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wally

climbing after knee surgery

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I had ACL surgery 3 months ago, Doctor says it normally takes a year of recovery before hard core physical activity should be done. I am hoping to due the easy routes on hood and baker this may. Any fellow acl victims have any advice? If you were me would you skip this spring and summer and start in the fall?

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Get a different doctor. I had ACL work done a few years ago in January, and was climbing in June-July.

 

Seriously, tho' - if you haven't gotten set up with PT, do so now. I don't remember the exact dynamics of the healing/ligament replacement process, but about 3 mo. out is when your body is building a new ligament from the donor tendon in the knee, so working on knee stability and overall balance now is critical. Besides working strength and balance, the most important thing that PT can do is help your body-mind trust the joint so you don't overcompensate elsewhere, creating other injuries, or re-injuring the same location. So get a referral to a PT who knows active sports well and can pace your recovery and get you healthy for the season.

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I was rock climbing in early May of last year after ACL reconstruction in January. I believe the primary concern is the possibility of hyperextension or lateral stress during a fall/impact, so I wore a knee brace through the summer. It was a bit of a pain but didn't affect my mediocre climbing. I also never fell in a way where the brace mattered. Climbing itself (on rock anyway) didn't put any particular stress on my knee; your movements are generally controlled. I WOULD be careful if you are doing snow/ice stuff and wearing crampons. I've heard lots of stories about soccer players re-injuring their repairs wearing cleats and doing stop & pivot motions. So I can imagine maybe there is an analogous situation downclimbing that headwall if you slip or mis-step.

 

The only time I caused injury to my knee after the surgery last year was carrying a pack back down the trail from Ingalls basin (July?). My foot slipped on a rock and my knee hyperextended. My guess is that your best chance of injury is humping your pack back down from your base camp at Baker. You're tired, there's a lot of weight on your back and the trails down are hard on the knees anyway.

 

So I'd be careful on the snow and with heavy packs. But for rock climbing I'd say go for it if you're feeling good.

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I figured the down climbing would be the most difficult. Sounds like if I take a brace for the way down I should be alright in the spring. I plan on making my climbing partners carry the rope and team equipment grin.gif so hopefully my pack is fairly light. I have a good PT and he says I should be ready for the season but I want to avoid reinjury by going too early. I don't feel like making the news getting lifted off the mountain.

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I had ACL repair. I was climbing in 5 months.

 

However, I religiously did the PT told me what to do. It took 3 months to get the muscle mass back.

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Five to six months after surgery seems pretty typical for enough recovery for faily intensive activity. I had surgery in May (Memorial day weekend) a couple of years ago and was skiing by December. The suggestions about PT are good ones. Get yourself a good therapist who understands sports medicine and what you want to be able to do and stick to the regimen religiously. I have to say that my leg strength/balance, etc. is better now than before my surgery. I'm skiing better and climbing better. One word of caution, however. My doc said that there is no brace made that is going to prevent reinjury and that if you use a brace, you have a tendency to rely on the support it provides, rather than on your musculature. I'd say talk to your doc but consider leaving the brace alone. Good luck.

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6 months is about standard recovery time, with proper PT and care. I had MCL, ACL and 3 meniscus tear, nothing was done with the MCL, I had two tears stitched up and one cut out, and patella tendon ACL replacement. With that said though I worked at it quite hard, I had a great team behind me. I had PT 3 days a week. I worked my upper body 2-3 days a week at the gym. I got all kind of look on that one showing up to the gym on crutches at first. I also smoked a ton of dope to decrease my motivation to anything beyond therapy and my work outs. I iced my knee, stayed off of it at home, and kept it elevated. I also spent a lot of time strecthing. I had my surgery in October and I was ice climbing in January. Going up was no problem it was the descents that were uncomfortable. If your doc is saying a year I would look at getting a second opinion, and make sure you are getting the best possible care. Good luck man.

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One word of caution, however. My doc said that there is no brace made that is going to prevent reinjury and that if you use a brace, you have a tendency to rely on the support it provides, rather than on your musculature. I'd say talk to your doc but consider leaving the brace alone. Good luck.

 

Well, I would partially have to disagree on the brace issue. You cannot expect your brace to prevent injury; however, it is still important to consider using it for a while. After surgery it can take quite a while (12-18mos. or so) for the nerves in your muscles to start to "fire normally". While you may be strong and better than ever, experts believe it takes even longer for this function to come back. So if your muscles aren't firing properly then your connective tissue takes the brunt. So, this is why doctors have patients wear knee braces up to the first year or so after surgery.

 

Secondly, Wally, I think your doctor is definitely off base when he talks about a one year timeline before resuming high levels of activity. It always depends on your individual case, but recovery after ACL reconstructions is pretty quick if you are aggressive with your PT and take care in your activities not to reinjure your knee. I had major knee surgery (my fifth surgery including one ACL reconstruction) in May of last year, and I was resuming high levels of activity within six months. Listen to your PT and be aggressive with yor rehab. Your PT will let you know when you're ready to resume certain activities... Go for it, but go easy and play it a little conservative in the beginning. I aggravated my surgery by mountain biking a little too early...

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I am only 3 months out now so I am hoping to be good to go in three months. I plan on taking my brace with me on the southside of hood in may. the downclimbing I think will be the killer. hopefully there are some nice glissade tracks for me to slide in.

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I've had a meniscus repaired in 1996 but my knee still does a lateral move from time to time (quite painful). I use a brace with a metal hinge and it eliminates the side to side movement without impeding my ability to bend the knee for most situations. I never wear the brace when working out so that the muscle gets stronger independently.

 

Taking the brace with you is not a bad idea at all. Goodluck, and have fun!

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