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ACL Recovery time

JayproJaypro Posts: 337 Crazy Baller
Hey ballers, I am going to have an ACL Reconstruction November 9th. I was wondering if anyone of you have had the acl graft and how long before you were on water again?


  • FSSPCatFSSPCat Posts: 131 Baller
    I haven't had a reconstruction but had 2 patellar dislocations. My wife had a total reconstruction. It is really different for everyone, but I would say pay really close attention to your nutritional intake, and your physiotherapy. Make sure that you don't go overboard too soon, and really stick to a strict PT program. I believe typical recovery is usually around 6-8 months, but could be sooner.
  • bigskieridahobigskieridaho Posts: 945 Crazy Baller
    Tore my ACL, MCL, and Meniscus and it took 4-6 months to recover. Just hit the PT hard and you will be good.
  • ricorico Posts: 278 Crazy Baller
    @Jaypro I had ACL reconstruction and meniscus repair 10 years ago. Recovery time depends on your level of fitness and age, however I would say less than 6 month before water time could mean risk.
    The ACL repair came a long way they place the graft is less vertical improving knee stability.
    2 Key things from my experience is getting as much movement before surgery. If you can't bend your knee fully before surgery, it is unlikely you will have full movement after if ever.
    The second is PT. Don't wait. The day after surgery as much as possible will make a massive difference. There are plenty of PT exercices that you can do including stationary bike...
    Finally get a brace for when going back to the water. this is not for support but for preventing knee rotation to the point of re-injury. It is also great for confidence. Common brands are DonJoy, Breg, CTi.
    Eric Francois - Studio City, CA - Denali C-75 - Reflex
  • FraserFraser Posts: 42 Baller
    Very interesting topic. I am in Canada and our system is more passive than other countries when it comes to this type of surgery. Currently I am 40 and have what I recently found out is a torn ACL for likely the last 2 years. I have skied and been very active over this time frame, running, water skiing, working out and playing hockey. I know my physical condition has allowed me to do this. I am also dealing with a meniscus tear too which is more of a hindrance at this time. Everyone is different but I fortunately have very good stability --considering.

    Recovery from what I have learned is about 9-12 months for the ACL surgery (spoke with 3 surgeons). Athletes can get it done sooner (7 months or so), but for the average person it can be almost a year to full recovery depending on age.

    At this point I am focused on PT and staying active. My long term plan is to treat either the pain or instability, and currently I am good in both areas. That said I am not naïve to think I will not need some form of surgery down the road or even a knee replacement. Yes I am currently getting a DonJoy brace fitted as a few other non ACLers are using them for skiing both on the water and downhill.

    Keep us posted on your progress and I am happy to share mine should anyone feel it would help their decisions or strategy for dealing with such a common injury.

  • vtmechengvtmecheng Posts: 820 Crazy Baller
    I've never had an ACL surgery but have been through two foot surgeries and will have another in the next year or so. In my experience it's best to follow whatever your doc and PT say. It only takes one fall to undo what your surgeon fixed so take it slow and remember that one year off is worth all the time and money saved not having a second ACL surgery.
  • ZmanZman Posts: 1,691 Mega Baller
    edited October 2017
    Had ACL reconstruction at age 61. With excellent PT guided by a sports therapist, I was back in the course at 6 months and 1 week. I solidly passed Biodex leg strength testing first. And, like a previous post mentioned, I wore a Donjoy brace for about 5 months. Do use a sports therapist because you can do too little, or too much, or simply do things that are bad for your graft.
    You still have several weeks and should do as much leg strength and ROM work that you can get in before surgery. Especially focus on the same exercises you will do in post surgery rehab. Work hard on quad strength and full knee extension.
    Do you know which graft you are going with? Patella tendon, or hamstring? I went with the two hamstring graft, and very glad I did.
  • JayproJaypro Posts: 337 Crazy Baller
    @Zman I haven't decided on the graft, hamstring or cadaver. I am focused on quad strength and ROM. 6 months gets me to June. So probably missing most of early summer just getting back on the ski I bet.
  • AdamCordAdamCord Posts: 843 Open or Level 9 Skier
    edited October 2017
    I had an ACL reconstruction via patellar graft 2 years ago. With a lot of work I was skiing 3 months after surgery and was "fully" recovered by 8 months. I use quotations because I'm not sure you can ever truly fully recover from something like this, but I have no issues running and skiing
  • JayproJaypro Posts: 337 Crazy Baller
    @AdamCord , as I live in Vermont, we won't be skiing before may. That gives me 6 months. I will hit the PT hard and hopefully ready to go for May 1.
  • JWebSkiJWebSki Posts: 90 Baller
    I tore my ACL and MCL in a jump crash last summer. I had ACL surgery with patellar graft. It was 6 months before I started to slalom and trick and 10 months before I started to jump again. I cannot agree more with just how important the PT is to your recovery
  • JayproJaypro Posts: 337 Crazy Baller
    Did any of you switch to a releasable binding?
  • The_MSThe_MS Posts: 5,721 Member of the BallOfSpray Hall Of Fame
    @Jaypro I tore mine on Jan 10th when I was age 42. I had it replaced with a cadaver on Jan 23rd and skied nationals in Aug. I was on the water skiing 22/28 off in June. The cadaver route is less invasive and recovery time is quicker. You will feel very good in a few weeks if you follow a good PT program but from 3-6 months out the ACL is very weak due to cell regeneration. At that point it is very porous and your own cells have not yet taken over. You need to be very careful to not re-injure it at this point. The hardest part of recovering from the patellar or hamstring graft is healing the place where they remove them from.

    Good luck with your recovery
    Shut up and ski
  • WaterSkier12WaterSkier12 Posts: 269 Baller
    Depends on a lot of things as already stated
    Graft selection is a big decision for you. If you and your surgeon elect hamstring, patellar tendon or quad tendon autograft, initial recovery will be a bit longer but graft incorporation will be much quicker than a cadaver allograft.
    PM me if you would like
    And yes, I do all types depending on the patient
    Good luck with your surgery!
  • ZmanZman Posts: 1,691 Mega Baller
    edited October 2017
    Only other advice I have is to not think so much of the activities you might be missing out on as you recover. Focus on rehab as your new passion. Small strides at first, but then as you progress you will find a lot of satisfaction in how much more you can do, more ROM, and more strength you gain each time you do your therapy and workouts.
    Getting back on the water is your end game, and your motivation.
    Best of luck to you @Jaypro
    Give us an update after your upcoming surgery.
  • vtmechengvtmecheng Posts: 820 Crazy Baller
    Listen to @Zman

    PT can be painful but even worse is the mental game. Keep yourself positive and you will get better faster. Keep things in perspective, 50 years ago you would be sidelined. Do what you have to now so you have years of fun in the water. Good luck!
  • JayproJaypro Posts: 337 Crazy Baller
    thanks @Zman and @vtmecheng. I am motivated to get on the water for June!!! The water is cold until the middle of May here in Northern Vermont, I would just be missing wetsuit ski days....
  • epnaultepnault Posts: 348 Crazy Baller
    I had ACL surgeries in the 90s. Back then the preferred path was the patella graph and I have to say my knees are very strong. I would strongly consider the patella graph as I have heard the other graphs are weaker over time. There seemed to be a trend to not use the patella for a while because the recovery was harder and longer. Back then I was playing college football and had trainers that got me back on the field in 4 to 5 months. The key is to have a focused trainer that is focused on getting your range of motion back as soon as possible. This is a painful process and takes hard work. This is where most fail to get back to before injury form. So like most stated rehab is so critical not only in the time of recovery but your performance after. I wish you the best on your recovery.
  • customskicustomski Posts: 108 Baller
    I had ACL reconstruction at 37 years old, Pt very important, I used the stationary bike a lot and was back at work fairly quickly (one month) but i wished I had stretched and got a better range of motion earlier. Its still limited ten years later.
    I had a slalom at 3 months, but that didnt feel right and is a vulnerable time, at 4 months though with a Cti brace I was back on the ski and going to tournaments. Six months should be plenty of time. I also enjoyed the recovery period and have trained better/more consistently ever since.
  • customskicustomski Posts: 108 Baller
    I switched from rtp to double boots shortly after getting back on the ski and being my back knee i found the back boot more supportive and less load/swelling from the knee as a result.
  • OldboyIIOldboyII Posts: 609 Solid Baller
    edited October 2017
    @customski Good point. After recent injury (half torn ACL and brocken tib) I also decided to move from RTP to rear boot (Vector w/o or loose upper laces). I think that this setup may reduce chances for flat rotation of front knee.
  • cragginshredcragginshred Posts: 722 Crazy Baller
    edited October 2017
    From my clinical PT experience late spring skiing would be realistic. Generally one year is the timeline for 'most' people. Skiers are generally way more fit so spring would be fully doable. Adam is a rare exception!
    Vapor pro 2017
  • jimbrakejimbrake Posts: 1,375 Mega Baller
    @cragginshred - have you worked much with full knee replacement patients? Planning on getting my rt. knee done around Feb 1. Realistic to be back on the water by ? May? June? 2019? I will work hard at PT.
    "...all of the basic fun banter"
  • cragginshredcragginshred Posts: 722 Crazy Baller
    edited October 2017
    @jimbrake yes on a daily basis. Have they discussed the 'uni' or partial knee option? Way faster rehab time, but there is a lifespan to them. Either way you will be skiing by May or June 2018 for sure!
    Vapor pro 2017
  • jimbrakejimbrake Posts: 1,375 Mega Baller
    @cragginshred - yeah, the partial seems to not be a good option for me. I'm hoping I get a good 20 years on this one and by then that I can just get a new one from Amazon and then my doc can install it with his smart phone.
    "...all of the basic fun banter"
  • FraserFraser Posts: 42 Baller
    @cragginshred I posted on this above and now my meniscus is become a major issue, I need it cleaned up for sure and have the ruptured ACL (both on back leg). What I am struggling with is that I am stable outside of the joint crap going on due to the bucket handle meniscus. I get the sense the best bet is to get both items taken care of but up here in Canada we have little control of when we get in for surgery...I am hoping to get lucky with a date before xmas which would leave next season a realistic outcome for me.

    My question is: if I cannot get in asap, I was thinking about doing the meniscus and then seeing how I do and if things deteriorate having the ACL done in the spring time if when it's required. I appreciate any feedback from a fellow skier with surgical experience.

  • ZmanZman Posts: 1,691 Mega Baller
    edited October 2018
    @Fraser You can see above, I have experienced this. Your meniscus might be a problem now because your knee is not stable without an ACL and you're still very active. Good for you with that!
    Good news is your overall knee strength and ROM should be very good.
    You should try very hard to get that ACL surgery in before year end. Then work very dedicated on your rehab with good PT help to push you, and keep you from going to fast.
    First summer back, wear a DonJoy Defiance. You will hardly know you have it on. A little protection if you crash, and a little added stability.
    The following summer you will hardly know you had the injury.
    Good luck man.
  • FraserFraser Posts: 42 Baller
    @zman Thank you. I have a DonJoy and I agree it likely all needs to get done. I've been without ACL for 3 years and skied hard with no issues/no brace therefore my curiosity of not getting the ACL done if I cant get in quickly. See the surgeon tomorrow.
  • gregygregy Posts: 2,589 Mega Baller
    @Fraser I know some people from Canada that didn't want to wait and went to Surgery Center of Oklahoma. They are a cash basis only and all the prices are on their website so you know up front what the cost is.
  • MrJonesMrJones Posts: 1,802 Mega Baller
    As a physical therapist who sees a lot of knees, I would recommend a minimum of 6 months. You will feel good long before that, but it takes time for the graft to mature.

    My thought it start on Memorial Day.
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