Abaco

My Knee Surgery Adventure

6 posts in this topic

Over two decades ago I suffered a very bad knee injury. I'll not go into my interraction with marginal doctors over the past couple decades, as entertaining as that may be. But, I've lived wihout an ACL, and with a damaged LCL since. My knee, with all of my activities, started to unravel more when, in December, I tore my cartilage doing a routine warmup before a workout.

Well, through my primary care physician I managed to connect with a fantastic surgeon. Dr. Stephen Howell. Two months ago he performed an ACL replacement in my knee and cartilage repair. I have a cadaver tendon for an ACL now, attached with two pieces of titanium hardware. The procedure is extensive but I remain amazed at the results and progress. Just before surgery my nurse told me that this procedure takes longer in surgery and recovery than knee replacement. My doc does a lot of knee replacements.

What has impressed me is this doctor's professionalism and skill. This guy really knows his stuff and has surrounded himself with very good staff. The handful of doctors who assessed my knee before him just seemed lost. My point, for my fellow Objectivists, is that when you discover somebody who really has mastered their trade and it impacts your life in a positive way like this it is so nice - so refreshing. I really respect and admire this doc. And I made it a point to thank him for his work.

I went for my first jog just last Friday and did really well. I was walking without crutches 6 days after surgery. I have two more months to get to full recovery. So far, all is well.

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I'm glad your knee surgery went well!

I also had an ACL reconstruction surgery, but my new ACL was grafted from my hamstring, then they drilled a hole through my femur to "thread the needle" and give me a new hamstring.

Your recover sounds fast! I was on crutches for a long while, and couldn't jog for months for risk of irreversibly stretching the new ACL and making my knee join too "loose". Are you able to recover so fast because they used a cadaver ACL?

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Carlos - I am familiar with your procedure. I understand that those operations where they harvest either part of the patient's hamstring or a tendon from the front of the ankle take longer to heal. The work done in the knee is probably similar. The doctor drilled through the bones of both my upper and lower leg. He threaded the cadaver tendon through the hole in my femur with a long needle. The cadaver tendon is pretty stout in terms of stretch. The flexibility in the knee right after surgery is amazing. But, there certainly was a period where I was pretty easy on my leg. I'm finding the recovery with this operation to be very good but drawn-out with gradual, steady improvement. The starting point, walking within a week, is very good. My repaired knee has ended up a tad more loose than my other knee. I'm working on building up the strength in both legs now.

I am finding that I am suffering from general leg joint pain now anyway. I played a lot of football and ran many years of track. It is taking its toll, and I'm still in my 40s. I am concerned about it but think that dropping some weight while strengthing my legs should help, along with staying flexible. This surgery surely helps with that. I rode my mountain bike to work Friday (17 miles each way) and that was great! But, it was about 104 degrees on the ride home. That was an adventure. We have a beautiful river parkway with bike trail that I use on that trip.

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That sounds excellent, Abaco. I'm sure your doctor will tell you that even though you feel strong at 6-8 months post-surgery, that is also the time period during which you are most likely to reinjure it. I had a buddy who felt excellent and decided that playing in our playoff soccer game would be fine. He was wrong and ended up having a second reconstruction.

Also: there is quite a debate about autograft vs allograft for ACL reconstruction. Each surgeon generally has an approach they use and recommend. Personally, I have concluded that a good outcome depends more on the surgeon than which technique he/she uses.

The other vital step is finding a physical therpist who really knows their craft. Surgeons sometimes give good recommendations, but (in my experience) sometimes they are a bit out of the loop on the best physical therapists (particularly for athletes). Don't hesitate to "shop around" if you think you may not be getting the care you require.

A final note on this topic: the "online presence" of any doctor/surgeon is unrelated to their skill as a doctor/surgeon. I have heard of marketing firms specializing in Search Engine Optimization specifically for doctors (to improve their online presence in search engine lists, i.e., Google). Some excellent surgeons have fancy websites with tons of facts, etc; others are basically unlisted. Just a heads up because it took me a while to figure this one out.

PS. Apologies for the long, semi-rambly post.

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