Torn ACL Recovery Podcast – Week 1

In the following inaugural podcast(s) I’ll cover my injury, the day of ACL reconstruction surgery, and the first week following the procedure.

As I mentioned in my first post about this topic, there’s such a spectrum of information out there I wanted to give back to the greater Internet community for others who run across this in their own lives down the line.

In my experience, I came across—and continue to come across—a lot of very old posts (up to 15 years old). I love reading through old forums, but at some point I started to question how relatable they would be with current techniques or experiences.

Some stories rang true while others… not so much. YouTube has also been great for a few videos, but I’ll get into why YouTube is a trap in the episode one.

As this series comes together, the format will be a brief description, followed by any meaningful links or additional information, and the podcast itself.

To kick things off, here’s my beat up knee/leg after 1 week. Hard to believe! This is after the first dressing change and a visit to the surgeon. You can see the tibia bruising very well here.

Helpful Links

These products have been helpful so far. Pro tip on the ice machine: get 2-4 small water bottles, freeze them, and use them as giant ice cubes instead of relying on refilling it with ice each time. Huge pain in the butt saver!

Helpful products roundup:

Below are a few bookmarks I made heading into surgery that helped me wrap my head around everything. They include a few helpful videos/tips:

Week 0 Notes:

  • Injury story
  • Pre-op exercising
  • Day of surgery

Week 1 Notes:

  • Week 1 review
  • Having help, pain management, timers
  • An uncommon but dreaded shin throb
  • The YouTube trap

Personal Notes:

  • Extension: 0
  • Flexion: 60
  • Sitting Pain: 2/10
  • Standing Pain: 10/10 (shin bruising)

Continue to the Week 2 recap post
– Guide to Supplements for ACL Recovery
ACL Rehab Cycling Program

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This article has 14 comments

  1. Meredith
    Feb 17, 2020 Reply

    Hi Chris, I’m glad I stumbled on your podcast. My ACL surgery is scheduled for Feb 27. I also have a meniscus tear, and I’m walking with a limp, so I’m ready to get to healing. By the time I have my surgery it will be 41 days from my injury. I am 44 and a competitive tennis player. My new tendon will be made from my quadricep. You didn’t mention in your podcast which location you chose to form a new ACL. Thank you for all of the detailed info I am finding here. YouTube has many recovery videos set to music that leave me misty eyed and hopeful, but I appreciate hearing the nitty gritty of what to expect. I look forward in progressing through your podcast and discovering how you are getting back to cycling.

    • Chris Arnold
      Feb 17, 2020 Reply

      Hi Meredith, thanks for the note! And best of luck with your surgery! I had the hamstring graft with my procedure. I, too, also had my surgery a good ~40 days later. Let me know if questions come up, and I hope this series is helpful for you.

      • Meredith
        Feb 17, 2020

        Thanks Chris! I guess the question I have now is going through the process would you choose hamstring again if you could go back in time or would you choose patella?

      • Chris Arnold
        Feb 17, 2020

        That’s tough to say. And there are pros and cons to both. My surgeon preferred and had the most experience with the hamstring – and we decided that would be best to avoid anterior knee pain that can come with the patellar tendon graft. That said, people commonly use the patellar tendon and some have zero issues. All that said, no, I wouldn’t change the decision!

  2. meredith
    Feb 19, 2020 Reply

    Thanks Chris! Do you mind answering what’s with the cringy audio lead in to the podcast lol? I hope that audio is supposed to come from the injury and not recovery phase!

    • Chris Arnold
      Feb 19, 2020 Reply

      Just a little inside joke from the Family Guy series :)

  3. Meredith
    Mar 1, 2020 Reply

    Thank you, thank you for this podcast! Now that I have been through surgery I can go back and listen week by week to someone who has just been through the experience at the time of recording. So very helpful. You’ve done a great service. And lol on the audio intro!

    • Chris Arnold
      Mar 1, 2020 Reply

      You are very welcome! I hope it’s helpful for you!

  4. Hey, it’s been 8 months since I tore my acl, I didn’t have a chance to get the operation done as I couldn’t miss a semester or a stay back a year academically. I have done physiotherapy which has given me a very good range of motion and I can walk, can’t run and jump though. Is it too late to have surgery? I know it’s the best option. I am 19 years old.

    • Chris Arnold
      May 21, 2020 Reply

      Hey Nisha, keep in mind I’m not a doctor, but from what I’ve read it’s not an issue to wait on surgery. In theory you’ve been “prehabbing” for the last 8 months to get the knee/leg stronger ahead of surgery, which will help afterwards. Definitely consult with your surgeon and I’m sure you’ll come up with a game plan!

  5. Hi Chris, thank you! Your podcast is a “mind” saver! I’m so appreciative you took the time to record it! I’m into my 2nd week from the day of injury. Poorly executed ski jump resulted, according to CT scan in a “ large lipohemarthrosis with compression fracture of the posterior aspect of the lateral tibial plateau. Finding often associated with ACL injury” after meeting with orthopedic surgeon he thinks it’s full tear of ACL. My MRI is scheduled in 2 weeks. At my age,52, being “amateur athlete “ I was devastated, especially that this is my first serious injury.
    Listening to your podcast I’m determined to get through this, hopping to be back on the slopes and water (kitesurfing) some time next year. I’m looking now @ 2021 to be a year of healing and physio.
    Thanks again, hope you are now fully recovered!

    • Chris Arnold
      Mar 23, 2021 Reply

      Hey Jack, glad you found the podcast and I hope it’s helpful for you! It sounds like you are set on making a strong recovery to get back to doing what you love, which was a main motivator for me as well. Keep that mindset and you will push through the tough moments!

  6. Berkeley
    Oct 6, 2021 Reply

    I was wondering how this wedge pillow worked out for you? It seems like it would have the wedge under your hamstring with your knee bent and laying across the top, but wont my leg be locked in the brace to remain completely straight during the first few weeks? Having me surgery next month and appreciate the feed back thank you!

    • Chris Arnold
      Oct 6, 2021 Reply

      That’s a good question, and probably something I should have been more clear on. As you can kind of tell form the picture, I had a pillow between my leg and the wedge, so it essentially created a transition between my butt and the elevation. With pillows alone I found it hard to create a stable platform angling upwards. Hope that helps!

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