T Nation

Anyone Had ACL Reconstruction..

Hey Guys,

I was just hoping to get some feedback from people who have had acl surgery and their rehab timeline.

I had surgery on sep 11 of last year. It was a hamstring tendon graft with some meniscus repair also. One side was shave and the other side sutured.

Did physio, was back at work 9 weeks later my recovery was fairly quick. Now the only problem is I stopped physio in early dec and havent done anything in the gym as I was working full time and doing 30 hours of night classes so energy was low.

Basically, What time frame did you guys follow up until squatting/running. I just joined a gym and am going to strengthen the leg with all the rehab stuff I was doing.

Will see the ortho doc soon, but I just want to see some real life experiences.

Thanks

I had mine repaired with the patellar graft.

I was squatting before 6 months were up but it was light weight and still working on some range of motion. I could run but then I had pain and swelling. Four years later I still have issues wth distance running.

One of my teammates was playing rugby 7 months after his was repaired.

The main thing is to get back in the gym and take a few weeks to work your way into it before trying to move some serious weight.

Your knee will let you know if it is ready.

I’ve had two ACL reconstructions. This most recent one was kind of similar to what you are going through I think. I had to stop my rehab for insurance reasons, moved to a new area and had a chronic wound at one of the access points that wouldn’t heal. This kept me from rehabbing properly and my leg is still atrophied compared to the other.

That said, I have been playing rugby this spring. What helped me get back was a lot of single leg work, stairclimber and single leg balance work. If you had your surgery back in Sept. you should be all healed up inside and ready to get your supporting muscles and nerves back up to speed. Just don’t go too crazy at first. There will be soreness and swelling you have to work through, but if you feel acute pain lay off what you were doing. If you search around the net you can find routines that athletic programs do to ostrengthen knees/prevent injuries. Make sure to get out on the field to do some backwards running, side to side shuttles, band work, etc. Whatever you would do for your sport/leisure but at a slower speed at first.

Sorry, just realized I didn’t give a timeline. Had my surgery in May 06…rehab was going pretty well until I had to stop at the end of July. My doc had been saying I’d be back playing after 6 months hopefully. I was planning on getting a couple tune ups at the end of the fall and then being full speed for the spring. I ended up starting to practice end of Jan. and my first game was at the end of Feb.

Good luck.

thanks for the responses…

it seems like i just have to slowly return to physical activity and get okayed by my doc asap.

I just hope i can eventually return to the level where i used to be.

I had ACL/MCL/PCL reconstruction almost 2 years ago. My knee is 90 percent healed. I can’t run very good, even after all these months, and I wear a big knee brace for support that goes from the middle of my shin to the middle of my thigh when I work out. I can jog, but can’t sprint because it starts to hurt.

I started doing quarter squats about 9 months after surgery, and the furthest I can squat is just a little above parallel. Anything lower is still too painful.

With me, I tore all 3 ligaments completely, and I’m on the heavy side (300 pounds), so this might have slowed my recovery.

Depending how bad you tore it, you should start running and squatting about 8-9 months after surgery.

Just like Zap said, your knee will let you know when it’s ready. There isn’t a set timetable, it’s different for everyone. Just make sure at first you don’t use weights that are too heavy.

I wish you best of luck with your recovery, hope it is safe and speedy.

Thanks guys!!

[quote]tmoney1 wrote:
I had ACL/MCL/PCL reconstruction almost 2 years ago. My knee is 90 percent healed. I can’t run very good, even after all these months, and I wear a big knee brace for support that goes from the middle of my shin to the middle of my thigh when I work out. I can jog, but can’t sprint because it starts to hurt.

I started doing quarter squats about 9 months after surgery, and the furthest I can squat is just a little above parallel. Anything lower is still too painful.

With me, I tore all 3 ligaments completely, and I’m on the heavy side (300 pounds), so this might have slowed my recovery.

Depending how bad you tore it, you should start running and squatting about 8-9 months after surgery.[/quote]

How did you tear those 3 ligaments? That has to be one of the worst knee injury I’ve ever heard of. I bet it takes a lot of heart to work through that.

Good luck to the OP.

[quote]Kreal7 wrote:
tmoney1 wrote:

How did you tear those 3 ligaments? That has to be one of the worst knee injury I’ve ever heard of. I bet it takes a lot of heart to work through that.[/quote]

I was playing basketball outside at my apartment complex a few years ago. There was a sand volleyball court next to the basketball court, separated by a chain link fence, and some of the sand had gotten onto the court.

I was running across the lane for a pass, and it was kinda high. I jumped up for it, and when I came down, my foot slipped, my knee twisted out, and CRUNCH!!! I was down on the ground. It didn’t hurt that bad initially, but I was on the ground for a couple of minutes. I got up and left the game.

The next day, my knee swelled up pretty bad. I went to the doctor, and he gave me the news. He was surprised as well, that I tore all three ligaments, along with a cracked and shifted kneecap, because my knee hit the ground when I fell.

In September 2004 I completely tore my ACL playing football, had the surgery in mid October after the swelling went down(patellar graft). Therapy lasted until december(damn insurance) and that’s when they had me start running.

I was squatting by march and could run full speed by june of '05. usually it takes 10-14 months to be fully healed and up to 24 months to be 100% again

Good luck to you

[quote]apock wrote:
Hey Guys,

I was just hoping to get some feedback from people who have had acl surgery and their rehab timeline.

I had surgery on sep 11 of last year. It was a hamstring tendon graft with some meniscus repair also. One side was shave and the other side sutured.

Did physio, was back at work 9 weeks later my recovery was fairly quick. Now the only problem is I stopped physio in early dec and havent done anything in the gym as I was working full time and doing 30 hours of night classes so energy was low.

Basically, What time frame did you guys follow up until squatting/running. I just joined a gym and am going to strengthen the leg with all the rehab stuff I was doing.

Will see the ortho doc soon, but I just want to see some real life experiences.

Thanks[/quote]

Sounds like you had a “bucket-handle” tear of your meniscus. Does that sound familiar? General time frame for an ACL and “bucket-handle” tear is 7-8 months (for competitive athletes looking to return to sports). You are at 7 months post-surgery so you should be able to run and do anything in the wt room that you want to. In your case the “bucket-handle” tear takes precedence over the ACL graft b/c cartilage takes longer to heal

Generally, you can start straight ahead jogging at 4 months post-op, but generally you have to wait until about 6 months to begin sprinting and agilities (b/c of the meniscus tear). Had you only had an ACL repair your recovery/return to sport activities would be quicker.

At this point you can begin squatting in the weight room. Just be smart and progress slowly b/c of the meniscus. Generally at about 4-5 months the ACL is completely healed but the rehab takes a while just because of the atrophy of the quads and strength deficits at hips, quads, and HS. As for rehab, AVOID LEG EXTENSIONS (puts a lot of shearing force on the ACL graft), do tons of single leg work (SL squats, Lunges in all directions, Box step ups at various heights)and do tons of posterior chain work (RDL’s, GHR, Rev. Hypers, Good Mornings, etc).

Are you looking to get back into some type of sport?

I had hoped to play basketball again… thats how I originally hurt myself.

Even though I recovered quickly after surgery, it feels like it hasnt progressed but again thats my fault.

If I see it hasnt improved in the next month, I will see my doc again and maybe restart physio.

Im struggling with some of the single leg work that I could do during physio which suggests that I lost some strength during the time off.

I have become all too familiar with the ACL as my son, who is only in high school, had torn his twice. Both his left knee… ruptured his graft. I am not a advocate of the first procedure he had… I think one should really educate oneself before rushing to surgery as every procedure is not right for everyone. His last procedure was with his own patellar tendon and both the post op and rehab has been night and day as compared to the first cadaver graft. He has had a quicker recovery without the clicking or buckling… his quad has responded quicker and has had less swelling and discomfort. It is upsetting that his high school baseball coach would not give him the playing time due to his injury even though he has been fully release by the doc … he was released on April 3rd… went to Florida and played only JV hit 8 of 10 at bats and got on base after running on the third strike on one of the two times he did not get a hit… while back here in Louisville he was 2 for 3 at bats and made his catches in the outfield… so as you can imagine it is rather frustrating… since he decided to quit the team due to not being played. My son has never quit anything and to see him so disappointed after working very hard to rehab and to be released to play and then get benched game after game.
I now have him working with an athletic trainer and he is looking forward to getting sparq tested on june 2nd… during the dead period he is getting involved in a two week camp five days per week to further his progress. I hope for him to be ready for football as this will be his last year and is unfortunate to miss football due to his injury. However he has not given up andI commend him for that and my advice for anyone would be to rehab and take it slow and some things that have helpe have been

Ice after exercise
Do step-ups
One legged presses
lunges
jog
bicycle
jump rope
bosu ball
balance and stability drills

find a good PT… that is the key

while at the gym a former player for the Vikings who was training with the Louisville Fire advised

Use a swimming pool… high knees
steam room
hot tub

he really was sold on the swimming pool

Confidence is the key

I have found that box squats are great as well…

I will keep everyone posted on both my son’s progress of his ACL and how he progresses with his goals and highlights of his football season

thanks

[quote]apock wrote:
I had hoped to play basketball again… thats how I originally hurt myself.

Even though I recovered quickly after surgery, it feels like it hasnt progressed but again thats my fault.

If I see it hasnt improved in the next month, I will see my doc again and maybe restart physio.

Im struggling with some of the single leg work that I could do during physio which suggests that I lost some strength during the time off.[/quote]

As for the actual graft, it is completly healed at about 4 months. You are at a point now where you shouldn’t have any restrictions. The rehab following an ACL is what takes so long b/c most ppl lose a lot of strength and muscle size. You have to stay dedicated to the rehab. HALF-ASSED REHAB WILL GIVE YOU HALF-ASSED RESULTS!!!

It’t not a process you can cheat, it takes time and lots of hardwork. Even though you lost a lot of strength w/ the single leg work keep pounding away at it. It won’t be easy so don’t expect it to be. Work hard, be persistent but be patient

Good Luck