Time Does Not Fly

Hello Bfitnation!  It is October 15 and it has been 183 days since I tore my ACL and Meniscus and 134 days since my surgery.  I just completed my last physical therapy session – Hallelujah! Yay! Yahoo! And all that good stuff. And to Amy, my physical therapist for the last few months, please take no offense when I say, it was nice to say good-bye!Pictures 547

I think the best thing to know if you are researching recovery times for ACL or Meniscus repair surgery is that it takes a long time. I am still not released to get back to all the sports activities I love; I have to wait another month for that.  The waiting is the hardest part. I do get some exercise, but also try to stay positive by doing other things that are healthy for my body and my recovery. I am drinking more green tea, cutting  back on carbs, and walking more than I have been in the past. I tried meditation, but I am not that quiet or still – EVER. I did find a good article on this, but for me it was hard.  I already was immobilized, so all I really wanted to do was move. I did take away the importance of disconnecting with my phone and iPad for a couple hours a day. I think for my next blog, I am going to try Mindfulness Meditation, and let you know what happens.

On the plus side, and since my last blog, I have been able to start jumping and doing more agility- based exercises. I even managed to wear heels to homecoming. They did not stay on long, but I did wear them. I try to work out three to four times a week, but most of my exercises are single leg jumps, jump ropes, skipping, and running forward and backwards. Swimming is great therapy, and I do try to get in a few laps each work-out. I think the best advice I can give anyone in recovery is be patient with yourself. Build up your quad muscles and listen to your physical therapist. I can honestly say, I did do the recommended workouts at home. It wasn’t easy, but I knew that if I didn’t do them, my recovery would be even longer. Amy, I hope you are reading this post.

Choosing A Surgeon:

As I mentioned in my last blog, I wanted to reach out to my surgeon, Dr. Geoffrey Van Thiel and ask him a few questions about ACL and Meniscus tears in teens.  The reason I really appreciated and liked my surgeon was that his specialty was sports medicine. He could relate to me and my frustration at not being able to be active pre and post surgery. I think it is important to be able to have a surgeon that can relate to you as a teen. Even if your parents are choosing the surgeon, let your parents know how you feel about the person they are selecting.  

5 Questions/5 Minutes with Dr. Van Thiel:

  1. Why did you decide to become an orthopedic surgeon?

I first decided that medicine was the field for me.  I liked the personal interactions and the relationships that could develop with patients.  People place their trust in you as a physician and through dedicated hard work and study an ability to help them is gained.  This was motivating.  I then decided that orthopedics was my chosen specialty in medicine.  I had always been an athlete and the opportunity to help other athletes was inspiring.  Furthermore, as an orthopedic surgeon we have the training to effect rather immediate change in a patient’s life.  Your torn ACL prevented you from doing the sports you love due to the instability in the knee, replacing that ACL provides stability in the knee and allows you to go back to all of your sports (with a solid course of therapy).  

  1. Has there been an increase in ACL tears over the past five years?

Yes, there has been an increase in ACL tears over the past five years.  We do not know exactly what has been causing this.  Some theories state that the increased participation in cutting and pivoting sports has led to a higher number.  However, one of the main theories that has been proposed is that more young athletes are now only participating in one sport on a year round basis.  This leads to the potential of over-use and decreases the amount of cross training that occurs.  This is a hot topic and one that will be better addressed as we move forward.

  1. Are ACL tears more common in males or females?

ACL tears are about 5 times more common in females.  This is also a significant area of study.  Females tend to have some small differences in their lower extremity structure and this along with muscle control may contribute to a higher incidence of ACL tears.  

  1. Why does recovery take so long?

Recovery takes a long time because the strengthening of the core and quadriceps is a very long process.  We are seeing some professional athletes that are not coming back until 8-9 months after an ACL surgery now.  This is not because the new ligament needs to heal, but rather because the muscles around the knee need to return to their full strength.  If they are not at full strength, there is a significantly higher chance of having a re-tear in the knee.

  1. Is there anything you can do to avoid an ACL tear?

Absolutely.  I help take care of the US national soccer teams.  A couple years ago an ACL prevention program was developed with the women’s national teams (at all levels).  This prevention program was found to significantly decrease the number of ACL tears in women soccer players.  You can find a link to the ACL prevention program on my website


Written by: Bridget Krysztopa, Teen Blogger