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Three ACL Surgeries on the Same Knee. Will I Be Able to Lift Again?

Hi everybody,

So I tore my 2nd ACL graft (quad autograft) seven weeks after surgery. I fell asleep on the couch, leg was numb and somehow fell after standing up too fast. First two tears were due to MMA.

My question is, has anybody here gone through 3 ACL reconstructions on the same knee and was able to squat and deadlift relatively heavy again (3 plate squad for 5x5 and 4 plate dead for 5 reps, so nothing special)? Also, which graft would you use? I am considering an allograft since I won’t go back to anything but lifting. First graft was hamstring, quad was the second. I have one repaired meniscus, other than that my knees are fine.

I am really scared of my future as I am only 26, and sports has been an integral part of my life for more than a decade.

I can’t answer your question, so apologies in advance for not doing so, but here’s two thoughts from someone who’s advice you should take with a grain of salt (me).

1). My dad tore his meniscus and had surgery on it once, and for a reason I’m not completely sure of, had surgery on the same knee a couple years later. He doesn’t lift or live a healthy lifestyle, so you have that on him, but he’s continued to work the same manual labor job (as you would continue lifting) and his knees kill him daily. He’s always in pain. Not to sound all doom and gloom, as @T3hPwnisher has torn…I think the ACL? and has come back even stronger and as far as I know, doesn’t really have knee issues.

So my main point there is how you go about your recovery will probably be the biggest factor in how your future ends up.

2). I would watch this:

You might not. I really really really don’t think you should let that get you down though. Squatting and deadlifting are awesome, and I hope I am able to do them forever, but some people can’t. Some people just don’t have the structure for it, or at some point the damage their body has incurred has made it simply unworthy of the relatively low reward of squatting 315lbs.

I’m almost positive you’d be able to do RDL’s. Using 315lbs for 4x10-12 on an RDL would no doubt get you strong in your hams/glutes/back/grip and you’d probably see slightly more muscle gain than with a standard DL.

Maybe you couldn’t back squat, but there’s front squats, box squats, belt squats, sissy squats, goblet squats, leg presses, hack squats, leg extensions, backwards sled dragging, trap bar deadlifts, walking lunges, reverse lunges, split squats, rear-foot-elevated split squats, etc…not saying any or all of those would be fine on your knee (some could be just as bad as a back squat, or worse), but my point is is that there are a ton of movements out there that all still allow for you to get strong as hell.

I’ve recently had to change my mindset about benching - I just never felt like it worked for me, and I didn’t enjoy it. Since I’m not a powerlifter though, there’s absolutely no need for me to do it, so I’ve been experimenting with other things, like board presses, floor presses, DB bench, incline, close-grip, etc. That’s the point - sometimes you gotta go outside the box.

I’m only saying all of this because as far as I know, no frequent poster on here has mentioned having 3 ACL surgeries, so I didn’t know if anyone would have anything helpful to say. The guy I tagged earlier might have some advice, but I think most people will tell you that this is not something internet strangers can answer for you.

Anyway, best of luck to you. Start a training log on here as you document your recovery - you’ll get a lot of support.

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How soon after the first and 2nd tears did you retear it? People are often cleared to return to most activities/sports 6-9 months out but it takes closer to a year for the tissue to be at full strength.

Not sure about multiple tears but I imagine you can return to heavier weights with good therapy and a lot of patience

Edit: reread your post and saw your timeframe on one of those retears, 7 weeks and that ACL is still mush in there, a frustrating set back but I wouldn’t give up on it

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Ruptured the ACL and tore the meniscus. Got a hamstring graft and had them trim out part of the meniscus. I get occasional knee pain, but not at the surgical site: it’s typically IT band pain, which seems to be compensatory.

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Got a hamstring graft on both knees and no meniscus. Am stronger than ever. But still some pain here and there.

As a former physiotherapist I never had much to do with torn ACL’s. But what I do know about it, like @loganator mentioned, is that it takes a long time to recover from.

My question would be; did you had a proper rehabilitation? That newly inserted “ACL” needs to settle properly into the bone and adjust to its new surrounding. When following a rehabilitation protocol with a physiotherapist, the range of motion of the knee (and thus the load on the graft) is only increased little by little over the course of months. So you can see, it’s a very delicate situation to recover from.

Now, since you also had a torn meniscus (don’t know which knee), the safety of the knee are at risk here. Especially the cartilage! If you would go back to lifting, don’t get the idea of lifting anytime soon. Strive for safe and functional knees, not PR’s on the squat or deadlift. Hopefully you don’t want 70 year old knees at 30. Just my two cents. :wink: