Today we have a special recovery story from someone we wouldnt expect to be able to recover quickly from surgery. We often hear about superhuman ACL surgery recoveries like Adrian Peterson coming back 1 year after surgery and having one of the best NFL running back seasons ever. The list of athletes that have comeback from surgery is long. However, one of the most common comments from readers is “that is fine for them but I am a working mother, father or student who never was and isn’t an elite athlete I cant recover that fast.”
Well today I can share with you an amazing ACL surgery recovery story of a self proclaimed “un-athletic” 55 year old female who got through her surgery with no pain and was walking with full extension to 90 degree range of motion 1 week after surgery.
In April 2011, I was a very un-athletic 55 year old female when I tore my right knee ACL while we were canoeing in a river and encountered some whitewater which pushed us into a tree in the river. I was in the front of the canoe and my knee and leg were hit and the pain was excruciating. The swelling in my knee was immediate and I could not bend it. I went to Urgent Care the next day.
The doctor told me that I had probably sprained my ACL (I think he knew better) and that to ice it and if it wasn’t better in two weeks to go to my regular doctor. I saw my regular doctor at 3 weeks and he took x-rays and referred me to an orthopedist. At my appointment in June, Dr Gupta with POC in Atlanta told me I had torn my ACL and sent me for a MRI and for physical therapy. He also told me to walk on my leg and only use one crutch for balance. The MRI confirmed the torn ACL (Dr Gupta said it was shredded/destroyed) and that I had torn my meniscus.
Day of Surgery
Surgery was July 13th early in the morning POC has their own surgery center attached to Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta (45 miles from my home).
I never felt anxious or fearful of my surgery because I was tired of not being able to walk right or bend my knee very far. Also the nurses, anesthesiologist, and my doctor made me feel very confident. I had researched ACL surgeries. I talked with the anesthesiologist and told him that I get very sick with anesthesia. He put anti-nausea medications in the IV, also put a patch behind my ear and a stronger nerve block. My surgery was at 8:30AM and I was out of surgery and in the car to come home by 10:30AM and was home before noon.
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Pain after Surgery
I was in no pain at all but couldn’t walk because of the nerve block. I was told the nerve block would wear off in 12-16 hours instead it went somewhere over 36 hours. When the nerve block wore off I had no pain, I took no pain killers, not even over the counter and was able to walk with crutches. The next day I was using one crutch. I had very little swelling around my knee. I did have one of the Ice knee wraps but wasn’t very diligent about using it except for the Friday through Sunday after my surgery. My doctor had told me that I could move my knee and bend it just as long as it didn’t hurt. Dr Gupta did not put me in a brace and told me he wanted me to use my knee.
I had an appointment the next week a week after my surgery. I already had full extension and 90 degree ROM. My doctor told me to get rid of the crutches. I started therapy on Monday the next week.
My #1 Tip:
One reason I had gotten to this stage so early was that if I was laying down (on the couch) I made sure that my leg was always in full extension with pillows under it and my foot on the sofa arm and I started that when it was still under the nerve block. Also anytime I sat up I pulled my feet back and increased my range of motion.
I continued therapy two to three times a week at therapy and everyday at home until September. In September I was told I couldn’t go forward with more therapy yet so I continued at home. I wish that I had returned later to spend more time on the machines. I was cleared to drive in October but had returned to work as an Accountant two weeks after surgery.
Returned to work 2 weeks after surgery
2 Problems I Faced In My Recovery…
- One of my biggest problems was climbing stairs and it took a long time until I felt like I was walking the right way up and down stairs. It mainly took just practice.
- One other thing I had a problem with was kneeling. I was still having this problem over a year after my surgery. I finally just started making myself kneel and it has gotten easier in the last few months.
I feel like I have done well. I pushed myself to get the use of my knee back. I also had a very good doctor. I still have a little swelling on the right side of my leg which I have had since I tore my ACL and my doctor said it probably will never go away. I don’t think my knee will ever be what it was but most times it is fine even though once in a while I do get an irritating pain in it. Usually it is if I have been on it a long time on hard floors. This was my first and I hope only ACL. Surgery and the complete treatment with my deductible, co-pay and co-insurance came to $5,000
Photo by - threeseamonsters