4 ACL Surgery Horror Stories

ACL reconstructive surgery is an extremely technical procedure. The placement of the graft is imperative; a millimeter can impact the outcome. The job of the ACL is to stabilize your knee for rotational movements. If the graft is placed in a way that doesn’t allow for this, then the knee will not regain that movement.

Some of the reasons that ACL surgery is unsuccessful are: not allowing enough time for rest and rehabilitation after surgery (overdoing it too soon), physiological components (such as bones and muscles in growing children), additional injuries to the knee occurring at the same time which also require repair, and improper execution of surgical techniques.

ACL tears most commonly happen to athletes, and although the injury is not career ending, the way it used to be, it does mean you are out for a season, because it takes a long time to heal completely. If you don’t take the time to let it heal properly, you risk re-injury. An ACL tear is the most devastating when it threatens your career, especially a high-profile one. Here are the stories of four athletes who suffered from ACL tears more than once and had to undergo revision surgery.

  1. UFC Bantamweight champ, Dominick Cruz, is a fighter who had his ligament almost completely detach. He underwent the reconstructive surgery, but chose donor tissue from a cadaver, which his body rejected. Apparently this happens 20% of the time in athletes. When he underwent the surgery a second time he chose to use the patellar tendon from his own body for the graft. The long recovery time this injury requires is a complication for Cruz; he can’t hold on to his title if he can’t defend it.
  2. MMA fighter Mauricio “Shogun” Rua suffered multiple ACL injuries in his left knee. He also used a cadaver graft in his first ACL surgery, because the recovery can be faster using this type. Either the graft didn’t properly take or he pushed his rehab too quick and too hard, he ended up having to have another surgery. His next fight was not until 16 months later, but it was a win! A win, a loss, and another win later he was again having surgery on his knee in just over a year.
  3. Football is one of the most hazardous sports for knee injury and specifically ACL injury. Saskatchewan Roughrider receiver, Rob Bagg has had a very difficult time dealing with ACL tears. He missed all of the 2011 season after having two surgeries for a torn ACL in his right knee. Then he ended the 2012 season with a tear in his left knee. Although he felt that he could still play, he knew it could cause further damage, so he opted for another operation. He worked hard and came back for the 2013 season, but he ended up re-injuring his left knee. This time it was not a tear, just a sprain.
  4. Pivoting and cutting are moves that are really hard on your knees. These moves are ubiquitous in basketball, which is why there are so many knee injuries in the NBA. Michael Redd, player for the Milwaukee Bucks, endured two knee injuries and two knee surgeries within a year. He tore his ACL and MCL in 2009 and was out for a season. A year later he sustained the same injury, again in his left knee. It is possible he didn’t do the rehab properly the first time and allow enough time to heal and regain full extension and strength. He didn’t give up. He went through it all again, the surgery and the rehab, and he came back in 2011 with the intent to end his career on his own terms.

The Top 5 At Home Exercises
I did that helped get me walking 4 days after surgery

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