ACL Repair Surgery – What They Don’t Tell You (and My Recovery)

I recently had ACL surgery, which most people who follow this blog will already know. For my regular readers, apologies for the break away from my usual travel topic. If you have zero interest in reading about my ACL repair surgery, how about a few travel articles you might not have read yet:

10 Travel Experiences Everyone Should Have in Their Lifetime

Banged up in a Panama Prison

How to Plan Your Own Prosecco Tour in Italy

If you’re still here. you’re either intrigued or facing ACL surgery yourself.

NEW: Nearly 3 years after ACL surgery, and still under the care of a physio, I’ve written a list of the 15 things I’d have done differently during my recovery. Click here to open the post in a new window if you want to read if after you’ve finished this post. 

Like most people about to go under the knife, I did a bit of research before my operation and I found all the usual stuff – anatomical diagrams of the inside of a knee, a description of what the actual surgery involves (lights, camera, scalpel).

It was a bit of a learning curve since I hadn’t even heard of an anterior cruciate ligament until mine went pop. And I found lots of medical stuff. Great.

What I didn’t find was a description of what it’s really like to have ACL repair surgery – and it turns out there were more than a few things that I didn’t know about the operation. So, in this article I’m going to share with you what the surgery was like for me together with how I’ve been recovering in the days, weeks and month post-op.

A couple of notes:

  • I had my surgery in the UK on the (public, not private) National Health System. I can’t imagine that the experience would differ that widely around the world but who knows…
  • At the time of writing this first part I was 3 to 4 weeks post-op but I’ve been updating the recovery section as time goes by.
  • Advance apologies if you’re squeamish – I’ve included a couple of pictures of my incision so you can see what it looks like. I’ll give you another warning just before you reach them!

ACL Surgery – 15 Things They Don’t Tell You

acl repair surgery pre-op
You know – pre-planning for that awkward moment when the surgeon asks ‘my left or your left’ except you’re unconscious so he has to guess.

1. They shove a tube down your throat while you’re unconscious

acl repair surgery oxygen
Your throat is probably just sore from the oxygen they said…

I’m a grown up. I understand that there are things that need to happen while you’re being operated on. I just wish I’d been told in person (rather than finding out from Google) that they shoved a tube down my throat while I was out for the count. That way, I wouldn’t have been worried about why my throat was so damn dry and sore when I woke up. I also could have pre-planned and got some honey and lemon and throat sweets in for my post-op recovery.

2. They also insert a catheter and suppository

TMI warning

In fairness, they asked me if I wanted a suppository and my initial reaction was ‘urggghhhh. NO!’ until they told me it delivered 16 hours of pain relief. The idea of them inserting it while I was unconscious made me feel a little bit violated but I opted for that over having it inserted while I was awake, which would make me feel violated but with the added ‘bonus’ of a visceral memory of the event.

What they didn’t tell me (and I once again learned from Google) was that they also catheterised me. How did I surmise this? Well, I felt somewhat irritated in that area – something that lasted for around a week and made me wonder what they hell they’d done to me. Seriously, if you’re going to mess around in my ‘downstairs closet’ while I’m asleep, i) tell me about it; and ii) be gentle!

3. You’ll be weak…from hunger

I’m that person who needs to eat 10 small meals a day. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but being nil by mouth from 8pm the night before until 3pm the following day can make you weak. Sure, I was fed tea and toast (which was a struggle to get down because of my dry mouth and throat), it’s simply not enough to sustain me.

The result – I felt very weak and sick when I tried to move from horizontal to upright on my crutches. The nurses were convinced I was having a reaction to the surgery. I was convinced it was something more simple – I was weak from hunger. A sandwich later and I was up no problem.

4. The end to end admission may take longer than you think

acl repair surgery operation
This irritating kit is unfortunately the last thing they remove before you’re allowed to go home.

I was first to surgery (around 10 a.m.) and with an op time of about 1.5 to 2 hours, I had ideas that I’d be home by mid-day. As it turns out, I got home around 8pm. That was partly because I had to sit with my leg in a knee bending machine for a few hours post-op but also because I was too weak to walk (see above).

5. The pain medication will probably make you feel sick

I was given co-codamol (codeine and paracetemol) as my main pain relief medication and boy did it make me feel sick. Ever drank too much coffee and felt jittery/like you want to vomit? That’s what the codeine did to me. It also made me want to nap within 15 minutes of taking it. As a consequence, by day two, I was already phasing it out and replacing it with just paracetemol and ibuprofen instead. The downside – I was in more pain that I probably needed to be in those first few days but at least I was alert and not feeling sick.

6. It hurts (more than you think)

acl repair surgery recovery
My friend bought me these Minion socks – helped with the pain. Btw, that’s a DVT sock on my right leg. You’re advised to wear them post surgery and I was given a couple of packs in the hospital.

Of course I knew the operation wasn’t going to be a walk in the park (nor afterwards!) but the intensity of the pain in those first 3-4 days surprised me. Not feeling able to take the co-codamol didn’t help. The good news is that although the pain is bad those first few days, it does ease and I was on off-the shelf painkillers within a few days.

7. The pain medication will probably give you constipation

Another TMI warning

We all know what constipation is. Fortunately, my physio had pre-warned me and I just chilled out about it, waiting for my body to right itself. Which it did and within the week things were back to normal.

8. The surgical dressings will hurt as much as the incision

acl repair surgery dressing
Getting creative with my clothing to give the incision some air while trying to keep warm! ACL repair surgery is not a cold weather activity.

It didn’t occur to me that this would happen. I possibly didn’t help myself – I’m the kind of person who needs some sort of shower every day to feel like I’m not a slob. This meant I was changing my dressing daily – I had staples rather than stitches and was told not to get them wet (nurse: ‘you don’t want sticky staples’). I also kept my dressing on as long as the staples were in because my body magically started to push the staples out around week one and I didn’t want to snag anything.

Upshot: this constant pulling off and putting on of adhesive dressing took its toll. In fact, I’ve had the dressing off for nearly a week and the skin where the dressing stuck is still tender. I have been using Elizabeth Arden’s 8-hour cream. It’s not your average moisturiser – it has a bit of a medical scent to it and it has amazing repairing properties which have really soothed my skin.

9. The small incision – not as small as they say

Just a couple of camera holes and a small incision. Yeah right. My incision is a couple of inches long – which looks a lot on a 5ft tall person. Pre-surgery, I’d just seen the scars from other people, which were a lot smaller because, well, healing and all that. I know my incision scar will shrink too but that first time I saw the cut, I was a bit shocked. Photos of the incision further below.

10. Bathing is an epic challenge

At the time when you need stability in the shower the most, ACL repair surgery takes one leg out of action. Had it been decent, I’d have videoed the various poses I found myself in while I simultaneously tried to wash my body and hair while keeping my dressing dry. I have to say, my yoga came in very helpful.

By about day 10 I simply gave up and just showered faster.

After three and a bit weeks, I’ve finally had a soak in a bubble bath – I was advised to wait a little in case the fragranced products irritated my skin after having the staples out. To be on the safe side, I went with a baby bath foam which I knew was going to be gentle on my incision.

The rest of the time, I’ve just been using my L’Occitaine Lemon Verbena shower gel as usual and this week I’m going to buy some Bio-Oil to help reduce scarring. Some articles say don’t bother but I say nothing ventured, nothing gained.

11. Having your staples out is brutal

acl repair surgery staple extractor
My very own staple remover!

I’ve had stitches removed before and apart from feeling a bit queasy (I was 10 years old – I was allowed to feel queasy), it didn’t hurt. For some reason, I thought having my staples removed would be the same. Not so.

It hurt like hell!

First of all, they use a sharp, metal staple extractor – in fact, I was supplied this in the hospital and for a good few seconds I thought I was looking at a DIY jobbie until the nurse read the horror on my face and reassured me it was just to take to the clinic; I didn’t have to pull them out myself at home.

The problem with this tool is that to get the staples out, it needs to fit under the staples – which is right where your skin is most tender at the point of incision. Some of my staples had lifted themselves up a good few millimetres by the time of removal which I was so grateful for. I can’t imagine the pain if they were still flush with my incision. Take pain pills before you go and take comfort in the fact that there are people who have more staples inserted that you would after ACL repair surgery. Plus, the relief of having them out is worth the pain.

12. Initial progress will be quicker than you think

acl repair surgery knee bending
I was horrified I was going to be tortured when I saw this contraption but I give it full credit for getting my knee bending quickly post-op

I couldn’t believe the hospital had my leg bending back to 45 degrees within just a few hours of surgery. Sure, the contraption was fresh out of a horror movie, but it did an excellent job. I was also given stair and crutch training, which gave me the confidence to go home that day. I was told I could weight bear and within a few days I was taking steps without crutches – I’d expected a much slower start to my recovery and I was frankly delighted with myself.

And here’s the contraption in action just a few hours post-surgery…


13. ‘Back to normal’ progress will be slower

And those early days gave me false ideas about how quickly I’d progress. Sure, I’m swifter moving around without crutches but weeks 1 to 3 have seen pretty much that same level of progression. I’m still taking stairs by putting both feet on each step and although my knee bend has moved on to over 110 degrees, that’s a bit of a no-man’s land in terms of usefulness – most activities (kneeling, bending crouching, going down stairs) require closer to 180 degrees. Impatience has taken hold. Fast.

(On the plus side, all this feet-up, stay indoors business means I’m finally catching up on some of the books on my reading list).

I should say that I also had  a medial meniscus repair at the same time as my ACL surgery. However, as I had a horizontal tear in the cartilage in the ‘red’ blood vessel zone, it just required a stitch, so I’m not sure it’s added that much more to my recovery time (that’s based on zero expert opinions, btw).

14. The physio protocol is impressive

I knew that ACL repair was common but it hadn’t occurred to me how well-established the ACL recovery protocol would be. With goals and exercises for each phase, if you’re a person who likes to have something to aim for and a bit of a tick-list to get through, you’ll like the structured approach to the physio.

15. Having ACL repair surgery is totally worth it

acl repair surgery
In a time not too far away, I hope to get back to some volcano hiking…

I was told that I could live without having surgery and many people function happily without having their ACL in place. However, as my physio said, that’s fine for people with a desk job who maybe go to the gym a couple of times a week. That’s certainly not me.

At only 40 years old, and with one eye always on the next adventure, I wasn’t prepared to live a life limited by forward-facing, even-surface activities. I want to climb more volcanoes. I want to swim with whale sharks again. And if I ever find myself having to outrun an ostritch in the dessert (look, strange experiences tend to find me), I’d like to know my knee has my back.

Mentally, I already feel better knowing that my knee bone’s connected to my thigh bone (ok, not necessarily anatomically correct, but there’s a song in there). Knowing that in time I’ll be able to get back to all the adventures I’m used to, I’m 200% happy I went ahead with the surgery.

If you want to hear my busting my knee story, you can read it here.

Things I found most useful during my ACL surgery recovery

Therapearl Ice Pack – I particularly like how flexible this ice pack is, which allows it to bend around your knee and leg. It also doesn’t give you frost bite.

Ice machine– I didn’t personally use an ice machine of these but more than one person below has commented how wonderful it was to have an ice machine and looking at it, I wish I’d had one for my recovery rather than fiddling with ice packs and sleeves to keep them in place.

Knee sleeve – nope, not for actual knee support but to hold the Therapearl ice pack in place without having to hold it, though you’ll want to wait until your incision is robust enough to cope with wriggling this on. I bought a basic one from a pharmacy and opted for a size larger than I’d need to fit in the ice pack. I also tried using an old pair of tights that I cut up but it didn’t work nearly as well. If you’re buying in advance, a velcro strap version will be much easier to handle/will be more tender on your knee.

Lightweight shopping bag– again, not put to its original use. I used one to carry my stuff around the house (books, pain medication, ice pack, water) when my hands were busy with crutches or steadying me on stairs. Get a couple because when you come to use it, you’ll find you’ve left it in another room.

Gym ball– physio is a chore so surrounding myself with a couple of at-home items, I was able to squeeze in exercises between formal physio sessions. The ball was great for squats against the wall and resting my leg on it to let gravity work on straightening my leg.

Floor exercise bikeCycling is highly recommended for strength and range of motion in the early weeks and, like with the gym ball, it was easy to fit in 5 minutes here and there while I watched TV or worked from home, rather than dragging myself to the gym.

Therabands – if your physio or hospital doesn’t supply one of these, buy it online. Your physio routine will involve a fair bit of therband use and having one lying around can also encourgae at home use and swifter recovery. When I travelled for 3-months post op, my theraband came with me.  Speak to your physio about which colours you should use.

Warning: incision photos in this section!

My ACL Repair Recovery Experience

Pre-surgery and even post-surgery I’ve done a lot of research on what ACL recovery looks like and apart from a bunch of medical websites that have vastly varying timescales, I didn’t find anything close to a real description. So, I thought I’d share my recovery experience. Of course, everyone is going to be different: I’m 5ft tall so that’s providing some challenges (step height and sitting in chairs); I’m not good with pain; I’m terrified of falling over; but I am diligent about doing my exercises and have the luxury of working from home to commit time to doing them.

I’m currently at the end of week 3 of recovery from ACL repair surgery but I’ll try and update this as the weeks go on. Here’s my experience.

In hospital

acl repair surgery in hospital

  • placed on a machine to get 45 degree range of motion operating
  • tested on crutches
  • told I can weight bear on both legs if using crutches
  • given ‘stair training’ so I can use the stairs with crutches
  • given 3 exercises to do at home: i) heel slides (lying down, sliding my heel until my knee was bent); ii) straight leg raises (also from lying or sitting down), contraction of the quadracep (flexing the muscle above my knee))
  • told RICE – rest, ice, compression, elevation (but without the compression)
  • bandage and surgical dressings applied

First 24 hours

  • Dressing & incisions: remove bandage day after surgery and change dressing (luckily not much full-on blood but some weeping)
  • Crutches: on both crutches to get around – makes carrying things a problem, especially on stairs. Tip – get a shoulder bag to carry items around (e.g. book, pain meds, water bottle)
  • Pain medication: taking maximum pain medication, added in Ibuprofen and wishing I had more
  • Physio & swelling: exercises hurt so I do them just after taking pain medication. I don’t think my knees ‘that swollen’ (turns out it is)
  • Stairs: (up and down) require one crutch and two feet on each step
  • Sleeping: not able to sleep in usual position (on front). Can sleep on side with support of pillow under my knee
  • Range of motion: without the machine, actually feels like I have less ROM than immediately post op
  • Bathing: ‘sink wash’ with a flannel

After a few days

acl repair surgery recovery day 2
I believe this was day 2 after surgery. Good colours, don’t you think?
  • Dressing & incision changing dressing each day (still weeping). Pretty colourful bruising (front – ACL repair surgery; back – medial meniscus repair)
  • Crutches: down to one crutch at home
  • Pain medication: still taking maximum pain medication and feeling pain in the hour to half hour before the next dose
  • Physio & swelling: exercises still painful but already feeling easier – I should be icing my knee but I don’t (because I’m stupid and think it’s not ‘that’ swollen)
  • Stairs: (up and down) still require one crutch and two feet on each step
  • Sleeping: still not able to sleep in usual position (on front). Can sleep on side with support of pillow under my knee
  • Range of motion: leg feeling generally more stable but range of motion still very limited
  • Bathing: somewhere between a sink wash but with the shower turned on, using a flannel. Able to wash my hair but helps I’m at my mum’s house where there’s a disabled walk-in shower with shower seat

Within a week

  • back home (alone) – feeling a bit nervous in case I tumble down the stairs and die…all alone…I get over this after a couple of goes up and down the stairs
  • Dressing and incision: dressing pretty much clean and now spending a few hours with dressing off to give incision some air. Bruising moving south (thanks, gravity)
  • Crutches: hobbling without crutches indoors but one crutch outdoors (not that I’m going out much beyond physio appointment)
  • Pain medication: ditched the coedine but otherwise still on maximum pain medication
  • Physio & swelling: first physio session just to check how I’m doing. Knee swollen preventing further range of motion – told to ice. Berate myself for being stupid
  • Stairs: (up and down) still require one crutch and two feet on each step
  • Sleeping: still not able to sleep in usual position (on front). Can sleep on side with support of pillow under my knee
  • Range of motion – at 45 degrees (the target I was given)
  • Bathing – back to more regular style of daily showering but it’s a hell of a balancing act trying not to get dressing and staples wet.

Within 10 days

acl repair surgery recovery staple
I was tempted to pull this staple out with my fingers!
  • Dressing and incision: fed up of the dressing – skin feels tight and sore and I’d take it off permanently if I wasn’t worried about snagging a staple. Speaking of staples – my body is starting to reject them and they’re working their own way out (magical)
  • Crutches: without crutches indoors and trying to replicate proper walking (rolling through the toe) but it’s deliberate and slow. Still using one crutch outside. Made it to the supermarket (accompanied) – good to have the trolley for support but getting around is tiring
  • Pain medication: starting to use pain medication more sporadically but still taking something every day
  • Physio & swelling: continuing with exercises – much easier but don’t feel like I’m making much more progress. Ice is helping with swelling but knee still tight
  • Stairs: stairs (up and down) crutch free but using the wall/banister for support and still two feet on each step
  • Sleeping: still not able to sleep in usual position (on front). Can sleep on side with support of pillow under my knee
  • Range of motion – hard to tell – feels about the same as post op, but it’s slowly getting easier to move
  • Bathing – completely over keeping my dressing dry and with ‘staple removal date’ in sight, I shower normally and put a dry dressing on immediately after each shower. Takes a toll on my leg skin but my hair and body feel better for it. For the ladies – annoyed I didn’t fit in time to wax my legs pre-op because there’s no way I can do it now, so forced to shave. Grrrr.

Within 2 weeks

acl repair surgery post staples
The day I had my staples out – 2 weeks post surgery
acl repair surgery staples gone
A bit of a close up…
  • Dressing and incision: staples are removed – hurrah! Hurt like hell but feels good.
  • Crutches: told by physio to wean myself off crutches indoors over the next week or two but I’m already there. Still too nervous to go crutch-free outside (uneven road by my house)
  • Pain medication: taking much more sporadically and most days taking none at all. Needed mostly at night if I do need them.
  • Physio & swelling: back to physio and given 3 additional new exercises (1/4 squat against wall,  1/2 lunge, supported steps going up one at a time). Taken into the gym to try the bike and step. Swelling going down but still there. Told to continue icing.
  • Exercises: advised to get back to the gym 2-3 times a week for 10 minutes of cycling. Frustrating because i) I can’t drive so need to rely on others or take taxis; ii) for just 10 minutes of exercise (and some careful upper body weights if I want), it feels like a big effort/poor use of time but I commit to it
  • Stairs: stairs (up and down) still using the wall/banister for support and still two feet on each step but now in ‘stair training’ practising on bottom step at first, taking full weight on the knee to go up (not enough ROM for going down yet)
  • Sleeping: still not able to sleep in usual position (on front). Can sleep on side with support of pillow under my knee. Seems just as irritating on the incision because now I have no protective dressing.
  • Range of motion – Leg is close to straight when lying down but not when I stand up, making standing painful after a while. Range of motion is up to about 110-120 degrees (full ROM is around 180 degrees)
  • Bathing – back to normal – so nice to put the incision under running water.

When can you get back to work?

The answer to that really is going to depend on what you do and how your recovery goes. I work from home and do a laptop based job and while I’ve been checking emails since week one, sitting at a desk to reply to them has been more of a challenge. Equally, because I can’t fully bend or straighten my leg, my laptop on my lap isn’t a good alternative.

I’m going to try to get back to something close to a normal work week next week (week 4). Fortunately, working from home, I can have a rest/lie down when it all gets too much. I’m also free to fit in my physio exercises as and when. Oh, and I don’t have a commute, so no need to stand on the Tube or figure out how to get to work without being able to drive (an activity for weeks 4 to 6).

If I worked in an office, I’d try to get some work from home time and return on reduced hours around weeks 3-4. In fact, that’s what the hospital told me was a reasonable expectation and it feels about right.

Within 3 weeks (I was here at time of writing – more updates below)

acl repair surgery week 3
Taken 3 weeks after surgery – I’m pleased to say it’s already starting to look very ‘what’s all the fuss about’. Can you still make-out the edging where the dressing was? It’s still spotted and bothered.
  • Dressing and incision: Still need to wear ‘soft’ clothes – jeans are tough and irritate the incision but it’s nice to be staple and dressing-free.
  • Walking: walking is better but still deliberate and slow. Also starting to understand shortened hamstring – leg sometimes feels heavy to lift off the floor, so I shuffle sometimes.
  • Pain medication: no longer taking pain pills regularly – just pop a couple pre-physio so I can get the most out of the time there or if I’ve been doing a lot of leg movement
  • Physio & swelling: exercises are going well and don’t really hurt anymore. Swelling going down but still present in pockets so continuing to ice (and wishing my op had been in summer when ice would have been more welcome).
  • Exercises: Made it to a coffee-shop solo – with one crutch and 30 minute walk instead of 10 but FREEDOM. I want to get back to yoga so badly but I don’t believe I’d be able to get on and off the floor at this stage, so I’m going to have to be more patient.
  • Stairs: slowly introducing one stair at a time for going up – do it for a few steps then revert to two feet on one step.
  • Sleeping: still seems just as irritating on the incision. I feel like I’ve made no progress on this front.
  • Range of motion -struggling to sit in a normal chair for long but most likely because I’m short (5ft) and my feet don’t touch the floor so all the weight it on my knee. Impacting my ability to work more than I thought. I’m finding my dictation software useful for writing this blog article. More awkward for emails.
  • Bathing – Bought baby bubble bath and gave my knee a good soak in the tub – bliss (even if it was a challenge getting in and out of my slipper bath).

What I’ve been told to expect/hope to achieve in the next few weeks

Week 4 – I need to figure out a better way for sitting at a desk or with a laptop on my knee so I can get more work done.

Week 5 – return to physio for the next ‘phase’. Not sure when I will be added to the lower limb class, but I’m hoping around this point.

Weeks 4- 6 – I should be able to return to driving – this will be liberating, but I need to get physio approval first because I’ve injured my ‘clutch leg’ and without that approval my insurance will be invalid.

Week 6 – return to see the surgeon for a check up. Fingers crossed, I’m hoping that’s going to be the all clear on the surgery front – no infection, the graft seems to be holding and no problems with the nuts and bolts or whatever it is they put in my knee (ribbons?) to keep everything in place

Week 10 – rough estimate of when I’ll be able to look at activities like running on a treadmill. That feels both very far off (impatience) and also much too soon (confidence) at this point.

We’ll see how it goes.


Week 4

I’m one-day shy of my month-anniversary of having the surgery – where did the time go? Anyway, here’s how I’ve been getting on.

  • Dressing and incision: Jeans still irritate a bit but I’m able to wear my softer ones for hours. At home I’m still in my leggings.
  • Walking: friends and family are starting to comments that I’m walking better. I feel quicker, too. I have a bit of a limp but I’ve given my crutches back and feel confident enough to get around without them.
  • Pain medication: it’s now rare for me to take any pain pills.
  • Physio & swelling: I’ve STILL got pockets of swelling. Sigh. Told by physio to continue the exercises but I can add in leg press at the gym. I’ve also been told to step-up the bending and push my leg a bit harder on that front.
  • Exercises: The bike at the gym is feeling a lot easier although I’m completely over the exercise a couple of times a day regime. It’s only 5 minutes here and there but it’s feeling like a chore. On the plus side, I got back on my yoga mat which was a huge personal success. My practice is still very modified but nice.
  • Stairs: I’m also now walking both up and down the stairs normally though it’s still an effort and I need to be careful (no hot cups of tea in hand when going down!)
  • Sleeping: I’m finally starting to feel like I can sleep more normally. My incision can still feel a bit tender under the covers but nothing too unbearable.
  • Range of motion – I’d say I’m probably at about 160 degrees and judging from my physio, I could do more so that’s my focus for the next weeks.
  • Bathing – Absolutely back to normal 🙂

Week 6

By week 6 I was starting to get around more, although the stairs in my flat (the steep Victorian kind of stairs) were still causing me bother. I also got back on my yoga mat for some gentle stretches (avoiding knee and kneeling positions) and it felt good.

I was, however, getting frustrated with what seemed like slow progress. I took myself to a travel conference in London, at Excel (which is almost bigger than China inside, or so it felt to me at the time) and it was way too much for my knee.

In hindsight, two things were going on: i) my expectations surrounding recover speed were too high and ii) I’d gotten a bit lax with my physio routine (after 6 weeks, finding time to do the exercises can feel like a bit of a chore and because I was mostly mobile, I tricked myself into thinking things were fine without the exercises).

Round about week 7, I had a check-up with the surgeon. My knee was x-rayed and the surgeon did a bit of pulling and pushing to check the strength of my knee. All seemed to be well. I was expecting to be discharged at this point but apparently that doesn’t happen until month 3, which was a bit of a glitch for me because I was planning a trip to Italy as well as a larger trip to Southeast Asia around week 16. This meant I would have to declare my ACL repair as a pre-existing condition on my travel insurance, and I was worried about the cost. However, as it happened, ACL repair is so common that provided you only have physio to do, they will add it to your insurance with no extra cost.

All seemed to be going slowly but surely in the right direction. And then I had a physio session and things went to sh!t.

After an intense half hour that included time in the gym and some hands-on manipulation, I woke up the next day and could barely walk. My knee had ballooned, I was in pain and I got my trusty walking cane out because my knee didn’t feel stable enough. This state endured for the best part of 2 weeks and I was frustrated at hell at being set back.

Week 8

ACL repair
My incision scar at week 10 – it’s healing really well.

Returning to the physio in pretty much the same state as I’d been at week 6, I explained the set-back and my physiotherapist told me is was highly unlikely it was anything he’d done (I remain sceptical). I left the session with a few new exercises (lateral stepping) but wouldn’t let him touch my knee.

In week 8 I took my knee on a trip to Italy (Sardinia). I took my walking stick as a precaution, which turned out to be a good thing (I was visiting a lot of hilltop towns for a work project). With 16 hour days and a lot of time on my feet, I needed to ice my knee at least once if not twice a day and I was back to taking pain medication at least once a day but my knee held and it was nice to feel a semblance of normal travel life.

However, my physio exercises and gym visits had pretty much disappeared and by 9 weeks I had a long hard chat with myself. To recover, I needed to do my damn exercises and I needed to make them a priority. So, after my Sardinia sojourn, I got back into a physio routine. Every morning I did my exercises. Sometimes I did them at night, too. I returned to the gym (3 times a week), squeezed in a few 15 minute yoga sessions at home, bought a static bike and gym ball for while I was watching tv/not able to get to the gym.

And, d’you know what. It worked.

Week 12

Where to go in Sardinia - castelsardo
A picture from my trip to Sardinia in case you’re sick of looking at my knee!

Thanks to my increased commitment to the physio exercises, by the time I went for my 3 month check-up, I was walking close to normal, my knee felt strong and I was positive about my recovery prospects. As a hyper-mobile person, my knee still hasn’t reached full extension but I’m confident it will get there. My physiotherapist felt happy with my progress and I (almost) skipped out of the session.

At this stage, a few more exercises were added to my routine including jumping, lower squats and use of a theraband. I was also told I could start to add some running back into my routine (I’ve been on the treadmill twice since then and although terrifying, I was able to get in a few minutes worth of running). Weirdly, kneeling and crouching is still a long way off (month 6 apparently).

Week 16

ACL repair week 16
Incision scar at week 16. I’ve had a couple of days of light sun on my leg. I’m very impressed with the healing.

Around week 15, I boarded a long-haul flight to Southeast Asia for a long-term (2 or 3 months) backpacking trip through the region (but with a suitcase, not a backpack this time). I booked the trip before my op and, to be honest, I’d vastly underestimated the length of the recovery process.

Still, I have gone ahead and so far (10 days into the trip), my knee is holding up exceptionally well. I need to be more careful than I would normally and there are some activities I simply am not chancing – just yesterday I said no to a bit of cave exploration because of the risk of the uneven floor. However, I’m able to have some gentle swimming, and I’m walking a lot, which seems to be strengthening my knee. I also let a Thai masseuse have a gentle ‘go’ at massaging my leg and knee, to great success.

My legs get tired a lot more quickly than they would have before on the same trip, but mostly because I’ve lost a lot of fitness and those first few days pounding the streets of Hong Kong were agony. However, things have improved dramatically in under 2 weeks. I still have some knee swelling, made worse by the tropical heat, but I’m icing every few days, which is helping.

My scar is also looking pretty good. I kept up with bio-oil twice a day until just before I flew to Asia and now I’m going to let nature, the sea and the sun (with sunblock over it) do the job. If any ladies are interested, it’s apparently not advisable to have the site of the incision waxed for 12 to 18 months post op! My waxing lady did a great job of going around the scar and then painstakingly tweezered the rest of the hairs out one by one. Thanks to some lingering numbness, I didn’t feel a thing.

My physiotherapist has advised that I should limit my trip to 2 months instead of the original 3 months I planned – this is so I can start my lower limb class and avoid setting myself back. At the moment, I plan to see how things go. I have a theraband with me as well as the list of lower limb class exercises (a 6 week course I took after I damaged my knee) and I’m going to see if I can build those sessions in as I go along. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Six months on…

I’m not great at listening to medical advice and so I ended up staying in Asia for that 3rd month instead of coming home and resuming my PT. And, guess what, I’m glad I did.

Why? Because I pushed my knee far more than I might have done in the UK in winter. Here’s the program I ended up putting together for myself:

  • daily walking and some gentle hiking (round about month 5) – it was so much easier to get out and move about in the warm weather and with plenty of things I wanted to go and see, I didn’t struggle with ‘gym motivation’;
  • weekly and sometimes twice weekly massage. I trust the Thai masseurs more than I trust my own GP and despite the fact that some of the lower leg massages were painful, this did a lot of loosen up my muscles, reduce the fluid on my knee and, I think, even reduce the thick scar tissue. Obviously you should take medical advice before getting a massage and I totally did that :/
  • lower limb class exercises – it turned out that I got to fit this in about once every 10 days rather than weekly but I quickly realised a hotel room served perfectly well as a gym (trampette =hotel bed, FYI) and I wasn’t really missing out on doing the classes back in the UK;
  • small amounts of running on a running machine if my hotel had a gym. I did this only a few times;
  • swimming – in the ocean, with the current. I was very careful at first, especially because of the uneven surface underfoot but within a few weeks of going away, I was gently hopping in and out of boats;
  • yoga – this was the hardest part for me because there was so litle bend in my knee at first but slowly and, I admit, a bit painfully, I have gotten much of my bend back (more on that below). I practised for about 15 minutes around 2 times a week, sometime less. However, it was the week-long yoga retreat that really helped.
  • I saw a physio once while I was away just to make sure I was on track to recover fully and he said I was doing well.

Arriving back in the UK on 31 March, within a few days I had my first catch-up with my physiotherapist since before going away. I was a bit nervous but as it turns out, he was very pleased with my progress.

I have now been medically dischaged – yay! However, because I skipped the lower limb classes, I can start them now and I am taking the NHS up on the offer even though I can now walk and run pretty well.

Month 8…

I’ve been back in the UK for about 2 months now and, to be honest, my recovery has hit a bit of a brick wall. I’m not exercising as much and I’m not as active because – well, work and life have gotten in the way. I have, however, resumed my lower limb class at the gym. By starting the classes so long after my op, I’m pleased to be able to work on really strengthening my knee (standing up from chair on one leg while holding a 5kg medicine ball will do that). I’ve also got the all clear to run outside.

As for the overall health and strength of my knee, here’s how it is at the moment:

  • Strength – so, so, so, so weak still. I didn’t realise that as a pair my legs feel strong but my physio asked me to hop on my injured leg and I could barely get myself off the ground. Clearly I have much work still to do on rebuilding the muscle;
  • Pain – I no longer have pain but I do get the occasional ache – usually when I’ve been static moreso than when I’ve been mobile!
  • Flexibility – as a yogi, it frustrates the hell out of me that the physio program does nothing to increase flexibility – it’s all about strength and stability. Thanks to yoga in Asia, I am now able to cross my legs, get in and out of a crouch position (if I’m careful, but it hurts and I can’t stay there for long) and kneel on all fours (yoga table top position). I’m still struggling to sit back on my haunches but I am practising. Yoga is definitely the key to getting back my flex.
  • ‘Risky’ activities – I’m still giving all challenging sports a wide berth. I did a short hike up Great Orme in North Wales on grassy terrain and it was fine and after way too many beers to be making sensible decisions, I learned some Romanian dance moves in Romania a couple of weeks ago. My next challenge is getting off the treadmill and out onto the road running. I did hit just under 5k on the treadmill and recovered well so I will take it slowly and return to the cushioned runner if I need to. Many people do return to risky sports around now but I’d like to get more strength in my knee muscle before then.
  • Popping and clicking – yep, my knee pops and clicks pretty frequently. Again, this corresponds with how inactive I’ve been. It doesn’t hurt and I’ve been told by my PT and surgeon that it’s fine. It just feels DISGUSTING. I’m hoping it will ease over time.
  • Hyper extension – like with flexibility, there’s little in the physio session designed to get my hyper-extension back and even now my injured knee doesn’t push back as far as my healthy one. However, I understand from the physio I saw overseas that this will happen as my knee muscle strengthens.
  • The scar – I’m really impressed with my scarring. Of course, you can see it but more compared to those first pictures post surgery, I’ve very happy with how minimal it looks.

ACL Surgery scar 8 months (1)

12 months on…

It’s been a year since I had my surgery and there are many days when I don’t even  feel like I had the operation at all. However, there are still days when I certainly do feel like my knee is not quite as good as it was. Those days have gotten fewer over the year but I’m not at the point where I can report that I’m back to full knee strength and I’m not sure I will reach that point. Still, my knee is a lot stronger, sturdier and stable than it would have been if I hadn’t have the surgery.

My range of motion is actually pretty good. I can cross my legs, squat, kneel down and I’m working on sitting on my heels for increasing periods of time. I attribute this decent range of motion to yoga which I try to do at least 2 to 3 times a week.

The other physical activity I was very keen on before my ACL surgery was running and I’m pleased to say that I’m back to running outdoors with only a small fear of hitting potholes. My knee doesn’t give me any trouble when running but I’ve certainly taken a hit in terms of my overall fitness and the strength in my leg muscles has dissipated. For that reason, my progress is slow, I’m still largely running intervals and my aches post run are worse than they used to be. But this could also be down to the fact that I am now in my 40s. I used to run 10ks and I’ve got back to 5k running with hopes of increasing my distance slowly over time.

Being completely honest, I could have done more in the past year to strengthen my knee – I’ve gotten out of the habit of going to the gym and using the weights and I know that my knee would have been stronger for it.

I do still have some hideous clicking and crunching sounds, though none of them hurt. My knee sounds like screwed up paper when I go from a full squat (sitting on my haunches) to standing e.g. when crouching at my under the counter fridge and I then stand up. The internet tells me this might be my scar tissue breaking up. I hope so because the noise makes me feel queasy to the point that I loudly shout ‘crunching’ when I stand just to cover up the noise. A bit awkward when I’m in public!

The clicking comes and goes and usually happens after I’ve been pushing my knee with exercise. I’ve got to the point where I stopped worrying about it and it goes away on it’s own. Again, I don’t feel any pain.

My scar is barely noticeable in my opinion and I never give it a moment’s thought.  I am convinced the bio oil helped with scar reduction though, of course, I can’t prove that! My numbness has also gone.

ACL repair surgery scar

My office is located in the attic of my apartment, which is two flights up from my front door. The other day I caught myself running down the stairs, taking the corners at speed to catch the postman. I’ve come a long way in 12 months and to be able to run and twist and turn without too much fear has made the surgery and all the pain and dressings and physio completely worthwhile.

2 years on…

Acl reconstruction surgery 2 years on

I never imagined I’d be writing a 2-year update on here. Mainly because I thought I’d be back to full strength. Unfortunately, I’ve recently taken myself back to physio. Don’t worry – I think these are my individual quirks rather than being indicative of what you can expect in 2 years. However, as this post has become popular and everyone has shared their own experiences below, I thought I may as well tell you what’s going on with me.

My two favourite forms of activity are outdoor running (10k but I’ll honestly settle for 5k at this point) and yoga, as well as some hiking. The problem is, I’ve never been able to get back to full strength with running or yoga. I also shy away from adventurous hikes because my knee isn’t as strong as I’d like and I worry I’ll have to be helicoptered off a mountain.

The issue with my running has been pain in my opposite hip any time I get back into a regular (3 times a week) routine. It’s probably not helped by the fact that I now only hyper-extend in one knee. This has had the effect of a few weeks on, a month or two off with the running and I’ve not been able to push through a 5k without hurting for days afterwards.

Yoga has been more of an issue with cracks and pops and, about a year after surgery, development of a noise in my knee that sounds like scrunched paper every time I squat and stand. Cue: vomit.

After spending a few days in Verbier recently, watching from the sidelines as people hiked and biked and climbed, I decided it was time to see a sports physio (private rather than NHS) to find out if I can do anything to progress from basically functioning to returning to sports without fear.

The problem was, I had back to back trips (Verbier then Malaga) and didn’t book an appointment. Then, while I was doing yoga on a hard tiled hotel floor room in Malaga (with a towel under my knee, but still, not smart in hindsight), I felt a jolt of pain in my ‘repaired’ knee.

I returned home and, with yoga on the shelf, I decided to give running another try. I’d bought some ‘Miracle balls’ (more on that above), which seemed to be working for my hip pain, so I was feeling more confident than I had in a while.

About a week into my new running routine, frustrated at my entire lack of fitness, I decided to do some hill sprints. Yes, I know what you’re thinking but we’ve already established that I don’t always make the best decisions in the moment. (Does anybody?) Plus, muscle memory isn’t always your friend. I felt a tiny knee twinge as I tackled the hill but nothing more. In fact, I was quite upbeat when I got home…until I hit the shower and noticed a huge egg shape underneath my knee cap, next to my incision scar.

Dr Google told me I had a swollen bursa sac (fluid in one of the sacs that protect the knee). Mostly likely irritated with the yoga and fully developed by the hill sprints. In fact, bursitis is commonly known as housewives’ knee because it’s usually triggered by kneeling (seriously, someone needs to update that for 2018, but I digress). It’s also common in runners. So, bingo. Full house.

While getting bursitis was not the best thing – rest, ice, compression and elevation, hello my old friends – it finally made me book that sport’s physio appointment I’d been thinking about.

And that’s when I found out I have two issues with my knee that are probably hampering me getting back to full knee fitness.

First, my knee isn’t properly aligning. It buckles inwards slightly when I move it. I suspected this right at the beginning of my recovery, watching it when I was doing leg presses at the gym, but I must have gotten used to it over the past two years because I thought it was now ok. With incorrect knee alignment comes pain when I run, difficulties in yoga and that lack of confidence and strength in my knee.

It also seems to have caused the screwed up paper noise when I crouch – more professionally known as crepitus – which is probably caused by my tendon/ligament catching on my knee bone. Nice.

The good news is, both the misaligned knee and crepitus can probably be fixed through the right combination of strengthening exercises.

But not until my bursitis has gone down. (Dr Google was right, btw.)

What next? For the next three weeks I’m on a routine of rest, which is already driving me insane. Then I’m off to China for a couple of weeks. There will inevitably be some pavement pounding and I’ll be visiting the Great Wall of China. But I’m no longer going to include the extensive hike I had planned in the Longji rice terraces (excuse me while I sulk for a bit). I’m hopeful that by the time I get back, I’ll be ready to start on the realignment and strengthening exercises. I’ll let you know.

The main point from this 2 year update (and my biggest lesson): if you’re still having trouble, go and see someone. Just because you’ve had ACL reconstruction doesn’t mean you necessarily have to put up with a bad knee.

2.5 years after ACL surgery

I’ve written a new post about the 15 things I would have done differently during my recovery? You can find find my latest post here.

3 years after ACL surgery

Hiking in Curacao about a week after dengue fever. Smiling but crying a little bit inside.
About one week post-dengue, hiking in Curacao. Looking healthy, all things considered (but dying a little bit inside).

I’m still updating this post because my recovery is ongoing. I had a chat with a friend about this the other day. His question was: 3 years after surgery, surely everything is done now? My answer was yes. And no.

Within a year I’d say I was 80% recovered. It was enough to work in an office and go to the gym, for sure. However, I wasn’t prepared to let go of the remaining 20% recovery. Call me a perfectionist (you won’t be the first) – I wanted to get fully back into every yoga posture I’d ever done, even the kneeling poses, and push my practice deeper. I wanted to do more than just go the gym. For those reasons, I pushed and persisted and I got results.

By year 3 my legs were stronger than they were pre-surgery. My running was coming along, entirely pain free and I was deeper into my yoga practice than I’ve ever been. 

I achieved all of this by getting an amazing physiotherapist who I met every 6 weeks and who tailored my physio exercises according to which specific muscles were strong and weak (quads, hamstrings and glutes). She got great long-term results by forcing me to slow the f&ck down with my running and how fast I’d been escalating my distance. I did my exercises 3 times a week. I was so diligent that I recall lying down in my hotel room in Milan, my head next to the toilet so I could use the bed base to do my elevated bridge exercises. 

But then things kind of fell apart. Just after my 3 year ACL anniversary (anyone else not celebrate this?), I got dengue fever and it  wiped me out. Two months on, I’m still recovering my day to day strength and my physio program has promptly fallen apart. It doesn’t help that I’m on an extended trip in Central America and I’m struggle to do my physio work (finding the space and motivation are a challenge). I feel like this steps forwards, steps back approach has happened a lot during my ACL recover but what I’ve taken away from the last year of hard work is that almost 100% recovery can be achieved (at least for me) with the right guidance, dedication and work.

If you are struggling, I’d recommend starting by finding a physio who works for you. 

My favourite recent discovery – fascia release and the melt method

I was whingeing on about my tense legs when a health journalist told me to google fascia release and the melt method. So, I did and I can’t believe I hadn’t read about this before. I won’t get into the science but the basic idea is that placing a couple of squidgy balls (can’t think of a better description) under certain pressure points on your body which helps your tight muscles, ligaments etc ‘melt’ towards gravity, releasing tension in the process. Suffering from locked up calves and hip pain from running, I decided to give it a try. I opted for the cheaper version (miracle method not melt method balls) and for under £15/$20 it’s one of the best post-op purchases I’ve made. In fact, I keep waxing lyrical about them – I bought my mum a set, I told my physio about them and I butted into a conversation in my local coffee shop to tell a woman about them.

If your muscles feel tight but you’re not ready for the rigours of a sports massage, I’d give these a try. Here’s the ones I bought.

A reminder of the things I found most useful during my recovery

Therapearl Ice Pack

Ice machine

Knee Sleeve

Lightweight shopping bag

Gym ball

Floor exercise bike


Miracle Balls

So, that’s been my ACL repair surgery recovery experience. Have you have an ACL repair? Did you have a different experience? Let me know in the comments below. Also, happy to answer questions if there’s something I haven’t covered.

Found this guide to ACL surgery useful? Share it on Pinterest…

ACL Surgery post for Pinterest

So, that’s been my ACL repair surgery experience. Have you have an ACL repair? Did you have a different experience? Let me know in the comments below. Also, happy to answer questions if there’s something I haven’t covered.

The comments below, links and my replies

It’s so wonderful seeing all the comments and how everybody is sharing their experience and helping each other out. I will reply to all comments but please forgive me if there is a bit of a delay – as you can see, there is a lot and replying can take me a bit of time. I’ve also had a few people try to leave links to their own websites. Some are probably legitimate, some are from people in the health biz. Because I can’t verify what’s at the end of the links, I’m afraid I won’t be publishing. Apologies if yours is one of the legit ones.

467 thoughts on “ACL Repair Surgery – What They Don’t Tell You (and My Recovery)”

  1. Hi Jo,

    Firstly I’d like to echo what many people on here have said already and thank you for sharing your experiences. I’m sorry it’s been such a rollercoaster for you!

    I’m at the 7 month mark now and I’ve been feeling pretty downbeat about my progress. I regained full extension pretty quickly but I don’t yet have full flexion. In fact, sitting back in a kneel (with hands supporting) is very painful and I can’t maintain it for long. My physio routine is yet to include any jumping & I haven’t done any running to date. In fact, I’ve recently switched physiotherapist and my new program is less intense than the previous one, so it feels like a step back.

    Worst of all is the crepitus. As with your experience, it doesn’t hurt but it’s a very unpleasant sound that discourages me from most exercises. The knee “clunks” when entering and leaving full extension, as well as when climbing stairs – this wasn’t even the case when I was first able to tackle stairs and is a more recent development. Extension from 90° sounds like a crisp packet rustling!

    My latest physiotherapist is trying to focus on lessening the crepitus and all I can do is hope it works! Of course, the current pandemic has also prevented me from having a check-in with the surgeon to confirm that nothing is amiss.

    • Hi Richard, my whole recovery was characterised by that feeling of one step forward, two steps back but I did find that overall slowing down the recovery made for better results in the long term. I’m afraid I still have the crepitus but after a couple of years I have come to get used to it. It’s horribly unnerving at first but over time just becomes part of my knee movement. I have used yoga to slowly build up my kneeling. Again, it took me a long time and even now if I don’t include kneeling in my day to day for a while, the motion gets stiff. Keep at it and well done on being proactive with the physio. This will help for sure in the longer term. Come back and let me know if your physio can solve the crepitus!

  2. Based on my earlier comment, coming up to two years post now. Just checking in on your progress, which sounds like it has been good. I was fortunate enough to be offered an ACL recovery class at my local hospital in Lewisham (London, England, for international readers), which I did religiously for about a year. It really helped with my recovery and getting confidence back in the knee. They assessed progress by doing hop tests, measuring how far you can so a single and triple hop, and one legged squats (how many – feel the burn!). They discharged me when I could go further and do more on my injured knee (which was my right knee, so was probably the stronger one pre-injury). I’m back to running at the sort of volume I managed before the injury, though not perhaps the speed. Still tentative running on steep downhills but that is more psychological than anything to do with perceived instability. My main take-out from the whole experience is that it you have to take your recovery seriously and put the hours in to get back to normal. I know that’s the message you’re putting out there and I hope everyone that reads this takes it on board. Thanks again for telling your story. There’s lots of information out there about ACL recovery but when I had my injury, it was the stories of recovery that I sought out and yours was one of the first, and best, that I found.

    • Hi Nigel, thanks for coming back and sharing your experience and echoing the slow and steady progress message. I’m so pleased your recovery has been good! Sounds great you had the specific physio. Good luck with the ongoing recovery!

  3. I too am 3 years post ACL surgery (surgery was February 2017). I’m still actively working with a physio. I had a very rough start with pain derailing my rehab essentially month 3 to month 11 where I was went home to rest that entire time as per my medical team. Finally getting the right rehab guidance at nearly a year post op (turns out full rest was NOT a good idea with a healing tendon), then 2 long hard years of consistent weight lifting trying gain strength in order to get back to my previous life. I made it to intro to running last summer finally, but then more niggles started to crop up and derail things again. Still so much more to go, pain doesn’t allow me to speed things up at all. In the lines of “too much too soon” I have this knack for getting all sorts of secondary injuries that put a stick in the wheel of progress too. But I keep going, I’m going to get there!

    • Hi Shannon, I was experiencing the same problem and turns out, for me, it was a combo of doing too much too soon and not having the muscle strength there to support my activities like running. I ended up going to a PT and getting a dedicated program for my recovery/exercise and it was a game changer. Good luck with your recovery.

  4. Hi Jo,
    Thank you for sharing your story! I have read it multiple times while finally making my decision to have surgery. I partially tore my ACL and meniscus 2 years ago in a soccer injury. After multiple PT sessions, an MRI and 2 visits with my orthopaedic surgeon, I have finally decided to take the leap and have the surgery. I pondered this decision for as long as I did because I was actually starting to feel a lot better and didn’t think I needed the surgery. But most recently I’ve been experiencing pain in other parts of my body for which my doctor believes is caused by the instability in my knee. I am 44 yrs old and am not ready to give up all of the things I enjoyed before the injury. I’ve been active most of my life mostly with sports such as soccer and basketball and although I may never play them competitively anymore, I would still like to know that I can play the odd pick up game without the worry of re-injuring my knee. And I no longer want to be worried about falling on ice and want to be able to go for long hikes and enjoy the rest of my active life with my kids. My surgery is booked for April 3rd and although I’m freaking out a bit about the recovery, I think I can do this. Reading your blog and the responses from everyone else has helped me put a lot of thought into this decision and I am very grateful! Here’s hoping I emerge victorious in the end! Thanks again!

    • Hi Rita, well done on making the decision that’s right for you. The recovery can be a long journey but it’s completely do-able and worth it for long-term stability. Good luck with the surgery. Come back and let us know how you get on!

  5. My name is Oscar and I have surgery in a week. Finding your article was bittersweet. I found what you wrote to be very specific which is exactly what I was looking for. However, I really didn’t think recovery would take that long. My accident happened over a month ago and I feel like I’m Already getting better every day and now I have to go back to being as bad as I was right after The accident. I was Actually hit by a drunk driver while driving an electric scooter. They’re small and you find them in downtown areas here in the states. But anyways, now I have this huge surgery even though I feel like I’m almost back to my old self, except for sports and running. I’m very active as well, I’ve done Mini marathons and tough mudders to help me stay in shape. Your blog got to me because I got bit by the travel bug as well. I’ve hit Southeast Asia, Central and South America in the past year alone. I had plans to leave December 19th for southern Mexico, then slide down to Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and El Salvador, but now I have surgery that day. It’s a Christmas miracle. Your article made me think of all the crazy things I’ve done in my travels. Hiking in Chang Mai, Thailand, swimming in caves in Puerto Princesa, Phillipines, and actually I’ve hiked volcanoes too, In Ecuador, I’m not sure where you did. I want to go back to being the free, careless soul I am but after reading all these it’s a little scary. I guess as a whole I’m pretty scared. Im only 25 and the idea of never being 100% again is a little bewildering to me. I’m also a clean freak to a point and am terrified of how showers/restrooms are gonna work. I’m used to showering twice a day sometimes. BUT ANYWAYS, I’m glad I found your blog, it was exactly what I needed to be mentally prepared. I’ve always done things without thinking, like a renting a motorcycle and taking my own road trips in multiple countries, but this I cant stop overthinking. Not working is also deteriorating to my mental state, I feel useless and keep gaining weight. I wish I could fast forward to a year ahead as fast as I read your article. Glad I ran into this on my 3am paranoia google search and I’ll definitely explore the rest of your page. Great read!

    • Hi Oscar, sorry it took me so long to reply – I went and got dengue fever (because apparently I like all manner of injuries while I travel). It was lovely to read about your travel adventures. I’d say try not to worry. Recovery is a long stretch (though many people recover really quickly) but it doesn’t mean you can’t do things alongside. I went on a 3 month trip to Asia a couple of months after my surgery. And right now I’m about to head back into Panama. My knee still isn’t 100% but I’m 100% not letting it stop me travel. Slow, steady and carefully but you can keep travelling and you can get back to good health. Also: screw drunk drivers. Grrrrr. Hope the surgery went well.

  6. HI. thanks for your details comments. I had ACL surgery just over 2 years ago. I am generally happy with the surgery, can do full gym, outdoor running etc. But what I have noticed for about the past month or so , is every now and again, i’ll be walking then suddenly there is a short sharp pain in the knee, almost as if a ligament has slipped or something. If I then bend my knee backwards and straighten it out again it is back to normal. But I am just wondering if this is something normal or whether I should see someone about it?

    • Hi Edward, my physio and doctor has always told me the best way to decide what to do when I feel pain is treat it (RICE) and see if that makes it better. If it does, I’ve probably just overdone the exercise, which you can do with any part of your body. However, sharp and severe pain sounds like a warning bell, unrelated to exercising too hard, and I would go and get it checked out (and do keep in mind I’m no medical expert!). Good luck and hopefully a bit of rest will fix it!

      • Hi , i have very important questions, i am about to do a ACL surgery and i think i will give up from sports do i risk reinjury ? and after 6 months can you do daily tasks like sitting or driving the car or mabye transporting some heavy shopping bags?

        • Hi Casli, every surgery and recovery is different. Assuming your surgery and recovery goes well, you should be able to do many sports. I was driving within a few weeks. The same with carrying shopping though I was a bit careful at first. Good luck with the surgery.

  7. Thank you so much for this blog! It really helped me to realize the magnitude/reality of the surgery recovery time. I tore my MCL and partially tore the ACL skiing when I was 27. Two months with a leg brace, PT and eventually back to running, hiking, diving, skiing etc. Fast forward 25 years: during a ski fall in January 2019 tore my ACL completely. Diagnosis delayed for a month since I flew next day for a work commitment and hobbled around for three weeks in my old brace with a lot of pain and swelling. MRI when I returned revealed the extent of the damage, but I did PT religiously and was back to walking/jogging (flat) by end of April 2019. Now the big decision – to do the recommended surgery or not. I was torn since in theory I was now mobile but had terrible stability on uneven surfaces and inner knee pain on any type of hills. Also I had had a rather nasty complication in the past during a ‘routine’ outpatient procedure for something totally unrelated so any type of surgery is terrifying to me. Went ahead with the surgery just over a week ago in the hopes that I will get back to the outdoor activities I love like skiing, hiking and running eventually. I had an ACL donor graft due to my age, repair of both the medial and lateral meniscus, and some bone ‘punching’ to help stimulate cartilage growth since worn down to femur. The surgery and in/out time was surprisingly fast. I’m from UK but living in USA. Surgery was 2 hours and I was leaving to my house within 30 minutes of the surgery with a leg machine. General anesthesia, no staples, soft intubation. First 36 hours great – hahaha – until the surgical meds wore off, however I’m managing to control most of the pain with OTC tylenol and ibuprofen. Surprisingly my biggest issue has been back pain from the sitting/lying (everyone tells you to rest but it’s just SO uncomfortable – and at night with the inflate/deflate leg sleeves to prevent blood clots even worse!!!). Your blog really helped me prepare for the realities of the limited mobility and try to organize things to make life easier in advance. I had my follow up appointment yesterday and am confined to a further 7 weeks on crutches, with locked leg brace and only ‘toe touch’ weight bearing but I start PT tomorrow so trying to stay positive!

    • Hi Caroline, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m forever impressed by the range of different approaches around the world and also the resilience of the people going through this long recovery process. Let’s just hope it gets you the stability you need. Come back and let us know how you get on! Good luck with the recovery!!

    • I had AcL tear and meniscus tear 6 months doctors suggested rehabilitation with physiotherapy instead surgery. So I went to 2 months physiotherapy. And was almost pain free till recently . I am having sudden pain and instability in knee.please advise me whether to go for surgery or continue with physiotherapy .Also doing surgery for AcL reconstruction and meniscus tear would be worth. Kindly give advise

      • Hi Dheeraj, only a qualified medical professional can really give you proper advice on whether surgery is good for you in your situation. Personally, I’d go back and see if there is a specific reason for the pain. Sadly, the instability is a risk you’ll have unless you have surgery so it’s up to you to consider whether that’s a risk you can take (I suspect it’s less of a risk if you’re not very active and more of a risk if you are active?). Good luck and I hope your doctors can help.

      • Just go for it .you will feel stresse do it or not asking for advice gitting different answers.
        It’s happened to me I had surgery one week ago
        Some improvement no pain

  8. Hello Jo –

    I am 72 hours into post-op. I injured myself during a volleyball game; I was setting a ball (on turf) in a pivot motion, knee turned with foot planted – loud pop, intense pain, instant swelling and no stability – textbook ACL full tear (with some meniscus tears too) I think I am the first volleyball injury on this blog. Injury occurred on 8.16.19 and I had my surgery on 9.16.19 – exactly one month after… I was surprised how long it takes on NHS; I live in the US, and have private insurance so I was able to move everything along pretty quickly. One benefit of waiting longer is I can see where more pre-rehab would help with recovery (increasing muscle strength, etc.) But, I wanted it over so I took first available date. I did the pre-rehab 3x per week and continued the exercises at home to help prepare me for surgery. During surgery I received a nerve blocker shot in groin area, IV in hand, and had the tube down throat for anesthesia – not sure if I had a catheter. I agree the time “in” to time “out” took much longer. Arrived at 9:30 am and got home around 4 pm (I did have a 45 min drive each way.) Making the decision to have the surgery was difficult since even after 1 month of re-hab, I was walking great and I was able to get back to life – knowing I was going “under the knife” felt like I was taking 10 steps backwards even though in the big picture, I knew it would help me in the long run. I am a pretty active person, I play volleyball weekly which includes league play; I enjoy playing pickle-ball on the weekends, and even though I am not an avid skier, skiing is something I do enjoy a few times during the season especially around New Year’s with friends. And, when on vacation, hiking is definitely a go to activity. Making the decision to have my ACL repaired was partly based on those activities, and I agree with Jo, the idea of having something disconnected kinda freaks me out. I knew the recovery would be hard based on everything I researched and reading this blog (which helped quite a bit – thank you). Now that it’s done, and I am 4 days post op, I have so many emotions flowing thru me…one hour (yes, I judge by hours right now) – One hour, I feel like “I am doing good”, then the next hour I am feeling depressed like my leg/knee will never be close to the same. I am typically an optimistic person but something like this really tests your optimism. My first post-op ortho appt is 9.26.19 which is 1.5 weeks after surgery; eager to find out next steps. My first PT appt is 9.30.19, eager for that too even though I heard that is where the hard work starts and can be painful. I am also told may be 12 months before I can be back on the court again which totally sucks but I guess I will just take it day by day. Taking that comment into consideration, the funny thing is, that was my number one concern before surgery (playing sports again, being active, etc.) but now that I am so immobile right now, my biggest goal is to just get mobile for general life (walking, shopping, going out with friends, etc.) In fact, I am concerned that once this is all said and done, if my fear of repeating this injury will hold me back from the things I love – being almost 50 I am sure has a little to do with that versus being in my teens. Sorry for the long post – feels good to vent. Hoping you have worked thru your “hiccups” and are 100%! Time for me to get back to RICE and I know this group understands that doesn’t have anything to do with eating, lol! A few side notes: my pain was manageable with the block and meds – I never experienced the horrible pain some have described, my doctor has me non-weight bearing for 2 weeks so on crutches for that time until my appointment, and my leg is pretty stiff – slight ROM. I am hoping I can achieve more ROM after PT starts – I am following doctor’s orders even though some experiences above started ROM much earlier – but everyone’s situation/injury may be a little different so following the orders. Best of luck to everyone!

    • Thanks for sharing, Melissa. I definitely agree on the steps forward and back between injury and surgery. Once you get mobile again, it’s hard to force yourself backwards but I also agree it was worth it. I hope the recovery is continuing. Come back and share with us in weeks and months how you’re getting in!

  9. Oh Jo, I wish I hadn’t found your blog and read so many of the comments. Now I’m getting the jitters about the procedure. In June I was standing on a stool cleaning above the door. As I reached, the stool tipped and down I went. My left foot took all my weight square against the floor, so hard that my left knee twisted and collapsed on impact. I heard and felt the pop and knew I was done for. Couldn’t put any weight on it. Knew it was an ACL. The next day I went to urgent care to demand an MRI. The young P.A. was dismissive and sent me for an xray instead, even though I knew this was an ACL issue. It then took a month for my physician’s office to put in the referral for the MRI which confirmed a completely torn ACL. Ortho surgeon couldn’t even see me until end of August and soonest surgical date is November, which means my holidays are toast. I’m 60. He said he’ll be using a cadaver donor for the repair, that there will be three incisions, and I’ll be in a brace walking with a straight peg leg for weeks, and on crutches. He said it’ll be a year of recovery and that I must have home help for at least two weeks. (I don’t have any support system at all.) I’ve been taking Ibuprofen every day, keeping a compression sleeve on it, elevating with ice many times every day, and using a cane. I’m a disabled person with many health issues, but my knees were perfect. At least I knew I had legs that would take me where I needed to go. Now my dog hasn’t been walked in a month. Reading what you and others went through, I’m truly terrified. The surgeon says that surgery is non-negotiable. You referred to this as your “new normal.” I’ll be going through this alone over the holidays in the winter. I appreciate your candor…

    • Oh Rachel, I’m so sorry to have added to your distress. Here’s some positive things to focus on – your knee can get better, and lots of people in here have had more positive experiences than me. I would also add that I had very high standards for my recovery. I wanted to climb volcanoes and surf and do yoga. All those day to day activities like walking a dog were much more quickly and easily recovered. Weeks and months rather than a year. I also live alone and though I had a few people nearby, I did most of it on my own. It was scary at first but absolutely do-able. I don’t know what your other health issues include but if they are the kind of thing that can benefit from more physical exercise (some health issues do), you may end up improving more than just your knee if you commit to a good physio programme? There are people out there who can support you both physically and emotionally – ask for help. We all need it sometimes! And you can message me any time you want to either in this group or privately through email or any of my social media pages. There’s every chance your surgery and recovery won’t be as bad as you’re currently imaging. At least that’s my hope for you <3

  10. Two and a half weeks ago, I had an ACL surgery on my left knee. Two weeks after surgery, the doctor told me to sleep without immobilizer (brace). So I have been sleeping on my sides without brace as I only get sleep lying on sides. As I bend my knee in the sleep at times unknowingly, I experience swelling and sprain in my knee when I wake up. I am a bit scared if I will tear the installed graft or mess it up for worse. Any answers???

    • Hi James, the best thing to do is get your knee checked out. I think swelling and pain 2 weeks after surgery is pretty common but best get an expert to check it. I used to put a pillow between my knees to give extra support, which might be worth a try…

  11. Hi – thank you for this blog. It helped me a lot to learn what to expect. I am 46 years old and tore my right knee ACL and meniscus (in two places) on Dec 22, 2018 and had surgery on Feb 12, 2019. I will not bore you will all the details of my experience, but will just highlight a few milestones.
    1. I was surprised at how little pain there was. I felt sore two days after surgery once drugs wore off and took pain killers twice. Never needed since then. Only high dose of ibuprophen.
    2. PT was the key! I started it a week after surgery in person, three times a week and also on my own every day, multiple times a day. Eventually it became two times a week, then one and at 5 month mark I was cleared to stop.
    3. I bought a stationary bike and about a 6 weeksinto it, I began riding it. Also used exercise bands.
    4. I went back to the gym at 10 week mark and resumed my HIIT exercises. I avoided box jumps and squats, other than that doctor encouraged to do anything else.
    5. I am now 7 months in and feel stronger than ever. I pretty much can kneel all the way and have no pain. Just a little sore on the side of my knee but doctor said it should go away at around one year mark.

    I am very physically active so it was important for me to get this done and get back in shape. Look forward to skiing this winter!

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. Sounds like all that PT and persistence paid off for you – well done at sticking to it. Good luck with the skiing!

  12. I had my ACL reconstruction of my right knee 4 weeks ago on 2/ August /2019 .The first 2 weeks were miserable .The knee was swelled alot .I did regular physio therapy exercises as guided by the physiotherapist. while it started bending 90 ° by now, I started walking using a stick sometimes while walking ,straightning and bending my knee I feel a popping sound out of my knee I am really worried about this !!!

    • Hi Hemant, the advice I’ve been given is – popping + pain = go and see a doctor. Just popping, no pain = normal. I have the last one ALL the time. It’s disgusting but apparently nothing to be worried about but hearing that from a doctor is always better so why not call your physio?

      • Hi Jo,
        Thanks for your blog and all the info. Apparently the popping and crunching sound is Arthritis.
        I fell off a ladder in July and tore my ACL completely. I was laid up with ice etc for about 6 weeks and after about 2-3 months all the swelling went and I can function fine now although can’t completely bend or straighten my leg, however it’s much better than before.
        Anyway I’m on the NHS waiting list but now considering not proceeding as I don’t ski or play competitive sports.
        I’m back in the gym squatting and deadlifting as before nearly and really now don’t want to have surgery, they said it only helps 10-15% and that arthritis happens in 10 years either way, however they did advise me to proceed as I’m active. A bit confused, I’m 47 and otherwise fit and healthy, but it seems such a hard decision! Thanks for all your info and sharing your story.

        • Hi Tycho, it is a hard decision with definite pros and cons. I think it ultimately comes down to mindset – I know I would have limited myself if I didn’t have the surgery. If that won’t play on your mind and you can do what you need to, why have the surgery? I am however interested to know why your surgeon suggested having it repaired. I’m active and my surgeon said it was up to me and didn’t suggest one route or another. I wonder if there is some activity you’re doing that could benefit from the repair? I’d ask him/her that…

  13. Hello im Brian im only 21,i just had surgery on my left acl and also i had a tear on my meniscus which they fixed both and i was wondering how you were able to start putting pressure on both legs within days ? My dr told me i can only do “toe touch” on my leg left and to not walk around with out my crutches for 6 weeks & he said forsure 6 weeks no doubt about it before i start to put pressure on my repaired leg ? Does this sound normal ? Also i have stitches instead of staples and im kind of scared/neevous since i see alot of people got staples instead of stitches . Hope you reply and its great to see that your happy that you got the surgery 🙂

    • Hi Brian, I’m glad you’re through your surgery ok. It’s worth saying that my ‘putting pressure on both legs’ was more of a hobble with a hand on the wall for security. I was very nervous but it was ok and gradually I built up but it took weeks of hobbling. I would definitely say go with what your Dr says. From the comments it looks like everyone gets different advice and it could be because although we had similar injuries, the surgery might be different. I would say you got lucky having stitches! I had some stitches removed recently (different injury, ha ha) and I felt nothing 🙂 Best of luck with the recovery.

    • Hello
      That’s too funny I had ACL reconstruction surgery lateral meniscus and meniscus surgery also on August 28 to Day is 3 weeks post OP no stitches and I been told I can start to put weight on it toe touch like a egg under my foot . I have not shorewed since surgery.

      I am off Pain meds except Ibuprofen .
      Good luck

    • Hi Brian – I saw your comment and my doctor has told me the same thing. Just light balancing pressure if needed but basically no-weight-bearing for 2 weeks; possibly 4 weeks. I just had my ACL surgery on Monday 9.16.19 and I am in the “guts” of the first few days which is hard. I wanted to mention that I had a cadaver ACL versus my own hamstring and I thought maybe that was the difference between Jo, you and me? Did you have a donor or use your own hamstring? I was also impressed with Jo’s comment about already being at a 45 deg within days and putting pressure on when I am suppose to keep my leg straight with no pressure. I am probably feeling the same as you and wanting to make sure I am not delaying a recovering or getting stiff knee. Any updates would be appreciated – thanks! Melissa PS (Jo, your blog is very helpful, I have been reading it several times since my surgery last Monday. How are you now?

      • Hi Melissa, happy to help. It seems every doctor has a different strategy. In hindsight I wish I’d had equal work on bending and strengthening. My physio focused on the former. It might be worth asking your doc if you can get bending. I can tell you it did no hard, as terrifying as it was so I don’t see how it would be different given we’re all (probably/mostly) human?!

  14. Hi Jo, hello everyone than you, for this wonderful detailed blog i have gone through the ACL reconstruction 6 weeks back and now started walking without any support of walker or crutch’s. Iam still doing my physio exercise and reading this helps me to be patient and keep going positive .Iam 30 year old and after those horrifying pain full days now i feel good about the decision to go for the surgery .

    • Hi Nithin, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m glad you feel like you made the right decision. Good luck with the rest of your – patient – recovery!

  15. Thank you. I can now measure my progress thru your actual experience. It’s hard to find month by month “what to expect”.
    I fell 11/2018 during a pretty aggressive round of tennis doubles. Later, examining my shoes, I noticed wear on the side—which slid then grabbed, causing me to torque then sever my ACL, tear both meniscus, fracture my tibia and bruise my tibia plateau so bad that it is into my bone marrow. I had the choice of living with it or repair. I had surgery 8/7. So far, I’m doing okay, using a cane, wearing a brace and will start PT tomorrow. I know this will be a long recovery but by your report at least I know somewhat what to expect. I plan on finding a good massage therapist, too. I delivered mail for 30 years and have never had any issues with my knees. I’m 62, so I’m hoping my recovery won’t be hindered by my age. I am taking a recovery vitamin from a good company and vegan protein. *I used an ice machine my first week, 24/7, which is worth every cent.
    Also at least 4 oranges every day for first month. I have had both shoulders replaced. The ice machine and the oranges I give credit to—I was back kayaking in less than 3 months. I also added cayenne pepper to my smoothie for extra help with inflammation.

    • Cayenne pepper is an old trick in my family – and one I didn’t think about for myself. Thanks for the reminder. I wish you a very speedy recovery.

  16. Hi Jo & everyone, Thanks for sharing all your experiences in this wonderful blog.

    I’m Krishna Koneti ,staying in SAUDI ARABIA , M-38 years old.

    I had a My left Leg knee injury (18/07/2019) while I’m playing shuttle badminton.
    Knee Twisted while smashing a shot. Get Heavy pain and Mild swelling immediately.
    I took anti-inflammatory medicines, cold compression. but after 2 days also not able to walk properly so I went to Hospital.
    Doctor referred for X-ray and MRI. And he also prescribed anti-inflammatory medicines for 2 weeks.

    MRI Report:

    MRI report came after 3 days,.

    My physical status 23/07/20189)
    Having mild pain while bend my leg.
    Swelling : reduced 90% only mild swelling.

    After seen MRI result Doctor said that my ACL Tear ,need to go for surgery.

    But in MRI report not mentioned 100% Tear, so I went to another hospital for second opinion.

    Doctor seen same MRI ,and he checked physically with Lachman test, MC Murray test, pivot test methods , he said Negative result ,he also given anti-inflammatory medicines and he said need 3 weeks rest ,and some of exercises I need to do and not I should not bend my knee.

    28/07/2019 status:

    After 3 weeks today (08/08/2019) I went to hospital for repeat consulting .

    My physical status (08/08/2019)

    Having mild pain while 100 % flexion only bend my leg.
    Swelling : reduced 100% . no swelling.

    But I’m not able to walk like earlier.

    So doctor having on doubt he called HOD of orthopedic department for suggestion.

    HOD came he also seen my MRI ,he also done some physical Lachman test, MC Murray test, pivot test methods Positive result , he pulled my leg knee 100% flexion that time I get pain while bending , he said my ACL tear, need to go for surgery.

    Doctor given report 08/08/20189)

    Now I’m having confusion need to go for surgery or not?
    At present I don’t have seviour symptoms of ACL tear like, swelling, seviour pain , instability while my leg lifting . only not able to walk properly like earlier and 100% not able to bend flexion my knee .

    Can you please guide me, if I’m not going for surgery , I can manage or better I need to go for surgery. Please advise me. Because I’m working in OIL& GAS Refinery as an Operator so I need to climb Ladders and need to walking on stairs .

    Actually after read your full story , I’m mentally string go for surgery but only thins getting nervous and I’m having doubt whether really required surgery or not?

    Thanking you
    Krishna Koneti.
    Saudi Arabia.

    • Hi Khrisna, I’m sorry you’ve had such a bad experience with getting a proper diagnosis. I think that is the first thing you need to do – find out for sure whether you have a fully torn ACL. And the only way to properly know that is through the MRI. Surely, they can take another look at the scan? From there, you will be able to decide. As I understand, most doctors will only do surgery on a full tear and if you don’t have one, you might not need to make a decision. If it is torn, personally I would go for surgery if I had a job where the safety of my job required leg stability. But let’s not jump ahead. Push for the proper diagnosis and decide from there. I hope they are able to tell you! Good luck.

    • Hi Krishna
      I got the same injury the same day like you
      I made surgery this day acl repair not reconstruction you can do this surgery if your ligament is in a good state
      In France you can do that espcially in Rennes clinique Saint Laurent
      Not expensive at all
      Nono from france

  17. Safe to say that reading this have absolutely freaked me out to the max. I’m having surgery in a months time to get my ACL and meniscus reconstructed. I’m nervous about reacting to the anaesthetic and pain medication (have a fear of vomiting), I also getting very shaky and feel like passing out when I get hungry and just genuinely scared about the pain after surgery. 😩

    • Oh no, sorry! I think reacting to the medication is pretty rare. Take snacks for afterwards and focus on your picnic post surgery. Sorry to have caused you distress. Hope the surgery goes well. It will be over sooner than you think. Good luck!

    • Hi – do not be discouraged or afraid. I am glad this post is here as it helped me a lot to know what to expect. My experience was a bit different. I am 46 years old. I also completely tore my ACL and also had double tear in my meniscus on the right knee. I had surgery on February 12th of this year to get knew ACL put in and meniscus trimmed off. I can write a lot about my experience, but I will tell you that I had very minimal pain and only had to take strong pain meds twice; the rest of the time just prescription Ibuprofen. I am not big on taking any meds, so that did nto last long either. I began PT immediately and did it for 5 months. I was driving at exactly 2 week mark and off crutches at 4 weeks. After that I had to have my knee locked in a brace until 6 weeks were up, but I begged the dr to let me unlock the brace because I could not take my leg being straight any more! At 2 months after my surgery I went back to my HIIT gym and did PT exercises there and avoided intense exercise such as running, squatting and jumping. I began doing those once I was cleared from PT at 5 month’s mark. Now my knee is almost back to normal. I do a lot of running, squatting and box jumps. I have not played any contact sports yet and look forward to skiing this winter. Overall, my knee feels very strong, but I do still get occasional pain, after I sit for a while or when the weather changes. If I were to attribute my recovery to one thing, it would be physical therapy and exercise. I did a lot of it and it included swimming and also biking. I would imagine it would take longer for someone who is not active.

  18. It’s been so helpful reading this, seeing if there is anything similar to what other people have been through like me. I had an injury to my knee for three year all from just running and falling over. The hospital told me it was nothing really, just that it was a female thing that we naturally lock our legs straight then making weaker. Never had an extra until my knee popped out on my like 20th time. I had to wear a massive knee brace every single day for years.

    I had acl ligament reconstruction on my left knee and the surgeon had to take a piece of my hamstring to use as the new ligament.

    I am only in my 5th week of recovery and keep being told im doing good but i dont really know. Yeah i could put full weight (in-easily) on my 9th day after my op but struggling with bending my knee. I don’t know if its me just being wimpy with the natural pain of acl recovery but its just hurt. Exactly 5 weeks to the day i did my first full turn on the bike today (only with the seat really high tho) and didn’t really know if it was good or not with the time period.

    Like you, i read all sorts, even watched on YouTube what they were doing (RECOMMENDED NOT TO WATCH-FREAKED ME OUT) and everything i read didn’t happen. I was expecting a massive scar down the centre my leg and a massive brace. I think its just the American way.

    Staples-your right they killed. I knee how it felt when taking stitches out after having my key hole before my acl, can’t really feel still because your knee is still numb. I had never had staples before, i didn’t even know i had them until i changed my dressings (no one told me anything after op on how it went and did). Staples and stitches are always meant to be removed 7-10 days after op. Mine was only removed after 15. It may not seem alot but makes a difference. I already had a loose staple from day one but when she was taking the rest out, they had inbedded themselves and i was lucky for my skin not to start scaring over. Look, i have a high pain tollerance because i have many painful piercings but it was worse then them, leaving me in tears for a couple of minutes.

    3-5 days after will be the worse, so much discomfort, lack of sleep for 1-2 weeks. BUT, a week later it just eases off the volume of pain and gets tollerable and manageable really.

    If you have a tair in your knee, acl is painful yes, and everything i have said sounds discouraging but it is well worth it. I needed it to allow myself to allow for the police, dont let it get you down like it did me. What’s a couple of weeks and months to the rest of your life.

    Hope this helped, wish i sore this blog before my op to calm me down into realisation. Any questions just ask.


    • Hi Crystal, as I keep saying, I’m no expert but the pain and slow recovery all sound normal to me. I’m glad you’re on the mend, even though it’s slow. Also: ‘a female thing?!’ Tell your male doctor he might want to update his Victorian Guide To Diagnosing The Other Species (Women) ;p

  19. Hey Jo,
    I have one question: You mentioned hearing poping noise from your knee, although non-painful but annoying. How long did it took for that noise to go away or do you still hear it?

    I am in my 7th month of post rehabilitation and I too hear this poping noise quite frequently and it is non-painful. But I want it to stop completely as it is very scary!

    • Sad to say I still have the popping but apparently it’s nothing to be worried about provided there is no pain. I still wince when I hear it but imaging the noise as the air bubble that it is, I feel a lot less worried about it.

  20. I noticed you had a scar in front…did they use your own graft or one from a donor? If not a donor and it was from your own body that means longer healing although some stats say that using your own tissue rather than an allograft gives stronger replacement ACL but there isn’t enough real data on this assumption. I am having surgery in a couple months myself for both ACL (using donor graft) and meniscus removal (damaged portion hopefully). If they have to repair the meniscus that means 4-6 weeks no weight bearing (uggh) but most likely will just be removal of the damaged which means weight bearing a day or two later with crutches.

    I think my surgeons will use stitches not staples which might help. I knew about the oxygen down throat but not the catheter….I guess that is standard during all surgeries but not sure why unless while under your body cannot hold whatever fluids are left in there and they would like not having urine during the operation…I agree…I want that sterile as much as possible too.

    Did you ever use a walker too? That probably would have helped getting around much easier than crutches.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Obviously, everyone is different, takes pain differently, etc. but good to see the progress you went through to give a general idea.

    Continued strengthening and healing to you…cheers!

    • Hi Michael, I was ‘lucky’ enough to have a bit of my own and also a bit of artificial graft because my own hammie wasn’t fat enough! They didn’t know this until I was under the knife so I guess they just went with it. They repaired my meniscus and I was able to weight bear pretty much immediately – I’d check with your doctor, although my repair just required a small stitch. I didn’t use a walker, just the crutches and I was down to one crutch and then hobbling without within a couple of days. My mum had a walker (different injury) and it depends on the terrain and space as to whether crutches are harder or easier. After a little while I found them easy enough. I wish you every luck with your surgery.

    • Hi JJ – it still pops and crackles but my physio said so long as there is no pain, it is fine. Just a case of getting used to the disgusting noise!

  21. Thanks for an informative blog, really useful to read the things they don’t tell you pre-op.

    I had a 70% bucket handle meniscus tear repaired 5 months ago & the ACL hamstring reconstruction is in a few days. They couldn’t do both together as the tear was so bad.

    My first NHS physio appointment was 3 months (!) post-op on the NHS but luckily I’m a PT so comfortable knowing rehab exercise progression. Unluckily I’m a PT so will be out of work for a while until I’m mobile & can build clients again.

    I’ve been a total teacher’s pet with the rehab & prehab so they scheduled the ACL much earlier than planned – the exercises make a HUGE difference so, although interminably dull, I plan to do the same again after the reconstruction.

    They’ve told me they’ll check the meniscus & may need to restitch, also may need to harvest hams from my other leg if the ones on the injured leg are too short or skinny. Have you heard of this?

    Thanks to you, waxing is booked & honey & lemon is at the ready. It’s the little things that make all the difference 🙂

    Wish me luck & I wish you continued success with your rehab too.

    • I do wish you the best of luck – it’s both lucky and unlucky being a PT but Ive no doubt you’ll be back on two knees again very soon! Yep, get that wax done! Hope the op goes well 🙂

  22. I gave up yoga classes after 20 years because of acl reconstruction. I continued with my own practice doing what felt right for my body but my body moved so differently post-op, not only my knee, and classes were distressing (pain) and pointless because I had to modify most of the poses. I was a bit upset because the surgeon told me I would have 100% recovery, before the op, when I asked him what I should expect to be different. But when I asked him post-op when I should be able to fully bend my knee and what was the best way to achieve that, he said, “why would you want to bend it any more than you can now?”. I said, “so I can kneel and squat and do child’s pose at yoga” and his reply was, “ I hate yoga! It’s so bad for knees“, and basically told me to give up on trying to kneel or squat or stretch my quad. Great! So does that mean, Just don’t go to places without European toilets? Of course you find a way eventually to cope, and I found karate which was full of people finding ways to do it around their physical impairments. 3 and a half years on and I can squat in a twisted manner. I was diligent with Physio but it wasn’t smooth sailing and I’m still hoping to one day get my fitness back to where it was…’s always 2steps forward 1step back

    • I’m upset with your physio telling you you’d have 100% recover – that kind of skews your opinion on your recovery. I completely agree with the 2 steps forward and 1 back. But I can tell you as someone who refused to quit her yoga mat, there’s every chance with gentle and regular practice, you can get at least further that you are now. It was only when I started committing to yoga 3 times a week (just 30 gentle minutes at home) as well as 3 physio sessions a week that I started to make real progress. Me of 2 years ago would be staggered at my yoga progress after physios had told me ‘this is how it will be’. Start with a modified practice and do it regularly until you see an improvement in those safe poses. Then progress. I has honestly taken me years but there are only a handful of postures that make me worry compared to pre-opp. Good luck!

  23. Hi – thank you so much for this great article – a real life saver! I injured my knee while skiing in April – I’ve been skiing for 42 years and this is my first ever injury! I had a ‘popping’ sensation and then my knee was completely unstable so had to get down the mountain on one leg. The in-resort doc took x-rays and came to the conclusion that I had damaged the meniscus. When I got back to the UK I dutifully went to see the GP who equally dutifully arranged an MRI which finally took place a month later (!). The MRI showed bone bruising and a ruptured ACL, which took both me and the GP by surprise! Today I went to see the knee specialist – he didn’t look at my MRI but performed a number of manual manipulation tests on me and said that I should go for physiotherapy instead of surgery. I told him my main goal was to be able to ski again (I’m 45, I don’t think it’s unreasonable?) and he seems to think I will be able to with just physio, that the ligament is, in his opinion, knitting together. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I’d be most grateful.

    • Hi Caroline, a friend of mine bust his ACL skiing and still skis without surgery. He is young and pretty fit so I suppose it depends where you are with your leg muscle – are they/can you get them strong enough to compensate. If your doc says yes, I’d probably give his advice a shot before going under the knife. Good luck.

    • If you’ve had an ACL tear I would strongly recommend surgery. I had a grade 2 and 3 tear to my MCL and ACL and was told all would be ok with physio – 2 years later the ACL popped just out of nowhere doing nothing strenuous. I’ve just now had surgery and the surgeon who is top of his game- (private) told me I’ve been dragging a dead leg and should have had surgery 2 years back. An ACL cannot heal by itself without interventional surgery and even though you can strengthen and resume normal activities, unfortunately it will eventually go! If you do it later down the line you would have damaged other areas in the process and may suffer from premature arthritis and could require a knee replacement op. Wish I’d done it sooner- glad I’ve done it now.

  24. Hi Jo,
    Thanks so much for your article and for everyone chiming in. I tore my ACL fully probably 8 years ago playing soccer at 25, after gradually tearing it over the years beginning at 16. Two kids later and now 32, I feel I am finally in a place in my life where I could go ahead with surgery if desired. But that’s the question! It seems from reading everyones post that the knees never go back to how they were pre-tear regardless of the recovery process. I am currently able to do most activities I want but would ideally like to be able to play the odd pivot sport around our house with my two boys as they grow up. So I wondered whether an acl/knee brace would allow me to feel comfortable doing so? Have you heard many accounts from folks that decided not to go forward with the surgery?
    Thank you kindly,

    • Hi Merran, I can’t comment on the not having surgery. I do know my physio told me braces don’t do much apart from remind you to be careful. At the same time, pivot sports are still a risk post surgery. I get the impression it’s all about strengthening your surrounding muscles if you want to pivot. Have you spoken to a PT about your options for pivot sports without surgery and the difference in risk of fall/injury?

  25. Hello everyone. I’m a little over 3 months post surgery. I’ve been experiencing a slight pain right below my kneecap when trying to straighten while walking (I dont have full extension quite yet… I’m at about 175°). I still walk with a limp. I’m just wondering if I should be concerned about the pain or if other people noticed this too?

    • Hi Madi, my various physios and doctors have always said that pain and your knee locking up is usually the thing to get checked out. I have lots of aches and stiffness and popping and crunching sounds but they apparently are less to worry about. Personally, I’d get it checked. Good luck.

  26. Thanks for sharing your experience. I just got the results from my MRI and it turns out that the subtle knee instability i have been feeling is because I have a completely torn ACL. I am still in shock and I am trying to decide if having the surgery is the “right” thing for me.
    Should I limit myself or should I commit to a year or more of what you went through… It doesn’t help that the doctor says: “At your age (37) you could leave and keep most of your quality of life

    • Hi, it is a tough one. I have no regrets about my surgery. Sure, my knee isn’t perfect but I have the confidence that it won’t go from under me. I was 39, nearly 40 when I had my surgery if that helps…

  27. Hi Jo & everyone, Thanks for this wonderful blog. I read it before getting my ACL surgery done and it helped me in many ways. I am writing this on my 5th day after my ACL surgery. I had torn my ligament while playing baddy at the club. Feeling sad for missing baddy for last 3 months. I know there’s no luck for almost next 8-9 months. I am waiting to get on my leg and jump for a smash. Currently on brace and walker. Sleeping in the night is nightmarish experience. No problem with bathing since i have waterproof bandage on my stitches. My doctor said no to physio and advised me with few exercises to follow for 10 days and go consult him after that. I think i am doing pretty well with exercises though it hurts a lot especially during leg raises and knee bending. My doc told me to bear full weight on my operated leg while walking using crutches/walker. He even asked me to climb up/down stairs with full weight. Need your advise on what kind of yogasanas can be performed and when should i start yoga. Thanks again for sharing your experience!

    • Hi Krishna, I’m no doctor but I definitely disagree with the no PT advice. Perhaps you don’t need it now but if you want to get back to those smashes, you’re going to need your strength back. What I never anticipated is that I’d need to do strengthening of muscle groups I’d never focused on before. PT was invaluable for educating me on this and I wish I’d done more sooner. In fact, I wrote an update post about which you’ll find on the site. Yoga, I used the Yoga Studio app and created my own ‘knee’ routine. Basically lots of stretching but without putting too much weight on my knee (kneeling or lunges) until I got those asanas cleared through my physio. Good luck with he recovery and come back if you have any more questions!

  28. Hi Jo, really descriptive blog post you got here. Kept me going and gave me a heads up on what I’ll be expecting for the upcoming weeks post surgery. Thanks for taking the time to write this. Speedy recovery!

    *I’m currently on week 3 post surgery

  29. I had a meniscus tear and had Arthoscopic surgery and 3 days Post OP I was rear ended on an off ramp and snapped my ACL. I went back in and had ACL and Meniscus Reconstruction. I was 37..It was a long recovery…within a year I was back in for a adjustment of a screw that was causing pain and instability, my knee giving out from under me..and litterally pushing calcium deposits their way up to the skin and break on sides of my scar causing it painful to touch and my shin beneath my knee has been numb to this day.. it took some serious work to work the screw back out .. he said was near impossible but managed to reset and I was back on another road to recovery.. unrelated to knee directly but I had to have a Lumbar fusion 2 years after my reconstruction..and it did not help my knee.. I have never gone back to my active life.. no more softball.. no more running.. couldnt be active and fun with my adolescent girls at the time.. And the last few years have been a battle.. weakness.. swelling.. quite alot pain everyday.. constant calf and foot cramps like the worse Charlie horses ever.. cracking.. popping.. constant therapy and custom fit braces (3 customized in 10 years) time for another one!! It’s been a long 20 years…

    • Oh Crystal, I’m so sad to read this – you really do sound like you’ve had the roughest ride. I haven’t had a fraction of your troubles and I still get fed but so I can only imagine 🙁 I would say keep at the movement – gentle yoga (even chair yoga) and some walking. Have you got a PT helping you? I wish you every luck because it really sounds like you could do with a break about now!

  30. Just wanted to say thank you so much for this! I had a torn ACL, MCL and detached meniscus (ski accident). Had the ACL allograft repair in late March. It’s so helpful to read your notes – I too love travel, yoga, hiking and running and am getting impatient with the process but I can see I just need to be very careful and do the PT!

    • Skiing seems to be the culprit so often – sorry you injured yourself 🙁 I hope the PT has been going well? I’m still getting there on my recovery (years on!) but it’s progress always in the right direction. Good luck with your recovery!

  31. Hi I’m from malaysia and i just wondered around the web about acl and stuff and stop by to read your blog it’s quite great act for people who’s preparing for their reconstruction surgery. I’ve just done my surgery about a week and i think maybe your doctor use different kinds of methods and stuff referred to where they study and stuff like that bcs my doc said that the surgery have diff methods. If u guys want to be sure about how they surgery goes before the real deal you should ask the doctor and make things clear and if you really want to continue outdoor activities then you should proceed the surgery and be patient with the healing process. Don’t rush the healing process never ever ever ever rush it or you’ll regret it. Anyhow great story indiana jo love it😉

    • Hi Zainulariffin, thanks for sharing your experience. Yes, the surgeries seem to differ widely – as does different doctor’s advice! Great tips 🙂

    • Being nervous is normal. Try to focus on the reasons you’re having the surgery. You’ll get through it and then the physio will be a chore but it will be behind you. Good luck with the surgery (that’s the easy part because you’ll be asleep!)

  32. Thank you very much for this article, I feel sad you had to go through all of this, I hope you’re doing alright now, I’m 21 from India and I also had ACL Surgery August 2017 and with the same graft as in your surgery, I used to do Parkour, Freerunning and Martial Arts, so after the surgery, it’s been 21 months and my knee is still unstable. It’s really depressing because I want to get back to Freerunning, I have no swelling or any other visible fault in my knee but my leg is still atrophied, I’ve been strengthening it and I can do pistol squats from my operated leg, it’s still not as strong as my other leg but I know I can make it stronger, the only problem I’m facing is that my knee is not stable, which is a huge problem, I know if I try any Parkour move, my knee will again dislocate, I also do running at very slow pace, like 8 kms per hour, that’s because I’ve gained so much weight and I also love running. What do you think about my knee instability? If you can help, then it would be so great. Thank you very much again.

    • Hi Akash, have you had your knee checked since the surgery? It’s supposed to fix the instability. It would be good to first find out the cause of the problem and then try to fix that. I hope it is just muscle strengthening. Are you taking time to work on just the weak leg/knee – sounds obvious but I was letting my good leg take the burden when I was doing weights which wasn’t really improving my bad leg at all. I hope you’re able to solve this and get back to your sports…I’m off to Google Parkour!

      • Thank you a million for replying me, oh, Parkour and Freerunning, it is just moving around the urban environment with acrobatics and gymnastic moves. And yes, I’ve been working on my operated leg alone most of the time and I feel it’s getting stronger but I’ve also been trying so many kinds of exercises to gain stability but something’s just not right and I didn’t get any check up after the surgery but I’ll go for it soon. Thank you very much for your wishes and I also wish you that you go back to your adventures too.

  33. Hi, I too have a knee injury story. Jan2016 first day of a 2wk ski holiday in Banff, Canada, I did a stupid little turn and fell uphill, I didn’t hear the pop everyone talks about but was glad my instructor years ago had taught me to side slide, which I did for approx 3miles to get off the hill. After a few days swelling continued as did the pain so went to see physio who advised seeing a Dr in Banff who straight away said I had ruptured my MCL & ACL & torn meniscus (he sees these injuries all the time) I spent my holiday walking around Banff with my leg in a brace whilst my partner went off to ski every day(thank god the hotel had a pool), on the plus side I was flown home first class(needed to keep leg elevated- thanks to the insistence of the Scottish Dr in Banff). UK, NHS experience not so good initially, they would not MRI, said physio would do the trick, not convinced I’d torn my ACL, only after I return with swollen knee 7mths later (energetic dancing at a BBQ) and insisted on MRI, then had exploratory surgery in Nov 2016, confirmed ACL gone!! They were reluctant to repair, only when I said I wanted to ski again did they agree. With NHS flu crisis, op finally done June 2017, all staff, surgeons, physios, nurses could not have done more (thanks to the amazing NHS). After initially being told should wait 6mths, then 12mths then 18mths to ski again I finally went skiing Jan 2019 (with 2 leg braces and stayed on greens & blues) no falls, no pain, after initial trepidation (effectively 4yrs since skied) had a fab holiday, I’m 51 and a bit over weight, skiing is my only sport, just do a bit of gardening (guiltily feeling I should do more), my knee and the whole of my left side hurts most days, still can’t couch or sit back on my knees but can do a lot, hope to ski well into old age. Thanks you’ve inspired me to book a physio session I’ve been thinking about for a while. Whilst attending many physio classes I swapped many stories, young & old repair at different rates, one did stick with me, a woman heard the pop & knew she had ACL injury, quick thinking & before swelling she had MRI scan & repair op on holiday, holiday insurance would not pay for scan unless it proved injury so she had to gamble on paying the bill, her recovery was very short and back to full fitness quickly. I’d heard this from physio in Banff that if can get repair done before swelling takes a hold that recovery is much better, if not you need to get muscles ready for op to support knee, also essential pre-op exercise. It’s a long comment but it’s been my life for over 3years and it does get you down, Doctors tell you different things, one best described my knee will be like driving without shock absorbers from now on. Good luck to everyone in their recovery.

    • Hi Helen, that’s quite a journey you’ve been on with your knee. I’m so disappointed that your initial experience with the NHS wasn’t positive. It goes to show that these things really are hit and miss depending on who you see on the day. But I’m glad you got the surgery in the end and got back skiing. I confess I have removed that sport for my list entirely but I was never a skiing fanatic in the first place. It’s an interesting point you make about having surgery quickly and it makes sense. Thanks for sharing your story.

  34. Hi Jo I just wanted to say a massive thanks for you writing this as, like you, I have only found doctor websites that aren’t too realistic when considering long term recovery and pain. I have had a very bad year after not listening to my doctor I turned a slightly bruised knee into a significant tear in my ACL, two torn cartilage as well as something else with a strange name I’ll never remember😅 I’m only 15 and had my cartilage surgrey about a month and a half ago and I wasn’t really worried since it wasn’t too major but I need for that to heal before I can have my ACL surgery which I’ll be receiving in July hopefully. I am trying to not think about it because I only want to cry. Due to my injury I will be missing another netball season which has so many opportunities for me, I have already had to miss a Scotland netball trial. I am quite scared at the thought of such a long term recovery but your blog has really lifted me up and thank you so so much for sharing your experience. I am a very active person too so it’s good to hear I’m not the only one who doesn’t always listen to my doctors!

    • Hi Ella, so sorry you’re facing double surgery and double seasons out of a sport you love. It’s so hard sitting on the sidelines watching everybody with their healthy knees run around without giving the matter a moment’s thought. Doctors tend to be the people we listen to after we’ve broken something but perhaps next time you (and I) will pay a bit more attention to what they say. I hope you find another activity to fill your time and distract you while you recover. Yoga has been my running replacement and I’d have been lost without it. Good luck with the extra surgery. PS: I’m intrigued to know what the something else with a strange name is, ha ha!

  35. Hello ! Thank you for this! I am 7 weeks post op (hamstring ACL repair) and i woke up one morning to my knee quite swollen and scared i re-tore it! After reading your testimony i’m less scared of that prospect now as you had a similar experience, so thank you for sharing and putting my mind at ease.

    • Hi Matt, every time I feel a twinge near my knee I’m terrified that I’m going back into surgery. More often than not, it’s an overactive brain rather than a bigger issue with my knee. I hope the swelling has gone down and that you’re back on the road to recovery.

  36. Hi! I’ll cut straight to my questions
    1. did that floor bike really work? i’m not allowed to flex past 90 degrees b/c of wear my meniscus stitch was done. but I also wanna build my muscle and such
    2. can you list some yoga you did and what phase/month in your recovery you were?

    • Hi Tru, over and over my PT told me to do bike work and in the end it was the thing that really helped with my range of motion in the early months. No doubt the bikes at a gym will be better than a floor bike (better quality and more stability) but if you’re just looking to do little and often on. the bike, floor bike is a good solution.

      I was back on my yoga mat at week four. However, that comes with the caveat that I did a very restrictive practice and I was familiar with yoga before my surgery. I used the yoga studio app and created my own workout. Message me if you want me to email it to you – I’ve not tried this before so I’m not sure that it will work but I’m happy to give it a try Otherwise, I have taken a list of yoga poses to my physio and got her to cross off the ones I shouldn’t do, which I think will be a much better option for you.

    • I am 15 months out from my ACL recon with my patella tendon. My knee still pops…but it’s at the knee cap. If I overwork my knee, I feel it at the patella tendon. It ends up
      Aching. Maybe it’s an issue of patella tracking.
      I have full ROM but have not aggressively lifted weights with my leg. Maybe increasing quad strength will help with the patella issues.

  37. Hi everyone and thankyou Jo for the 2 year update it’s really good and hope you get back to yourself soon. I posted here last March and just wanted to share my progress one year on from ACL recon and meniscus repair. I had my full repair on 21st March 2018 and looking back progress was slow but steady. Lots of ice and doing all the movement and strengthening exercises religiously while I was off work (12 weeks) really helped but once I went back to work I couldn’t do these to the same frequency as at home so I lapsed a bit. I got a lot of walking in between August and October and then added in some light gym work and short running bursts (this was still painful right until before Christmas)
    Come January I was so fed up with my lack of fitness and the weight I had gained that I took the bull by the horns and started spinning again, some treadmill running and body pump classes. I’ve tried to be dedicated and now am spinning 3-4 times a week, one or two body pump classes and try to get in a 5k if I can and I’ve lost 16lbs so far so I’m really happy. My knee clicks and grinds, sometimes the tendons get stuck and then snap back into place and mostly the front right hand side of my calf is tender and numb but even with that it’s 150% better than the two years I had no ACL. I do have the knee falling in but I’m doing lots of quad strengthening and leg lift machine to help that. I just wanted to tell everyone don’t give up. It’s a long slow process and there may be hiccups but stick with the exercises and don’t give up.

    • Hi Cate, Thanks for coming back to give an update. Congrats on the workout routine and weight loss – I know that would have required a lot of dedication, pain and frustration but you got there. So, well done!! I’ve also recently managed to lose about a stone which had crept on post-op. I managed to do this with a little and often exercise regime, that’s involved a lot more bike and weight work instead of the cardio I was consistently failing at. I keep meaning to try a spin class but the idea of it terrifies me. That said, you’ve inspired me so thanks for that.

  38. hi everyone
    I’m 42… and wondering if anyone did try the oportunity to live with a completely torn ACL?
    I was injured 1 year ago…and still not decided if I must operate or not..
    I have no pain in walking, cycling, light runing, hiking, moderate gym…but ofcourse not football, basketball..etc
    I usualy have a desk job, with some walking and driving…but the fear of gradually degrading my knee over time,surrender being old…to admit no young any more – the idea that you can’t have a quick sprint if you need it (for fun or not) is disturbing..

    on the other hand…

    Beside the fear that something can go wrong during surgery…i have a feeling that total rehabilitation for my age is very dificult..and not sure if I will be better then actual state 1 or 2 long years of post rehebilitation…
    seems very dificult to decide …also doctors recomand both ways “depending on life style”

    • Hi Adrian, I think there are a few commenters in here who have lived with an ACL but it sounds like they all went on to eventually have the surgery. If it helps, I had the same dilemma and the same advice from the docs. Here’s my opinion having had the surgery – if you’re not in pain and you can do the activities you want, then try to live with it for a year or two and see how you get on. I don’t regret my surgery at all but a) it doesn’t get you back to a fully healthy knee (that ship sailed when you injured yourself); and b) the idea of not being able to push yourself is a worry, at least for me, post surgery except now my worry is rupturing the repair. Recovery is easier the younger you are but you’re still relatively young (ahem, from the person who just saw her 43rd birthday). For that reason I say why not try living without your acl for a year. I said I’d have skipped surgery if I had a desk job and mainly did gym stuff. I did the surgery so I could climb mountains again. I haven’t had the courage to scale those mountains post-op because of my ongoing weakness. So, I’m still not where I wanted to be post op. I hope that helps?

    • I lived for 8 years without an ACL following the tear + a tibia plateau fracture. I had two surgeries to fix the plateau fracture and remove all of the hardware and just couldn’t face another one for the ACL. I did extensive PT and got back to skiing with a brace and trail running. The problem came when I stopped doing regular workouts and keeping my strength up, and I ended up tearing my meniscus 8 years later. Not having an ACL does make you much more prone to injuries like a meniscus tear so my advice would be to keep your fitness and stabilizer muscle strength up if you decide against surgery. I had to have surgery for the meniscus tear so opted for ACL reconstruction at the same time.

    • Adrian, sprinting is not out of the question with no ACL, I was able to do everything I could prior to my injury except for reactive movements from outside stimulus

  39. I love this article, despite the fact I wouldn’t wish a torn ACL on anyone. I have had two reconstructions on my left knee as I damaged it twice playing sports. The first surgery was 7 years ago and the last one was 4 years ago.

    Year on, I still don’t 100% trust my knee and contact sports are a no-no. I began a bad habit of flaring my foot out the the side when i stood (toes pointing 45 degrees out) for what i thought was extra stability when standing. This has affected my hips and i have regular hip pain and my hip wants to ‘click’ but it cant/wont.

    Bearing in mind I am 32, unless i stretch my legs, hips, and back each day…all three will give me a dull ache. The NHS told me this was a sort of chain reaction. being 6’2 and 18 stone (rugby player build) my every day life puts stress and strain on my body. let alone when i’m exercising and putting additional strain on my joints.

    Thank you for posting this article, bloody staples and all, and good luck with your long term recovery.

    Anyone who is about to have surgery, DO NOT neglect your exercises given to you. They could be the difference between you having the freedom to enjoy your knees new lease of life or being restricted to sitting out fun activities because you don’t trust your knee.

    • Hi Jason, I have the same fear about contact sports. Before my operation I was learning krav maga (helpful for a 5ft girl who often travels alone to dangerous destinations) but that’s been put on long-term hold. I kind of figure that if I can’t run 5K without hurting my knee, it’s probably best to avoid being kicked in it. After spending a lot of time (and money) with physios and suffering hip pain myself, I’ve found this can be because you’re overcompensating for a weak knee. The solution I’ve been told is strengthening your needs. If you can persist with a physio on your hip pain, they might be able to give you a solution that is more useful than the NHS ‘it is what it is’. I have persisted and gotten further ahead in my recovery that I would have been if I’d just taken the NHS view that I’d got as far as I could go. Good luck with your recovery too!

  40. I just wanted to thank you so much for sharing your experience. I recently snapped my ACL while skiing and am scheduled for surgery next month. I’m really active usually and have 3 young boys so already I’m finding it incredibly frustrating!
    I’m also terrified of the pain and rehab after the surgery but your account has at least prepared me for that now.
    I’ve found this so helpful so thanks very much!

    Can I ask if you did anything prior to surgery in terms of physio?

    • Hi Gemma, skiing seems to be responsible for most of these injuries! My knee was very swollen and I spent most of my pre-op time getting back range of motion. In hindsight, I’d have done more to strengthen my muscles which had dissipated due to reduced use. I hope the surgery goes well.

  41. Good Morning Jo, I had my ACL replaced and my Meniscus repaired in November 2017. My knee feels great, up until I want to speed walk and take a fast turn and then it feels like my joint gets caught on something, but it doesn’t hurt until it becomes unstuck! ( like trigger finger, when your finger locks and you need to unlock it, which hurts when you have to unlock it). Also when I am walking along someone, they ask me “why are you limping”? I tell them I’m not, then they say ” it seems like you are walking like you have one leg longer than the other”! Luckily it someone I am close to at work. Then I keep thinking to myself, maybe I am limping. because I had to retrain my self not to limp, because I went so long with a bad knee. So I am cautious about me limping, but if I am not cautious about it, I guess I will limp. Unless of course my leg is shorter than the other since the surgery. My knee doesn’t always hurt, but it does concern me that I am walking funny not realizing it. I plan on going to the orthopedics, but not the one who did the actual surgery, I want someone who is going to listen to me. Did you have any of these types of issues after?

    • Hi Michele, I had one leg shorter than the other before my surgery (found out when I had a floor length dress made) and I’ve mentioned this countless times to my physio and doctors I’m always told it’s both common and normal so I’m passing that information on to you – apparently were not supposed to worry about it. As for limping, I think sometimes this can be in the mind of the person watching you. A friend asked me the other week if I was limping. I wasn’t and I know I wasn’t because I’d had gait analysis just the week before. I suppose she was just conscious of my knee as we were doing a lot of walking. It’s always a good idea to get checked even if it’s just for peace of mind and I would definitely get your trigger knee looked at because that doesn’t sound fun or good. I hope you get that sorted.

  42. I’m so happy to see this! I wish I had known so many things going in! I had my surger April 13, 2018. I tore my ACL completely skiing and I did it on the first day third run in!! I was a huge runner and loved hiking, I also had been a big skier. I wish I would have had a toilet seat booster so I didn’t have to get down so low those first few weeks! I had the hamstring graft and it caused more pain to sit on the toilet than I thought! I have a high pain tolerance so other than the meds they gave me at the surgery center I didn’t take anything but ibuprofen and Tylenol. I also was not allowed to bend my knee at all post surgery until I saw my therapist and then only slightly. What seemed like forever went by quickly as I progressed. The most exciting was the day I could do a full rotation on the stationary bike! After that my recovery went quick. I did everything I was told and made sure to take my time yet push myself. Almost a year later I still can’t run more than a few miles without pain but I just do it. The hardest part is weather changes, my knee hurts but ibuprophen and a hot bath help.(mind you I stand 8-11hrs a day for work). But overall it was super successful. I’m only 28 so I wanted to be active and with my surgery I am. Still recovery will take a while but don’t get frustrated!

    • Hi Brandi, I don’t know why doctors don’t tell us what the surgery will actually be like then perhaps most of us wouldn’t get it and it is worth in the long run. I remember very vividly my first rotation on a stationary bike and being thrilled even though everyone around me was speeding along and I just completed one turn. It’s a good point about the toilet. I went to Asia a few months after my surgery and had to re-learning to use the squat loo – that was an experience! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  43. I read this post before my ACL surgery and it scared me so bad that I rescheduled my surgery. Today is day two, just had my surgery yesterday at the VA and I must say it was so far a good experience and it went fast. I spoke with the surgeon and the Anesthesiologists, they gave me a block in my leg to numb it, then they put me to sleep. When I woke up, I was in the recovery room with a leg brace in place and numb. I didn’t feel anything until the anesthesia wore off, the pain was unbearable. They sent me home with a two day auto fussed block. God help me when this Autofusser block is done, but hopefully by then the pain will lessen. They offered anesthesia in my back to numb both legs, or just a block with being put to sleep. With the epidural I would be wide awake with a catheter in place, with the block I would be put to sleep with no catheter. I hate catheters so I elected to be put to sleep. So I guess the experience stands with who is doing the surgery.

    • Oh no, Anna, I’m so sorry I terrified you into rescheduling 🙁 But I’m glad you finally plucked up the courage to go ahead with it. I hope you’ve been able to manage your pain and that your recovery is going well.

  44. Hi Jo
    I’m still recovering from a bilateral ACL rapture! Plus a Fibura fracture! And this happen nearly two years ago.
    My main problem is the bakers cyst and the scars constantly giving me a burning sharp scratch pain like someone is striking a match on my knees. Unlucky for me my scars are 14cm long on each knee.
    Your story differs from mine. Although I had the operation done by the NHS it wasn’t as quick as yours. Plus they didn’t have my knees bend more or less straight after.
    Learning to walk with a Zimmer frame of which I refused. I wanted to start with crutches. The pain after was unbearable. You name the painrelief I had it.! Morphine co codine tbh it was draining my energy.
    Physio while in hospital was pointless but thanks to dr google I learnt a lot to help me. After a month and half I discharge myself. I found they wasn’t helping. I was off the pain relief and hospital physio was only twice a week. So I decided to sort private help. By the end of the year I was driving again – walking but slow and minamal. I went back to hot yoga, which before the op I was doing three times a week and lots of leg strengthening exercise (with weights) to build the muscle around the knee. I can jog but I find it hard to kneel (before Zod- my daughter keeps saying. A scene from Superman)
    What I do now is massage with black caster oil n heat. When exercising try and keep everything aligned. I did at first notice my hips were hurting me if I didn’t.
    I love to post my knees to show you guys. But Jo is right they never tell you what really happens after a op like this.
    The key is persevere – keep strong- stay strong- listen to your body – educate yourself.

    • Oh goodness, Jacqui, it sounds like you’ve had a horrible experience – I’m so sorry about that. I’m pleased Dr Google was able to step in (and doctors roll their eyes when we do this…because they’ve failed to help). I was about to recommend massage on your scar tissue. My physio actually used friction rubbing with oil which hurt like hell but does the trick. Now I just give my scar a vigorous rub with the palm of my hand over my leggings when I’m at the gym and that seems to maintain it. I’m glad that you’re finally getting things sorted. It’s terrible that it has to require private care but for me it was worth it and I’m sure you agree it is for you too.

  45. Hi,

    Many thanks for this wonderful informative article. I underwent this Arthoscopy knee surgery for my torn meniscus in July last year and I still feel the heaviness and stiffness in my knees and wonder whether things are going to be the same as they were prior to July 2018. I am now 72 years of age and am a very active person. I do few exercises and am a regular walker for 45 minutes every day. Always think-Will I get back my original knee health? Your article is very encouraging. May be in another year’s time I may get back my knee strength. I tend to hold on to some support if I stand for a long period of time. Any advise please?Thank you so much for the detail two years it gives me some more hope.

    • Hi Sekar, all my doctors and physios told me that my knee will never be the same as it was, because that’s just the nature of having had surgery on it. For me, it’s been a case of trying to maximise my new normal. If you have stiffness, I’d recommend adding daily stretches into your routine. I do this via yoga and have noticed a huge difference in flexibility and stiffness. You don’t have to do yoga, just a few stretchers every day should make a difference. I hope that your recovery continues.

  46. Hey Jo,

    Love this article! I actually tore my ACL in my left leg twice. The first time was in high school when I was around 15 from soccer. I planted my foot for a kick and I tore my ACL, MCL, both meniscus and fractured my femur. That ACL repair was done with my hamstring. I remember the first few months being really painful but was back to playing sports probably after about 6/7 months. I played both soccer and basketball for the next 2 years with no real issue. But at the time I was only really concerned with running short distances and jumping so I wasn’t lifting or very flexible.
    I honestly had kind of forgotten all about it until the second time I tore my ACL which was last year at the ripe old age of 26 playing basketball. I’d already played 2 games no issue, was on the last game jumped to block a shot and landed wrong. Since they used my hamstring the first time, they had to use my patellar tendon this time around. I’m currently 7 months out and feel like this time is so much harder especially since I’d been weight lifting and CrossFitting for almost 3 years before the injury so the difference in strength between my good leg and my bad leg is much bigger now than it was back in high school. So I’ve been really frustrating that I’m still struggling with pain in my knee when it didn’t take this long for me to return to play the first time.
    But I have to remind myself that no two surgeries are the same and I’m also trying to get back to activities I wasn’t doing in high school. I think it’s important to note too that with the patella they do take part of your knee cap as well as 1/3 of your tendon which is what’s causing most of pressure and pain in the knee during things, especially in activities like running and squatting. Where as with hamstring muscles you don’t experience that type of pain. That’s why I think this time around has been more of a struggle for me because I’m experiencing different kinds of pain than I was with my hamstring graft. And with this being my second time I’m far more cautious of pushing myself than younger me who was only concerned with playing again and not preventing re-injury. So not only do I have to strengthen my leg and knee but restrengthen my compromised patellar tendon as well. But your post has given me hope that with consistency and time I will be able to reach my new normal.


    • Hi Jordan, it’s a good point you make about no two surgeries being the same, even within the same person let alone between us all. I think I was also overcautious and didn’t push myself with my recovery. On the plus side, it meant I didn’t pop my graft. A large part of me wonders if I’d be much further along if I had to push myself more. It’s hard to say so I try not to dwell on it. Good luck with the recovery.

  47. Thanks so much for this.
    I tore my ACL back in December playing field hockey.
    I go for my reconstruction surgery on Tuesday. Feeling so nervous about what to expect. So I really appreciate your post with constant updates.
    I have completed several weeks of pre-hab to try and strengthen hamstrings before the graft is taken.

    My physio is hoping I will be back on the pitch before Christmas, so I’m holding on to that hope. I know that the post op exercises are boring but keeping my fingers crossed I am mentally strong enough to stay focused.

    • Hi Emma, the prehab is so key. I wish I’d done more of it. Hope the surgery went well. And I’ll keep my fingers crossed for Christmas for you.

  48. Hi Jo, thank you so much for this article. I am having ACL reconstruction after a ski injury in a couple of weeks. I wanted to know if you had donor tissue or used your own hamstring tissue, and if so what was the difference in scarring? Thanks so much and great to see you are doing great with your knee.

    • Hi Carmen, I ended up having a combo of hamstring graft (mine) and a bit of synthetic stuff to pad it out (because my hamstring was too skinny). I don’t know what the difference in scarring is but I do know that my scar has healed wonderfully – my latest PT asked me which knee when I sat in front of him with shorts on, he couldn’t tell which had the scar from a short distance.

    • Thank you for sharing, this is a great article. I do want to say that if someone has also meniscus surgery on top of ACL surgery, the recovery is going to be slow.
      I had a second ACL surgery/meniscus repair 2.5 weeks ago. I had an old one done in my other knee long time ago.
      I wanted to ask what was your experience with numbness? I did see you say by 12 months numbness went away. I feel my numbness is not letting me excercise the way I should and it’s crontribuiting with the discomfort. Thanks again.

      • Hi María, I’d say that 2.5 weeks is still a really short time in terms of your numbness. It’s possible that there will always be a spot where the numbness remains (my brother-in-law has this) but hopefully not at the level where it impacts you or your exercise. If you’re worried, I’d suggest speaking to your doctor. As for the meniscus repair, this gave me much less trouble than the ACL but I was lucky in that I only had one stitch added.

    • Hi Jo,

      Thank you so much for your amazingly informative and honest blog. I ruptured my acl, tore my lateral meniscus and fractured my fibia skiing 4/4/19 and have been trying to work out whether or not to have acl surgery or not.
      When I last saw the surgeon he said that they couldn’t operate yet because the knee was too swollen and I need to improve my ROM.
      30 days later my ROM is still pretty limited, I cannot straighten my knee, my quad/knee muscle has wasted a lot and I think my knee is beginning to buckle inwards. Like knock kneed. Did anyone else have this experience?

      • Ouch, Veronica! I had a similar problem with my range of. motion preventing surgery and it honestly took me a couple of months to get to. a position where we could even talk about it. At that point, my knee felt unstable enough that the decision to have surgery was actually easier. If your knee is buckling inwards, I’d speak to your physio to see if this can be corrected (usually strengthening exercises) before your surgery if you choose to have it. My knee buckles in even now if I don’t keep up my strength exercises. So I’d work on it as soon as you can. Good luck with the recovery.

  49. Thanks for taking the time to write this article, it’s been my ‘go to’ article pre and post surgery, as well as immediately after the dreaded ‘you’ll need surgery!’ conversation with the consultant.

    It’s the only human account of recovery I’ve seen on the net and has been very reassuring in what is a deeply frustrating time!

    Now it’s back to my ice packs and dreaded knee bends with the aim of getting back to skiing (the original culprit) next year!


    • Thanks David, I’m overwhelmed by how many people have found this post useful. I think everyone commenting is a big part of that – so another thanks to everyone else who’s taken the time to stop by and share their questions and experience. Good luck with the pesky skiing!

  50. i had my ACL reconstruction surgery done a week ago..
    I have this weird burning, numbness sensation in my thigh..
    did anyone experience that?


  51. Hello I’m at 5 months post op it’s been going well until the other day when I went swimming with some people drunk and think I pushed it a bit far. There’s no swelling but I feel like its cracking more and feels wobbly. Did you have any experiences where you thought you hurt it or tweaked it? I hope it’s fine

    • Hi Willow, I had several instances where I felt like I’d pushed it too far. Usually, I’d rest it – with ice. However, if you do think there is instability, I’d get that checked out. I hope it’s recovered.

  52. HI Jo and all you other ACL sufferers,
    Thanks so much for such an informative and helpful article (and comments). As you said, one doesn’t get a lot of info beforehand (I didn’t feel very informed by medical staff pre and post op, but got most of my knowledge from the internet).
    On day 5 after ACL surgery, my knee is pretty swollen, range of motion not too bad but my quads are barely ‘firing’ in my bad leg. A long way to go…
    Regarding ice packs: I bought (from a well know online supplier) a pouch and packs made by ABCOSport. The pouch is easily attached to the knee with velcro, so stays on even when I am up walking (which hasn’t happen often yet).

    Regarding therabands – which colours did you find useful, and which length?

    Thanks a lot and all the best for the future!

    • Hi Anja, it’s still early days. Thanks for the tip on the ice pack. Sounds better than my knee sleeve make-shift version 🙂 On the therabands, I’m nervous to suggest as it will really depend on your individual strength. I used the colours that pushed me but not too much I’d get injured. I moved through the colours as I went, based on my physio’s recommendation. I hope your recovery continues to head in the right direction.

  53. Thank you for sharing about your recovery and surgery! I am sixteen years old, and tore my ACL as well as partially tore my meniscus on the second day of school soccer tryouts in late October. I had my surgery in early December (in the US); they used a patellar tendon graft. As this was my first surgery, I was very uncertain about what to expect in terms of recovery. Despite my several inquiries, I was not given a CPM machine to help with flexion, and I think that that might have been a mistake. Currently, I am nearly 3 months post-op and am only at 121 degrees flexion and about 15 degrees extension. And this is after I got a manipulation done (they gave me anesthesia and bent my knee to my chest in order to break up scar tissue). In other words, I am very behind with recovery. I can honestly say that this is the most frustrating and mentally trying thing that I have ever had to endure up to this point in my life. Going to physical therapy (3 times a week) gives me anxiety because my body remembers the pain from the previous session…and I leave PT in tears nearly every time because it just hurts so badly. I know that my situation is unique in a negative sense, and that scares me a lot. It is hard to feel like a teenager when I can’t even walk properly and when I can’t do the things that I love (like soccer or even exercising in general). I was a very active person before the injury, and right now I just feel like I am never going to get better.

    Anyways, sorry for the long explanation. I was just wondering if you have any advice/ideas for increasing both flexion and extension. At this point, I’m pretty much willing to try anything. Thanks for all your help.

    • Hi Kayla, I’m so sorry you’re having such a tough time after your surgery. The first things I want to say is try not to get too stressed – what you’re experiencing is normal after acl surgery. You will read in the comments that almost everyone seems to have some kind of problem after the op and flexion and extension are the most common. It doesn’t make it any easier when you’re comparing yourself to your friends who are all running around as normal but it’s a big surgery with a long recovery time that is often underplayed.

      My next comment is that things will get better. Three months is still very early on but for most of us by month three it feels like we should be back to at least 90% if not 100%. I wouldn’t be judging yourself until after at least 6 months, more realistically 12 months. It’s horrific having to go through PT and the pain. Do keep at it.

      As for practical things you can do, I’d recommend a few things (check with your doctor/I’m not an expert etc but these things worked for me): get on a static bike and try to do it little and often. Whether it’s at the gym for 10 minutes at the beginning of your visit and 10 at the end or a floor bike at home. Flexibility is about regular stretching and biking will help with that in a much more gentle way than your PT.

      Try yoga. I can’t shout this loud enough. For the past six months I’ve been more rigorous with my yoga. Doing it for 30 minutes 2-4 times a week, I have noticed a huge difference in my knee flexibility, general easing of stiffness, strength and the popping and crunching has eased too. I use the Yoga Studio App – I just do the 30 minute flexibility class. For yoga, you will have to modify and take out a lot of poses at first and you might have to pause the app a lot as you try to ease yourself onto and off the floor but you’ll build up. I took the app to my PT and she told me which postures I could and couldn’t do. Also, try massage. Whether it’s a gentle sports massage or tension balls (I love the miracle balls mentioned above), its likely your muscles have locked up and are adding to the problem. I’d also give a warm bath with Epsom salts a go. I find a long soak in the tub eases my muscles, especially when it’s cold and I’ve been working them hard. Together with the yoga, it makes a difference to my flexibility.

      There was a 16 year old in my PT class for a while – have you tried asking your doc or PT if there is someone of a similar age who’s recently had surgery he could put you in touch with. Chatting to someone who’s going through the same thing can give you a bit of a break from the ‘that’s what I should be doing’ envy that we all get post op.

      I wish you the best of luck – come back any time if you’ve got any more questions.

    • Hi,

      TL;DR – if you still feel instability in your knee and limited range of motion post-op, try working with a good therapist specialising in Feldenkrais. I cannot recommend this method enough, it has been a life-saver since I came across it many years back.

      The full story:
      I just had my ACL reconstruction 2,5 weeks ago. I originally had a bob-sleighing accident 20 years ago when I fractured both of my menisci and completely tore my ACL. I had 4 arthroscopies (due to complications) following that and most parts od my menisci were cut out, they didn’t reconstruct the ACL though as I was not a professional athlete and they did that only for sportspeople at the time in Poland. I had tremendous problems for many years including my knee-cap dislodging multiple times a day, severe pain each time. Before very active in sports – I was not allowed to do PE since the accident at age of 15.

      Fast forward about 12 years when a physiotherapist who works in the Feldenkrais method was recommended to me. He did literally one session with me in relation to my knee – and all the pain, instability, all that stopped. I could run, swim and dance again. He aligned the way I place my feet to other parts of my body, my movements. He also helped me with my back problems and a number of other things during the years – including a badly twisted ankle 2 years ago where instead of physio 3 times a week for many months, I had 1 session with him each 1-2 weeks and have gone back to not seeing any difference between my two ankles at all.

      Last year I unfortunatelly had a paragliding accident where I stopped running too early during takeoff and ended up leaning with the full weight of my body and the instructor’s body and equipment on my ‘bad knee’. Cracked badly, was advised to operate but decided to work via Feldenkrais again and it helped tremendously but not to the pre-accident level. I finally took a decision to do a full ACL reconstruction surgery after 6M, partnered with a great surgeon, all went very well. I and am now doing 3hr of physio (with laser, electrostymuli, cryotherapy, magnetic field, etc) 3 times a week. I am now interlacing that with Feldenkrais and it seems to be working great as a complementary routine to ‘normal’ physio, with 110+ extension after 2 weeks and corect movement and feet placement after F session in 2nd week.

      I know that Feldenrais is often not regarded as a fully scientifically-proven method and some people may be sceptical. For me it has worked wonders and my advice is to just try it, give it one session and see if it works for you. I really wish I discovered this method 20 year ago, afet my accident – I wouldn’t have wasted so many years not being able to do any sports at all.

      • Hi Agnieska, I wasn’t sure if it was my post or Kayla’s (who’s comment you’re replying to) that you found too long to read (TL;DR); probably mine, so I do question your ability to give helpful advice on something you’ve not read. Still, I’m publishing your comment because you’ve explained your experience and some other people might find that useful. Personally, I’m highly sceptical – actually, I just flat out disbelieve from a physiological perspective – that one movement session can eradicate all pain and instability in the knee. Yoga and tai chi are very movement focused and while they support my recovery, they’ve not cured me and made me able to run after one session. Anybody else got any thoughts on this?

    • Hi Kayla,
      Let me start by saying if my much older body could get through it, yours will too… I promise! I too had both ACL reconstruction and meniscus repair. The worst part about that combo is that it is hard to straighten AND to bend, so try not to compare your recovery to others that only had ACL surgery. Be kind to yourself (I know that is easier said than done), but girl you are going to come out the other side much stronger physically and emotionally!

      Interestingly, I too had to go back in to have them break up scar tissue – I wonder if that’s because we had the double-whammy? It may make you feel like you went backwards in your recovery, but I am so glad I did it! I am 1 year out from my first surgery and looking back, I can’t believe I got through it! I have zero limitations on my knee now and while I still take it easy in yoga and while hiking, I feel more “normal” every day.

      PT sucks, there is no way around it. Especially when they put the towel under your ankle and push down on your knee… it left my in tears and dreading my appointment for many months. Interestingly, we found that if I laid on my tummy with my leg off the table with a slight weight on my ankle (pulling rather than pushing), my PT could get a few more degrees and this is how I went from 17 degrees to -1 degree! Not that it will work for you, but it might help to mix it up a bit.

      Please know that you are stronger than you think… and you will get through it! Maybe ask your friends to go swimming instead of playing soccer, or to go see a movie instead of walking the mall shopping. I totally agree with Jo, the stationary bike and light yoga helped me tremendously get my range of motion back.

      I wish you the very best of luck and I am sending prayers for quick success!

      • I love this, Stephanie – such a supportive message and I love the tip about doing the extension work on your stomach. Good luck Kayla.

  54. Hi Jo (and everyone else!). I wanted to join in the multitude of others and say thank you so much for this blog post. It’s been so helpful over the past few weeks and I’m sure will continue to be.
    I had my ACL repaired 7 weeks ago (where has the time gone?!) with a hamstring tendon graft. I originally injured my knee 3 years ago when I came off a motorbike in Vietnam and completely ruptured my ACL, PCL and MCL and fractured my tibia! Pretty intense but in the grand scheme of things the accident could have been so much worse. I had surgery out in Vietnam where they repaired my PCL and MCL, but after a couple of years of physio my knee wasn’t stable enough to run and dance so we eventually decided to repair my ACL. Obviously everyone’s experience is so different but this has been such a helpful resource to understand and compare my knees recovery over these past few weeks. I am currently struggling with the much-discussed leg extension, but it seems to be improving with time and I’m hopeful it will get there eventually. Other than that, so far so good. It’s getting a bit tedious having to do the same physio routine again only 3 years later but I know it’s so worth it so sticking at it! I wish everyone all the best on their surgery and recovery. Keep going!

    • Hi Becky, having re-started physio last year, two years after my surgery, I feel you pain (literally). But, several months in, I can see the benefits. I hate to say it but I think that it’s going to be a life-long thing, keeping our knees strong to keep the pain and problems at bay. On the plus side, we have a motivation that will keep us fit in later life. Good luck with the physio and recovery.

  55. Hi there, it’s nearly been one year sense I’ve had surgery on my knee to fix my ACL but along with the torn ACL I also did a third degree MCL and a second LCL but lucky enough I only had to have surgery to fix my ACL. It feels like it’s been such a long recovery because I haven’t been able to get back into all the sports I like doing. I’ve got back into cricket but after games my knee gets sore and tight and just feels real weak, same with basketball but hI at hurts most is not being able to get back into footy 100%, not being able to get back into footy fully hurts a lot. I’ve did all my rehab that I got given and it still feels like I’m not getting anywhere, I’m just wondering is there any advice that could help me get there and give me a more understanding of the recover time cause what I’ve been told is that I should be 100% when I’m not. I’d really appreciate some advice please.

    • Hi Kaleb, I keep getting mixed professional views on whether there is such a thing as 100% recovery post acl surgery. I do know that my brother in law has returned to footie after his op but it was well over a year later and he had practically zero strength in his operated leg. I would say get to the gym and get focused on strengthening your injured leg. I’ve been doing this recently, focusing on one-legged leg presses and sit-to–stand one-legged with a medicine ball. Rest, ice and elevate after sport. It does take time. What does your physio say?

  56. Thanks so much for this. This is the most helpful thing I’ve read since my accident which happened 10 days ago. My ACL reconstruction is scheduled in 5 days (February 25th) and I am having second thoughts about it because I am leaving for New Zealand on May 6th (10 weeks after surgery) to study for 3 years and I am worried that my knee might not be able to handle the commute from my apartment to school and back. Do you think 10 weeks would be enough recovery period to be able to push through with my plans?

    • Hi Kat, 12 weeks after my surgery, I took myself on a backpacking trip around Southeast Asia for 2 months. I had a gruelling schedule for the first two weeks (travelling with my dad) and I’m not going to lie – it was tough. But I managed it. How far/difficult is your commute going to be? A week before hitting Hong Kong, I’d walk for a maximum of an hour and get exhausted. Then, I suddenly found myself on my feed for upwards of 6 hours a day. It hurt but with rest, ice and elevation at night, I gained strength a lot quicker than I would have at home. There is always the chance that something will crop up post surgery that means you don’t recover as quickly as expected but you could equally be 100% healthy and trip on a banana skin the day before you’re supposed to go to New Zealand. If you have to go at things a bit slower at the beginning of your 3 years, then so be it? Just build in time for rest and find a local physio. I hope that helps.

  57. Really interesting read. Whilst playing football I completely ruptured my ACL, as well as my MCL. I’ve also tore my lateral meniscus and damaged my femur (osteochondrial lesion I believe it’s called). Needless to say the initial injury was the most intense pain I’ve ever felt!

    My biggest fear is not the corrective surgery, but the hours I’m inevitably going to have to spend lying on my back in bed during the recovery process.

    As you’ve stated above, a lot of articles online are medical documents which do not really give you a clear idea of what to expect, so this blog has been incredibly insightful

    Surgery is scheduled for the 12th of March!

    Please tell me is all going to be ok! Haha

    • Dan – you’re going to be ok! Yep, the enforced rest was frustrating but once I decided to stop fighting it, I kind of enjoyed the guilt-free rest time. I hope the op goes well.

  58. I had my surgery done 7/6/19. My knee is definitely not centered and I am having pain when I walk. Drs appointment tomorrow and I’m nervous. The experience I had was far from normal..

    • Hi Kimberley, that is frustrating and worrying. I hope your doctor was of some help and that you get your recovery back on track.

  59. So happy to have stumbled upon your page! Great to read someone’s real life experience.
    Thanks so much for providing updates, as well. I felt like I was taking the journey with you. 🙂
    Completely tore my ACL and partially tore my meniscus while skiing. Happened on my last day out and last run of the day. Just my luck!
    I am getting my ACL reconstruction surgery in 9 days. Never having had any type of surgery before, I have been doing as much research as possible.
    I’m a runner and devastated at how long I’ll be recovering for. I am already doing physical therapy (physician-advised to strengthen my leg as much as possible pre-surgery) and they estimate no running for at least 6 months. I guess that half marathon I registered for (months ago) in April will not be happening. 🙁
    One question I had (apologies if you mentioned it and I missed it while reading) – what type of graft repair did you have? My physician recommends an Achilles’ tendon allograft repair so I’m trying to gauge pros and cons versus patellar or hamstring autografts.

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Stephanie, that’s definitely not a great way to end your ski trip and I do think the running in April is out 🙁 But plenty of time to train for next year? I had a hamstring graft but when they got in there, my skinny hamstring wasn’t big enough so I have a partial artificial graft too. I wasn’t given a choice so I have no idea how you would decide…good luck with the surgery.

    • How old are you? I am an orthopedic surgeon and can tell you that for anyone who is young and active, an allograft (tissue obtained from dead people) is a terrible choice. The rate of re-rupture is significantly higher than for any autograft (tissue taken from elsewhere in your own body during the surgery). The only benefit of the cadaver allograft is that it can help to reduce the acute post op pain, as there is no additional incision made to harvest a piece of tendon for the graft. Really this is only beneficial for an older age group who is not going to be putting much stress across their knee for the remainder of their life.

      • Hi Trevor, thanks for stopping by. I’ve allowed this comment because you’re a professional. However, as a lay person, I just want to add that it’s this kind of catastrophe language used by surgeons (on and offline) that made me write this post. I presume Stephanie’s surgeon had good reason to suggest an allograft. My surgeon told me that I’m going to need a knee replacement in the future. He was emphatic about it but my regular PT has told me that does not have to be a pre-determined outcome for me if I look after my knee, as I am doing. I’m not trying to have a go at you – after all, you wonderful surgeons are the reason we all have repaired ACLs. Do you have any helpful suggestions for Stephanie if she did have the allograft. Ways she can reduce re-rupture?

  60. Hello! My name is Doina, and I will have my ACL reconstruction (hamstring) surgery on 22/02/2019. I found your article when googling about recovery from this surgery to help me with my anxiety and fear. I feel very down lately because I don’t know whether the surgery itself or the recovery process will go well. I know that everyone has a different experience, but even so your article is helpful. Thank you! Also, I’d be very happy to hear about ways to cope with anxiety and fear before the surgery, or feeling down during the recovery period. Thank you

    • Hi Doina, it’s normal to be worried but everyone who has commented below came through the surgery fine. Yes, there will be some challenges with the recovery but nothing that can’t be managed. Have you tried something distracting to take your mind off your worries. I find meditation and reading work. Some people focus on work or games or music or getting out and about. As for the recovery, try to get some treat ready. Again, for me this was books and some favourite (healthy) snacks. And then just try to accept this is a small blip in your life that will pass soon enough. Message me if you want any more suggestions. Otherwise, good luck!

  61. Hi…i’m srilu from india.i had my acl reconstruction a year back.Recently i started feelng the pain in my operated knee while walking…i went through an MRI and found buckling of pcl and effusions in the knee joint.My doc said there is nothng to worry and suggested to do quad exercises..Is my MRI report really fine? worried a bit

    • Hi, I’m no expert but if your doctor said the solution is exercise, I would do that. I have also had buckling and pain and my physio suggested the same thing – strength exercises.

      • Thank you for the reply…im now worried with my non operated leg…doing the strengthening exercise,i started feeling pain in my left knee.i get the feeling of my knee cap moving down and some discomfort while walking.I’m so scared of this now

        • Hi Srilu, speak to your doctor but your non-operated leg is doing a lot more work at the moment. Try to give it some rest, ice and elevation as well and hopefully it will return to normal soon.

  62. Hello thank you so very much for this article, it was just what I needed to hear! I received a ACL reconstruction one year ago this month February. I have been so worried the last two months because I’m still not as strong as I think I should be. I still feel like I can’t stand on my right leg, which is my right the one that underwent the surgery. Prior to my ACL surgery a year prior to be exact I had my Meniscus done. That went swell recovery was fine and I made it through that year perfectly with rehab of course for several months. But when I have the ACL reconstruction done this has been a real nightmare for me. Thank you so much for the detail two years it gives me some more hope. They say my knee will never be like it used to be but I’m just worried because I’ll be 40 in May and I want to be able to have strong Mobility for the years to come. I thought that I will have to go see my doctor again after a year because I still experience some pain sometime and I noticed it coming on during the colder months. I’ll check back over the weeks and months to see if someone else have those same concerns about the colder months experiencing more pain. As for my range of motion it’s doing pretty good however I’m still experiencing some swelling at times do anyone still go through that? I still ice off and on I still rub my knee down and I still Elevate when I’m feeling it’s not at his best. I do have to say I do see me growing in healing however after a year I thought I would be able to be stronger. But I’m going to keep rehabbing, icing and taking care of myself and hopefully as the months go on I’ll see even more Improvement.

    • Hi India, yes, like a lot of people here (myself included), the recovery is a lot harder than most people imagine. And it seems a lifelong task to keep the knee strong. Do keep at the physio, rest and ice and I’m sure you’ll get there.

  63. My experience was much different than yours. I had my ACL replaced in the US about 12 years ago (I was 60). They offered me a cadaver ACL if I wanted as the recovery would be much easier than if they my own parts and pieces. I accepted. They did my surgery in an outpatient surgical center and it was done arthroscopically. They gave me a full nerve block in my leg prior to the surgery. As a result, when I left the surgery center several hours later, in a full brace (hip to ankle) which was locked, I could not feel my leg at all. That wore off by the next day and I was much happier being able to feel my leg. I navigated on crutches and my leg was to be totally non-weight bearing for a couple of weeks at least. I used the knee bending machine on a daily basis, gradually increasing the bend until it got to 90 degrees. I hated that machine. I also did rehab about 3 times a week for about 6 weeks. I will not take most of the opioids they like to prescribe and just took Advil. Your surgery sounds like a much bigger ordeal. I had no stiches, just two small pin holes in my leg with a drain inserted for one day. I had to go to the orthopedic surgeon’s office the next day to have the drain removed. I am no facing rotator cuff surgery in a couple of weeks. I have heard horror stories and I know the recovery is quite long, but I will reserve judgment until I have experienced it myself. By the way, my ACL is acting up again and I was told that most knee surgeries only last about 10/12 years. I have already decided not to have what they call revision surgery. At my age (72) I really don’t want to go through knee surgery again. I just want a properly fitting brace and I’ll manage that way. My husband and I are full-time RV’ers, bikers and avid primitive campers. I never could figure out how to get on the bike with that leg brace. LOL.

    • Hi Casey, I’m still fascinated by how everybody’s experience is different. And it sucks that you might have to have your ACL redone (or live with it). My surgeon told me the same thing but my physio later told me that I don’t have to accept that as an inevitability if I keep working on my knee. I suppose time will tell. Good luck with the rotator cuff and also with the RV’ing!

  64. Hi,
    I tore my ACL in May 2018 in a tkd sparring competition and finally had my surgery done on 24/01/19. I only got it diagnosed like 2 months after injury. Needless to say, I thought it was just a sprained and carry on doing taekwondo but soon realised that my knee was kinda ‘loose’. Between injury to surgery, I had a few physio session and cont doing tkd but omitted sparring. Good to say that I’m now 5 days after surgery and doing well. I’m surprised that I had barely felt any pain and hope to be back to martial arts soon enough. Hope everyone here have a successful recover from their injury!

  65. This is amazing I’ve spebt so many hours reading this and learning new things to Write down and just thinking I’ve got loads of hard work to go to make sure I come out the end of this the right way. I’m on my 2 week of recovery and at the moment I feel I’m never going to get through this, I’m a typical man who plays football and want it to be done over night ready for the weekend but reality is it’s going to take months of hard work and most important time. But your story as made me think and challenge this from a whole new angle and I’m looking forward to it.

    Thank you so much for the encouragement you have given people on here!

    • Paul – you’re going to get through this! Probably not by the weekend but eventually. Keep at it and I hope you’re back to the football matches soon!

  66. Hello, thanks for this blog! It’s so useful to have a preparation checklist. I have an ACL reconstruction and meniscus surgery in 1 week at Guy’s in London. I am most afraid of the anaesthetic as I have never been put under before. It seems there are no options on NHS (as expected), I wish I could have the spinal block and I definitely do not want any staples! How backward! It’s interesting to see just how much more options there are in other countries. I don’t mind how long it will take to recover, I just want to get through the anaestesia.

    Once again, thank you for your efforts with this blog!

    • Hi Ivett, I hope the anaesthesia went well, and the op! It has been revelatory seeing how differently the surgery is done around the world. Wishing you a successful recovery.

      • Hi Becky, the anaesthetic was fine for me. I was less worried because I’d had it before. Everybody reacts differently but most people are fine. I hope it all goes well and try not to worry!

  67. Hello, all the way from India.
    I found this wonderful article just hours before my ACL surgery that was scheduled on 16th January,2019 and I can’t thank you enough to curb my worries down to the minimal level. I got my right knee’s ACL operated and some of the steps here in your blog may seem off for me because of the varied surgical steps and procedures that vary or whatsoever, this article has led me to a calmer state up in my head (again, a hearty thanks to you).
    Now, I’m walking with the crutches on and a knee immobilizing brace has also been given and which irritates me when I try to sleep but I just want to get back on the football pitch cause I can’t wait to run back and sprint.
    Again, thanks a lot for writing and describing everything in such a wonderfully detailed manner.
    Keep up the good work ma’am.
    Thank you
    Hope you stay in high spirits always and most importantly, healthy. ALWAYS 🙂

    • Hi Vishwas, I’m so happy to have leant a bit of calm to your experience. I wish you the best of luck with your recovery and I hope you’re back on the pitch soon!

  68. Hello!
    I have found this article very interesting and very helpful. I am eighteen (will be nineteen in April) and as of a week ago tomorrow, I had fallen down skiing (for time) and have since found out that I have torn my ACL completely. From the MRI I had done, it seems as though everything else in my knee is intact, just bruised and swollen from the fall. I am going to be speaking with a doctor tomorrow to discuss where to go from here…

    To say that I am crushed would be an understatement. I have been active my entire life, since I could walk. For the past eleven years I have been in karate and have realized that since I have torn my ACL I will not be able to join in class and participate like I use to be able to for quite some time. In fact, I have realized that I won’t be able to do almost everything that I was able to do for quite some time..

    Up until this point, I have never had to undergo surgery and I am actually quite terrified. I have known people who have also torn their ACL’s and they’re doing just fine now… I just wanted to say thank you for this blog…

    • Hi Abigail, I know my replies have been late recently – I’ve had some personal matters that have kept me offline. The main thing I would say is that you have the benefit of youth and the doctors told me that younger people heal quicker and better. So, although you may have to make some adjustments, which can be hard to accept, you hopefully won’t have to make as many. Do come back and let me know how you get on.

  69. Hi, I had both, ACL and MCL reconstruction plus repair of the meniscus tear 8 weeks ago. Pretty major surgery. My range of motion is pretty good, but pain while walking is quite intense, mainly the scar tissue forming where the holes from arthroscopy are. Also, trying to fully extend the knee is quite painful. All in all, I’m told my progress is v. good but I do feel very frustrated at times, especially when after a good day, I get more intense pain again 🙁

    • Hi Mike, stick with it. My physio told me that friction (rubbing) the scar, helps (makes me want to vomit, but it does work when you scar is healed enough). I hope the pain passes soon.

  70. Hi All ,

    Firstly a HUGE thanks to this page , it really has helped from before I decided to opt for Surgery.

    I had to travel away from my home country to have surgery done as such medical procedures are non existent where i am unfortunately 🙁

    I had an excellent surgeon in South Africa work on me , we had an ACL reconstruction as well as a Tenodesis wrap. I was prepared for the worst in terms of pain and indeed I was not dissapointed. It hurt and was not easy , however everyday you make progress , first few days is the worst and for me it is still sleeping due to discomfort and finding a comfortable position. However 2 days after my op I was up and moving around on my crutches out of the apartment and I cant stress the quicker you get up the faster you heal.

    Fast forward 3 weeks and I’m on one crutch now , I can hobble around the house without my crutches , Im getting great flexibility on my Knee much more then the 90 degree bend expected.

    Each day is better , apart from the odd day generally i feel an improvement everyday. Its no doubt a long road to recovery but then you don’t opt for this procedure if you expect to be back to your old self in a few weeks.

    a few points that help:

    I got a leg shower sleeve that helped having showers
    I used the GAME READY therapy for a week and it works like magic
    was driving after a week
    back to work in 12 days ( I do have a desk job)

    Prepare to put in the work , your first few days will be the worst , thereafter gradually but surely everyday gets better

    • Hi Ish, I’m happy this page helped with your decision. I;m sorry you had pain, but that seems typical for most of us. I’m glad you’re back to some normality – off to google the Game Ready therapy!

  71. Hi, I had my acl reconstruction and lateral meniscus repair(left knee) on 30th Oct,2018. Recovering well till now, flexion is more than 110 degrees, but full extension is not possible yet. But I am walking with a limp and PT has advised me to try walking normally. I might need few suggestions on that. Also, my quads are still weak hindering my full knee extension while walking. But I am very cautious bearing weight on my left knee this might be a mental thing affecting my walking pattern. Any tips on exercise reps and number of times it should be done everyday. Also, Is anterior knee pain normal?

    • Hi Jaffar, your PT is going to be much better qualified than me but here are the things that helped me remove my limp and increase my quad. Walking properly – slow down your walk and try to do it with purpose. For a while, I used a walking cane for confidence and to get my gait back. I then ditched the cane and did slow, short distance walking on very steady surfaces (at the gym/flat floor of the supermarket, using a shopping trolley/cart). For my quad, leg raises. This might also help: I think it’s quite normal to have transferred pain – I still get pain in my hip when I run, all caused by my knee. If you are worried, speak to your doctor. I’m learning that pain in one area can easily manifest in an entirely unrelated part of the body. I hope this helps.

  72. Thanks for the two year update! I’m about 16 months out from my ACL replacement and I noticed I was having a hard time jogging for more than a minute. My doctor ran some tests on my leg and discovered it was 30% weaker than my non surgical leg. After 8 weeks of lifting weights and cardio exercises my leg was 40% stronger and is now slightly stronger than my non surgical leg. I still need to continue exercising it but I was glad to learn that I wasn’t the only person who wasn’t back to full strength after a year. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Hi Manna, thanks for sharing your story. Doesn’t make me feel like a loser! It also inspires me to get my knee strong again.

  73. My name is Upasana Gautam. I am from Ludhiana Punjab India.I had my ACL reconstruction surgery on June 2, 2018 from a local doctor from Kalyan Hospital named Dr Rajinder Singh who damaged my peroneal nerve during the surgery. So I have no sensation in my foot and side of the leg till date. I can walk but while climbing stairs I still have pain in my knee. Running is not possible at all.

    • Hi Upasana, I’m sorry to hear about your nerve damage. I’ve recently discovered (thanks to my dad severely injuring his finger) that nerves can apparently regrow in some case. Very slowly and painfully but it can happen. Can you see another doctor about this? If you still have pain, might be worth seeing a professional or go back to basics with your early exercises? I hope things work out for you.

  74. Great and very helpful article, that i read before i had my ACL (hamstring) reconstruction 10 weeks ago, and it showed me what to expect. i would just like to mention that before my surgery, i exercised at home and drove a static bike every day, 15, 20 or more KM.
    I decided to go with Epidural anesthesia, just because you are pain free for 2-3 hours after the surgery. First ten days, after the Op i made a mistake, exercising very little, but that was because i had too much pain when walking with crutches, 50% weight in leg, and wearing ‘Splint’. After starting regular exercises, i couldn’t fully stretch my leg. I was told to wear ‘Splint’ 24/7 and walk with crutches for four weeks. after that my knee and muscles were still weak. Today, i still have pain when i walk, ROM is almost 120, but when i stand my leg is not straight, doesn’t look the same as the other one!… i can see the improvements, but my biggest concern is if my leg will ever look as it was before?!..
    I also made a lot of pictures of ‘ACL journey’ can share them FYI.

    • Hi Aside, in part I can’t help because my two legs are no longer the same. Mine is owing to hypermobility and not getting back my over-extension but I know how it feels and I can understand the worry about overdoing it versus pushing yourself to get the flexion back. It did take a long while for my leg to get close to straight again, if that helps? Again, your doctor will be best placed to guide you. As for actual look, my leg looks fine now, the scar barely visible.

  75. Its been one and half year since i had my acl surgery.Everything seems normal to me but i don’t feel the same of my knee as it used to be back then.I regularly hit the gym and have some pain when i do leg extension and curls and even while doing pushups and plank around the stitched area.But it wears off after some time.Is that normal and do u feel the same pls let me know.

    • Hi Chandrashekhar, what this long list of comments has told me is that everyone has a different ‘normal’ but at the same time, very few people seem to have a knee that is an good as it was before injury. My doctor did explain that the second I injured my knee, my healthy knee was gone for good – now it’s just a case of working to get it as healthy as I can. It may be that your scar tissue is hurting you? My current PT has been applying friction (rubbing) and this has helped with some of the aches and pains around my scar. Might be worth a go (use some moisturiser or oil). Hope this helps?

  76. Hi Jo, not a question, but a big thank you for a very helpful diary, and sympathy from a fellow sufferer. I had ACL surgery and meniscus repair just over seven months ago and I’m also enjoying the delights of rehabbing with valgus knee. In short, like you, my knees naturally point inwards, which was exacerbated in the operated knee (already the worst of the two pre injury) by the hamstring and VMO atrophy, and of course missing those two crucial tendons in the hamstring! Seemingly this configuration puts pressure on the fat pad and also, yes, hello our friend bursitis. Mine wasn’t acute like yours, more low level rumbling over the months after the surgery. Unlike yours, my hamstrings are also a bit rubbish, so this double whammy means I was still limping a bit until only recently and I can still feel the hamstring now waking around. Not as pain, so much as a “tense”, “remember that I’m still here” feeling. And yes, I still get occasional aches in the bursa area.
    BUT the good news is that the intensive strengthening IS working – touch wood. And yes, a good physio is worth their weight in gold. The alignment is improving, as is the fat pad. Early on you could see my knee slumping inwards from a mile off. Not really now. I am very careful though not to allow it to go inwards during squats, leg presses, deadlifts, lunges etc. It pretty much comes naturally now, but I still do keep an eagle eye, especially doing new exercises. My first side lunges the other day were awful! The knee still needs lots of work to catch up with its uninjured brother, but it’s worth it. We WILL both get better!

    • Hi Anca, thanks for giving me some further motivation. I’ve had to have some time away (persoanl matters) recently and everything has suffered including my knee strengthening. It does work, you’re right, and it’s motivation enough to get back on with things. I agree. We WILL both get better!

      • Hi joe this is something I’ll use with my recovery I’m 28 and just had my ACL done donevit playing Football and twisted and felt it and herd it snap like a branch pain was out of this world ! But I love you story and hope you’re life is loving to the maximum potential and your knee isn’t letting you down

        • Ouch! Hope the recovery goes well, Paul. I’m back at the gym at the moment doing some pretty dedicated strength training ready for spring and the hope I can get back to running (more than 5k) outdoors.

  77. Your article has been so informative, thank you so much for writing it! I haven’t yet had an MRI on my knee let alone surgery, but the physio I’ve seen reckons I’ve ruptured my ACL. Pretty devastating news since playing football is a passion of mine (that’s how I did the damage…) and I’m eager to find out just how long it will be before I’m on my feet running again, and eventually back on the pitch. I’m UK based and relying on the NHS so they can’t fit me in for a scan until the end of November. I should have asked more questions when I got my knee checked out with the physio at A&E but sometimes they only occur to you afterwards…
    How long did you have to wait to have surgery? (Obviously this ranges from place to place but just generally curious) Were you told to keep weight off your injured leg all that time? I’m eager to get this operation as soon as possible so I can get to healing already… it’s going to be a long winter!
    Thanks so much in advance for your reply 🙂 Happy to see your injury didn’t stop you from traveling!

    • Hi Sinead, it took me 9 months from injury to surgery but I genuinely think I got forgotten. My brother in law ruptured his acl and he is back to playing football so I hope that is some comfort. Try writing a list of questions now and take them to your next appointment.

  78. Hi , So I’m freaking out here … I am due to travel abroad to South Africa to have ACL Reconstruction surgery done , I work in a remote little part of Africa and thus for 2 years my injury was not even correctly diagnosed , its been 2 years since i injured myself playing football and after countless Physio sessions and subsequently getting reinjured i finally sent my original injury Scan to South Africa and they advised I had a torn ACL. I will now travel to S.A and have my procedure done in 2 weeks , however flying to another country (for 14 days) and having my procedure done whilst renting an apartment does seem overwhelming. Especially with the pain , immobility and fact I may need someone to care for me for a few days.any advice is appreciated

    having read very carefully I do realise each recovery is different
    A few questions :
    How long generally before you can move without crutches
    how long does the initial pain normally last ? (2 – 3 days)
    Would you be able to stand and shower using a shower sleeve
    I will be flying back within 10 days of my operation – its a short flight back to where I am based

    anything else I need to know based on my circumstances would be of great assistance

    • Hi Peter, although I stayed with family for a few days, I was able to look after myself. It is daunting but can be done. Just go steady and do some pre-planning like getting some easy cook food ready and clearing the pathways in the apartment. Everybody really is different. I’ve mentioned above that I was off crutches but hobbling only within a couple of days and I showered from day 1. My pain lasted a good while but the worst pain was a couple of days. Good luck.

  79. Hi, I had an ACL reconstruction 12 months ago and my knee is also making cracking/grinding noises (no pain). You mentioned certain strengthening exercises can stop this – did you try them and did they work?

    • Hi Roanne, I have been trying the exercises. I did notice some reduction in the noises so I believe they are working but then Christmas side tracked me so I need to get back on top of things. Good luck.

  80. I had acl repaired using patella tendon 14sept 2018, nearly 5 weeks since. Wound healing nicely but mobility wise I’m struggling with walking on any surface that has a slope, I’m fine on flat even surfaces but not on any other surface without using a crutch or linking someone!! I had a leg brace on for 6 months from injury to surgery and I also had a miniscus repaired in 2016 so leg very weak. I’m following physio to the letter but finding the whole process of learning to walk again very frustrating but scary at the same time, lots of mixed emotions going on here!! Any suggestions how to manage slopes better would be very much appreciated. Thanks

    • Hi Gill, sorry for the delay, you’ve probably climbed Everest by now. If not, ask your physio if there is any possibility of getting on a treadmill. If so, adding a very gradual incline over a very slow walking speed together with the handrails sounds like the safest way of tackling slopes. Hope this helps.

      • I just had ACL surgery and meniscus repair on Monday. I’m driving and walking stairs. The actual surgery location is not really bothering me much. Not even taking the pain meds. However the lower inside of my leg ( not even by a surgery site) hurts so bad right now that I can not touch it. It’s tender and the skin hurts. I’m stuck in between thoughts of a possible bloodclot or extremely bad bruising from my brace (torture apparatus) I go get my staples out in the a.m so I’m going to tell them. But I have not been using that sleeve thing because it was so tight. But after research I realized that I most def should have kept it on to avoid clotting. But the skin and lower leg hurts to much to wear it. Anyhow thanks for the article! Curious? Did your lower leg hurts? Not just the skin but the deep tissue as well?

        • Hi Likisha, I hope the doctor who removed your staples gave you comforting news about the pain and it was just a bruise. If it helps, my lower leg still hurts from time to time even now. It feels like it is ‘locked up’ and I’ve found resting my legs on pressure point balls (miracle balls I’ve mentioned in the post) really helps with general unlocking (cheaper than a sports massage). Stretchin also helps a lot for me.

      • I underwent the ALL inside technique with arthrex. I am currently 8 weeks out and jogging. It was a super fast recovery technique that is gaining a lot of attention here in the US. I HAD FULL ROM at 6 days. Full extension that same day of surgery, and walked without a limp and crutches on day 5.

        Hopefully, this technique will become widespread.

        • Hi Cari, I haven’t heard of arthrex. Sounds wonderful. I have become a little cynical since this post became so popular – with many medical people coming on here to try to promote their services. I hope yours is a legitimate comment. I’m only a little suspicious because this recover sounds close to miraculous. It would be great if you could share more information for everyone. Glad you’re recovering well.

      • Hi, I’m 54 and now almost 4 months post acl op. I can now manage slopes which were proving a real issue and today managed a 2 mile country walk, feel really pleased with myself and positive vibes at last. It has been a mixed journey with recovery having had a set back with an infection and also what felt like a floating piece of grit causing the knee to feel like every step was grating against the bone…no nhs physio allowed till I had a scan but a sports physio said to stationary cycle to try to move it…this did the trick and the grit and pain has at last gone!! All I can say is that this has been a long slow process and there is still a way to go till I get back to where I was before the damage was done to the knee but at last I’m feeling positive. Thanks for your posts, been a good help to know that it’s often not straight forward in recovery.

  81. Hi. This was great reading this. I had acl reconstruction as well as cartledge clean up and removal 8 weeks ago. My surgery went really well. In my mind I was recovering very well and this backed up by my physio and consultant. By week 5 I was walking with no limp, riding the excersize bike with no issues. The physio then got excited and asked me to have a go on a rowing machine. Although I had no pain during the 4 minutes I was on it the next day I couldn’t walk. I was back onto crutches for a week. I’m now the weeks on from this and still walking with a very bad limp, restricted extention and a Max bend of approx 90 degrees. Although in my mind I feel something has gone wrong with the surgery I keep getting tons is all good and it will all come back. I’m not so sure after also having it drained twice in this time due to excessive swelling. Hopefully time will tell.

    • Hi Philip, I’m no expert but I’m surprised that your physio put you on the rowing machine. I was explicitly told to avoid it but that might be because my legs and knees were not strong enough. I had a few setbacks and found that going back to those basic exercises really helped. I genuinely think that most recovery involves a few steps forward in a few steps back (excuse the pun). Hope you’re making progress.

  82. I had surgery with hamstring method in Lithuania. In my case i was awake all surgery and they disabled my legs only. They didnt put anything in my throat. They only put towel in front of me so i only was able to watch the surgery on monitor. After surgery i were not feeling sick. it was ok.
    My leg didnt look so bad. The holes was smaller than in theese pictures. After 2 days there was no pain at all. I am surprized that you was able to bend legs 45 degrees on first day because in my case i was able to do like 5 degrees. After 1 week i did 45 degrees, after 2 weeks – 90 degrees after 3 – 120 and after 4 – full bending. My doctor didnt allow me to start bending so soon. I think that your progression has become slow because your start was too hard.
    in my case the progression wasnt so quick but its not going slower at all. im not at week 5
    also i had only stiches and no staple.
    About the challenge in bathing it was completely true 😀

    • It really is fascinating to me how different these surgeries are around the world. Personally, I’d have fainted if I was able to watch the surgery but I’m squeamish. Glad to hear that you’re progressing. Hope the bathing has gotten easier.

  83. Hi,
    I’m going to be having acl surgery in December. I’m very nervous. I’ve been reading you article for months, thank you so much for all the information.

    I might have missed it in my reading but what did they use to reconstruct your knee, your hamstring or a cadaver?
    I had two doctors tell me different things, I am so confused.

    • Apologies to everybody for the delay in my replies. It’s been one family drama after another here. Let me try and get through all your comments. For my surgery they used a mix of my hamstring and something synthetic because my hamstring wasn’t fat enough! They did it without my knowledge and it’s disappointing that they can’t just give you the advice on what’s best for your knee. I’d try to press them on that if you can. Good luck with the operation.

  84. Thanks for sharing. I had my surgery 7 weeks ago and my experience is similar but with a few differences:
    -I have one less small incision
    -they used dissolving stitches
    -I had a post-op brace which made my life so much easier and gave me a lot of security and confidence
    -I had fluid build up in my shin that made it hypersensitive and extremely painful for a good 5 days days (the pain killers didn’t help). That set me back by a week.
    -the knee felt uncomfortable, but didn’t hurt after the second day
    -I stopped taking percocets every 4-6 hrs after day 2, but would wake up in the middle of the night when I would have to take one. I gradually reduced that to half a pill and then only acetaminophen/paracetamol
    -I should’ve started physio earlier, same with walking with 1 crutch
    -after one week with 1 crutch, I was able to walk without crutches

    • I don’t want to be jealous but why couldn’t my NHS throw down a bit of money for dissolving stitches. I would have paid! Hope the pain is gone now and that you’re progressing in your recovery.

  85. While I’m sure the procedure has changed since you were given it, I did not run in to most of the complications you hit. I was told I would be given a breathing tube. I was told the surgery would take 2 hours and the whole op start to finish (wearing off of general anesthesia) would take about 4 hours. I was told I’d be allowed to leave as soon as I could take fluid if my pain was managed. I was put on norco and had no pain during the first couple days. My medicine did wonders and the only problem was when I did my at home PT. I would say, having my mom as a registered nurse, reminding me you shouldn’t take off surgical bandaging for at least 3 days helped me to remeber but I’m sure it wouldn’t have been too big a deal if I hadn’t. I would recommend marking on your blog that doctors don’t recommend taking off the dressing until a few days post op but even if you don’t I’m sure that your readers will be informed enough before making their own choices. I followed the exact steps set by my doctor and while I am only one month into recovery I already feel so much stronger than presurgery (I had a complete Sever.) Iwohld reccomend for anyone reading this to research their doctor because my doctor was absolutely amazing and transparent through the entire process starting at my first X-ray and MRI.

  86. I recently had my ACL rebuilt and a bit of cartledge rwmoved on the 9th of August nearly a month in am bending the knee 101 degrees and extending it perfectly flat. I’m very surprised how different my surgery was compared to yours as I didn’t have any tube down my throat or anything like that just the needle in the back of the hand also have dissolveable stitches and two tiny normal stitches so I’m relieved to not have had the same process that you went through as it seems you had a harder ordeal. However in terms of normal walking how long does it generally take? My physio is trying to get me to lift my good leg and put the weight on my right leg but it sticks to the ground like glue and my brain won’t let it move.

    • Hi Lewis, it really does seem like no two surgeries are alike! Same with the recovery. It almost felt like learning to rewalk again, remembering to properly roll my foot and put full weight on it. I suppose I would say it’s one of those things I noticed a while down the line when I ran down the stairs to answer the door and thought – oh, I did that normally. I’d give yourself time. It will happen.

  87. Do you have any pain when you walk in general? Also when it rains does your knee seem to ache at all or anything.Im 17 having mines August 20th

    • Hi Andy, I can get general pain from time to time, even when I walk but it’s not usually enough to make me stop. I haven’t noticed any difference whether it rains or not. I think this might be something older (than me) people experience. My mum is 70 and frequently complains about cold weather pain in a knee she broke years ago. Good luck with the op.

  88. Hi Jo
    Thank you so much for posting your ACL reconstruction story!!
    You can’t imagine just how useful and informative it was in helping me prepare mentally for my surgery and knowing what I would expect (also here in the UK) – I am almost 2 weeks post op now and am doing OK but I have two quick questions
    1) Can you share how was you hamstring after surgery? Although thankfully I don’t have much knee pain, the hamstring is a different story. When did you feel that your hamstring was back to normal?
    2) Given that they put some kind of screws on the knee for the graft, do they sound when you go through metal detectors in airports?

    • Hi Ana, I’m pleased my post has been useful. To answer your questions: 1) I had zero problems with my hamstring because I have some hypermobility (pre-op, a physio tested my hamstring stretch and declared it to be that of an elite athlete, which made me laugh as I thought about the burger I’d had for lunch). Upshot: I seem to have about the same stretch ability as I did before and had it from day 1 post-surgery. I’m not saying this to make you feel bad. I’ve had plenty of other difficulties that other people have breezed through, which highlights that everyone is different. Have you thought of yoga for some hamstring stretches? I’m sure it will come back? Speak to your physio and keep up the exercises – 2 weeks post op is still really early. 2) I regularly go through airport security and can confirm they do not set them off. Hope that helps. Good luck with the hammy.

  89. Hi Jo,

    Thanks for the article.

    I think my surgery was fairly unique compared to a lot of people in here.

    I completely ruptured my acl, however had no meniscus damage. The MRI was not conclusive as to whether or not my lateral meniscus was damaged. So, I had a deep sense of trepadition going in to the surgery, not knowing if I would end up with a partial menisectomy or not.

    I opted to take a spinal block rather than general anaesthetic. Spinal blocks are common for women undergoing c-sections. They basically allow you to stay awake and conscious during the operation without feeling anything below you waste. I chose this path as general has consequences such as grogginess and nausea after the surgery which spinal does not have. Also, my surgeon set up a television screen so that I could watch the inside of my knee through his arthroscope. I’m not really a squeamish person, and just felt this great sense of elation as my surgeon was showing me a healthy and undamaged meniscus. I went to sleep feeling great after surgery because of this. Another benefit of spinal blocks is that they require far less of the actual drug. My anaethetist explained to me during the operation that I was having just 4mls of anaesthesia rather than 75mls that general requires, plus general then requires constant inhalation of sedatives as you know.

    For the donor site I took a quadriceps graft. The reasons for this are: lower donor site morbidity as compared to patella, and a larger harvest site as compared to hamstrings. My surgeon has samples of mris of former patients operated on and shows that the harvest sire filled in with scar tissue over about a year.

    So far I am 2.5 weeks in to the recovery, am able to put about 80% of my weight on to my knee now. Can fully straighten my leg, and can bend it to about 80% as well.

    Was operated on in my home town of Hobart, Tasmania in private health.

    • Wow – thanks for sharing details about the spinal block. I didn’t realise this was an option. I personally, would have fainted anyway, right about when I saw the scalpel but if there are other brave souls reading this, I’m sure it will be helpful. Also useful to know about the quad graft. My hamstring turned out to be not big enough so I have a hybrid with a synthetic graft. Quad might have been interesting if I’d had the choice. Great work on the recovery. Hope it continues to go well.

  90. Thank you for all of this. Makes me feel much better about my own progress. I’m currently 5.5 months post op, and am apparently progressing well. I had to deal with a nasty, nasty tear of my meniscus as well, which left me non weight bearing and on crutches for 6 weeks post op before I could really begin my rehab.

    One glaring difference I see in PT protocol between US and UK, is the importance put on extension. My PT has said from day 1. That extension is the single most important part of rehab. And, we would often spend upwards of 30 minutes each session early on, working on that. At 5.5 months, I’m almost not concerned at all with it. I can manually get full extension out of the leg, and hoping to be done with that within next month.

    Sounds like you are doing well. I’m starting my return to run program now, and should begin very, very short jogging spurts on the treadmill tomorrow. My main question reading your article was the feeling of rice krispies in my knee, and it sounds like I have many more months of that to look forward to.

    Good luck on the remained of your recovery, and thank you for the well written account of your journey.

    • Hi Richard, yes – that is a good amount of time on extension. I wish I’d done more work to get my hyper extension back but I was too nervous to push it too far (risk: ping). I would get your rice crispies checked out. I’ve recently seen another physio and it looks like mine might be crepsis, caused by mis-alignment of my knee. Fixable, apparently and best to fix it. Hope your recovery continues.

      • Hi, thanks for the article. I have been following it with interest since my surgery, 15 months ago. So many shared experiences :(. From all of my countless hours of research, I think the truth is that knees are still a bit of mystery to the the medical profession. While they do a pretty good job and while most people benefit from ACL surgery, the truth is that they don’t REALLY know how to get you back to square one. I mean it wasn’t too long ago that they thought the meniscus was a redundant body part. And then there’s the LARS ligament. How the heck that ever made it past medical trials is beyond me. Arthritis is of-course still a massive issue and from all i have read they still dont really understand the nature of it or why it occurs in post surgical knees.

        my ortho told me that he expected me to make a “full recovery”, and don’t get me wrong its a pretty good result. I can pretty much do everything i did before the surgery, albeit
        not as well, and i don’t have any real pains or aches anymore. But to my mind a “full recovery” really should be a knee that is just like it used to be. and that it aint :(. and as i say nothing alarming but with ongoing stiffness and tightness in the knee and all manner of popping and crackling i cant say it FEELS very “normal”. and of course it makes you wonder if all this stuff is just a prelude to worsening symptoms down the track.

        By the way does anyone get popping/grinding sounds when bending the knee while lying on your side. this is probably the one sound that still bothers me. I dont have any pain from it, uncomfortable perhaps but no real pain. The thing that concerns me about it is that it sounds like it is coming from INSIDE the knee itself, as opposed to all the other noises i get which come from the patella. Id be interesed to know if anyone has an explanation or similar experience?

        Only thing i wonder about your story is the lack of leg extension! I have heard in many places that this can cause problems in the long term. I was very lucky. I had nearly full extension at about 1 month and by 6 months I had almost full flexion and hyper-extension (maybe there is still half a degree difference but its very little ). Anyway i wonder if you wouldn’t benefit from looking into this further?


        • Hi Jack, I still get popping sounds. Apparently this is largely stiffness so maybe look into some stretching exercises? I just couldn’t get the flexion back – I keep trying with yoga but so far, pushing it too far causing my knee to pop and grind with pain for days. I agree, I think this is all still very new territory. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Hi Richard – you mentioned that you felt that starting on extension was very important in the process; you also mentioned that you really couldn’t start on PT until about 6 weeks due to your bad tear. Then you mentioned, your PT started on extension “Day 1”. Did you mean after the 6 weeks, you started on extension? You referred to it as “Day 1” but then above said you couldn’t really do anything for 6 weeks. Just hoping you can clarify. I also am on crutches for about 4 weeks, no weight bearing and my PT will start in about 4 weeks. I am worried that I should be doing some extension during the 4 weeks at home before PT starts. If you could comment that would be great – thanks! Melissa

  91. Hi, Jo
    Just came across your article regarding your ACL Repair Surgery and I loved it. Just like you I keep doing research on the internet but there is no really live experiences that I could relate too. Thank you. I ruptured my knee in my dream vacation to Machu Picchu. On my 2nd day, hiking to the Sun Gate, I placed by foot wrong in those called “stairs used by the incas” and fell. My surgery is booked for October 5, 2018, but just like you I love/need to travel so I am going on vacation in September and already have a Mediterranean cruise booked for my week 12 post op. Wish me luck! I am sure my experience will be different, as I live in Canada, and they already gave me a post brace and I have to attend a workshop before the surgery (sigh ??). Thank you for all of the information that you provided. It did help! Now, I am going to read your postings on Travel since I also love to travel.

    • Oh what a horrible thing to have happen when you’re in Peru. I was in the British Virgin Islands so I know how devastating it can be to bust your knee in . dream location. I went away a couple of times pre-surgery and I was actually okay. I was more careful than usual but had no issues. There are a few Canadians who have commented so you might be able to get some tips if you read through the above (though I’ve not heard about the workshop before). I wish you a lot of luck and a speedy return to your travels.

  92. Great write-up. Did they ask u to do patellar mobilization and ask you to use TENS machine? I had a bucket handle tear repair and ACL reconstruction. But lots of stiffness and pain even after 5 weeks.

    • Hi Sri, I wasn’t asked to do patella mobilisation or use a TENS machine but I’ve seen that some people have been asked to use TENS. In fact, almost everybody seems to have been asked to do something different! I’d do what your doctors tell you and I don’t think stiffness and pain after five weeks is abnormal but if you’re concerned, speak to your therapist.

  93. Hi Jo, great piece and that’s for taking the time to document your recovery. I haven’t been able to find many realistic ACL recovery resources online, mostly just medical / physio services discussing their own strategy and of course the post-op rehab has to be patient / circumstance specific so these are not much help in knowing best / worst case scenario of what to expect! I’m a 45 year old guy and, prior to a skiing accident in March this year was a very active runner – 10 and 21ks runs 4-5 times a week and HIIT classes 4-5 times…as you can imagine, this surgery has been a horrible experience! I had an allograft using donated tissue as it was felt to be less invasive and preserves the hamstring, I also had a grade 2 tear to my MCL and a bucket-handle tear to my meniscus that was trimmed. I had to wait around 6 weeks to allow the MCL tear to heal before surgery so I’m only 12 weeks post op now and it just feels like it is taking forever. My surgeon swears blind everything is normal, my physic (at $150 a week!) tells me everything is normal but it’s disheartening to read other physio plans that have people jogging at 12 weeks… I can shuffle on a treadmill for about 20 seconds and I’m still experiencing a lot of pain in the knee… I can’t squat fully on my haunches and my leg will not go fully ‘straight’ – it’s close and can be manipulated into position but it’s still a few degrees off. I can walk fairly normally and tackle stairs. I’m doing a lot of cycling and using a cross trainer, squats and lunges to build strength but I’m very disappointed to not be able to run again at the moment. I think the key takeaway from your story is to remember that everyone will recover at their own pace. Despite what the medics may tell us, there is no single ‘plan’ for recovery and a lot will depend on pre-op fitness, the extent of the injury, the surgery itself and of course post-op exercise… it’s actually surprisingly tough psychologically especially if pre-op, your life was driven by sport and exercise so staying positive and not getting despondent is just as important for recovery. I might give the yoga a try, that seems like a good tip and I’m lucky enough to be living in Asia at the moment so maybe the odd massage will help. Thanks again for telling your story, I found it very helpful at a time when I needed to be reminded that we will all go at our own pace… Good luck for the future.

    • Hi Eric, I’m sure your activity levels before your surgery will put you in a good place for recovery. It can be frustrating and feel very slow. If your doctor and physio think you’re doing well, it sounds like it might just be patience. You will get back to running. I thought I’d never run again and eventually did, even if it wasn’t as soon so I would have liked. I would definitely give yoga a try. If you’re new to it and a bit unsure, check out the reluctant yogi which talks about all of the scientific benefits behind yoga. Often frustration is psychological and may be doing some yoga will give you a sense of achievement, distracting you from your running shoes for a while. Also get those massages going! Happy recovery..

      • I’m looking at having acl reconstruction I have just found out that when I had a previous operation on a ruptured acl that the hospital in London England actually removed my acl and did not tell me. I have since just had an accident where my miniscus is trapped and folded over when my knee gave way so have been advised to also have an acl reconstruction (as don’t have one). I’m quite active and bit gutted that I don’t have one and is now playing on mind. Would you say this in your opinion is an operation worth happening I’m 42 years of age ?

        • Who removes an acl without telling the patient?!?! Also – ouch on the trapped meniscus. I think yours is a tough decision. On the one hand, you’ve been living without the acl without issue but it sounds like this might have been what caused you to fall and trap your meniscus? If that’s the case and you’re going in for meniscus surgery anyway, I’d personally get the acl repaired while they’re in there. For me, there is nothing more terrifying than the idea of an unstable knee. However, I come at this from the perspective of wanting to hike mountains and worrying about falling off. If you do a desk job and exercise is lifting a TV remote control twice a night, getting the repair might be less important. I’m now 42 (2 years post op) and I can see there is huge recovery advantage in having the surgery done sooner rather than later so keep that in mind because you’re never younger than you are right now. Good luck.

  94. Hi
    I am manoj 3 months ago I had acl with laterial meniscus arthroscopy surgery (oprt) but pcl grade ll not oprt so please recovery time

    • Hi Manoj, everybody is different and also I’m not a doctor so I can’t give you a time frame. Are you able to ask your doctor or physiotherapist?

  95. Had mine on Tuesday. Anaesthetic protocols must differ between hospitals because I didn’t have any tubes put into me or anything up the bum, as far as I know. If I’d read this first I would probably have asked!

    Some really helpful tips here, thank you. I have one suggestion to add. I am paranoid about infection and bought a shower sleeve to put over my knee to keep it dry in the shower. The recommendation was to keep the original dressings on for two weeks and I intend not to mess with them.

    I took the co-codamol for a day but it zonked me out, went down to just paracetamol and can now tolerate the pain without painkillers, four days post-op. That said, I refuse anaesthetic at the dentist so I am probably a bit weird in that respect.

    I saw a couple of different physios after my ACL tear who recommended specific exercises for achieving hyperextension that I have also adopted following the surgery. One involves putting a towel below the knee and lifting the foot. The other targets the quadratus medialis obliqus (QMO) and involves the use of a TENS machine (got mine on Amazon) to electrically activate that muscle. I haven’t started on these again yet but will work them in next week. I’d recommend them for you as they really helped me get my knee super-stable again even without my ACL: no popping out during ordinary activities, and back to being able to do the clean and jerk in the gym. The QMO is quite difficult to target without the TENS machine apparently.

    • ‘As far as I know’ ;p A shower sleeve is a great suggestion. It really is interesting how the advice differs because I was told to take my dressing off within the first 48 hours. I’d have happily left the scar covered for about six months, not wanting to see it! I don’t suppose you have the details of the QMO exercise. It might be a bit too late for me but I’m prepared to give anything a crack because I still don’t have full hyperextension 🙁

  96. I wish I’d come across your blog two weeks ago! I’m currently 7 days (and a few hours) post-op, though I had my ACL and ALL repaired as well as a meniscus trim. That means I have the two camera holes, two rows of staples on the front of my knee, and a third on the outside, that crosses the bendy part.

    Like you, I’m 5 feet tall. Unlike you, I’m 48 and not terribly fit. I didn’t realize I’d be intubated so I stupidly took a Benadryl the night before surgery. Talk about dry! I was retching in Recovery and they kept insisting it was from the meds but it was really because I was THAT dry!

    My hospital – I’m in the US in Texas – didn’t make me do any range of motion stuff. But they did send me home with my leg locked straight and a nifty contraption that delivered cooling and compression. (I get to keep it for a month).

    I got the brace off on Monday, and will likely get the staples out on the 23rd. My first PT is tomorrow (July 19).

    My husband has been an angel. Cooking, cleaning, helping me shower and get to the bathroom safely. Putting together my shower chair. I can’t imagine going through this alone.

    Looking forward to reading the travel part of your blog. But thank you for this post.

    • I will have to go and Google what an ALL is! I’ve been hearing about this cooling device – I wish I’d been offered one. Nice to have your husband helping though I bet you can’t wait to get back on your feet. Hope the rest of your recovery goes well!

  97. Very nice and informative article. I have my surgery tomorrow and I’ve been all day up on the net reading blogs for in depth details related to the progress one has to achieve after surgery. I’ve been super scared to dedicate so much time post rehab and reading this article has motivated me that it’s difficult but not impossible. Beautifully explained and not exaggerated compared to other articles. It is what it is. Thank you for the information. Wishing you great hikes ahead. I also did break it while trekking. Wishing to trek in another year though.

    • Difficult but not impossible – great summary! Hope the surgery goes well, the recovery better and you’re hiking in no time at all.

  98. Hi Jo,

    Thank you so much for this post, this is exactly what I was looking for. I’m 8 weeks post-ACL reconstruction surgery now. After reading your article and comments, I felt that I’m not the only person going through this. ACL reconstruction surgery is one of the most common surgeries and I read so much about the recovery process but never found any article that tells about someone’s experience and how it impacts your day-to-day life and mental health. I can totally relate my story to yours (I was horrified too after seeing the knee bending machine :P).

    So here’s my story – I’m 29 yrs old and live in New York. I just slipped on black ice outside my apartment building (I wish I had a more dramatic story :P) in March 2018 and tore ACL and meniscus (bucket handle tear) of my right knee. My knee got locked up so had to go through meniscus surgery with a week (on March 16). Had a lot of swelling so my surgeon couldn’t do ACL at the same time. Then had my ACL reconstruction surgery on May 18. My recovery is going okay. Have 130 ROM but still walking with a limp.

    I’m (or was) a very active person and travel a lot for work and leisure. I started going to office last week as Dr. asked me to avoid New York trains so been working from home since the injury but now my stamina has gone down so much. Did it take you a long time to build back your stamina? Also, I have been REALLY scared to walk outside or do anything outdoors, that I might fall again. Did you experience anything like that? I want to overcome this fear.

    I’m turning 30 this year so my husband and I are planning a ten day trip to Greece end of September. I will be 18 weeks post-op then. My surgeon OK’d it but I’m not sure if I will have enough stamina by then to do a ten day trip. Definitely have to avoid a few activities like hiking etc. Were you really tired on your Italy trip? I know everyone’s body is different, but just looking for some opinions..

    Thanks again for sharing for experience! Hope you are well now!

    • Hi Suruchi, thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure you’ll get back to being a very active person soon. It’s great that you had your surgery pretty quickly and although the limping is worrying it might just be a matter of time – I limped for a while. Part of it was an adapted way of walking to protect my knee rather than me having an actual limp. I definitely had and still have fears of falling. I found yoga great for that because it helps with balance in a controlled environment. If you’re anything like I was, the first few days of your trip will be exhausting but you will come on leaps and bounds (sorry for the pun). Just go steady and don’t forget to keep up your elevation and icing each night. Hope you have an amazing trip – getting your knee in the sun will probably do it wonders. Because

  99. Hi Jo,

    I’m waiting on ACL surgery how which is how I found your blog. Just wondering what part of the UK you’re in and how long did you have to wait on the NHS. I’m considering private in the UK or Europe as my mobility is very poor and declining rapidly. I injured it 5 months ago.


    • Hi Belinda, I had my surgery near Liverpool and I waited over nine months for the surgery. I think I got missed or bumped because I had the pre-op check in May and had to have it again in September. Private surgery is expensive, I also explored it so I’d recommend giving the hospital a call to see if you can chase them up before you spend lots of money.

      • 9 months! Yikes. I’m in Canada, my accident was 3 weeks ago xcountry skiing (who destroys their knee xcountry skiing??), only just got the Unhappy Triad results from my private $600 MRI and have been told to expect months of waiting for surgery also. I’m used to doing 10-15km runs several times a week and lots of other activity and this is horrible. My Jack Russell is my running buddy and he’s none too pleased either, the poor little guy. I feel like I’ve just blown the next year of my life…waiting sucks!

        • Hi Karen, this was in the UK that I had a 9 month wait. Fingers crossed your surgery is quicker. I did actually do some running before surgery. Mostly on a treadmill but it was running. Good luck.

        • I am not sure if this is correct to make a comment. My son is a provincial rugby player and a national waterpolo player . Tore acl last thurs. Will be having op on tues, 25 June. He is really hoping to get back to rugby on month 10. As have 2 other local players. He is 17. Any advice for a sad mom. We are in South Africa.

          • I might be wrong because your son is young and fit but based on the advice I was given, impact sports are off the table for at least a year and then it’s slowly returning rather than straight into competitions. Have you asked his doctor?

    • Hi Arun, I’m not even sure what a knee cap is so the answer would be no. I don’t know if anybody else reading these comments has any experience with this?

        • Hi Akash, my physio told me that knee supports don’t really do much other than remind you to be careful. I’ve not really used them. Hope that helps?

            • So frustrating that companies are allowed to promote products like this that don’t actually help but will cost you money!

  100. Hii..

    I had acl reconstuction 6 weeks back….what is the maximum distance which i can walk now??
    I repeat walk not run or jog.

    • Hi, everybody is different and I’m not a doctor or physiotherapist so I’m not able to give you a number of kilometres or miles. What I would suggest is speaking to your physiotherapist to find out what is reasonable overall as well as for you personally. If that’s not possible, making sure you improve your distance each week but without pushing yourself too far or injuring yourself can be a good goal. Slow and steady wins the race as the saying goes. Good luck with the recovery.

  101. Hi! I enjoyed reading your experience. I am on Day 4 post surgery of medial and lateral meniscectomy and ACL reconstruction. I actually have a rare condition (bilateral congenital absence of ACL) so this is actually just the first time experiencing having one. Eventually next year, I will have another operation for my right knee. Fun and no fun LOL. Glad to know there is light at the end of the tunnel and recovery doesn’t take that much forever.

    • Wow, Marie – you’re the first person on here to go from not having to having an ACL. I can’t imagine what that must be like! Although the surgery is a chore and the recovery more so, I hope your enjoying having stability in your knee at last.

  102. Thanks for this really helpful blog, Jo. I’m due to have ACL reconstruction & “tidying-up” of my torn meniscus next week. I sustained the injury just over a year ago, eventually saw the consultant in December, and have been waiting for surgery since then.
    It’s really helpful to have an insight as to what to expect. I’m busy sorting out what I need to put downstairs as my stairs are really steep and narrow, so I might not manage them for a while.
    Desperately hoping I’ll be able to go to a festival at the end of August, so I’ll be doing what the physio says, in order to be sufficiently mobile.
    Will be popping a bag of honey & lemon sweets in my hospital bag, so thanks for that tip.
    I’ve been told I’ll have to stay in for one night, possibly 2.
    I do have the advantage of having it done when the weather’s warm, so skirts or shorts will be the order of the day. As I’m 52, I realise my recovery may be slower than all the fit young things, but I’ll put in the work.
    Thanks again, Sarah

    • Hi Sarah, you not that much older than I am (I’m now 42) but I agree it does get a bit harder as you get older. That said, sounds like you have a very positive attitude and that can be half of the battle. Hope you make it to the festival and your knee is saved from having to wade through mud!

  103. Hello Jo,

    The experiences you have shared as well as the feedback you’re receiving from your readers somehow gave me a sigh of relief during my rehabilitation process.

    I came across your article after searching the web for the real life experiences about pre and post surgery of acl reconstruction.

    After i torn my acl since last 2003 which was more than a decade ago, it was only last January 2018 that i had it repaired here in Austria. To have my acl reconstructed with miniscus tear being repaired as well, were all just a dream for me before. My family cannot afford to have it fixed back then in my home country. My surgeon here in Austria cannot even imagine how i managed to carry this situation of knee after i told him that i could still even play basketball as one of my favorite sports even with an acl knee although there were times that it really hurts.

    To share my experiences post surgery and during rehabilitation, it was good that i was in Austria now that the surgery was all paid by the health insurance. Also, i was allowed to take 8weeks to leave from work where the first 6weeks, i am receiving 100% full payment of my salary from the company i am working and the remaining 2 weeks, only 50% from the company and the other 50% were paid by the health insurance. This really helped me a lot to focus myself in recovery.

    Anyway, the first 3 months for me is the toughest part of rehabilitation. I was a good student to my physical therapist. She had tought me a lot of squatting and stretching exercises for me to reach the full reflexion and extension of my knee comparable to my normal knee in the first 2months. Cycling and squatting in the gym as well as leg press exercises were few of things that i am doing still until now which i guess helped me strengthen my knee faster and safer.

    I am on my way now to my 6monthsary and have started to run 10km on the road just last week. Although it was not as fast as my usual pace before i had my surgery, but i can feel now the significant difference to my knee after they have it fixed. It is way better and stable now.

    What i could suggest and advise is that, follow your therapist’s advise and if you have time, give more dedication to squatting, leg press exercises and cycling as well. These really helped me a lot. As what my therapist said, rehab process for this kind of injury after the surgery needs a lot of patience and dedication. Also, always listen to your body for you to assess when to push yourself or stop from doing certain routines during exercises….. Thanks….. Rey

    • Hi Rey, I’m so envious of your ability to reach 10k. In all fairness, it had been a while since I’d run a 10k pre-op but these days I don’t seem able to get past the 5K mark (a combination of unfitness, pain and general worry that I’m going to wear my knee out). Thanks for sharing your gym routine. I could definitely do more by way of leg strengthening so thanks for the reminder.

  104. Thank you for sharing your experience, I’m shocked at how many people have experienced little to no pain!?! I’m coming up to well one after surgery and I’m not having a fun time. In alot of pain, finding walking with two crutches not amazing, my leg gets sore after not too long a time. And I completely struggle with the heel drag exercise that bends your knee, doing that exercise reduces me to tears. So it’s good to see your journey with all its ups and downs and I’m definitely going to refer back to your journey as support and hope that there is light on the other side. Thank you.

    • Hi Susy, it was the constant stories of how easy the surgery and recovery would be that prompted me to write this post because my experience was different and painful and I suspected that a lot of the stories I heard were bravado (surely not a hundred percent of the people who have the surgery were pain-free and skipping in a week?). I hope the rest of your recovery goes well.

  105. Well, I’m going in for my second ACL reconstruction surgery on Tuesday. First one was 12 years ago. Sometime in the past 12 years it’s torn again, this time more gradually as there wasn’t one acute moment like the first time.

    Getting myself psyched up for the long rehab and enjoying my final couple days of being mobile!

    Thanks for the article….great read!


    • Hope the op went well Randy and good luck with the recovery. Sucks to have to go through this again but at least you know that recovery is possible.

  106. Thank you so much for your honest account, I’m on week 2 post op, about to have staples removed tomorrow, and I’m nervous to say the least! I’m also a dog walker, so I rely on my legs for money, basically lol looking forward to being back to a more normal level of health!

    • Hi Sophie, I hope you’re back up walking those doggies soon. I’m sure your extensive walking pre-surgery and having to walk a lot post surgery will do you the power of good in the long term.

  107. Hi Jo

    Great to read your experience, I had complete ruptured ACL and flipped bucket handle tear of meniscus October 2017. Finally got surgery in late January 2018, have been discharged by surgeon this month. Still experiencing pain/aching when walking and then stiffening up when sat for too long but hoping will reduce over more time with physio and hopefully regain full extension. I’m usually an assistance dog trainer and been advised not to return to that until 9 months post surgery so in more of an admin role for now – too many twists, turns, kneeling and risk of re-injury etc. Just started at the gym about a month ago, swimming/cycling/crosstrainer/treadmill in the main and then using some leg weight machines. I’m missing going to proper exercise classes to be honest and not sure which/when really! Sounds dramatic but still finding general life exhausting and being motivated is a struggle at times!! Just impatient I guess.

    • Hi Sarah, the frustration sets in pretty quickly, doesn’t it. Once I got over the initial hurdles (excuse the pun), I was so fed up with my seemingly slow progress. It’s great you’re back at the gym. Stick with it and maybe keep a progress diary – it might help with your motivation. Good luck!

  108. I found this the most scary and discouraging article out there. (Besides the last bit) there is nothing useful in this article for someone who is in pain, anxious and recovering. I am 6 weeks post op now and want to encourage everyone to know it is all not as dramatic and there will be positivity in their life again! It has been extremely tough and painful, no doubt, but is and won’t be as hopeless and bad as this article makes you feel. Stay strong!

    • Hi Yv, it’s interesting you talk about positivity and then leave such a critical remark. And I’m a little offended by your insult – this isn’t a dramatic article. It’s an account of my experience. No drama added. Just my reality. I’m pleased your post op experience is going well. Other people have found this post (and the comments from others) reassuring even when they are in pain. Especially when they are in pain. I’m glad you’re trying to share the upside of your experience. But I’d encourage you to search for a bit more empathy when commenting in spaces like this. Happy healing.

      • I, on the other hand, have found your article extremely positive, uplifting and inspiring.

        I am due to have a surgery in a few months.
        I love your sense of humour and the way that you make it sounds like a “normal” human experience, it really makes me see the surgery as a common occasion. I also really like your structured and honest, detailed report. Really, thanks a lot for writing this. It takes so much courage to open up to the public about a vulnerable experience like this, but I am glad that you did as it gives me confidence in my own journey.
        Thanks a lot!!!

        • Hi Anya, I’m glad that you found this post useful. And I wish you well with your own surgery and recovery. It can be a challenge but you will get there!

  109. I appreciate all your comments about knee surgery and what things to expect and plan for. It is good to know that you won’t be able to eat for a long time, I think I would have the same trouble with that as you did. I injured my knee in college, and probably need a surgery on it now as I’ve put more strain on it. So I will be sure to bring things you suggested, like throat lozenges and tea or something that I could drink to stave off the hunger.

    • Honestly, the not eating was the most painful part ;p Hope you get your knee fixed. (Btw, I deleted the spammy link promoting knee surgeons – not cool. People are in here to get genuine advice from each other. It’s not an opportunity for your private surgeon company to make a quick buck with a free ad).

  110. Hi jo,

    This article is great. I found out today that I have the unhappy triad – complete tear of acl, mcl and meniscus. I’m so scared I can’t even tell you, but this article has put me at ease a bit and it goes to show hard work will eventually pay off!! Thank you, and I hope you are well.

    • Thanks Daniella – I’m glad you’ve found some reassurance here. I cried when I got the triad news. But as soon as I’ve posted this, I’m off to do some yoga 🙂 Good luck with your recovery!

    • Hi Danielle,
      I also had the unhappy triad following a ski in accident in Feb 2016. I underwent 2 operations – the first in July 2016 to see if the meniscus could be saved (it couldn’t so was removed) and the second in March 2017 – the BIG one – where I had both my acl and mcl reconstructed using hamstrings from both my left and right knee. I can echo a lot of what Jo experienced and would go on to say that post operatively you have to trust your physiotherapist and work work work, following all their advice and it will pay off. I was able to return to skiing earlier this year – 10 months after my reconstructive surgery, and whilst I didn’t go crazy, it was still fantastic to return to a sport I love. I’m no spring chicken by the way, – 57 y -so if I can do it so can you. Good luck x

  111. Hello Jo,

    thank you so much for such a insightful post on ACL,
    while playing tennis 4 days back, i completely ruptured my ACL,

    iam travelling to UK in 15 days and Russia in 45 days.

    i want to carry on with these two trips and then when i get back i intend to get the ACL Reconstruction surgery done,

    i want your advice if my thinking is correct

    my intention is to be able to walk for 2 months so i can safely travel with a brace and then come back and get the surgery done.

    thank you so much

    • Hi Karan, everybody is different. My leg locked up after the injury so I had trouble walking even with a brace. If you’re able to walk and be careful (to not fall/cause more damage), I don’t see why you couldn’t take your trips – though keep in mind I’m not medically trained in any way. I waited 9 months for surgery so I can’t imagine waiting 2 months will cause more harm unless you fall and make things worse. I would personally reconsider carry-on. If you have an unstable knee, adding extra weight to your body doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. Hope that helps. Have a great and safe trip.

  112. Thanks for your blog! Its reassuring to read someones account of the surgery and aftermath! I’m due to have mine done next week, i’ll have lots of help once at home, for 2/3 weeks, but am nervous of how i’ll manage a household of two dogs and two young boys once everyone’s back to their own lives! It’s the little things like when will i be able to vacuum again!

    • Hi Samantha, I hope the surgery went well. I also hope you’re getting enough recovery time – sounds like you have a very busy household. Personally, I’d use it as an excuse to ditch the vacuuming for a while ;p Otherwise, if you have a bit of spare cash, why not treat yourself to a cleaning service for a few weeks? Best of luck with the recovery.

  113. Thanks for this.
    I had surgery 1 week ago. I’m 32 completely tore acl skiing 2 months ago.
    Had hamstring graft, no meniscus or other injuries. On nhs. Home the same day. Had a block and GA so once the block wore off once painful.
    I expected it to be painful but didn’t realize how exhausted I would feel.
    Took painkillers 6hrly for 3-4 days now and had a week of anti inflammatories which have helped.
    I have surprisingly little bruising. Swelling has gone down a lot.
    I am able to walk around my flat without crutches and have been out a few times. Yesterday I took one crutch as I don’t feel I need 2.
    I haven’t achieved full extension but hoping soon. I have physio tomorrow so will see what they say.

    It seems like it’s a really long recovery process. Thank god for Netflix.

    • Sounds like your recovery is on great track. Yes, it is a long recovery but absolutely worth it. Good luck with the physio! And yes, Netflix is a blessing when you’re laid up!

      • I am just over 12 months having my acl reconstruction done plus the surgeon removed 60% of my meniscus, my knee is very stable and strong but do you feel more pain then you did before? My knee feels very strong and I haven’t held back on anything now I can run a 5-10 km run easily but I seem to have more consistent pain/stiffness that I did before I am just curious of how this relates to your experience???

        • Hi Mike, I’m impressed you’re running your 10ks. I’ve not been able to push past 5k (but that’s general lack of fitness at the moment I think). I do have more knee pain than before. I think it’s just part of the injury but I’d still recommend getting it check out just to be sure. Presume you’re doing a decent warm up and have good running shoes?

          • Hi,

            Great information and appreciate you replying almost all comments too.

            What shall be good running shoes ? How to rightly select them.

            My son got ACL torn 100% last March’18. We identified now only. Due to his school, can plan surgery next May’19 as then he may get 3 months for rehab at home. In winter only 3 weeks off, can not imagine pain recovery in 2 weeks time reading such info, though doctor claims patient can start walking in few days and then staying in hostel.

            He has some pain all the time but was going around in his school and use stairs too. Though at times complain for some sudden knee instability even post exercise. Cycling is suggested but not knee braces, doubting hamstring may become week. Cycling further told better only in gym to avoid any Indian potholes or sudden even while cycling on road.

            But doctor create fear about other ligaments tears like PCL bucking, medial tear which may arise arthritis.

            • Hi Nalin, I bought a new pair of running shoes after my surgery, mainly because my old ones had worn out. Before surgery I was a runner for years and have for a long time bought my running shoes from a shop that assesses your run on a treadmill before recommending a particular type of shoe (I used to pronate – bend my foot in, which cause problems – but have since corrected this). It sounds expensive but I often get the advice on the style of shoe and then ask to buy last season’s stock (I don’t care about running shoe fashion) which does the job so long as it has the right amount of cushioning/fit for me. Otherwise, if that kind of service isn’t available, I’d go for a good brand with good grip on the soles, cushioning and support. My favourite brands are Asics and New Balance. I’d avoid anything designed for fashion rather than exercise also, get a rubber not plastic sole. I picked up my last pair of Asics for around $50 on Amazon. I have a friend who is a runner and takes good care of her shoes, ‘refubishes them’ after not very long and sells them on eBay. I’ve written about shoes on the site if you’re interested.

              Your son may well recover quicker than most due to his age but rehab on a bike at the gym is good advice for the reason your doctor gave. I believe it’s also common for doctors to tell you that you (your son) will get arthritis. I was told the same thing so I did some research and, while it is true that your son may get pain and stiffness as he gets older, due to the injury, this is quite common anyway, due to ageing. The most common treatment for arthritis is diet, exercise, posture and taking care of your joints. You might find this helpful:

              Some doctors do have an ability to create fear and it’s amazing how two doctors can set explain the same thing in two very different ways. I’m sure your son will be fine and recovering in no time. I wish him luck.

    • Dear Jo

      your blog is really interesting, I love the photos too. Well done Lauren, I hope you continue to make a good recovery.I tore my ACL, MCL, meniscus tear and tibial plateau (small fracture) on my right knee at the end of a ski trip mid-March. A&E put me in a Thackery splint until I saw a Consultant 2 weeks after the accident, who confirmed fracture on MRI and put me in a fixed knee brace at 90 degrees for another 3 weeks. At my 2nd Consultant review (around 16 days ago) I was told I could weight bear as tolerated and wait for Physio referral. I stopped using crutches about 10 days ago. I’m doing okay, still swollen about 25-30% and ankle swells if I overuse, I am walking quite badly at times and seem to drag my good leg unless I really concentrate on my gait, I’m also pulling myself up the stairs on the banister as I can’t bend my right knee completely and I have to swing it out to the side. I have paid out for some physio sessions myself but starting NHS physio tomorrow. My issue is that during my first Consultant appointment he told me once the swelling is reduced he would probably operate to remove loose cartilage and then think about doing ACL. At my second appointment (2 weeks ago) he seemed to change his mind and said (after poking it a bit and getting me to raise my leg) if it wasn’t painful then he wouldn’t operate as sometimes it’s best to leave the cartilage alone. However, since then it is very painful at night and locks up a lot, at times really scary and makes me panic as it feels like it’s going to snap, I’ve read this is due to meniscus getting in the way of knee mechanics. I am a bit concerned I am going to be fobbed off without any surgery. I am actually an A&E Bank Nurse and also work in General Practice, so obviously on my feet all day for work. I am pretty fit, but 2 months post accident and a lot of time on the sofa and some days I feel exhausted and want to know if anyone else had difficulty getting surgery or a 2nd opinion. I never realised how debilitating this accident is and I don’t want to live my life in fear of my leg giving way or going on long walks again etc. I am also on Statutory Sick pay (as I’ve been in my new job under a year) so I have to get back to work part time at least. Although I work in the NHS this is the first time I’ve experienced things as a patient and so any help is gratefully appreciated. Thank you

      • Hi Louisa, what a horrible experience. I’d definitely push back with your surgeon. Locking knees are not safe and are usually one of the factors that surgeons look at to determine surgery (or so I understand). If the surgeon doesn’t agree you need surgery, I’d recommend asking for a 2nd opinion. As you’re a nurse, perhaps speak to one of the doctors you know from work and see what your ‘escalation’ options are. At the end of the day, its your health so I would certainly make some noise until either you get the surgery you want or have your mind put at rest that it’s not needed. Good luck.

  114. Just had Acl reconstruction 2weeks ago, still a little pain, but I’m able to go up and down stairs without crutches and able to go full extention, and I’m a to sit on my knees with my ankle almost touching my butt, but I started walking with brace same day of operation and made sure I walked and rested every day post op, and did my post exercises so my leg did not go stiff. I think the key is make sure you’re moving despite the pain, but also don’t forget to rest.

  115. Hi, my 15 year old daughter has torn her ACL playing football. I have read all your advice regarding your operations and it has been very useful. I am currently researching surgeons and I’m trying to find one in the UK working for the NHS who has good experience of carrying out this procedure. Has anyone got any names of surgeons they would recommend ?

    Also did anyone have a quad graft in the UK ?

    Any information would be great.

    • Hi Danielle, I replied to you personally with details of my surgeon and my experience. I wish your daughter speedy recovery.

  116. To hyperextend or not to hyperextend that is the question… I keep reading contradictory things about this. The US physiotherapy sites I have come across tend to say that you have to aggressively go after hyperextension in the first couple of weeks post op, or you will have trouble attaining it at all and that will have consequences in future years due to small differences in gait. My physiotherapist here in Portugal has assured me that it comes slowly, that I absolutely shouldn’t force it as that can also be damaging. Does anyone have any experience of this? How late did you attain hyperextension and if you didn’t manage it, if you only managed full extension how big of a problem was that?
    Otherwise I am 3 weeks post op and things are going relatively smoothly. One thing I wanted to add here just in case anyone else has had the same experience, my periods got quite off whack after the operation. I am normally clockwork regular, but the blood thinning injections I took to prevent blood clots (how I hated those, especially as I had to do them myself!) meant that I got my period the day after the operation and two weeks early, plus it was heavier than normal. This was very inconvenient to be dealing with directly after the operation and it also scared me at first as I wasn’t sure why I was bleeding. Just writing it here in case that is useful to know for someone, although obviously get it checked if you have the same experience!

    Good Luck everyone! This has been incredibly useful and reassuring to blog, thanks for creating it, Jo.

    • Hi Sophía, I had a similar conundrum or rather I thought I did until it came down to it. I also have hyper-mobility meaning that I overextend my knees but I found that during those early days it was all I could do to get my knee straight let alone hyper extend. I also read that you needed to pursue it aggressively in the first weeks but as well as sheer physical inability, I was terrified of doing more harm than good – In some ways I traded off hypermobility for not popping my graft. My physio did advise that I may not get full hyperextension back and now when I run I do have pain in my opposing hip which makes me worried that I will have knock-on problems (I really should speak to another physio about this). However, I would say that after those first weeks it wasn’t a case of all or no hyperextension – my ability to hyper extend got better over time and I still have some hope that it will continue to improve (if only I set about getting to the gym to do some more weights). I hope that helps. I’d be interested to hear how you get on.

  117. Hi Jo,
    Was going through your post it is really helpful and given day by day progress and idea about whole plot of ACL reconstruction. My ACL got teared when I was in Leave in my country Nepal. Injured on bike accident. Came back Dubai on plaster once they removed the plaster Dr. Said to scan through MRI and found ACL tears on left knee. So many confusion and doubt before doing opt. Finally I did opt on September 2017. I wasn’t able to give much time for physiotherapy even though doing cycle walking and sweeming. Now there is no issue for walking in surface area for even couple of kilometers.but still I can’t climb the stair steps. It has been more than 6 month is it normal or need to be worried? You mentioned Yoga is helpfull could u please share which yoga is this and how do I do it?

    • Hi Santosh, I’m no expert but it sounds to me that because you didn’t do many bending exercises at the beginning, you might be having trouble with range of motion and therefore stairs. Before jumping into a strenuous yoga routine, I’d recommend going over the original physiotherapy exercises that were designed for you to get your knee moving. Yoga is a tricky one. Although I do it now, I made sure I did my physio exercises first to make sure I didn’t do any damage. If you’re worried, I definitely recommend going back to see a physiotherapist. Good luck.

  118. Wow, this post is amazing Jo!
    I’m an 18 year old facing ACL reconstruction and bucket handle meniscus tear repair in 4 days and this is exactly what I needed to read! After initially injuring my ACL (only partial tear) in 2016 playing hockey, my physio and orthopaedic surgeon recommended recovering without surgery. That was going fine until Dec 21 2017 when my knee went again (damn hockey) and this time I fully tore my ACL and also had a bucket handle meniscus tear (pain was excruciating, I was on crutches for a week afterwards). I went off to uni 2 months later (still currently limping 3 months from injury and unable to fully extend knee) and finally my insurance company has approved my surgery. I’m incredibly nervous (first surgery) but this post has made me feel much better, with some idea of what to expect. You’ve also inspired me to keep a journal of my recovery to hopefully not only distract myself but have something to reflect on and keep track of my progress, so thank you so much!

    • Hi Hannah, I hope the surgery went well! In some ways, it sounds less painful to fully rupture your ACL than to have a few goes at ripping it apart. And love to read your journal of recovery if you ever a post online. If not, I hope that when you read it back you come to see how far you’ve travelled in your recovery. Good luck.

    • I have the same issues as you. The initial injury was years ago but three weeks ago I got the bucket handle tear too. I’m not walking yet and it’s a bit worrying because most other people are walking much sooner than three weeks. The surgeon wasn’t helpful and had no answers for why I still can’t walk. I have almost full extention tho so that’s good.

      Will have surgery in the fall I think, I have to figure out a way to work for the summer because in Canada the surgery is covered but not psyo.
      Thanks for sharing!

      • Hi Bobbie, the NHS has a lot of free physio tips if you can’t afford a physio over the long-term in Canada. I’ve linked to it in the comments above. Good luck.

  119. It as hard to come by well-informed people on this subject, however, you sound like you know what you are talking about! Thanks

  120. Hi Jo,
    My name is Andrea, I am 25.
    I have to do a knee surgery – ACL and meniscus. I read online that the recovery from the surgery takes 3-6 months. The thing is, before my accident happened, I was planning to take a trip to Asia in September. My question is, if I make the surgery in May, will I be able to recover until September? I would avoid hikes and will include more leisure walking routes. I know this is kind of individual thing, but I’m trying to collect more opinions on the topic..
    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Andrea, I was in a very similar situation. I had my surgery on 30 September and had a trip booked to Asia on 7 January. So, about the same amount of time you have between your surgery and your trip. For me, it was overall fine. I can’t explain the exhaustion in the early days because I was sightseeing at a pace that far surpassed the walking levels I’d been doing during my recovery. However, within a week or two I felt much better for it. I was extra careful on sand and avoided tricky hikes although I did manage one hike to some waterfalls which had my heart in my mouth the whole time but turned out to be a success. Unexpected benefits: the sun worked wonders, easing my joints and I took advantage of a lot of Thai massage which really seem to help. I’d just make sure you tell your travel insurance company before you. They just put a small notation on your file and that way you’re covered if something does happen. I had insurance through my bank and there was no additional fee for me to pay because apparently ACL is quite standard. Hope you an amazing trip. I have some post about Asia on the site if you’re interested.

  121. Your article helped me understand how recovery would be from a real perspective and not from the medical stand point so thank you 🙂
    and now here is my story:
    In April 2016 I completely tore my ACL from simply landing on my knee too straight while in a twisting position. (I climbed over the rail on a sidewalk and jumped down, the jump was maybe like a 2 foot drop) when I landed I heard the classic sounds and felt immediate pain, it was so bad and I was so scared I almost went into shock. I was taken to get x rays, and they came back clean, so then I was just given pain killers and told it was “just a sprain”

    Because the pain and swelling weren’t going down and I couldn’t bare any weight on my knee, my doctor referred me to a knee specialist. it took 3 months to get in to see the specialist and by then I could walk again but it was still painful, slightly swollen and unstable. The specialist only had to do some movements with my knee and he said he was sure it was a full ACL tear because apparently my ACL wasn’t working from what he felt. he sent me for an urgent MRI, and it came back confirming the full ACL tear and apparently a possible meniscus tear.
    yup totally “just a sprain” -_-
    so then I was put on the waiting list for surgery. I chose the surgery because I’m only 17 (was 15 at the time) and I was active and did not want to have to be restricted. and now 2 years later and FINALLY I received a surgery date of April 30th, 2018.
    Unfortunately, during those 2 years, due to my restricted ability to do sports and such I developed health problems. I gained weight and became insulin resistant, got an “irritated” liver, got PCOS from the weight gain (now I’m basically infertile unless the hormones correct themselves) and developed major depressive disorder. even tho I had those my surgery was not put on higher priority and I have waited 2 years.
    but now I am just happy that I have a surgery date of April 30th, hopefully the other problems will correct themselves after I can lose weight when my knee has healed after the recovery (that’s what the endocrinologist said).

  122. Thanks so much for writing an honest, open post about ACL surgery. I found it very helpful. Everything else you find is all of these young athletic guys saying “oh you’re exaggerating, I had ACL done with no pain and walked out of the hospital.” I had my surgery two weeks ago and it was excruciating. I’m apparently a rare case that doesn’t respond to opiates, nor did my body respond to the nerve block. I got an allergic rash to it and could feel about 80% of all the pain. So for the first week I was completely bedridden, fainted four times from the pain. Now that the pain naturally decreased I’m alright and rehabbing well already, but it was scary for a while there. Your post really helped me see the range of possibilities with ACL surgery and some great tips on what to expect and where to work hard. Thanks!

    • That’s all I still hear from people – how easy ACL surgery was. I wonder how many people are actually telling the truth (apart from the people in here)! sounds like you had a horrible time with your pain medication but I’m glad that’s behind you. Good luck with the recovery!

  123. Hi.
    I am 53 years young and had my ACL reconstructed 7 days ago under workcoverqld, Australia. Things you want to have/get before the op are as follows:
    1) Shower chair. I didn’t have one, slipped in the shower when I got home and obviously straight back to hospital via ambulance. Luckily no serious damage done. The pain was incruciating and I don’t wish that on anyone.
    2) Non slip shower mat. For same reason as 1)
    3) Roll of Gladwrap for wrapping op site while showering.
    4) Ice machine for icing op site. This machine is a 100 times better than trying to ice with ice cubes and a bag. I can send pics if needed.
    5) Crutches. You will need them at some stage.
    6) Waterproof dressing strips. Very handy if dressings need changing for some reason. Mine are easy as I don’t have stitches/staples. Incisions are held together with Steristrips.
    I’m going for my 1st post op assessment next week. Been doing all my physio excercises regularly, icing at least 3hrs a day and things seem to be slowly moving along.
    I think I may start weaning off the strong pain meds as they do make me feel queasy and drowsy thus making me want to sleep all day. I want to try and avoid this.
    I seem to have full extension on my knee, without to much pain. It does stiffen up if I don’t do the excercises regularly. Bending on the contrary is currently very stiff and I’m probably managing about a 100° bend with a fair bit of discomfort. Hopefully this will get better over time. My wife keeps telling me that I’m expecting to much as it’s only a week post op.
    I suppose the hardest part of this op is the slow healing process.
    Anyway hopefully this helps anyone that is going for this op. Always remember “Slow and steady”. That way you should get full use of your knee back.

    • Thanks for the tips Peter – ouch on the shower fall. Glad it wasn’t more serious. Good luck with your post op appointment and the rest of your recovery. Yes, it is slow, but we all get there eventually!

  124. Hi all!

    Jo – you incredible human being, thanks for creating the space for post ACL surgery concerns, comments and tips. I’ve just had my surgery 6 weeks ago and as you mention, not sure where all that time has gone!

    Some really helpful tips I found worked for me:
    1. Make everyday count, even if small progress, move toes, ankle, shoulders, head etc! shake it up!
    2. Get off pain meds within the first week, in my case it turned my stomach really easily and made it hard to gain my appetite back
    3. Think of therapy as fun gym time! Initially I dreaded the brace and how slowwww I was moving
    3. I’m taking 2-3 months off from work, while researching different projects that are more fun and motivating. It became really hard to get back to my old desk job knowing what was ahead and understanding this will take up to 10-12 months
    4. Listen to music! make your surrounding space cozy to fit your needs so normal chores don’t seem so hard to accomplish
    5. Talk to people openly about how you are feeling as your progress, I know it’s hard to relate sometimes but write and write as much as you need to!
    6. When not able to sleep, try different breathing techniques
    …. among others 🙂

    Where I’m at now at 6 weeks I think is very well on track. I’ve reached about 135 on my bend and *almost* full extension. My other leg is a bit hyper extended which gives me the reference point. Finding a balance has been key, before my surgery I went on a one year journey through South East Asia and South America, so I love your traveling adventures! In the meantime, I was working on my own projects and rehabbing my knee to see if it could bounce back to normal. I had a partially torn ACL, and that year gave me a clear direction of what to do next which was surgery after all. I’m having a hard time focusing on work right now haha, because I’ve been so dedicated to my recovery these past few days. I literally have just ignored several people. This is my concern lol. How would you recommend I continue to push this end of things? Thanks in advance and wish you continued wellness and fulfillment. Much love!!! <3


    • Hi Lenn, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your tips – they’re really positive and helpful. I struggle to focus on work at the best of times let alone when I’m recovering from surgery, ha ha. I always find a list helps. I know that might sound really banal but writing something down, mentally committing to it and forcing myself to look at it daily until everything is checked off really helps me. Whether it’s so many repetitions of an exercise or a commitment to spend 30 minutes replying to emails or promising to meet up with friends getting something ticked off my list can often be a relief as well as having the benefit of having achieved whatever it is I wanted to achieve. I hope that helps and good luck with the recovery – it sounds like you are making great strides (no pun intended!)

  125. Hello..I am 22 years old ..I had my surgery this was really painful..I was having a complete tear in acl and a second grade partial tear in mcl..doctors advised mee to do excercise pre operation ..they said mcl can heal on its own..I got injured on6 January after a month I went for surgery only of acl..I really don’t like bed rest i kept on playing everytime now I have to be on bed as I don’t have any other way out..after operation doctors told mee I have in mcl second grade over ltc what does this mean can you tell?? I should not worry about my mcl?? Should I place a pillow under my knee or foot?? Any advise? The swelling has gone to my ankle I cannot see my left ankle..

    • Hi Aakash, if you’re worried about the swelling on your ankle, I’d recommend seeing your doctor. In the meantime, try elevation and ice packs. If you’re not long after surgery, you should probably support the back of your knee while you raise it. Using a pillow or two lengthways might work depending on how tall you are! I also had a grade 2 tear in my MCL and they didn’t operate. The way it was explained to me – imagine your ligament as if it is three fingers wide. A grade one tear is as though one finger has been ripped in two, a grade 2 tear is as though two fingers have been ripped in two and a grade three tear is complete detachment/the whole ligament is torn into two. I understand that usually surgery only happens for complete detachment. I believe this is because in grade 1 and grade 2 tears the ligament can heal itself, usually with some scar tissue that adds some strength to what is left of your ligament. I say all this as a non-qualified, non-doctor so do get some medical advice but that’s how it was explained to me. I hope that helps.

  126. Hi Jo
    My name is Catalina, I am 4 years post ACL reconstruction. I tore it in a kick boxing class…It was not painful at the moment it happened and unbeknownst to me, I tore all the ligaments minus a partial tear in my PCL..that is unrepairable due to its closeness to the nerve.
    I still swell and feel the clicking and if Im in yoga class and on my knee..there is pain.
    There is also an area midline front shin left side that is hypersensitive. Not sure if you have the same sensation?
    Your blog is fantastic…and very helpful..if I may I would like to share it on instagram with the ACL followers?
    Happy travels Jo?


    • Hi Catalina, apologies – another comment that slipped past me! Please do feel free to share on your instagram. I don’t have the shin problem but I do have clicking. Lots of clicking. Though I have just kind of gotten used to it.

  127. Hi Jo, thanks so much for your article! It’s so great being able to compare where I am up to with my recovery! I am 20 and tore my acl in late November playing futsal (which is super annoying as I just play that in the off-season for soccer in order to keep fit and have some fun) and tomorrow is my 1 month surgery anniversary! I am doing okay but the hardest thing is not being able to play sport! I have played for my club for so long now that I’m super involved and still am going to every training session and game (I have become offical team manager/assistant coach) but I am struggling with the mental side of not being able to play, as this is my first year without it since I was 6.. other than that I am proud of my recovery. Currently doing 10 minutes on the bike at a time and some small squats and calf raises. I can bend my knee further than expected but at my last check ups with the surgeon and physio I was told my knee wasn’t straight enough so I’m really trying to focus on that before I go back to the physio in 2 days. Super first world problem scenario but I wish I could wear heels 🙁 also I start my first shift back at work this week – only 3 hours but that’s 3 hours of walking around and standing, so I’m a bit nervous for that. That’s basically it for me but once again thanks so much for your article! It’s so nice reading from someone who has experienced the same as me and especially being honest about the negative sides of it so I don’t feel so alone when I’m down!

    • Hi Nina, I’m pleased my article helped. I’m happy to report that I’m now back on heels and, to be honest, I could have got back on them a lot sooner than I thought – it was only confidence that stopped me. (Though do get the all clear from your doctor before you throw on the 6 inch platforms!) I completely understand where you’re coming from missing out on sport – for me it was yoga, which I use not just for exercise but also mental calm and for decompressing after work and travel. Once I resigned myself to the fact that it wasn’t going to happen for a while, I gave myself a future date and decided I wasn’t going to think about it until that date, and things were mentally easier. I just made sure I filled the time with other things e.g. walking, reading, upper body exercises and eating cake! Good luck with the recovery.

  128. I am so so glad to have come across this fantastic blog. I’ve read through almost all of the comments and replies and feel so much better.
    I took a tumble skiing (at an indoor slope!) on the 7th Jan 2018 and felt a horrendous snap crackle and pop in my knee. Having never ‘hurt’ myself before, I instantly knew something wasnt right and quickly learned the noises I make when I’m in pain are rather perculiar!
    Anyway, to the juicy stuff… after a long three week wait in a straight leg splint, completely non weight bearing, a painful consultant appointment, a new brace (bionic woman eat your heart out) and an ‘urgent’ MRI scan, I managed to get some results (from my NHS GP in the end) about what’s left inside my knee.
    My ACL has detached from my femur, I’ve completely ruptured my MCL and I’ve got grade 2-3 damage on my PCL…( I was weirdly relieved that I’d done a good job because I was becoming paranoid that I was actually a huge dramatic wimp about trying to weight bear and bend my knee- when in reality there wasn’t a lot left to let it bend anyway!)
    So right now, I’m still 2 weeks away from my next consultant appointment- he doesn’t even know I know the results of my MRI scan… I’m terrified I’m not going to get an operation for months, I’m desperate for them to take my recovery seriously because I hope to return to my crazy addictive gym and running lifestyle and quite frankly I’m absolute fed up of sitting here not really knowing if I should or shouldn’t be doing anything to aid my recovery even pre-op!
    Reading about your recovery from the ACL surgery alone has given me hope that by my holiday in July I may well be able to walk like a normal human and may have perhaps even got back in the gym… that’s all providing the nhs get a shuffle on with fixing me!
    thankyou all!

    • ‘ I was weirdly relieved that I’d done a good job ‘ Ha ha ha – that really did make me laugh. Although ACL repair is not generally a laughing matter and I feel your pain. I hope for your sake that the NHS does give you an early operation date and if you keep up with the physio, I’m sure you will be back to your gym routine soon enough. Recovery does take time but it does happen eventually. Good luck.

  129. Hey Jo,

    nice to hear about your recovery! im also a year past surgery now, and suddenly (ok after a month of no fysio which i’ve done 2-3times a week for a year) my knee starts to hurt again.. do you have similar experiences? Maybe it was caused by climbing.. not sure. also the healthy knee irritates me after running 10+k yet the operated one functioned fine :’) this really had me surprised! but im sure you can get there too!


    • Hi Liz, yes – I’m afraid I do still get pain from time to time although nothing extreme. If you’re worried, I’d recommend going back to your doctor. I’ve come to accept that my knee will just not be the same as it was before. Still, it does feel like it’s continually getting better rather than worse. Good luck with the fitness challenges.

  130. Hi Jo,
    Thankyou for this blog I have been searching every night for months to find some real life experiences on my injury and repair and tonight am delighted to have found this.
    I injured my left knee during a fall at home in November 2016 where my knee twisted and I heard the dreaded pop.
    Through a trip to my GP and going privately for an MRI, a ruptured ACL and an anterior horn tear in my meniscus was diagnosed. My health insurance wouldn’t cover the operation so I was put on the NHS list for surgery in April 17.
    From the time of injury I was building up the strength in my legs by walking spinning and lower limb exercises but it seemed like every time I got to a good place my knee would give way and I would injure it again. This happened randomly when stepping down from a stool, or dancing at a party or one time I was getting on a motorbike and used the wrong leg to weight bear and ended up on my back looking at the sky. The last time was November past, I was painting the kitchen and stepped off my small stool and my knee went. I always wondered what a pain of ten was like until I had a collapsing knee! This time I couldn’t walk at all and had to go to A&E. There they put me
    In a leg brace and told me not to work or drive for 6 weeks. After 4 weeks the physio in the hospital wrote to the surgeon in charge of my ACL repair and I got a review appointment in December and an Emergency MRI. Results of this showed a bucket handle meniscus tear and an MCL tear as well as the ACL rupture. The meniscus tear had become stuck in the joint which was why I had so much pain and couldn’t properly weight bear
    The surgeon decided to do surgery straight away on the meniscus and I had it on 12th Jan. My ACL repair is scheduled for 21st March.
    I’m one week in after the meniscus repair and as my stomach doesn’t like codeine I’ve havent taken any medication since some morphine in the hospital but don’t think I will get away so easily next time. I was walking straight away but it’s slow and I ice all the time. My knee is still very unstable and I am so scared that it will give way again while I wait although I can’t wait to have the surgery and all I really care about at this stage is seeing the other side and being able to get a really good hike and be able
    to do simple activities without worry of falling down.
    I have been wearing flat shoes for over a year now and maybe in another year will be able to get my heels back out.
    Have you heard of anyone having a similar experience of two operations close together. I know I haven’t had the ACL repair yet but I really would advise anyone to have it if it’s an option. the risk of further damage to your knees is too great and I certainly didn’t value my mobility enough until I didn’t have it. I am 44 and was reasonably fit and active and the loss of fitness and extra pounds I am carrying don’t help the frustration. Now I can see an end my motivation is blooming.
    Sorry for the long post and thankyou.

    • Hi Catherine, thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience – on this thread I think people really appreciate the longer posts. For me, it’s great to hear from someone who went without surgery for a while. I did contemplate this and reading your description, I’m pleased I went ahead with the surgery. That sucks about your meniscus 🙁 I spoke to a private surgeon who told me to have two separate operations but I couldn’t see any good reason to do it separately (in your case, you were in extreme pain) but I don’t know if it gives you comfort that a private surgeon suggested I do the operations separately – he thought my recovery would be easier but didn’t go into why. On the topic of heels, I had a break-through moment on Christmas day when I put an old, favourite pair of heels on and walked in them like nothing had happened to my knee. So, keep hope. Good luck with your second surgery and keep your eye on the light at the end of the tunnel.

  131. I’m now 4 weeks post-ACL reconstruction and want to let you know that this BLOG was super helpful in the process. So Thank You Jo! For others considering surgery: The day of the procedure and the next day, I felt FINE, but burdened by a cast around my knee. Day 3-4 I was completely out-of-it and relied on friends to change the ice bags in my ice machine, get me elevate my leg and exercise. I was LOOPY. It was hard. I stopped meds after 3 days, took Tylenol for a day and 1/2, then went BACK to pain-meds for 2 additional days. Yes, it was unbearably painful! I was told that you SHOULD expect pain after your first PT appointment. I had to take Lyft there and back. I’d also planned ahead and ordered FOOD-IN for a good week as I didn’t want people puttering around my kitchen which happens anyway! After 7-10 days, I was driving but chose to go out ONLY at hours of the day when there’d be little traffic. I did a little grocery shopping which was HARD and NOT on the list of “things to do” and I regret it. I think it SLOWED down my healing process. I chose to do my surgery over the Christmas/New Year Holiday so spent 3 weeks at HOME and back at work at week 4! Fortunately, I can SIT and prop up my leg at work. That first week, I had painful days and had to take an Aleeve. Now I remind myself to prop up my leg and ICE during the day. When I’ve got time, I’ll even get on the floor and do stretches, leg lifts, etc. It IS difficult getting UP from the floor. Ugh. I also am riding a stationary bike 30 mins in the morning and 30 mins in the evening DAILY. Tomorrow will be exactly 34 days since I had surgery. I am walking up and down stairs but I hold onto the bannister. I’m going to yoga, but therapeutics and Urban Zen only. I’m afraid to attempt a downward dog or flow. Yesterday, my I was able to bend my knee to 118 degrees, but I THINK I should be at 120-130 … Progress continues …

    • Jill! You made it out the other side 🙂 I’m really pleased the surgery and recovery went/are going well. I’m impressed with your physio commitment – you’re an inspiration! Keep at it and do come back and let me (us all) know how you’re getting on.

  132. Hiya Jo.

    I contacted the consultant and he said I just need to strengthen my quads.

    Today we went to the phisio and he said it was normal and he gave me some good exercises to use to strengthen my muscles.

    Thank you for your advice for contacting the consultant ?

  133. I’m twenty one years old and I’ve just had my second ACL repair surgery two weeks ago today. I tore the ACL and meniscus in my left knee and had surgery to correct it 6 years ago and then tore the one in my right knee this past July.

    I completely understand the impatience with wanting to recover more quickly, I want to get back to running and jumping, going to yoga and spin class everyday. The good news is that the scar gets even lighter as time goes on, as well. Mine is hardly detectable at all.

    It’s a brutal injury to suffer but for anyone who is concerned about recovery, I can say after 6 whole years my left knee honestly feels as good as it did before the injury ever occurred. Here’s to hoping my right one sees the same recovery and improvements! Good luck to you all and your knees!

    • Ouch, second ACL! But at least you have everything you learned the first time round from you recovery. Also, great news about the scar reducing and you experience six years down the line. I need to start a new program of strengthening my knee as it’s not feeling too strong at the moment so thanks for the motivation. I wish you a speedy recovery.

  134. Hiya! I am 13 and I have had acl surgery 2 1/2 weeks ago. I am now walking around the house without crutches quite easily however my leg has been locking and crunching worse than before the surgery! Should I be worried and ring the consultant? Your article is amazing thank you so much for doing it! Xx

    • Hi Olivia, I’m no doctor but I’d recommend contacting you consultant. The reason I say this is that every time I had a query or worry about my knee post surgery, the question they always asked is whether or not it was locking. Mine wasn’t but I got the impression this meant something might not be right. I’m sorry to say this to you and I really hope I’m wrong but best to get it checked out. Fingers crossed for you. I hope you can come back and share your experience once you’ve spoken to your consultant in case other people have locking issues. Good luck!

        • Hi Rishu, everybody is different and when it’s safe to remove your bandages will depend on your own scar and healing. I’d recommend speaking to your doctor. It’s not the quickest process so I wouldn’t recommend rushing things otherwise you might set yourself back further. I wish you luck.

  135. Thank you for your blog chronicling your acl surgery recovery. I tore my ACL skiing in Mammoth, CA on Nov. 20, 2017-my first day of the season. I had surgery 6 days ago on Dec. 14. I was unprepared for how much pain I would be in. I go to doctor tomorrow to have stitches removed-no staples for me. I also have my first physical therapy appointment tomorrow. My plan was to go back to work on Jan. 8, but now I’m not so sure.I’m a 46 year old elementary school principal-eager to get back to barre classes, skiing, biking, and hiking.

  136. I really enjoyed your blog. I tore my ACL on Nov. 20, 2017 in Mammoth skiing-first day of the season for me! I am 6 days post-op. I was unprepared for how much pain I would be in. I liked hearing your account-a real life account after all of the medical articles I’ve read. I return to doctor tomorrow to get my stitches removed-which I think is a little early….We’ll see! I also have my first physical therapy session tomorrow. The ice machine has been my best friend! I’ve been icing the majority of each day. It was a worthwhile purchase-my insurance wouldn’t cover. Sleep has been a challenge since I’m a stomach sleeper as well. I was hoping to go back to work on Jan. 8-but I’m not sure if that will be realistic.

    • Hi Erika, I’m glad the op is behind you and I hope the stitches removal went well. You must have healed nice and quickly. Great tip about the ice machine. I’ll check that out and add it to my list of useful items. Hope the physio goes well and I feel your frustration with the sleeping. Only thing is – it really is so wonderful when you can return to your usual sleeping position. Good luck with the recovery.

  137. Hi Jo!! (:

    Wow, I am 8 days post surgery, and I am SO BLESSED to have come across your article! Reading this has eased my mind in so many ways. I’m 17 years old, and I tore my ACL doing what I love most, playing soccer. I tore it right before my senior year high school soccer season too…what great timing right. (; Over the past few days I have been extremely upset with my progress, and I am mentally and physically tired of this whole recovery. With that said, I realize it’s barely been a week.. hehe. I definitely underestimated the duration of this recovery; however, in my defense it has been one long week. After surgery, I was in a lot of pain in my knee, which I of course treated by the pain meds I was given, but a few days passed and I started to feel a strange sore feeling in my calf. Long story short it turned out to be a blood clot, and I had to be in the hospital for two days. Granted… I’ve never had to stay in a hospital before. This was a huge ordeal.. I mean I had to pee in a bed pan, which was incredibly humiliating for a 17 year old about to go off to college.. but it could be worse right?! (; They even stuck me several times in an attempt to get an IV in before eventually putting in a picc line. Anyways, the hospital story is a long story, so I won’t bore you with all of that. We begged them to let me come back home since the main reason why I was there was because the doctor was 90% sure I had a pulmonary embolism(ew).. which I didn’t, thank the Lord. I’ve been home for a few days, and my knee has been doing a lot better; however, this morning I woke up and the back of my knee was giving me lots of trouble. 🙁 It bothered me all day, and it’s really discouraging. I have full extension, flexion not so much. It really hurts to work on my flexion, so this worried me. I read on here though that other people are having the same exact problems!! I was left in the dark about how hard the recovery really is for sure! My main reason for commenting is to say that I am incredibly thankful for finding your article, and I look up to you for your recovery process!! I also love how you took the time out of your busy schedule to give a detailed response to everyone who commented on your post. (Which is a lot of comments!!) You truly want to help people, and I just wanted to thank you so much for giving me hope and making me feel so much better about the long road of recovery I have ahead of me! You are AWESOME!!! 😀

    • Awww, thanks Aubyn. Sorry for the slow reply – as you noted there are a few comments on here and I will reply to every single one of them, though that can take some time 🙂 I’m so sorry to hear about your blood clot. As someone who went into surgery with varicose veins in her injured leg, I was terrified this would happen. I guess it goes to show that these things can’t be predicted. I’m glad you’re recovering from it. I’m also glad you’re finding this post useful – mainly through other people sharing their own experiences. I guess doctors reach a point where they only see things in medical black-and-white. I’m happy to have created a space where us humans can talk about the grey matter in between! I wish you a very speedy recovery (or at least as speedy as it can be in the circumstances).

  138. I just had the ACL reconstruction (from hamstring) 4 days ago in Mumbai , and this post I thought gave me realistic expectations for recovery as I’m 39 as well with two kids under 5 and looking after them is really tough under the circumstances.

    My immediate goals are to be able to resume yoga as well as be able to carry my 1.5 year old ? who I haven’t picked up for a month since my injury.

    I have the staples on and yes hobbling to the washroom with a crutch is a pain but I got a fantastic tip from my surgeon on using cling film while showering- works like magic !!

    It’s early days yet and I’ll be re reading the post for motivation to be s committed to PT

    • Hi Parvathy, not being able to carry your child must be heartbreaking. Just try to focus on the fact that recovery will happen. Sometimes it seems slow but gradually you’ll get there. I wish I’d had that clingfilm tip so thanks for sharing it here for others. Keep on with the physio!

  139. Hi – thanks so much for posting your blog.

    I am a 48 year old female who loves recreational sailing, and like you I didn’t want to be limited or anxious about my knee in the future. So – I have had an ACL reconstruction, with medial and lateral meniscus repairs.

    I am now 10 days post op and have found your blog really helpful. There were minimal instructions from my surgeon /hospital except to weight bear as able using the crutches and to use the pain medications as needed / prescribed. I underestimated ++ how long the pain and swelling would go on for, and I underestimated how lovely ice would be and how often I would need to use it. Your post op experience is very similar to mine, and tracking your comments day to day has helped a lot.

    I used to be a physio (quite a few years ago now) and everyone assumes I will know what to expect, but to be honest it has been quite educational being on the patient side, and living with an injury / post surgery every day is quite different to the experience when giving therapy and knowing the theory vs the reality. Haven’t started physio treatment for my knee yet…..

    I will keep checking back to your blog as I progress – but thanks again for your honest account and hope you are travelling widely and confidently with your knee now.

  140. I’m so pleased I came across your article that is so recent with others experience!?
    Today I’ve been having second thoughts on having my ACL reconstruction which is on Monday (27th November 2017)! Eeeek! I still feel that I might but if I tell you my story I’d be so appreciative of people’s options.
    I’m very active and always have been but feel as I get older I’m actually doing more (I’m 37) because I love how being fit and healthy makes me feel.
    I originally thought I’d dislocated my knee in March 2016 playing hockey. To me it seemed a freak incident, I’ve been playing hockey since a teenager. All that happened was, I jumped and when I landed my knee slid out of place back in again. After an MRI it showed a ‘slight’ tear in the ACL. Obviously, my questions were how long is rehab, when can I drive and can I play hockey again? So I worked on strengthening the quads and did lots of spinning then weight training.
    I didn’t get back to hockey for the start of 2016 season but thought I’m not rushing this I’ll do it properly and aim for after Christmas.
    I went training and things felt good, more a physiological barrier. Played one match fine, although I knew I was holding back, I was scared, scared of sprinting and then having to stop that’s where I felt most vulnerable.
    Then in May 2017 during my 2nd 7 aside hockey match it happened again! This time I heard a tear but I was able to hobble of the pitch iced it then drove home, I was gutted that it had happened again.
    So, a complete rupture showed on the MRI (not sure about the meniscus which they’ll look at when they’re inside). I have worked to strengthen my quads for the last 16 weeks after being advised that the more you do to strengthen now will help with recovery after the op. I have ran 5k 3 times this month the first was a struggle, my goal as always was not to walk. It was tough, the pain was on the outside of the knee which shot across to the inside of my calf to my ankle making it feel like it was seizing up and caused me to limp run.
    The last 2 runs have been easier, the discomfort sets in later so I’m thinking there is progress, running down hill makes me nervous, I have to concentrate on where I’m putting my foot.
    I’m still not playing hockey at the level I was as I’m still afraid of my knee giving out when it comes to stopping after a sprint.
    I suppose the question I’m asking is, is an ACL reconstruction going to be worth it?
    Thanks in advance.
    Sorry for the massive read.

    • Hi Kerry, hope you don’t mind me jumping in here? I did mine playing hockey too (placed my foot to change direction but didn’t get as far as twisting before it went) and I tried to return on ‘conservative treatment’ (i.e. Physio and strengthening) but Hockey is not a good sport to play without your ACL as there’s so much twisting and turning – it soon gave way on me and caused even more damage. Like you say, you’ll always be holding back, trying not to hurt it. And then one day, you probably will hurt it! I’m impressed you’ve been doing so much running – straight lines are easier! I lost cartilage as well so running was painful. I’m 35 and had my ACL reconstruction 8 weeks ago – hoping to return to Hockey for the start of the 17/18 season (but I have missed nearly two whole seasons with a long wait for my op so will have to see what level I manage to get back to ?)
      I’d recommend having it done if you want to play hockey ‘properly’ again but be ready for a long recovery. Good luck!

    • Hi Kerry
      I just snapped my ACL and partial dear of PCL n meniscus. Have deferred my surgery which was suppose to happen today after seeking second opinion and treatment from TCM. I was advised against surgery.
      May I know if you eventually went ahead with the surgery and what your advice would be based on your experience.

      Thank you

  141. Hi Jo. I just wanted to check back – I am at 10 weeks post surgery and just want to share with everyone to hang in there, as you say — it will get better. For me, I was definitely comparing my progress to others at physio, many whom are very athletic / active and 15-20 years younger than I am. For me, I saw tremendous progress at the 7 week mark. Prior to that I was very discouraged. At 7 weeks I was finally able to cycle and get a rotation on the bike. It took about 3 minutes of rocking just to accomplish. I am still not able to swim for exercise. Esp not breast. The one thing I would highly recommend is to focus on getting full extension of the surgery leg to match the other. I take time to let it hang below the knee with weights. Bending and quad strength will come more naturally I n my view. But I believe extension has a more limited window to achieve and to avoid any future limp / gait issues

  142. Thanks so much for your story! I’m an equestrienne facing ACL and meniscus surgery in a few weeks, and dreading the down time. I also tend to blow up when not exercising regularly, but it sounds like you were able to start burning calories relatively soon Yay! I hope mine goes as well.

    • Hi Kim, tried to embrace the downtime because – let’s be honest – you don’t have a choice 🙂 stock up on some favourite books or have a Netflix binge. I was also worried about weight increase but you’s be surprised how much energy you burn doing simple things like walking to the bathroom! I also found that having a regular physio routine encouraged me to be more active. Good luck with the surgery and recovery!

  143. Hello my name is Alejandro and I had my ACL and Meniscus operated on about 5 months ago. I feel like I’m not getting better as fast as others. I still can not run or jump. I can’t walk for more than 3 or 4 hours. When I try to stand on my heels it hurts big time on my knee. Also sometmes depending on how I move around my knee gives out. It feels like it’s dislocated bu then it starts feeling normal again. I have been doing rehab but more machines at the gym. It just seems like my knee should be stronger and more stable than it is. I’m 44 years old male and active (normally more active). Any advice?

    • Hi Alejandro, try not to worry. I wasn’t doing much by way of running or jumping at month five. I was probably just getting to that stage so try to be patient. Being on your feet for hours at a time is tiring even pre-surgery so give yourself time to build up to longer walks. Speak to your doctor if you’re getting pain. Mind felt like it wasn’t quite right for a long time and still sometimes feels like something has gone wrong but all of the x-rays and reviews tell me otherwise. However, if it’s worrying you, get it checked out. Unfortunately, it just takes time. Try to focus on small incremental changes and improvements rather than the overall picture of how your knee is postsurgery compared to presurgery. Keep doing the exercises but don’t push yourself too hard in case you make things worse. I hope that helps?

  144. Thanks so much for sharing your story – I am referring back to it almost daily and have been for ages (in prep for my op and post-op recovery!)
    I had mine on the NHS three week’s ago yesterday and my experience has been different to yours again so wanted to also share it here in case any one else doesn’t experience what they are expecting! This had initially freaked me out as I had prepared for what you had shared and then thought they must be doing things wrong!
    I tore my ACL playing hockey in September last year but hadn’t realised the severity of the damage and returned to Hockey in December only to cause additional damage (torn meniscus and chunk of cartilage pulled off). Had my MRI in January to confirm the extent of the damage, then developed a DVT (they think due to the severe swelling, eek!) so they were messing about deciding when they could safely operate on me (I was taking Apixaban which the surgeon wasn’t happy about for my op!) They then cancelled my original date of the 21st Sept and eventually I got in on the 23rd Oct.
    I was in first (8.30am) on the day of the op – they didn’t put me on that knee bending machine afterwards (in fact the physio at the hospital straight after my op was a bit rubbish!) I was at home by 5pm that day.
    I did have my first NHS physio a week after the op but my quad muscle would not engage with the knee at all, it was completely asleep! I also paid to see a private physio and they managed to wake the muscle up with some electric pads (the type lazy people use on their stomach instead of doing sit ups, haha!) which helped no end but I felt like I was a week behind with my rehab.
    Once my quad woke up I was away with my exercises every two hours and making good progress. Because I had been unstable for a year, I had ‘developed’ my own special way of walking to minimise stress on the knee so am currently teaching myself how to walk properly, trying to be confident in the stability of my ‘new’ knee.
    As instructed at the hospital, I went for my ‘sutures’ removed 11 day’s post-op, turns out they just used paper steri-strips and no stitches, which was a shocker (and I could have pulled off myself at home!) Think it will be better for my scarring though.
    I used a Sainsbury’s shopping plastic bag and gaffer tape to keep my dressings dry when showering, which worked a treat! My dressings stayed perfectly dry and didn’t need changing once. I also had some fun getting in and out of the shower (shower over the bath!) as well.
    We also have insanely steep stairs at home so not sure when I’ll be able to walk up them one foot at a time.
    I need to start asking my physio for milestones to aim for as they have both been a bit vague and I’m not confident I’m where I should be yet.
    Anyway (that’s probably the longest comment you’ve had!) I just wanted to share some of my story to maybe help your readers understand that even on the NHS things can be very different (frustratingly!)

    • Hi Janet, thanks for sharing this – it’s interesting to see how even within the NHS surgery can differ so broadly. I envy your steri strips – the staples were brutal. But I don’t envy your comatose quad. I’m glad it’s woken up (and I did laugh out loud at your description of the electric pads being used by lazy people on their stomachs… And I’ve also been a bit curious as to whether that works given I am, from time to time, a lazy person ;p) my stairs here are of the Victorian variety when, apparently people were a lot taller (?) and it took me a lot longer to get used to the stairs than anything else. So, don’t be put off if it takes a while. Do ask your physio for milestones. They definitely have this within the NHS. I hope you’re back to taking stairs two at a time very soon.

  145. I’m incredibly impressed that you were off pain meds and crutches within a week. I’m 25 and had acl and meniscus surgery a month ago. The first few days were so painful i had to up my pain meds twice just to stop crying and be able to sleep. Also I’m a month post op and just am beginning to walk with the brace and 1 crutch with still a decent amount of pain. I found some comfort in your account of your recovery but was honestly hoping to hear it was more similar to mine since I’m worried about not being able to walk and the pain , etc. Hopefully i can get back to hiking and traveling soon too. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Hi Lauryn, don’t be dismayed by your recovery. Everybody recovers at a different rate. At the moment, I’m obsessing about those few things that I still can’t do (squat long periods of time and certain yoga poses) when I’m convinced that everybody else who had ACL surgery is back to 110% health. On the one hand, it’s good to compare notes but on the other it can be disheartening. Keep on with the exercises and I’m sure that in a years time, I’ll be envious of your 110% knee health 🙂 And on the plus side, at least the hardest part is now behind you.

  146. Thanks for your post very interesting read, glad the recovery has been successful for you. I currently have had acl reconstruction before twice on both knees which i assume is a rareity. funnily enough I am being admitted to hospital to have acl revision next week, due to previous injury and meniscus rupture, as well very unstable knee so I can relate to you on the recovery time it’s slow, frustrating and painful time, but worth it long-term. good luck for the future Mike.

    • Mike, I think you win the award for most amount of ACL surgeries… though I’m not sure that a medal you want to collect 🙂 I hope the upcoming surgery goes well and, yes I agree the surgery recovery is slow, frustrating and painful but worth it.

  147. I’m on day 15 of my post op….and I feel like the biggest whiner in the world! Although all my bellyaching is justified so eff em!! =)
    I’m slowly succumbing to the idea of this whole shebang taking a year..
    What blows is that back in Aug/early Sept when I was advised what was wrong and that I’d need surgery to repair my ACL, I was also advised “oh 5-7 days you’ll be back on track…back to work, yadda yadda yadda….you’ll be good to go if you religiously ice, elevate, and do your exercises as told”—I SSOOO WISH I’D FOUND YOUR ARTICLE BEFORE I LET MYSELF GET SET ON THAT 5-7 DAYS!!!! I have no pto, no short term disability to use, and my 1 job is being a postal worker (like the 1 you were chasing down the stairs hahaha) and my 2nd job is walking endlessly about the concrete floors of a big hardware store helping fuggtards with a big painful smile as they can’t seem to grasp it’s a diy store…ugh!!!
    But I feel like a dick for telling and retelling my employers diff dates and expectations as I’m getting them myself! Now that it’s post op they immediately sing a diff tune…”oh you can walk can’t ya? Great. But you shouldn’t expect to walk well or any distance farther than your small arse lil house. Oh btw, here’s a damned note you can give to your employers letting them know how foolish you are for listening to us. Bahaha, now they’ll think you didn’t even research buttkiss about ACL surgery (not true I spent hours/ days researching and repeatedly asked them about that 5-7 day thing and what that means in relation to my life and work)
    Them cocksuckers is all I can say.
    But even a work from home position like yours poses quite a challenge…after 2 weeks of not checking ANYTHING online, last night I spent about 5 hours trying every stretch and position at that darn computer desk and I’m feelin it holmes…
    They already sent me to the hospital after my physical therapy a few days ago (physio you call it) b/c they thought I had a blood clot. Turns out I don’t…as of 3 days ago…but my poor calf, shin, good Lord the bruised and taunt, unable to relax calf muscle has had it with living! As a result (And I knew this would happen) my entire muscle and bones everywhere else is tired of picking up my left knee’s slack and now I’m really gettin butt hurt about all this mess. I just hope I can get out the other end of all this if nothing else than a better feeling knee that I had before the surgery…before it was injured at all..

    • Hi Michelle, so sorry. For some reason this comment (in Nov 17) slipped past me so I’m only replying now (April 18). I’m sure you’ve made a lot of recovery since you left the comment but I’m posting it anyway so others can read your experience.

  148. Hey Jo, I’m so glad I found your article! I’m currently debating having ACL surgery for a partial tear, but have gotten two very different opinions. An ortho I saw in the states while visiting home recommended surgery to fix a meniscus tear and to do an ACL replacement, but the ortho I saw in Denmark (where I currently live) thinks I don’t need any surgery at all. I am an avid runner and crossfit enthusiast and I’m a little skeptical that I will be able to return to these activities without a replacement. It’s been 2.5 months since the accident and it still feels pretty weak.

    If I did have surgery it would be in the states, and I would need to make a transatlantic flight back to Denmark at about 2 to 2.5 weeks post op. Having had the surgery, do you think this is something you could have done at that stage of recovery? Or would you knee have still been too stiff? Just trying to sort out my options.

    • Hi Sophia, it’s so frustrating when you get conflicting advice from doctors – I had the same thing. In the end it was a physiotherapist who talked me through the details and helped me decide. I do find it interesting that surgery has been suggested for a partial tear. At the same time that I fully tore my ACL, I partially tore my MCL (ligament on the inside of my knee) and it was never suggested that I would have surgery for that. It may be that surgery for MCL repair is less common/not as essential but my understanding is that with a partial tear, your ligament heals back with scar tissue, which has the effect of giving you extra stability. With a partial tear, I would really look into this and see if there is non-invasive option that involves just time and strengthening of your knee. While I’m very pro-ACL surgery if you have a complete tear, I’m not convinced I would have had surgery for a partial. I would at least have given it a year to see if I could get the strength back without the scalpels. Over a year after my surgery, it’s not as good or as strong as it was before my injury so I’d keep that in mind if you’re thinking the ACL surgery will be a complete fix.

      In terms of the flight, I don’t believe I would have been comfortable sitting in a cramped space without elevating my leg for a transatlantic journey. I would also have been worried about DVT. I’m not trying to put you off both the options of surgery or the flight, but that’s my honest opinion. Your doctor will be able to advise the medical basis but if it were me, I try knee strengthening before surgery and if I did have surgery I’d either upgrade to business for the flight or take longer before my return. I hope that helps even if it’s not the answer you were hoping for.

  149. Hi jo I found ( and my still finding On re reading the stages when I get there). very interesting and helpful. I am today 5 weeks post op having an acl with hand string graft and cartilage removal and I too even now am upset about the size of the scar. The amount of tiredness I felt in the first four weeks was unexpected but this’ll has now got slight better. I stopped the codiene from week two apart from at bedtime and now I just have one ibuprofen each morning. I am hoping to return to work after six weeks but need to drive so I am hoping this will be ok. I wanted to ask you about wearing high heeled shoes when did you find you could do this? Also swimming. I have a physio protocol but it jumps from 4-6 weeks to 6-12 weeks just wondered if you did any. ( I only swim breast stroke) . Lastly I have noticed that my big scar is hard to touch was yours like this.

    • Hi Donna, I’m glad you found my article helpful and that your recovery seems to be going well. Driving was a bit scary but only for the first five minutes. After that, it was a relief to be able to get rouns on four wheels instead of one and a half legs! I’m probably not the best person to ask about high heels because I wore flats most of the time pre-surgery. Over a year on, I’m still nervous about having any height to my shoes. I’ve worn tiny kitten heels for special occasions and felt absolutely fine but when I tried to put on anything more than any, I felt unstable. But, as I say, I wasn’t much of a heel wearer before. I’d suggest speaking to your physio. I’m also not a fan of indoor swimming pools so I didn’t do any swimming in the early stages. However, after three months I went to Asia where I swam in the ocean, which is a bit more challenging because of the sand on the ocean floor and the tide, and although I was nervous, it turned out to be fine. Again, speak to your physio but I think the advice is that swimming is okay but just avoid the breaststroke at first. That said, I’m not sure what stage swimming is okay from so check the dates. And yes, my scar was hard to touch – I believe this is quite normal because it scar tissue and over time it will soften. If you can cope with it, after a few months, I’d recommend getting some massage on it. Hope that helps. Let me know how you get on with the heel wearing. It might inspire me to get back into something a little more feminine than my Birkenstocks and boots 🙂

  150. Hi Jo

    This is an awesome article. I had my ACL surgery on the 19th of September this year. I fully agree with you regarding the pain. Worst ever – then again, this was my first ever surgery.

    I am currently frustrated with my recovery though, it’s been 6 weeks and I still can only bend it to about 60 degrees :-(. I keep hearing that I should be at 90 by now. I am going to physio twice a week and I’m doing my best to try and get my knee to bend as much as it can without the pain, but I still have a bit of swelling as well. I started with acupuncture last week, so hoping that also helps with the recovery. I am giving myself a year to get to normal – I play action netball. Hoping my recovery is as good as yours.

    Just curious about what you used on your scars?

    • Hey, the one thing I’m finding from speaking to others and reading about people’s experiences is that everybody recovers at a different rate. It is disheartening when you feel like you’re behind the curve on your recovery but focus on your physio. Keep doing your exercises and I’m sure you will progress. It feels so slow sometimes that it doesn’t feel like you’re not improving at all – This is how I felt around week six – but the one thing I have found from all the people I’ve spoken to who have had the surgery is that they all recover eventually. Once your swelling goes down, you’ll probably progress a lot quicker. Get icing several times a day! I used bio oil on my scars. This one: I hope you’re back to netball soon.

  151. Hi,

    I was surprised to see that date of the article was 2016, i wasn’t too familiar with the small details of surgery but those staples look pretty traumatic. I’m 9 days post op and all of my incisions were covered with so called steri-strips which are used in US mainly after stitches or staples removal which makes me assume I don’t have any stitches, I was told not to touch them and that they will fall off in the shower eventually. 2 fell off so far – one from the lateral scope and the other is femoral tunnel side – no stitches, just a tiny 1cm, neatly closed incisions, the biggest one 2,5cm from the graft sport (quad tendon) feels smooth under the steri strip, i don’t think there are stitches either.

    For the first couple of days I was given this little “purse” that is connected to a thin catheter on my thigh, slowly releasing medication next to a nerve in my thigh that is responsible for sensation in the front of the knee and thigh(mobility preserved), the drug was one of the “caine’s”, the numbing ones, rather than systemic. When it was running out I took half a dose of my prescription pain meds for a day anticipating some crazy pain, but none came and I was able to quickly switch to NSAID’s the following day. When the “purse” ran out I just pulled the catheter out from still numbed thigh, no bleeding or pain, just some 5-7cm of thin rubbery tube.

    I didn’t get intubated either, although a bag of mint & honey candy was waiting for me at home. They only did mask general + regional block on adductor canal. The more I read, the more different are the experiences are across the world I guess. I was expecting worse from my surgery.

    Oh, by the way scheduled for 7am, i was at home just after 11am.

    • Wow, you were put back together with steri strips – I’m really impressed and slightly envious about that 🙂 The catheter extraction, not so much! I’m not sure I’d be able to remove that myself without fainting or vomiting, so well done! Hope you have a pain-free and fast recovery.

      • Yeah I’m in the USA too and my long incision had internal stitches that dissolve in their own and were then covered with the steri-strips. The 4 other uber small cuts each got 2 reg stitches a piece…my steri-strips never fell off on their own as promised so mine had to be ripped off by nurse “helga” hot hands when I got my reg lil stitches removed. I feel for ya and your staples…ouch!!
        Unlike this dude tho I wasn’t left to handle the adductor catheter and “pain purse?!” At all… that’s fuggin nuts!! I was given oxygen thru the nostrils…general anesthesia, and then that nerve pain block he had…but they removed it b4 I left man LOL
        Don’t know that I’d let them tell me any pain purse nonsense..but he seems happy with nerve block worked the same as his though and I didn’t have to do anything. Around day 2.5 I was like “oh no no fuggity no!!! This is what all those ppl meant by ‘just wait til that block wears off’ holy crap my kidneys and liver have had a filtering mission ever since b/c of all the codeine and ibuprofen!!!”
        Like him I checked in at 730am…surgery started at 9am-ish…got done around 11am…checkout time, drug pickup time, and drive home I’d say I had my leg up on the couch by 1pm-ish??
        I asked every single person involved with my surgery in the days leading up to the time they put me under…”will I have a catheter? Or a throat tube? Will this eyelid tape rip off my lashes?” And I was assured the answer was no to all of that jazz and that was true! =) that was delighting ..the UK wants any excuse to suppository you instead eh? JeezUz! I feel so bad for you on that part!! If it makes you feel any better I was pumped full of antibiotics thru my IV during surgery which almost immediately gives me a yeast infection…TMI but it does for me…
        I hope you never need the knee surgery again, but if so, some across the pond dear friend!! We’ll hook ya up

      • Here i am again after 6 months. Came across the website while researching issues with hardware. Running outdoors and doing some careful climbing again, but when i push hard for several days in a row, i’m occasionally getting pain around the tibial tunnel. Makes me wonder if that’s just a pressure point or i make the suture button move around 🙁 alright, back to searching

    • Hi Saahiti, I can. Some things take a little longer to return to normal – for me, squatting down to reach the bottom of my fridge, for example, still gives me pause for thought but otherwise I’m walking, running, doing yoga and 99% of the time not giving a second thought to my knee.

  152. Thanks so much for sharing your journey! I am 11 days post ACL repair and am barely
    Weight bearing with crutches- you have truly inspired me to push a little
    More , even through the pain and crazy ankle
    And foot swelling I have right now!!!

    • Hi Danielle, I’m glad you found my post useful. I hope your ankle and foot swelling have gone down. Have you spoken to your doctor about this? In the meantime, ice and putting your foot up could help. Wishing you a swift recovery.

    • Thanks for getting back to me! Swelling went down after few days thankfully. I’m 4 1/2 weeks post and am finally able to bend 95 degrees. This is such a slow and painful journey! But everyday gets a little better. I know according to my doctors pt script I should be almost at 120 but it’s just too hard. I think a lot of it is fear of bending and breaking through the scar tissue. Hope you are doing well!!!

  153. Hey I had my acl reconstruction 5 days ago with the NHS. I have a multi ligament knee where I’ve already had the pcl and plc ligaments replaced 10 years ago. I have a brace on my knee set at 90 degrees movement. They have not planned any physio for me yet n all I’ve been told is I have to see the consultant in 6 weeks. The only concern I have that I would like to ask everyone else who has had this procedure, did the back of ur knee hurt? I’ve had a doner ligament this time n not my hamstring n this is stopping me fully weight bearing. Any advice?

    • Hi Joedy, the back of my knee did hurt and sometimes it still hurts over a year on. I originally thought this was because I had a meniscus tear situated near the back of my knee and they popped a stitch in it. However, who knows what they tinker around with when they’re in their! The best thing you can do is have a chat with your doctor. I would also chase up on the physio. I don’t know if I was lucky but my physio program started within a week of my surgery. However, my mum recently broke her leg (it’s a family thing!) And she was told that her physio wouldn’t start until she could fully weight bear so that might be the same with you. I think the best thing you can do is try to talk to somebody by phone to find out exactly what is going, whey you’re waiting on physio on and whether you back of knee pain is normal. Hope that helps and I hope you recover quickly.

  154. On the 21st August I had a bilateral rapture acl repair along with a broken fib on the right leg. Just like you my op was done via NHS. 7 weeks on thanks to private physio I have 100 flex on the right leg and 70 flex on the left. I’m still awaiting NHS physio therapy! If I hadn’t took it upon myself to get things moving i be in a worse of position. I can now walk without crutches and without those horrid knee braces.
    Excercising comes easy every day. My muscles around my knee / thigh and calf are quickly building up with the help of a good diet and protein powder. Today I got in my car ( had to start it up as it hadn’t been driven for months) drove it around the corner , didn’t a three point turn and more importantly I did a emergency stop. I reckon by next month I be goods to go. I can’t wait to start my hot yoga again but for the meantime I be stuck with my spinning bike.
    Your story is similar to mine only that my scars are much much longer than yours and I had no physio help from the NHS. It’s good to know there is others out that are talking and getting good knowledge and strength from these experience.

    • Hi Jacqui, I’m so pleased your recovery is coming along – sounds like a terrible time hurting both legs. The physio wait times aren’t great for you. Can you chase up the NHS? I know it differs in each area (though it really shouldn’t). I had to travel to a hospital that was further away to get appointments sooner but it ended up being worthwhile. Getting private physio was definitely a good move. And I’m also pleased you and your car have been reunited. I remember my mum asking me how it was driving, to which I replied ‘a whole lot easier than walking’! I’m in a bit of an exercise rut myself so hot yoga, spinning and protein powder are all good reminders for me. The healthy diet isn’t going so well with recent work trip to France and now Italy but what can I do? Say no to all that good food ;p Hope the physio comes through soon!

  155. Hey, I had Acl surgery. A week later I started walking on it with full weight with crutches. Is that normal ? Also my knee felt weird when I would walk, and when I sat down it would crunch or pop is that normal. I still wear my splint but hopefully I can take it off next week cause it gets annoying

    • Hi Marquezz, I don’t think there is a ‘normal’ because I think everyone will have a different experience. However, in terms of my own experience, I was fully weight bearing without crutches within a week (from memory), although I still relied on the crutches for comfort 🙂 I still get popping and crunching a year on but if you’re worried about it, I’d speak to your doctor to make sure it’s ok. Hope the recovery continues to go well.

  156. Hello Indiana Jo! Your story has been quite inspiring. I tore my acl and medial/lateral meniscus 6 years ago and I just now got surgery, on the 28th of September, 2017. They eliminated my meniscus completely and replaced the ligament with a juicy cadaver tendon. Week 1 and there’s hardly any range of motion and I really underestimated all of this. I’m on exactly 1 week after surgery and it seems like whenever I lower my leg off of the bed from elevation, my entire leg catches on fire. Especially right by the incisions. Is this normal? And, I live in a small town where therapy doesn’t really exist… sad to say. Any exercises I should be doing? My doc didn’t even give me any but he said by week 2 I should be able to bend at a 90 degree angle. I really appreciated you logging this online! Helped quite a bit. Hope to hear back from you!

    • Hi Kunal, I’m glad the surgery went well but that’s such a shame you don’t have local physio. If you have a smartphone, the NHS (National Health Service) has an app for physiotherapy with a host of physio exercises listed on there according to type of injury. I used it in the early days to remind me what I needed to do. I’m nervous about recommending that you do any exercises without the supervision of a PT but the ones on this list broadly correspond to the ones I was given. Just be careful! It may be worth looking into whether you can speak to a physio by Skype video to get some expert advice. They would at least be able to look at your knee in action. Good luck with the recovery!

  157. Hey Jo, thanks for this post. It gives a clear picture of what i need to expect by which week. Had an ACL surgery and meniscectomy on 27th April this year. Numbness n stiffness still exist n pain to. Just wanted to know if you are able to sit in vajrasana or padmasana. I’m a big fan of yoga but unable to get to these positions like the way I used to before the surgery, coz it hurts like hell. If you are able to, by which week did you achieve it. Kindly advice.

    • Hi Diana, glad the post has helped. In terms of yoga, my vajrasana pose is still a work in progress. It was very difficult and painful at first but it’s slowly getting easier. In fact, I told my physio that I was struggling with it and his reply was ‘I’m not surprised!’. I started by using two yoga blocks and now I alternate between a cushion and a few seconds without. Obviously, I’m better at it towards the end of the day and towards the end of my practice. It’s near impossible for me to do first thing in the morning but I’m confident I will eventually get there. I’ve been nervous of padmasana and last week was actually the first time I tried it. It was just for a few seconds. I started by making sure I could properly and comfortably cross my legs with my injured leg closer to my body. I hope that helps. I think slow and steady is the way with these things. Hope this helps.

  158. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. I’m in my 60’s and this is a first time surgery, had no idea what to expect. I very much appreciate all your detailed information and this gives me some sort of guideline to guage by, so I don’t have unrealistic expectations. Thank you Jo.

    • Hi Zoe, happy to help. Hope the surgery goes well. Also, congrats on making it through six decades before breaking yourself enough to need surgery ;p

  159. HI Jo,

    I’ve had the surgery exactly one year ago (September 19, 2016). I twisted my knee trying to defend the ball (football) (August 21, 2016). Tore my ACL and had to repair my meniscus. Now I’m back to football, thanks to both the doctors and PT, I can twist, jump, run normally now.

    I just wonder, after my gym or football sessions, I do feel little bit pain on my wound, not a big deal, but is it normal to still feel the pain? About how long till it is completely healed?

    PS doctors took one of my hamstrings for ACL reconstruction.


    • Hi Jay, I’m not a doctor and I don’t know if there is any real ‘normal’ recovery. However, if it helps, I still have pain with my scar over a year on. For me, mainly the skin feels tight and there is still some sensitivity when I touch it but I’m hoping that will ease over time. Glad to hear you’re back to football!

  160. I had my surgery 2 weeks ago and oh my either I am extremely lucky or you are exaggerating I was in pain for about 2 days after surgery and a week after surgery I could bend my knee the full 135 degrees (same as my left one) I too had tube down my throat I just woke up really thirsty had a lucozade then I was fine! Maybe it is because I’m am 23 but after week 2 I am at the same stage as you were at week 6! Also you need to work harder in the gym at stengthing your muscles around your knee so they can take more strain of the ligament in keeping your stability. You have an 80% chance of regaining full fitness by month 12! Thanks for the read but man it was like an episode of easterners all the way through!! (Depressing drama) I know I will get 100% back to fitness as i will graft my arse of in the gym to regain the strength and more in my muscles around my knee.

    • Oh I also had a tear in my medial ligament that also has been repaired anybody reading this after or before surgery. Have a positive attitude the things surgeons can do now a days are incredible and why would they waste time and money in doing the surgery if you can not get back to full fitness. The earlier you start strengthening those muscles and gradually using your new ligament more the better

    • Hi Jake, I’m glad your surgery went well and that your recovery has been fast and pain-free. Younger people do tend to recover more quickly – simple physiology at play. I’m grateful that you stopped by to share your experience. I’m also pleased this post is turning into a place for people to comment about how they found their surgery – the good recovery stories as well as the difficult experience. It’s great to illustrate how we all recover differently. I am, however, less pleased at your lack of compassion. I didn’t publish this post as a forum for negativity, insults and arrogance. If you return and want to comment again, can you please keep this in mind. By all means share your experience but don’t try to shame others who haven’t been as lucky or dedicated to the gym as you. I don’t want to filter out comments but this needs to be a supportive place.

    • Hey there just checking in. Still doing my PT everyday and trying to keep my spirits up. Wanted to let anybody know if they have not found it there is aTENS unit that you can order for home use it is very beneficial for swelling and pain. Thanks again for giving us space Jo

      • Hi Michelle, that’s interesting and good to know about the TENS unit. Do you have any more details on where to get hold of one of these units and at what point it’s safe to use? Thanks and also thanks for checking back in 🙂 Hope the recovery is going well.

  161. Hey, Jo

    I’m 17, tore my ACL in a knee to knee collision with an opponent that left my knee bent inwards and I heard the dreaded “pop”. After taking an X-ray it was almost certain that my ACL had torn, and I’m getting ready to go for surgery in about 6 months (March 2018). That’s about a year from the original injury (March 2017). I’ve gone back to just playing football with my friends and I’m able to run at about 40% of my previous max speed. I just wanted to ask about your MRI experience. Did you have an MRI taken? Or did you just go ahead with the surgery after the preliminary physical evaluation of your doctor? If you did get an MRI done, did you have contrast injected in?

    cheers in advance,
    a friend from Singapore
    Sarhan Knight.

    • Hi Sarhan, urgh -the dreaded pop. I remember that well. I was also about one year between my injury and surgery due to a combination of waiting to get my knee strong again and delays with the National Health Service here in the UK. I did have an MRI to confirm that I had torn my ACL. Initially, I paid for this privately because I foolishly thought I hadn’t injured anything too serious and could just move on with strengthening my knee. However, when I approached my doctor to tell him I had torn my ACL, he wanted to do an MRI to reconfirm. If at all possible, I would push to get an MRI before anybody takes a scalpel to your knee because without one there is no real way of knowing what damage you have done. For example, you may just have a grade 2 tear which wouldn’t require surgery. When I had my MRI, there was no contrast injection. Hope that helps and good luck!

  162. Hiiii Jo, i m 28 I have found this so useful so thank you so much for sharing. I have completely torn my left knee ACL. I did my OP on 22nd August, initial excersies was muscles thighting & foot movment.after OP not that much easy to do daily basis things, after 10 days of my OP my phisyo advise me to start excersies(heel slide). And my ortho tell me to wear knee brace for at least 45days from the day 1st for strong graft & for 3 weeks two hand crutches.
    After that i change over to single crutches as they advice. When i am doing my exercises some time its paining. But after 4 weeks my ROM is only 80-90 degrees, if i go more then that its paining me hell?. Sometimes i feel i cant go more then this. Now i have to focus on some new excersies, using icepacks as instructed. Now my ortho gave me 1 month to do full movement (110-120 degrees) after that i can go for gym for cycling and other excersies. So what you think its good enough for 4 weeks. I am doing exercises regularly.

  163. I hadn’t read all the commentary when I posted before. I too seriously considered whether surgery was necessary in my situation. However, I do enjoy being active such as hiking, biking, occasional tennis (how I tore it) etc. Obviously 2 weeks from surgery to soon to know if it was ‘worth it’. Also considered elective so I basically footed the bill, not much insurance coverage and/or below my out of pocket threshold. I am at 90 degree bend and working hard to get to 110 angle in the next few weeks so I can get on an exercise bike. Also in a full knee brace that I wear at all times to keep knee straight. Have read differing opinions on this but following doctor orders. My surgery occurred within 2 months of injury and started PT within 5 days. So far the worst of post surgery was severe cramping from constipation. Wished I’d done a suppository or started softeners sooner. Use a CPM Machine – Continous passive motion – at home which I think is really helpful. Hope this helps others

  164. Thanks very much for sharing. I had surgery 2 weeks ago. I am 54. Active but not athletic or trim/ fit. It has been harder already than anticipated. Your story encourages me

    • Hi Donnley, sorry your surgery recovery is turning out to be harder than you thought. But I’m also glad you found some help in this article. Keep at it! I wish you a speedy return to fitness.

  165. Hey there. Return from the surgeon’s office a few hours ago. I had to wallow in some self-pity for a while… not something I’m used to doing. So my incredibly talented surgeon is very much leaning towards not having surgery. I have a PCL ACL and MCL tear or rupture. 4 four weeks starting Thursday I will be doing PT which I think is a good idea. This will allow the MCL some time to heal which he thinks may not require surgery. That just from what he did in the office today it is going to be a very hard 4 weeks. Up to now I have had basically no pain so I guess I’m spoiled. He said the surgery is incredibly complicated and risky a very high 10% chance of complications. Due to my age and the nature of the injury. I have been very active all of my life and actually enjoy working out. Although I won’t be Slalom skiing I would still like to hike, run muddy marathons, roller skate with my grandkids all that fun stuff. During this next month I will be doing a lot of research which can be scary in itself. Just a few exercises I have been doing at home the last two week is exhausting. I feel so weak. My brother is a PA and has suggested stem cell injections is a possibility if the surgery is too risky. It will be a tough decision this surgeon seems to feel there is enough other support in the knee area that it is not required to have your ACL and PCL intact.
    So I will keep you updated. Also I feel the second opinion would be a smart thing to do not necessarily to disagree with him I appreciate the fact that he is a surgeon and doesn’t want to just go in there and cut things up if you know what I mean. Thanks for the space to write.
    Ps Why fo they call yourself Indiana Joe just curious because I was born in Southern Indiana in the States

  166. Do you know why in the world they used staples instead of stitches? That looks pretty painful! Was your surgery an allograft? They didn’t give you a heavy duty knee brace of any kind after surgery? I had an acl allograft surgery 10 months ago, but I went home to the USA to have the surgery, and they just closed me up with 7-10 stitches ( no catheter or breathing tube either:). I left the hospital with some Percocet for pain, (no suppositories), but I didn’t have much pain at all after surgery. The knee wasn’t bad at all aside from the stiffness, popping, and crunching… I was given a large adjustable hinged knee brace I had to wear for about 6 weeks, and this helped prevent injury to the new ligament while my muscles were at their weakest. The DVT stockings were a nightmare. I had an allergic reaction to them, so I stopped wearing them after a week, but I was on blood thinners for 2 weeks, so that was ok. I still have lots of pain and stiffness in my knee, (my days of tennis and racquetball are over), but thank goodness my stability is back to 100%! (I do still have problems pushing a shopping cart in the store here in the UK…I don’t understand why all 4 wheels have to turn, it makes it very hard to push when you have a bad knee… In the US, only 2 wheels move on the carts, so it’s much easier). I hope you continue to heal up well. Sounds like you’ve done great getting back into running! I really enjoyed reading your story. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Hi Annie, I think the staples were down to cost and speed – I did have my op on the British National Health Service. I didn’t have a knee brace though I did wear one before my op, for stability at first and then later for confidence. I guess it’s just to stop you jerking your knee around and also as one doctor told me, they serve as a reminder to not overdo things. The stiffness popping and crunching are disgusting, aren’t they? Mine comes and goes these days which is better than it being there all the time. A year on, although I was no tennis fanatic before, I feel as though I could take up the sport so I wouldn’t strike it off just yet. I’ll probably give skiing a miss though. I’ve never noticed the difference between the shopping trolleys in the UK and the US. They are hard to push here at the best of times! Hope you have a quick and trouble-free recovery and, who knows, maybe you’ll be picking up a racket again sometime soon.

  167. Hi Jo,

    I completely snapped my ACL learning to ski in March, only just had the reconstruction operation 6 days ago as I was able to walk, probably run etc and numerous physios suggested I don’t have the operation. In the end lifestyle and activities I want to be able to do were my priorities. Thank you for such a detailed recovery of your operation, over the coming months I can see me referring to it to see and also remind me not to forget to do my exercises and physio.


    Steve Gannan.

    • Hi Steve, glad the op went well and that you found the post useful – I think the comments are becoming as useful as what I’ve written and I’m so pleased people have found a place to share their experiences. I also had that ‘should I/shouldn’t I’ debate and went for it for the same reason you did. I just didn’t want to live my life worried about instability. Your exercises and physio will be key. In fact, I need to take that as a note so self as my knee is starting to stiffen these last few weeks as winter and inactivity approach. Time to re-friend my therabands!

  168. Hi…I am 58 and have torn three ligaments in my knee from a slalom waterskiing accident. I was really having fun when I went down. I see my surgeon in two days. I will admit I am really anxiety ridden over what I’m going to hear and experience in the near future. I miss walking, carrying my grandchildren and yoga the most. I will update later. Thank you so much for your article

    • Hi Michelle, at least you are having fun when you injured yourself. I was too 🙂 I remember those early days well and it was an anxious time but nearly a year on, they pale in comparison to the confidence I now have knowing that everything is reconnected. Good luck and although it can take a while to get back to normal or something close to normal, I have no regrets.

    • Hi Olivia, I’m glad you found this useful. There was a girl about 13 in my post surgery physio classes and she was steps ahead of the rest of us so I hope you will have a quick and easy recovery. Good luck with the surgery.

  169. Hey Jo, very cool and detailed post! I just got a knee surgery 9 days after waiting for 2 months. I suffered a bucket handle tear, ACL and MCL tear. It was tough first few days but definitely getting better. I have small suture stitches that are healing up pretty quick, couldn’t imagine the staples, kudos to you for the courage! I dislike pain meds so haven’t been taking them past few days, can’t wait to get on my feet to grab some natural green earth medicine 😉 Still haven’t seen a physio because we messed up on our follow up appt, but I worked out my leg today, already feels better!

    Best of luck with everything and stay strong! Safe Travels!

  170. Hello 🙂 I have found this so useful so thank you so much for sharing. I have completely torn my ACL and medial meniscus and am awaiting surgery (the NHS is taking forever *sigh*) The injury happened whilst I was on holiday in Sri Lanka in December and I was misdiagnosed for 3 months after returning to the UK in Jan by doctors and physios (which looking back at the situation leaves me very frustrated as I had all the signs of the injury- huge swelling, popping sound, locking, unable to walk) until on Mother’s Day (end of march) I slipped on 2 stairs in my house and OMG THE PAIN. Like initially when I originally injured it in Sri Lanka – my leg locked again, swelled up to a size of a balloon and I couldn’t walk. God knows what I did but I decided enough was enough and I took myself to A&E where I waited 6 hours for an X-ray to be told (of course) that I should be fine as no bones are broken. It was at this point my boyfriend demanded that I be referred to the trauma clinic to follow on to the next steps (we both knew something wasn’t right) May I add that the doctor in the hospital was not massively forthcoming about referring me on to the trauma clinic (again so frustrating) but I have my boyfriend to thank so much by pushing him to referring me onwards.

    A week later and still unable to walk, I went to the trauma clinic where the doctor refferred me for an MRI- hurray! And of course when the results came back- as suspected (I had a suspicion it would be that as I was researching like hell what could be wrong with my knee as I was not being given answers by doctors or physios prior to me admitting myself to A&E)
    I had torn my meniscus but a shocking result I have completely torn my ACL as well.

    People were asking me how I was even walking but it’s a funny old injury isn’t it. Your knee kind of returns to normal (I say normal but it’s never ever normal) and you can walk fine until- it gives way randomly (it swells and you can’t walk) you do a star jump (it swells and you can’t walk) someone drunk in the pub puts their arm around you and loses their step with their weight on you pulling your knee suddenly in an odd direction (it swells and you can’t walk) These are just a couple of examples that I have found whilst living with this injury for 9 months.

    I have however, been petrified thinking about the op. Once I was diagnosed and signed up for the surgery i have been thinking so hard whether to have the op. I have never known anyone to have this injury so been reading up massively about the implication. Have you found it worth it? Would you advise to go ahead with it? I’m 28, like you love travelling the world- very active pre injury I was going to boot camp 4 times a week- this has stopped now tho as I’m petrified that one wrong step and it will swell and I won’t be able to walk.

    Any thoughts from anyone re the surgery will be great. I’m scared as hell!!


    Luccie 🙂 x

    • Hi Luccie, what a shambles – I can’t believe so many ‘medical professionals’ missed this. You would think they’d know that the knee is made up of more than just bone. At least you now have a diagnosis so you can do your research and make a decision from there. I didn’t have half of the symptoms you have (no knee locking, only a little bit of swelling and not a huge amount of pain) and I still wanted my knee fixed. Of course, you have to make the right decision for you but if I was faced with your symptoms every time I jarred my knee, I’d have myself straight on the operation list. I also weighed up whether the surgery would be worth it and for peace of mind if nothing else, I’m glad I went ahead. You’re still very young and you’re likely to heal quickly because of that. I found speaking to my physiotherapist most helpful when making my decision and I have zero regrets about having the operation done. I hope that’s helpful and I hope you get back to full knee health soon.

      • Hello – yes very helpful! Thank you for sharing your story! It’s been great (and so helpful) stumbling across this blog and reading everyone’s experience!

    • Luccie, same here. It was about a year from initial injury to operation. I’ve been recovering for a week so far. Very glad I went through with it – you should do it. You’ll get arthiritus if you don’t and always be unstable.

      Great blog post!

      • Theo, thanks for the advice! I think I’m going to be looking about a year from injury to op 🙁 it’s very disheartening but what can you do! I’ve done so much research my brain could fall out but it’s so refreshing when you hear of people first hand actually going through with the operation and telling their stories! I’ve never had an operation so I’m a little scared! Would be great to hear your progress and I wish you luck 🙂

  171. I had my left knee ACL reconstruction with meniscal repair on 13rd july 2017. So its about week 7 of my surgery. I am quit upset with my healing progress since i just can bend my knee for only 30-40° actively (not even more!) in week 5. My surgeon had done knee manipulation in week 6. Yes it was painfull but at least there is some progress of my ability to bend my knee as now i can actively bend it to 50-55°. Im struggling mentally and physically for my recovery. I never miss any physio sessions and follow up with my ortho specialist, but still i cant achieve an aim for at least 90° bending my knee in week 7 ?

    Talking about strength and all, yes of course it still weak. My left leg become small compare to my right leg due to muscle (i guess?). However i am now off from crutches for short distance walk (in home) but not really confident to left my crutches for outdoor walk ??

    Exercises? Almost everyday i am doing exercises as what my physioterapist advice like heel slides, muscle rebuilding, knee strength and all. But i am still not able to do cycling since there is no flexibility on my knee, and it not give me a good cooperation.

    I am still hoping that i will have my speed recovery as this time is all limited for my daily activities. With 3 kids around 2-5 yo, it become hardest. But i am sure that i will be better after this. Slowly but surely.

    Thanks for your experience and advice!! And i pray for ur speed recovery as well!

    • Hi Mala, have you tried icing your knee? I’m not a doctor but I know that in the initial weeks one of the things that can hamper your range of motion is swelling due to fluid on the knee for which you need RICE – rest, ice, compression, elevation. The manipulation sounds useful – is there anyway you can get more of this from your physio or, if you’re able, seek someone out privately? I understand how frustrating and slow recovery can be (a year on and I am still using a yoga block when I sit back on my heels) but try not to be disheartened. You will progress – I promise. Keep doing the exercises and if necessary, go back to basics i.e. the first exercises you were given. If nothing else, it will make you realise that you are making progress compared to those first days. If your physio says you can, I’d really try to give the bike another try. It was so slow and difficult the first time I tried (not to mention painful) that the electronic controls kept switching off because I wasn’t going fast enough to even register that I was using the bike. Push the seat back, go incredibly slowly, take your foot off if you can’t complete a full rotation and try to work up from there. I hope that you make some more progress. Good luck!

  172. I tore my ACL and meniscus back in June while riding an elevator… the elevator broke and dropped about a foot before coming to a sudden stop and my left knee buckled tearing my ACL and meniscus. Today is 8/31/2017 and I had ACL reconstruction surgery and meniscus repair surgery. I am dreading PT but also know what it means for recovery. The doctor said it would be February before full recovery and return to full duty. Thanks for sharing your story. Looking forward to getting back to normal.

    • Hi David, you win the award for most dramatic way to bust your ACL! Yes, the PT was initially painful but it eventually reached the point where it was a chore i.e. less painful. It also takes longer the most people think to recover but hopefully by February you’ll be back on track (and able to use the stairs instead of an elevator maybe). Good luck with your recovery.

  173. Okay I have to agree 100% percent with you! 6 years ago I tore my left ACL skiing down a mountain and it was a hard recovery and I had PT at the best in the world at Andrews Institute along with some of the best athletes in America. Flash forward 4 weeks ago and I have had ACL surgery on my right knee from a quick turn in a tennis match. Now I am a 40 year old as well and it was refreshing to read that I’m not alone. This last surgery has been just as hard for me. Mentally sitting is what is driving me insane!!! So thank you for the few minutes of smiling knowing I’m not the only 40 year old who wants the world to know this isn’t a piece of cake recovery 🙂

    • Hi Brandie, on the one hand I’m sorry that you’re having a tough time post surgery but at the same time, it’s reassuring to me to know that I’m not the only one (in her 40s) who didn’t find this a walk in the park. I still struggle with some stiffness almost a year on but I am happy to report that there are whole days that go by when I don’t think about the fact that I had surgery on my knee. I hope it gets easier from here.

  174. Thanks so much for this post! I’m 22 (a baby I know) and just had my ACL reconstruction under 2 weeks ago and am struggling mentally quite a bit because of my pre-planned trip. Went searching the web for some reassurance as you do and this was just what I needed. Hope you continue to recover and get stronger! xx

    • Hi Lisa, I hope your trip goes as planned and that your surgery doesn’t impact it too much. My first trip after my ACL reconstruction was more worrying than anything else. With enough rest and ice, I was still able to travel well. Have a great trip.

  175. Thanks for sharing. I had my surgery 2.5 weeks ago. I am off crutches but bending my knee is somewhat a problem at the moment and sth that makes me a little scared. I also experience skin numbness around the wound but hopefully that will disappear soon. It’s early days and according to my physio I am making good progress but the immobility frustrates me. I think the key is to stay patient, work hard with physio and try not to panic!

    • I feel your pain with the immobility and knee bending – literally! Even now I still have to work on my mobility if I’m a bit static for a few days working at my desk. Your surgery was still really recent and as difficult as it is, listen to your physio. They are the much better judge of your progress than yourself. The numbness may well linger for a while longer also. I still have some numbness, though it’s not nearly as bad as it was. I just got used to not touching the area, which is normal because I don’t touch the same area on my other leg! Stick with the patience, work with the physio and absolutely do not panic. I wish you a very speedy recovery.

  176. I tore my ACL skiing in Feb. and had surgery with a hamstring graft at the end of March, so I’m almost at 5mths. I’m 44 was in decent shape, but this whole experience has been very challenging. Surgery was a breeze, no catheter btw. I fully went under and was back at my house before lunch same day. Living in a town where a lot of people ski probably doesn’t hurt because my surgeon was pumping out ACL repairs like nobody’s business this ski season due to a lot of snow! I used oxy, advil, tylenol and aspirin for the first four-five days I think. Then dropped the oxy. Staying on the regime of pain meds helped. Ice, ice, ice. I focused for the first month on extension, which I achieved quickly although I was very flexible before the accident. Extension is especially important with a hamstring graft. My hamstring doesn’t feel any different than my other leg now. I was off crutches within a week and the full leg brace within two weeks, even though the surgeon thought I should wear it longer. My PT was very happy when I started with her three weeks after surgery that I had not been using my crutches or wearing a brace. The quicker to use it the less atrophy, which I haven’t really had. Thank goodness all my living area was one floor and easily accessible without stairs. I was back to work after a week and driving within two weeks. All of that said, my recovery has still been very difficult. Stage 3 arthritis was discovered in my knee joint and cleaned up a bit, but it’s made being able to go back to squatting and weight bearing knee bends or even considering running, pivoting of any sort off the table for now. I’m sitting here icing because I just sort of ran up a few stairs in my house without thinking about it and am in pain. I don’t imagine I will run again for exercise, and I haven’t been able to get back to yoga practice, which has been mentally difficult to deal with. I’ve started spin class and strengthening and a lot of balancing exercises. I need to get back to PT too. Summer travel has made that difficult, but I’m trying. The good news is I thought I would spend the summer indoors, but that hasn’t been the case. I went to NYC just one month after surgery and walked 20,000 steps one day. I needed to ice, but no problems. You can’t hurt it by walking, but you have to be careful not to put yourself in a position where you might trip or fall. I still feel quite protective of my knee and am aware that I have to be careful. I look forward to a few months from now when hopefully my movement is better. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Julie, thanks Sharing your experience. It’s always good to hear how other people’s surgery and recovery has gone. I’m envious that you were able to have your surgery so soon. I’m sure that’s my long recovery was largely down to this. I completely understand the feeling of protectiveness towards your knee. If it makes you feel better, i’m feeling more and more casual about my knee as time goes on. I have also got back on my yoga mat and have been out running. It sounds like you’re well on the road to an excellent recovery. I wish you the best of luck.

  177. Gday Jo really enjoyed your story and im feeling more confident but still a bit wary of my upcoming surgery. Im in limbo at the moment after being told by my surgeon on Thursday that I have to wait 6 to 8 weeks for my mcl grade 3 tear to heal, while wearing a brace, before my acl reconstruction , I am a keen surfer and this extra time out of the water is hard to take and just wondering if anyone else has had to wait before surgery cheers

    • Hey Peter, I ended up waiting 9 months before my surgery so 6-8 weeks sounds super quick to me! I pretty much had to start from scratch with my fitness, yoga, running and hiking after that, but by following the physio, I’ve been able to get back into things reasonably well (once i put my mind to it), so I would try not to worry that much. Just get ready to rest and ice after every surf session post op and be prepared to start slow – you will probably have a ‘don’t surf yet’ period but your doctor will tell you when you can get back to it. Hope the op and recovery go well!

    • That’s normal to wait to build up quad strength, which will prevent less atrophy. I talked my doctor into surgery 4wks after my accident only because I had travel plans I couldn’t cancel. For the safety of flying and not risking a blood clot, he wanted at least a month between surgery and when I got on a plane. I still took aspirin as a precaution when flying. Don’t rush it too much though!

      • My first flight felt terrify. I also took aspirin but that didn’t stop me looking at my leg every half hour as though I’d be able to spot a DVT. I’ve flow many times since and I’m pleased to say that I no longer give it a second thought even for long haul flights.

  178. Michele Taylor-Smith
    I had ACL and Meniscus reconstruction in April. Im so disappointed cause have already tore 3mo later. Im overweight and had a cadaver. Im so disappointed in having to do this all over again its a hard 3mo. This time it will be harder with patella tendon. You article is so interesting. Im not sure if Ill be ok without doing again. It buckles occasionally. Trying to get strong plus loose weight to help. Has others had failed with cadavers?

    • Oh yikes, Michael – that really sucks and I can’t imagine how upset you are. Although i haven’t received any comments from other readers about failed ACLs, my doctor had one that failed really quickly. If it gives you any comfort, he had the operation a second time and it’s been going strong for 10 years now. I wish you all the best of luck. If you need any support, message me – I always have a cheery thought on hand…

  179. I had ACL reconstruction on May 22, 2017. It’s Been 5 weeks so far. I can see from your experience that it’s a long journey to recover from the surgery. I desperately want to just walk normally.

    • Hi Hem Tai, I remember that phase where you’re counting everything in weeks since your op and wondering when you’ll be able to walk properly again. It does take a while and it’s painfully slow but it will happen. I ran down the stairs the other day to answer the door and it was only later I realised how I’d done it without a thought. Recovery will sneak up on you. Just keep up with the physio and commit to it for the long haul. Wishing you the fastest recovery.

  180. Your ACL surgery sounds like an absolutely horrific experience. My husband had his ACL Reconstructed in about 2003 or 4 & e experienced some minor discomfort. I on the other hand had my totally destroyed ACL Reconstructed in 2015 by a John’s Hopkins University Orthopedics Physician & Professor; I had ZERO PAIN or DISCOMFORT from my surgery. After I’d taken 2 pain pill so asked my husband why I was taking them & he said for pain & I responded that “I had absolutely no pain” & he said to stop the pain pills & see how I felt. Other than my leg being bandaged from surgery & in a custom brace u wouldn’t have ever known that I’d just had my ACL Reconstructed. Easiest surgery to recover from. Sorry for your rough experience.

    • Next time (?!?), I’m booking in with your surgeon 🙂 Ah, I don’t mind the rough experience so much – it’s character building, right?

    • HI,
      This is Prasannakumar from USA(Indian), I just had my ACL reconstruction surgery on May 25th 2017 and it is now 7 weeks from the surgery. I had the Auto graft(Patellar tendon graft). i cant believe my progress that in this 7 weeks i am able to walk confidently, do biking with some resistance, staircase step up and downs(down is bit tough), leg press etc. But every day is better as i feel and also my PT says.
      I have one question to you, as you already been to surgery and experienced it a very long back, i wanted to ask that, Is it possible for you to sit on the floor with cross legs(Yoga Pose Padmasana).?? If yes, how many days after the surgery you were able to achieve this? if you have not tried so far then can try it now and let me know your feedback.
      It helps a lot and you can send your reply to EMAIL REMOVED FOR PRIVACY.
      Also how many months you had the PT sessions?

      • Hi Prasannakumara, I’m not sure if you wanted a reply from me or Susan but either way I’m very happy your surgery went well. I cannot do Padmasana pose but I couldn’t do it before surgery 🙂 I can, however, cross my legs as well as I could before and I continue to work on getting to Padmasana. Do be aware that your email address is now public – I’ve published this as you included it but let me know if you want me to remove it for you.

  181. I also had meniscal repair plus ACL. Into 3rd week I am able to walk and climb stairs with 1 crutch. Pain is not much, but ROM and weight bearing is limited. I am not challenging myself as much but feeling alright with the progress. Hope to walk limp free 6-8 weeks. Staples look like a bad idea, I had self dissolving stitches on mine.

    • Hi Kartik, I’m glad you’re on the other side of the op and recovering. Thanks for sharing your experience and I agree that progressing at your own pace is important. Sigh, I wish I’d had a choice about the staples – they wouldn’t have been my choice either!

  182. This is a really good post for the most part, but I’ve really got to say that you’re pushing it when you complain about stuff like being cathetherised and having tubes shoved down your throat. Like, a person who claims they climb down volcanoes is uncomfortable with having a cathether placed while you’re completely onconscious so you don’t wet yourself during surgery? Let me tell you something – you got a class A treatment simply because of the fact that you live in a first world country, and most of us aren’t this lucky.

    I got spinal anesthesia during my surgery in Serbia by recommendation from my doctor, so although I could not feel anything beneath my waist I was completely conscious during the surgery.

    After surgery, I had to have a catheter put into place after the anesthesia had completely worn off, because my bladder just shut down completely from it and I could not urinate (a common complication with spinal anesthesia).

    This was 2 days ago and my stomach muscles still ache from flexing so hard in desperate hope of urinating into a bottle in front of like five other people (cause you know, you can’t really stand up after spinal anesthesia for like 24 hours unless you want to come crashing down to the floor, so going to the bathroom was out of the question.) The catheter being put in was a horrible pain but it only lasts like a couple of seconds, and it had to be left there until the next morning, and I felt the thing in my penis the whole damn time.

    Immediately after surgery, the doctor came in and basically said that I had to lift my leg no matter how much it hurts, in order to drain the excess fluid from my joint and keep my quadriceps from atrophying too quickly. So there I was, with a leg that hurt like hell, a catheter that is by far the most unpleasant thing I’ve ever felt in my life (my urinary tract is still irritated from it and it burns when I urinate), and basically not being able to move more than a couple of inches for 24 hours, which led to horrible back pain. But after that first day was done, everything was just fine. Your experience is far less painful from what I’ve come to understand, simply because your healthcare system has far more resources than ours, so you should be grateful you didn’t have to go through what many of us go through during ACL surgery.

    Again, apart from that, this is a solid post, and I guess that if you’re getting operated on in the UK it’s a fine reference, but just keep in mind that there are people out there who have to have this surgery in far poorer conditions.

    • Hi Damjan, sorry to hear about your surgery. You may have skip read the article but you’ll see under the titles, in the detail, I was objecting to not being told about the various tubes. As someone who’s travelled to over 60 countries (including Serbia), I’m also very openly grateful about my country and its facilities, including healthcare (I’ve written a post about it) I hope in your few days post surgery your’re finding more cheerful things to read about that just surgery 🙂 Wishing you a swift recovery.

  183. It really depends on the surgeon and how your body adapts… I think this article is a bit exaggerated. I had artroscopy in february, for acl and meniscus repair and didnt have to take a single pain killer, I was free to go home 3 hours after the begining of the operation, didnt need crutches after 3 days post op. Now I can already run squat swim,… Normal activity is fine but I still cant train MMA jet, like I did before. Im 17 yo and into sports so that plus good surgeon, good genetics plus high pain threshold and always pushing myself helped. Dont panic over this article, youll be fine. If you have any questions and if I know the answer pleas ask Ill try to check this article from time to time.

    • Hey L, thanks for stopping by – I’m really pleased your recovery if going well and, I agree, everybody’s surgery and recovery will be different. This article isn’t intended to make people panic (and I don’t think it does), it’s an accurate description of my experience and, as such, is not an exaggeration. It’s been my reality. Of course, as a 17 year old you’re bound to recover quicker than a 41 year old (me). In the same way, a 10 year old would recover quicker than you. But please do stop by again because it is important for all experiences to be reflected and not everyone reading this will be my age, with my body (actually, hopefully nobody else has my body ;p) so your input is really appreciated. Out of interest, any tips/ for getting my full squat, i.e. crouch and sitting on my haunches back?

  184. I got my surgery yesterday morning. Thank you for the article. I still re-read it.using it as a more suitable advice and comparison. Way better then people telling advice that doesn’t pertain or if their surgery was like 20 years ago. Thank you

    • Oooh, Michelle – hope the op went well and best of luck with the recovery. I actually did my 8 month update yesterday so do come back and re-read once your recovery is under way. Good luck getting back on your feet (knee!)

  185. Interesting article! I had ACL reconstruction in 2009. It enabled me to return to football and running from 2010 to 2013 after 7 years off due to several knee injuries. By 2013 I had to quit running and football for good.
    At 44 I am now experiencing intense knife like pains through the knee. Plus the knee started collapsing at Xmas. The pain is awful and I’m going to an orthopaedic doctor.

    Thank you. J

    • Hi Jai, argh. That doesn’t sound good. I too am hoping to return to running. Seems I might need to take things a bit easy. I will update the post but after 3 months, I’ve just taken my ‘new-born’ ligament off to Asia for 2-3 months, backpacking. So far it’s doing a sterling job under all of the increased activity. Fingers crossed it holds up. I wish you all the luck in the world with your doctor and I hope they can find a solution that will get you back to all the sports you enjoy. 44 is way too young to have limited mobility.

      • I had acl (hamstring) reconstruction a little over a week ago. I stopped taking the strong meds with in 2 days. There is almost no pain, swelling, or bruising. My surgeon does roughly 10 of these a week. The experience has been to the point where I can’t tell I even had surgery. I am sorry yours was tough, but it doesn’t have to be.

        • I’m both jealous but really pleased for you. What a great experience and thanks for stopping by to share with everyone else. It’s good to have the experience of more than one person (me) on here! I hope the rest of your recovery is just as good.

        • I believe that it’s Ok to feel vulnerable. We all have different ways to deal with pain and to recover. I’m a 31 year old female and have had a rather speedy recovery, but I’m STILL pushing for more activity, better balance, and more reflexion. Letting my body heal at it’s own pace has a benefit.. though sometimes my brain disagrees haha. Thanks for sharing Derek! :)))


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