amazing, much better than ice packs. I'm at the Steadman clinic in Vail, surrounded by athletes who've travelled from all over, as well as a bunch of fellow Californians. They are doing pt twice a day to get back range of motion and bring down swelling. I feel like I'm in good hands.


                    • #11
                      So glad to " see " you back on here already! Happy it went well for you and selfishly relieved for myself too that you are not reporting horrors! I had scheduling conflicts so my surgery is May 23 now. I will continue to do my PT visits twice a week until surgery and do the exercises in between at home. I am so confused on my injury. Saw a basketball player on the news yesterday writhing in pain on the floor, crying and wheeled off court in a wheel chair after tearing his ACL. I severed mine and though it hurt really bad at first it didn't bring me to tears and the bad pain was gone quickly. I have to wonder if it makes a difference in how it tears away, like does it sometimes tear a piece of bone with it and that is why some people hurt more than others? Anyway, I would bet that they find a meniscus tear in mine too. They didn't see anything but the severed ACL on MRI but I have so much trouble straightening my knee totally. I can do it if I am laying down but cannot if I am standing and putting weight on it. It feels like there is something "in there" and that really is the only thing that causes me any pain except if I twist it a little by accident. I can't imagine not having it fixed and having this grinding feeling and the feeling of instability forever. Tell me Vali.....what should I expect of the immediate post op time? Pain? Bad, not too bad? How much time have they told you to stay off of it and do RICE? I will have my recliner moved from my upstairs Den to downstairs so I can sit in that. That will but me in close proximity to bed, bath and kitchen....again, glad you got through it! I would love to keep reading about your progress so I know what I may expect! Stay well and recovering!


                      • Original Poster

                        Well, the rehab and pain levels are usually significantly less for ACL than the LCL, since the LCL is a longer open incision. With an ACL reconstruction they usually have you partial weightbearing pretty quickly, and on an exercise bike with no resistance. It's knee central at the Steadman clinic and the associated pt clinic, and I've been watching the ACL only patients in PT, and they are up and about much more quickly. They are big here on starting pt the day after surgery to get swelling down and to prevent scar tissue formation and stiffness. As far as pain levels the local anesthesia pump has been great, but getting a long acting pain medication is also very helpful. I had some pain yesterday, but they increased the dosage and I felt fine after that. They said doing RICE as much as possible the first month will be really helpful for me, but if it's just the ACL 2 weeks might be sufficient, although they still want you to ice several times a day until the swelling is gone. You definitely want someone with you for at least the first three days, and preferably for 1-2 weeks. I'm getting around the condo ok on crutches now, but there's a guy in pt who also had the ACLand LCL and he fell the day after surgery in the bathroom and also injured his MCL, so you definitely want help. He's a young fit guy, just bad luck or overconfidence probably.

                        I've heard from other people that if you totally sever the ACL there often isn't that much pain, and even with my more complicated injury I didn't have that much pain after the initial thud. I skied the day afterwards and didn't get significant swelling, but it felt weird and the real tipoff was when I tried to put my stirrups in jumping length, which was a total non-starter. That's what drove me to into the doctor's office.