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Torn ACL, MCL what should I know?????

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#1 Tammi K

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 12:54 AM

I got a call from a teary sounding daughter today. She went to the slopes and tried skiing instead of snowboarding. She should have stuck to snowboarding. She fell, she tumbled, the skis stayed with her. Something had to give. Her knee lost.

She has an MRI scheduled tomorrow but the orthopedic acute care people feel pretty confident that she will need surgery. I haven't seen her (or her knee ) so I don't know what makes the doctor so confident that surgery will be needed but they seemed pretty sure that would be the result. I'm going to the MRI follow-up tomorrow so she doesn't have to deal with this all by herself.

Is there anything I should know / ask / expect? My kids tend to be a pretty healthy, sturdy bunch. This is new territory for me.

#2 plansrme


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Posted 01 March 2013 - 08:24 AM

My daughter just sprained her MCL in gymnastics, and the ortho (2 of them) was able to diagnose it pretty precisely without an MRI. They were both confident her ACL was not affected. She eventually had an MRI because it wasn't healing as quickly as it should have. The MRI showed a bone bruise, which was the issue, but it also confirmed what the orthos had seen--a healing MCL sprain, with no tear and no ACL involvement. The point of this story is that a good ortho can usually tell whether there is a sprain or tearing, so the MRI is probably just going to confirm what the dr has said.

We have a gymnast friend who had her ACL, MCL and meniscus surgically repaired, and hers were shredded. It took close to a year before she was back to full strength. That was "gymnast" full strength, not "walk around and live a normal life" full strength, but she did eventually get there. I am sorry this has happened. I have great faith in orthopaedists and am confident that she will eventually be all better.

By the way, I think that is how Shawn Johnson tore her ACL. The MCL sprain my daughter had was the same injury RGIII had had. So at least our daughters are in famous company.


#3 Chelli


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Posted 01 March 2013 - 09:10 AM

My sister tore her ACL playing basketball. It definitely requires surgery, but I'm not sure if they cut you open or just do it arthroscopic. When my sister had hers done many years ago they made an incision. She had to do rehab and wear a knee brace anytime she participated in sports after that. She never did get back to full strength in that leg, but I think it had more to do with her fears than the injury.

#4 somo_chickenlady


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Posted 01 March 2013 - 04:39 PM

They can usually tell just by feel if the ACL is torn or broken, so if they think she will need surgery she most likely will. It does require surgery b/c the ACL is needed to walk properly.

My husband jumped off the retaining wall in our back yard and snapped his ACL, tore his MCL and LCL, crushed the end of his fibula, and tore a chunk out of his miniscus. He had surgery, but they had to wait about a week for the swelling to go down. His sugery was laproscopic, but he did have a big incision on the back of his thigh b/c they had to use a portion of his muscle to repair his knee.

The recovery is quite painful, especially if she has just a rebuild. They offered my DH a total knee replacement, which the recovery is easier, but he would have had to have it replaced again sometime in his 60s b/c the new knee would only last 25-30 years. The rebuild should be permanent, but much more painful and longer recovery.

Definitely find a good physical therapist for after...it can make a huge difference. Good luck!

#5 Tammi K

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 07:58 PM

Thanks for the info. I just got back from the doctor. He said, "This is a rather more than less significant injury." :bored:

The final tally: Sprain (and small tears) to the LCL and MCL. Bruised femur, chipped tibia, torn medial meniscus, smaller tear in the lateral meniscus, torn ACL. There's not a whole lot of her knee that is where it should be or doing what is should be doing. On the up side, the PCL seems to be in fine shape!

Surgery is a given but way too much swelling to attempt now. She will likely stay in a brace through the remained of the semester and have surgery during summer break.

#6 ElizabethB


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Posted 02 March 2013 - 12:42 AM

I had knee surgery for my ACL about 10 years ago. Because of bureaucratic delays with the military healthcare system, it took 6 months from the time of injury to surgery. My post surgery PT took a lot longer because of the delay, I would try to get the surgery sceduled for as soon as possible after swelling permits. I had to wear a brace in the wait period, and the impairment from the brace and a torn miniscus limited the muscles I was using, resulting in severely weakened quads which caused a lot longer recovery and post PT time.

#7 AK_Mom4


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Posted 02 March 2013 - 01:10 AM

DH had his ACL replaced a few years ago. DD19 tore her MCL 2 years ago. Both had arthoscopic surgery. The surgery was rally no big deal - rehab afterwards took months of PT to get the full range of motion back. It took DH much longer to recover than DD even though her surgery was much more complicated (zombie ligaments and the whole thing). One of the benefits of being young and healthy.