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ACL tears?

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10/3/2009 10:19 AM

For some of the others who have had ACL reconstruction, how long did it end up being before your doc cut you loose to ride again? They sutured a tear in my meniscus as well. Just had it done 3 weeks ago, going pretty well so far I guess. Just got the go ahead to start spinning on the trainer for a little bit at a time. He said 6 months to get back on the motocross bike, presumably XC would be alright a bit earlier. Just wondering how conservative of an estimate that really is, and if other people have gotten cut loose ahead of schedule.


10/3/2009 12:38 PM

What kind of repair did you get?

I got a patellar graft (my own) and was on my road bike in 3-4 weeks. Light xc riding a week or two after.

Take it VERY easy though.


10/3/2009 2:26 PM

Cadaver graft for me, hope to be off the trainer and out on the road in a couple more weeks as well.


10/5/2009 1:18 PM

Curious, how does an ACL tear present itself? About 3 weeks ago I had an Arthroscopy done on my Left knee because of a suspected torn meniscus, well when all was said and done my doctor said the meniscus was fine but that I had significant signs of arthritis and so he did what he could to clean it up. After feeling pretty good about how my leg was feeling I started riding on the road a bit and doing more around the house, a couple days ago I was moving a can of paint, twisted the knee and almost dropped from the pain. This pain is why I had the surgery in the first place and now that its still evident I wonder what the hell he missed in there , could it have been a torn ACL? It sure doesnt feel like arthritis and now it looks like my ridin season is officially over.
Not trying to hijack, just looking for some knee advice.


10/8/2009 12:11 AM

last friday i fell of my bike and landed on my wrist and knee i visited the local minor injuries unit as my knee was like a ballon turned out i have torn meniscus and also a scaphoid fracture in my wrist...lovely... anyhow after a few days off work im now back and in pain i was told to rest up and get the weight off my knee and i have a cast on my arm told at least two weeks for my wrist but what sort of recovery time will i be looking at for my knee??? i know i shouldnt be in work for starters


Gravity....I fought the law but the law won

10/8/2009 9:13 AM

For mxnate, I doubt the doctor could have been in there to do your meniscus and not noticed a torn ACL. The primary symptom of a torn ACL is some serious instability in the knee joint, specifically front to back. I doubt you could have done it without noticing. Wrenching your knee a bit within a few weeks of surgery is always going to cause you some pain. Have you had an MRI?

Thompy, I was out of commission for 5 weeks before I could ride again with torn meniscus and ACL without any kind of repair. I spent the first two with literally no load on the knee, which is easier when you are in the hospital and not at work.


10/8/2009 1:16 PM
Edited Date/Time: 10/4/2011 5:10 PM

Had ACL replaced with a tendon from the back of my leg, as well as trimming off torn meniscus. Took 2 years to be able to ride dh, but that is because of a second surgery because i pulled the screw out holding the new ACL.
Word of advice, they slower you take it, the faster you will recover.
The kind of surgery that i had takes longer, because you are missing one out of six tendons in the back of your leg, which eventually re-grows. The problem i see with the patellar version of the surgery is the weakening of the patellar tendon, and pain later on in life (this is a known symptom).

Dont cut loose ahead of schedule, ye you can ride XC before 6 months, but if you are doing serious MX, then i would wait the whole six months. I was given the same time frame before downhill, the main danger is landing drops without smooth transition, or in MX the step ups you have where you still land going up on the hill, its these kind of impacts that can cause trouble.


10/8/2009 3:04 PM

For me it has been a 10 year long journey to get to where I am as a rider. So basically, trying not to bore you all, this is my story and hopefully it will help some people.

I used to race week in week out around UK, NPS's, Midlands etc. Then after a NPS at Ae forest I went to some local trails and stacked it in the middle of a set of trails. I was in alot of pain and couldnt walk or straighten my leg. I had hyper extended my leg causing a serious minicus tear and ACL rupture. Weirdly I didn't go to the doctors for a month as I thought it would get better but I was off work for 2 weeks and still couldn't walk on it properly. So off to Oswestry ortho and got it sorted fairly quickly. I basically had my cartilage trimed and then my ACL was reattached to my bone using a 3 inch screw.

Rehab went ok, found it very hard as I went from riding full on to nothing and wanted to get back straight away. Mentally I found this very hard as I was very focused on racing and training but I couldnt do what used to. I also lost my job, so it wasn't plain sailing. After about a year I felt strong enough to race again and I entered a race and did awful. My confidence was completely crushed and although I had built up the muscles in my leg I still didnt trust it at all. After another 2 poor results I decided to hang up my race pants (well it was lycra back then).

A couple of years when by and my fitness declined along with my leg strength, and then I decided to get back into riding my hardtail bike abit, again after a few weeks I ended up at some trails and what do you know I do exactly the same again (note to self - do not ride trails). That was it, I sold all my bikes and forgot about it, but I couldnt because my knee was serious bad now, I couldn't even do the simplest of things without it dislodging and clicking, fairly painfully. I tried going to the gym, swimming and other stuff the strengthen it but nothing worked.

Reluctantly I went back to the hospital and had an MRI, I had again damaged my cartilage again and they couldnt even see my ACL but obvsiously the screw was still there. So I was told that I had to have 2 ops to correct it, first one would be to sort the cartilage and then second one to reconstruct the ACL from my hamstring.

After I finally had that done over a 2 year period, I got through the physio well and then started to get on the static bike in the gym (boring as hell) and other low impact stuff. It took a long time before I felt like I was ready to ride again but I don't regret all the pain and work I have gone through. I would say that now my knee is 70-80% of what it was before the first injury and I doubt it will be any better.

I think the key things, it takes time to heal and it can be so fustrating. You knee will never be the same but if you work the muscles and build them up then a good level of function can be achieved. I think its hard to put a time limit on how long people take to recover because of the complexity of the knee joint. I would say to it as easy as possible until you feel confident to sit on your bike and not even worry about your knee, that way you know you wont be mentally thinking about it when you ride.


Don't use your brakes.......

10/8/2009 6:19 PM

Bump skiing. Best damned p.t. for a re-constructed ACL. If yer all lopsided that will straiten you right up. FCTRY, you are definitely all lopsided.


10/9/2009 8:33 AM

Lets put it this way: knees suck to injure. I blew out all but 1 ligament at Teva games one year and torn the meniscus in multiple places. I was told it was just a sprain but then 3 months later I jumped out of a truck and the whole joint buckled. Then I had to go back insisting on some MRIs. Had the surgery, which wasnt all that bad really.

I went out to go dig jumps with the boys the next week, so I was able to walk but the doctors seemed to dislike this. Whatever, digging is like mental rehab.

3 months of constant rehab with little load bearing allowed me to spend months 3 and 4 on a road bike again. Around 6 months I could ride my MTB dirt jumper, but had to take it easy and focus on not crashing.

At about 1 year, I started feeling pretty confident again... but the biggest hurdle was the mental rehab. I lost a lot of huckability and second guess spinning big jumps. I would say everything back to normal in 18 months, mental and all. The new knee is definitely different, feels different. But I've always had this feeling that they put my leg back together slightly crooked... I swear my right foot points out more to the side than it ever did hahah. Hope that helps.

Biggest advice I can give is just do ALL the rehab 100% at first. After a few months I started doing 1.5 or 2 times what rehab was calling for, muscle will hold that knee together while the ligaments back them up... their kinda like the high/low limit on the rear derailure haha.


10/9/2009 8:34 AM
Edited Date/Time: 10/4/2011 5:10 PM

JAR88 brought up some very very good points. The injury can come in many different forms. To compare injuries and recovery times to people on the web can be very mis-leading and dangerous. Use the information only to aid in your research, not as gospel. Be prepared mentally for the possibility of a long boring lame-ass experience. If it goes easy, then you at least were prepared for the worst.

For me, I shattered my kneecap almost 4 years ago, while at the same time tearing all sorts of cartilage. I am also in my mid 40s. Recovery times change tremendously as you get older. There is no way around the fact that your body loses its cell regenerating capabilities as you get older. Basically, I am screwed. I have done every type of physio-therapy known to sports and have seen every expert I can find. I have great health insurance, a great doctor and great family. All the tools where there for me, but in the end, I will limp for the rest of my life and have a left leg that operates at 60% of the right.

In hindsight, things I could have done better? Inflammation is your worst enemy. Ice ice ice ice ice ice and more ice. Do not, at all costs run your knee when it is swollen. I got back on my routine as quickly as I could, thinking that weight training was the answer, and I just let things get swollen and iced here and there. Inflammation is the death of us! Keep the inflammation at bay.

Secondly.......spend as much time in the swimming pool as you can. As soon as your scars are safe to submerge in water, get into the pool. Your bike can wait. You won't forget how to get rad. Get into the pool and the gym, and get your knee and body ultra fit.

Don't hurry to get back on your bike and potentially hurt yourself even more by asking your body to do things that only your brain can deliver!

Good Luck!


10/9/2009 4:50 PM

Everybody here needs to go out and by a knee brace to ride with. I have been riding with one for two months after four months of being on the DL, and it gives me complete confidence to go and send it. It doesn't interfere with riding at all. The Asterisks one that bought feels like wearing a knee pad, and i still have full range of motion with it on. There a little pricey but its worth every penny to be able to ride with full confidence.


10/10/2009 7:18 PM

Don't over do the riding whatever your do. In the long run it is not worth the damage.


Hardtails can do everything duals can. Well... almost.

10/10/2009 11:14 PM

take it slow my friends, if major injuries like this don't heal well the first time, you will have long term issues. i've had 6 knee surgeries, and learned the hard way. take things slow but work hard and don't take stupid risks or you'll be sorry. if you're smart you will heal strong and make a full recovery. if you're not you won't, simple as that.


10/11/2009 7:24 AM
Edited Date/Time: 10/4/2011 5:10 PM

I am five weeks into my ACL recovery. Things seem to be going well. I am trying to ice more often as I did get a bit lax with it.

I tore my ACL on a moto and if I had not been riding moto I never would have torn it as I have very strong tissues. It tore right off of the femur.
Waited two years to get the surgery, in that time kept my leg flexible and strong.. I do full expect to spin static for the rest of the winter and XC for most of the spring. I will get back on the DH bike, with my CTi brace, but I will be taking it easy for 2010 to make sure that the knee is strong....takes about 2 years I am told.

I had the hamstring tendon graft. I talked with the surgeon about donor grafts, patellar, and synthetics...she insists the hamstring graft is the best. I believe her becaue my knee feels great, and while it feels great it can be difficult to remind yourself not to do too much. She used a titanium button on the femur side and a dissolvable screw on the tibia side. My knee feels so solid now!

My physio protocal was to get off crutches ASAP. I am supposed to be at full range of motion soon. Main thing to rememebr about healing this ligament is avoid hyper-extension and weight bearing twists. everything else is fair game. That is why Cycling is the #1 recomended exercise after knee sugery.

Good luck to all of you.


10/12/2009 10:07 AM
Edited Date/Time: 10/12/2009 10:09 AM

ACL injuries are funny creatures (as are all knee injuries), no one is the same as another. What you can do is this, take your re-hab very seriously!! I can not stress this enough. Do your road miles (or trainer miles if this cold snap keeps up), then go to your XC miles, then you can get back to the really fun stuff. The big thing is to let it heal completely, then re-build the muscles before you really start to push it. For me the biggest hurdle to overcome was the mental side, once my knee was all healed and I was ridding, it still took some time for my brain to allow me to ride as I had before. Stay with it and you will be back in no time, just make sure you are RE-HABBNG and you will have a "good as new" knee. For me, the full recovery time was about 6 months till I was sticking the leg out at TV in the turns. But, I was riding XC at Apex, MW, White Ranch etc. at about 4 months.


10/17/2009 8:27 AM

very interesting to read so much about everybodies experiences on this subject. i will share a little too. blew my acl and tore some other stuff there about three yrs ago while bump skiing. was 46 at the time and first real injury so had no idea what was up. not even a crash. kept trying to ski rest of day but things weren't right when trying to turn and a venture back into the bumps slapped me down so and night after consulting with friends was told to call it a weekend. opted for surgery and hoped to time it to be back on hill the following winter. used cadaver tendon? and drilled holes. no screws i read about above. i will swear by this though. loose the crutches from day one and get up and about. atrophy still sucked. ice and movement got me cleared pretty fast. full clearance at 6 mos. cheated and wakesurfed at 4 but riding at 3 i think. two years later blew same again going over handlebars while downhilling at northstar. landed on feet and ran downhill so didn't think any damage. after months of lots of weird stuff and floater pain had mri to find totally done in again. this time there was the new "double bundle" method. new and improved. this is the real deal and the way.its the ticket. surgery dec 23 2008 and cleared at 6 months so just finished a full season of downhill biking at tahoe. same rehab program as before. forget about sittin around, pain meds and all. move and ice. feels great and i took a good direct shot to it on sticks and stones slab at month 7. got the pod by fox brace. works great.


10/17/2009 9:24 AM

I was wearing asterisk knee braces when I tore it (it was a big crash). I got a doc to write me a script for some custom fitted Breg knee braces, which are better known among team sports types, but I do like them pretty well. They are really light and low profile, which was nice for using them with the dh bike all year. My main complaint is that their patella cups are pretty cheesy. Sounds like I can weasel myself yet another pair of prescription braces, since I ended up going somewhere else for my surgery, so I'm gonna see if I can get CTI's this time around. Alex here at The Fix has the new Pods and is liking them a lot, coming off the old Pods and Asterisk before that.


11/10/2009 12:30 PM

In responding to ACL tears, I'm writing because my daughter had a partcial tear in June at a soccer game. She also tore her meniscus. She is 16 and after researching decided to NOT have surgery. We did prolotherapy with Dr. Tallman in Scottsdale and she is back in the game and preparing for track. We did PT for six weeks to regain strength and balance. For her meniscus she had PRP (protein enriched platlets) injected in her knee. She is pain free and doing activity better than before.


11/11/2009 6:44 AM

hey guys,

its unfortunate that the current state of preparing our bodies for our sport(s) seems to only work on strengthening and conditioning after we have an injury? many years ago i adopted a dedication to training that focuses on PRE-HAB not R-HAB. at 37 years old and a get out and bike, snowboard, surf , wake, adventure race, physical labor etc i need to work on my joint mobility and training my body to work as a unit .

swimming is great for coming back from injuries and worked for me after a broken leg, low impact and great range of motion.

once your ready look into a 2-4 day a week conditoning program that has a focus on joint mobility, dynamic movement and works your body in "3D", all the 3 planes of movement.
one good way to think is move our body like animals(we used to be them before computer machines) Do a crab walk, bear crawl, inch worms, spider crawl etc. Throw in some work on a balance board. choose movements that work many groups at once. DO NOT STRETCH before a workout statically either. always warm up with some light cardio or calisthenics then DYNAMIC warmups to get the joints lubricated and ready to move dynamically. and you don't need hardly any equipment , a med ball, a balance board and you can do it outside in good weather and dont need to pay a silly gym membership.
some of my pro rider friends sometimes used to think i'm crazy for training but they are getting it now as they are hurt each and every season from JUST riding.
anyway, feel free to ask any questions, kinda my speciality and good luck with recovery.


2/14/2010 5:12 AM
Edited Date/Time: 2/14/2010 5:23 AM

double fracture of knee acl reconstruction miniscus repair all done chicksands.... done within 20 mins of riding there ...ladder drop landing fine then jumping of the little hip jump at bottom of drop did not know it was there.... so did that in may 2009 had 6 weeks of for frature then back to work with a very week knee .....had op october 15 my birthday will never forget that day.... 3 months of work they removed my patella for new graft to knee and trimmed 2 no cartledges 4 months on from op i have just started to road ride on my hardtail round the country side and turbo trainer in garage trying to build muscles up in leg ....all i can say about this injury its hard work ....on physio for 6 months hopefully then i can start to ride back in my local woods.... this first year as advised by my physio and surgern take it easy and do noting to extreme so taking that advise ...1 thing iam investing in is asterisk knee pads not cheap but the reviews i keep reading on net and by other ridings they do a very top job of supporting your knee ...end of transmission


10/14/2011 3:21 PM