Patient outcomes 20 years after ACL surgery

As orthopedic surgeons, we focus on helping athletes return to sports after ACL reconstruction. After all, most of our patients are athletes and want to return as soon as they can.

How do patients do long term after the surgery? A large percentage of patients are teenagers or in their early 20s when they have surgery. Knee brace ACLHow is their knee when they are in their 40s? Are they active? Do they develop arthritis?

A study recently published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine shines some light on these questions. Simon Thompson and other Australian researchers studied 333 consecutive patients who underwent ACL reconstruction with patellar tendon autografts between January 1993 and April 1994. 90 patients met the inclusion criteria and were available for follow-up 20 years after surgery. The findings on patient outcomes 20 years after surgery are interesting.

A large percentage of patients suffer another injury. 36% of the patients had suffered a rupture of either the opposite knee’s ACL or tore the graft in the surgical knee.

Also read:
Ask Dr. Geier: Return to sports after ACL surgery
Ask Dr. Geier: Risk of tearing the ACL graft or the opposite knee’s ACL

Patients are often still very active. 20 years after surgery, 35% of patients still engaged in very strenuous activities like soccer. 15% engaged in strenuous activities like tennis or skiing. 38% performed moderate intensity activities like jogging.

Most patients had few symptoms. 78% could perform physical activities without pain. 76% could do so without swelling of the knee. 88% could perform activities without their knee giving way.

Arthritis often developed over time. 27% of patients had evidence of osteoarthritis five years after surgery. 51% showed changes at 15 years, and 61% had osteoarthritis findings at 20 years. Only 20% of patients, though, exhibited moderate osteoarthritis, and none had severe OA changes.


This long-term data suggests that patients do well in many respects years after ACL surgery. Most patients can expect to play sports and exercise at a high level. They rarely have pain or other limiting symptoms.

Also read:
Video: ACL reconstruction surgery
Three risk factors for a second ACL injury
Risk for retearing the ACL or tearing the opposite one

On the other hand, osteoarthritis develops in a high percentage of patients, making it difficult to claim that ACL reconstruction can prevent Knee pain malearthritis from developing after injury. Also, secondary ACL injuries, either to the reconstructed knee or the contralateral knee, occur more than we might have previously realized.

These findings might help us better counsel patients before ACL surgery and give them a better idea of what to expect.

Do these findings surprise you? Have you had an ACL surgery many years ago? How are you doing now? Share your thoughts or experiences below!

Thompson S, Salmon L, Waller A, Linklater J, Roe J, Pinczewski L. Twenty-Year Outcomes of a Longitudinal Prospective Evaluation of Isolated Endoscopic Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction With Patellar Tendon Autografts. Am J Sports Med. Published online ahead of print July 17, 2015.

62 Responses to Patient outcomes 20 years after ACL surgery

  1. I had my first ACL repair on my right knee at the age of 16.

    I had 23.5 ‘good’ years before I had a major setback and blew both knees. Unfortunately I have become one of the statistic of the 36% who have injured the opposite knee.

    I have now had my left knee ACL repaired and recovery is much slower at the age of 40 with a lot more pain, even while at rest. I am awaiting another appointment to start dealing with my right knee again in which the graft is torn. Both knees have a lot of arthritis in them as evidenced by the MRI and both are a fairly constant source of pain.

    I hope that once both knees are sorted I can resume a quality of life that doesn’t involve chronic pain. Its limiting and affects daily life – especially now that I can walk somewhat normal – so it appears to everyone else that I am fine, when actually, I am not.

      • I am 50 and had acl surgery 8 years ago (abt Jun 2008)and I still feel pain. I tore my ACL getting out of the shower when I slipped on the bathroom floor! It sometimes doesn’t bother me, but when I try to do too much it hurts when I sit down. The pain radiates from the front of my (right) knee and goes around to the left ~ I don’t know the parts!! My son is in college for physical therapy!! lol ~ anyway, my boys had a buffet with their friends tonight and I had to get all of that food packaged up and put away and I was almost crying by the time I sat down!!! 3 Advils helped a lot!!! (and a few sips of wine!) I have been not so active and now that my brother is in the hospital I have been running there for the last 10 days pushing my Mom in the wheelchair up and back down and today I did the trek twice! I have found over the years that I can run around and it doesn’t bother me, but then when I sit down I feel some pain ~ I usually know how much I can do, take a break, do more, take a break, etc ~ After today though, I am thinking about seeing someone to see if it is arthritis or something. Losing weight helps ~ I’ve gained about 10 lbs in the last year so that doesn’t help. Mine was done with a cadaver tendon.

  2. I had my ACL reconstructed in 1995 by the team physician at Penn State University. I tore it playing intermural soccer. I had a patellar tendon graft. The surgery was successful and I have had very few problems. It is loose, but my other knee is loose as well. I am an athletic training faculty member, so it has been assessed many times by students and other faculty in the classes I teach. I have a clean end feel. I have never had a reinjury. Although, I would not ski and I don’t plant and turn off of that leg, I do run, dance, yoga, and bike.

  3. I had ACL reconstructive surgery in February of 1998. I am still moderately active, but just now have been experiencing significant pain in my knee. I would have to bet that I am a victim of osteoarthritis. My surgeon at the time had warned me of this.

  4. Hi. I had ACL reconstructive surgery at age 16 in 1995. In my adult years I have not been very active however recently started dancing again. Since starting dancing again, my knee is very sore (not necessarily in pain). Its almost feels like it is tight, maybe swollen (although visually isn’t) and I cant bend it back all the way. I am hoping it is not anything serious and just a function of me not being very active over the last 10-15 years…

  5. I had my ACL done about 8 years ago in the UK using part of my hamstring for the graft. I’m now 37 and have played rugby for most of those prior 8 years and to date my knee has been good. I’ve heard of people with patella tendon ACLs having had problems so would be interested to know how the different surgeries compare. The biggest thing my surgeon said is that his surgery would be fine but its how well I do the rehab afterwards that will decide how successful the repair. That’s something my physio also agreed with my people she had treated.

  6. Hi. I Blew my acl a few days before thanksgiving in 1996 while skiing. Rested, iced, and constantly flexed my swollen knee for a few week. My Orthopod said ski if you can…the damage is done. Either I instructed, guided, and telemark raced about everyday on my telemark skiis with the donjoy brace . In the summer of 97, I was usless doing lateral movements (soccer, ultimate frisbee). Surgery in the fall of 1997. Laid low for 6 months. Slowly got up to my normal speed again. Ive had tendonitis and arthritis ever since the surgery. Now at 44 im starting to wake up at night with moderate pain. Oh well..You play you pay…could be worse.

  7. Im 24 and tore my acl 6 years ago i decided to not do sports anymore because of the surgery but started working out again but have been in pain at the bottom of my knee and around the inner part ever since doctor seems to say everything seems normal so idk pains bad

  8. I tore my acl in 1994 . I’m 41 now, the surgery went well (pettella) and so did the physio. Unfortunately just three years after by simply walking down a hill and “pop” there it goes again! I didn’t want to go through surgery again just to have it happen again to me. Since then I no longer play any team sports (just golf , bike and workout). It’s just in the past 6 months that pain and swelling surfaced. Sadly I think it’s osteoarthritis.

    • I had my surgery in 97 at 22, unfortunately i had torn it in 94 , four orthopedic missed it, i had to stop volleyball my senior year because every jump id fall. Lost my position as leftfield in softball had to move to first base , i continued to play ,since i worked my ass off to get scholarship. But obviously schools passed me by. I walked around for three years with my knee giving out.finally a trip to er finally said your acl us torn. Now im told my knees look like a 70yr olds. Stupidly i continued to play volleyball and softball up until 2015. I can’t handle the pain anymore, its bad enough just walking the crunchy sound is ewh. I can’t run ride a bike swim its just so increases the pain i already have. Swelling daily norco not much help, no insurance so i suffer. Feels like things get caught in my joint and instantly i have Tourette syndrome the pain is horrible. I have also had two lamenectomy surgerys at 28,so when the knee pain trumps the back well just imagine. Doctors all say different things. Ten years ago i was told i needed surgery. Then another said injections i did them and hily pain.,and another said no injection. What am i supposed to do??? Who do u listen too???

      • Please any advice, i also have used voltarin gel it used to help but no more , by the way im about 5/8 150lbs so its not from being heavy.

  9. Hi,

    I tore my acl 9 years ago, 30 now. Played football on and off since, but nothing major for last 3 years, knee has always been a bit sore on the front and cracking. Making a big push now to get back into football again, back in gym and just started football training, but unsure if the cracking is anything to worry about, plus sore at the front after training now, Acl feels fine (I hope!!), but just feel weak and a bit sore on d front of knee when training and after, knee always cracking when it bends. Any thoughts?

  10. Hello,

    I had my ACL repaired in early March of 2015 and it is not now Middle of May 2016. I had a patella graph for my new ACL. I am able to some knee bearing activities but with Pain. Bending or wanting to push off that knee is sometimes unbearable. Running is tolerable. I would really like to get back to basketball again. Is this pain common with this time frame? I have all of my extension and flexibility back. Could it be patella tendinitis causing all of this. Will stretching and Ice be the right method to use along with some weight lifting exercises such as leg and hamstring extensions, lunges, etc? Any information would be helpful. Thank you

    • I know it’s a little late, but maybe you will still see this. I tore my acl in Feb. 2006. I had the surgery (patellar) in march. Went to boot camp in September. So I pushed it and my results may not be typical. But, what you described sounds normal to me. I’ve always had the ability to induce moderate pain in my knee since the surgery through alot of physical activity. However it took about two full years before I felt the knee was back to 100% after the surgery. So give it some more time.

  11. I tore my ACL in 2007 during a tennis play off at age 49. I had a “terrible triad” injury and was unable to bear any weight without falling. Shortly after I had an ACL reconstruction with a cadaver tendon. A year later I tore the new ACL probably during another tennis match. My surgeon said I had only mild arthritis and recommended another reconstruction, this time in 2010 I opted to use my quad tendon graft. My quads which had previously been exceptionally strong for my age never regained strength. Last year at age 58, I had been having much night pain that awakened me and pain most of the day. An MRI shows that my ACL is torn a third time years after quitting tennis-I don’t recall injuring it this time. I’m getting relief after a series of viscous injections but my opposite knee is now having pain for the first time (knee discrepancy likely adds to the problem). I get significant swelling after a two mile walk. A knee replacement is in the near future.

  12. I’m in the UK. I tore my left acl when skiing age 13, it wasn’t picked up at first and the pain and restrictions were put down to cartilage damage – six months later I had keyhole surgery for that but they found no damage except a torn acl. I had to wait another 3 years for surgery to fix it and in that time I snapped my acl fully so when I finally had the op it had dissolved! I had a patella tendon used for the reconstruction but that caused my patella to be displaced so I had to have it straightened and pulled back into place through strapping for 12months during post-op physio. I’m now 33 and for the last 7 years I’ve noticed a deterioration in my movement, this wasn’t helped by falling onto that knee landing right on the scar tissue a few years back! Over the past 2 years it’s been particularly painful, it creaks horrifically (noticeably so as my husband pointed out to me!) just from walking but particularly when going up and down stairs. I work with children under 5 years and can’t run or jump and struggle to even crouch down. I was warned at the time of reconstruction (in 1999) that I’d likely need another reconstruction after 15yrs and then another after 10yrs and that each time it would shorten the time between reconstructions. I saw a GP 5 years ago who said I should hold out for as long as possible but I fear now that I’ll have to get it seen again soon to try and limit any more damage to my joint.

  13. Just found your interesting site.
    My son aged 49 had ACL reconstruction on his left knee 23 years ago. Has not been able to return to Football/sport since but enjoyed moderate walking with friends and dog. Since a recent holiday in which the first 3 days they walked quite a lot, he has been in enormous pain. Had MRI which shows knee cap moved slightly and almost no cartilage. Has been sent for 6 weeks Physio but walks with one crutch, the other knee is feeling the strain. It was suggested a CT scan may help diagnosis more.
    Should he ask to see a consultant for a 2nd opinion?
    It is horrible for him in so much pain.

  14. I am now 26 and have had two ACL reconstructions on my left knee. At age 16 I had my first acl surgery from a football Injury. It was a patella tendon graft. Very painful afterwards. I played football again my senior year and I “tweaked” it the Dr said and advised me to stop playing. I did have a MRI and he said he didn’t find anything wrong. At age 19 I joined the army infantry and went basic training. The drs there if thats what you wanna call them, also said they found nothing with only a X-ray. When I returned home I went to the original surgeon and he said he only saw microfiber tears. I continued life with horrible pain every day but just learned to ignore it, I thought that was just how it was after surgery. One night I woke up with a tremendous amount of pain and found my knee was swollen very bad. I once again ignored it until the end of the day,my wife made me go to to the hospital. The ER refered me to a new orthopedic dr(the original dr had passed away) the new dr sent me to have a MRI with contrast. He called me back in when he received the results. He started out by saying I’m sorry to inform you your acl is torn again. Believe it or not I was almost happy to know that it was that there wasn’t something else wrong. With The extent of damage he sent me to a specialist. The specialist reviewed all of my MRI results over the years and informed me that my acl had a tremendous amount of micro fiber tears my senior year of high school. And my acl was torn when I returned from the army. He told me he believed that the reason I had such extensive swelling over night was due to arthritis. So at age 22 I had another acl reconstruction. Now at age 26 I do ok sometimes. Hurts still though. I’ve had pain shooting into my hip latley. Hopefully nothing set haha.

  15. 15 years ago I had ACL rupture (skiing) and had surgury and surgeon at Baptist in Boston suggested graft and I went for it. Took a long year long healing. Now I have kids and play and work out alot. Sadly last Sat I was playing tennis and I heard pop. that was it, swelling, pain and over next 6 days I pretended it wasn’t a injury, running and such. Pain is now excrutiating and I have appt Monday. Think ACL is gone, and I am so bummed as summer is my running on beach time. for last 5-6 years I have exercised every day and i love to run, yoga, pilates, barre, kick box, hike, and play with the kids many sports…

  16. I tore my ACL 8 years ago and am now 34. I’m female. I have tried to be active ever since but with varying success! I did the intensive physio I was given after my op (hamstring for reconstruction) and was told to increase my exercise but essentially My knee has hurt ever since.

    I stopped team spots for fear of being knocked around and falling but have been running and doing gym classes and workouts for years. I miss out anything too twisty and can’t lunge. I really think I shouldn’t be doing a lot of what I do as it causes pain but the only advice I was given was to swim and cycle and I don’t really enjoy either of those and I want to stay fit and healthy and use sport as a hobby.

    I can no longer go up and down stairs without a hand rail and my knee makes horrid clicking and grinding noises when I walk. I am having a non-intrusive keyhole procedure in a few weeks to clear away scar tissue and wear and tear to try and help with that.

    What exercise should I be doing after my rehabilitation from that op? My surgeon says I can build it up and go on to do anything…my physio says just swim and cycle!?!

    • It’s hard to know, but your surgeon can give you a better idea when he sees that status of your knee. Generally low-impact activities can offer health benefits and minimize stress to the knee.

  17. I had ACL reconstruction with a patella graft in October of 1998 at the age of 20, the result of a college football injury, I’m 38 now. Other than a slip on Minnesota ice shortly after the surgery I’ve had few problems until recently. I’m an extremely active runner (40+ miles per week) and weightlifter. Recently there has been stiffness and mild pain in the reconstructed knee, especially toward the end of runs and free weight squats and lunges. No amount of stretching and rolling seems to be sufficient to alleviate the pain. Probably my body telling me to buy a nice bicycle.

  18. Hi , i just had my ACL torn.
    I was discussing with the surgeon the pros and cons of Surgery Vs physio on the long term knee stability and arthritis..
    I am 40 y.o gentleman with average activities..
    I want to hear expert opinion , in order to may my decision..
    People who had no ACL surgery, how they feel after 10-20 years

    • Badr..
      In my Opinion ,, I waited 20 years without the surgery and nothing happened , I torn my Acl 20 years ago ..
      In those 20 years I was careful , I skied only once when I play basketball or tennis I play for fun no competitive ..
      I was fine till now , for the fun of it Decided to have the surgery
      Big Mistake ,, Don’t do the surgery except if you really really have to . My opinion ..
      I wish someone told me that before I did my surgery .. Good luck
      Don’t do it .. Don’t do it ..

  19. Hallow doctor,
    I had my my acl surgey along with lateral meniscus in profession am a mountaineer.aftet surgery i am having pain at knee lateral meniscus usually seen when move towards down.
    I ask to my doc he adviced me fr a mri.after mri he said acl was good there is no problem at pls tell me where is problem.
    I did workout fot quadriceps and hamstring i feel i hv not that much of strength before.when i use leg curl mechine to pull a normal weight of 5kg, it was impossible to me.

    Pls suggest ne wht to do for the resoective may destory my carrier.

  20. Hi doctor

    I had my ACL surgry in nov 2014 along with lateral meniscus tear. I am still facing the pain issue but not in knee..its like the cut they made for graft and stiches…m feeling like any bunch is there n it always irritates me….not able to bear this pain…pinch like a needle.
    doctors r saying ur acl is perfect no problem..knee is also stable..but still m not having pain free life…i did physiotherapy also for this pain..but still not work for more than one week.

    I am a software engineer by profession..n used to seat for long…but bcz of this pain not seating for more than 1 hour continuously..
    please suggest me what to do for this pain…so that i can lead a healthy life…not able to do any long time work bcz of this pain…

  21. I had an acl repair with my patellar tendon in 2008 after a bad landing playing volleyball. I haven’t had any issues until recently. I’m 35 now, and constantly chase around my 2 very active girls. You could say it’s a full contact sport! 😊 I have some pain, not terrible, and some grinding and clicking when I squat down. I stay pretty active with squats and walking. Hopefully it’s just normal age progression! No problems with my good knee!

  22. I had total ACL reconstruction and meniscus tear in 1996. Meniscus surgery again in 2003. I am 67 yrs old now and a new MRI says I tore the meniscus and ACL again. I have mild to severe athritis throughout the knee. A dr. says I should have knee replacement. I am hesitant to do so due to my living situation-alone and with dog.
    I am having twinges of pain. Don’t know what to do.

  23. Hi I had acl reconstruction (hamstring)in my left knee in 2010(34 years) and till today no problem but some tightness is always felt but I keep well with exercise.(yoga)

  24. I tore my ACL and a partial meniscus tear getting ready to have surgery I’m terrified of how painful it’s going to be afterwards and wondering Bout how long it takes to be able to walk again..I’m 45 yrs old never had any knee problems ever..I worked 7 days a week I never sit down at my job it requires a lot of walking bending and steps

  25. I had my ACL (tendon graph and meniscus repaired) surgery in 1990 because of sports when I was 17. I’ve since had some arthritis growing on it within 10 years of the surgery. However, I’ve been experiencing some swelling in the corresponding ankle. Has there been any previous information connecting ACL surgeries and edema? Looking for answers. My current doctor has never heard of such.

  26. I had an patellar tendon ACL repair in 1993 at the age of 18. I lived with the torn ACL for about 6 months and only repaired after injuring the meniscus as well. I have had no issues since but have only been moderately active over the years. Now at age 40 I am less active and starting to feel the familiar shifting of my knee joint with certain activities (sideways motion getting into the car or turning in bed). I also happen to be the heaviest I’ve ever been and wonder how much that and my lack of exercise plays a role – I definitely didn’t have an accident or re-injury. Maybe it’s just my new normal? I really want to up my activity level again but I’m scared I’ll end up going through another knee surgery. Recovery as an overweight 40 year old won’t be as easy as it was 22 years ago!!!

  27. I’m glad I found this article, thank you. I tore my ACL at age 15, non-contact, playing basketball. Reading this article and comments triggers a lot of emotions. I was a multi-sport athlete before surgery, but decided only to pursue tennis after surgery. I was young and it put a huge strain on my relationship with my father, as he didn’t want me to quit the other sports and he didn’t think I was working hard enough in PT.Looking back, I think the hardest part of ACL surgery was the mental aspect of the process. Thankfully, I have had little trouble with my knee. For exercise I walk, swim, and do low impact toning floor exercises.I have not tried water or snow skiing since before surgery years ago, but I really have always wished I could (my dr. advised against it in ’94).Recently, I have started lifting weights at my gym. I do feel a “sore spot” in my knee doing squats. I really would like to do squats, but by about the 3rd rep, I can’t keep going, my knee is too sore.

  28. I had ACL surgery 31 yrs ago, 1985, when I was in college from a ski accident. I feel fortunate that I have not had any issues with my knee and have been fairly active over the years. I am now 52 yrs old and started having pain around my knee for the past 2-3 weeks. I was hoping the pain was nothing and would just go away with some rest. I don’t want to re-injure it so my next step is to see my orthopedic. This is the first article I read on this subject and am glad I found it. Thank you. It was also nice to read the various comments.

  29. I had ACL repair when I was 31 on my left knee over 30 years ago after an injury whilst playing rugby. I have just re injured my knee somehow with pain at the top and bottom of my knee particularly when any flex ion is done to the left and causes severe pain. Is it common for cal failure after this amount of time?


  30. I tore my ACL but didn’t know for 12 years until an MRI was performed. I had an ACL allograft reconstruction and three years later, with never being able to get back to moderate-heavy activity, I was placed on a donor list to get an osteochondral allograft and meniscus transplant. After three years of waiting I’m now out of my window to get one done and now need a full knee replacement due to advanced osteoarthritis, but, now I’m too young for it, being only in my middle 30s….

  31. I had ACL patella tendon repair in 1996
    I was 36 and play a lot of basketball
    Played the next 15 years on it until I tore my Achilles
    Same leg
    Stopped playing and start hiking in the hills
    4 miles every other day…. knee was really good until
    It finally after 20 years feeling a lot of pain
    Hiking downhill is not great for it
    Now I am using an elliptical machine with no pain
    Getting MRI for a scope
    Doc says plenty of arthritis and says 20 years good run on surgically repaired ACL
    Good luck to all… getting scoped soon!

  32. Had ACL reconstruction when I was 21… 39….and have an extreme pain in knee…and feels weak…moderate swelling…hyper extends when stand on it…never had any problems before this…

  33. I had right acl hamstring tendon reconstruction 2.5 years ago. From the get go my hamstring has suffered badly. I don’t have pain until I do a hamstring curl. Today I used my leg to put down the footrest on the reclining sofa that I was in to get up. It felt like an extremely nasty Charlie horse. Bad enough I could hardly talk through the pain. I went 2.5 years not knowing I tore my acl and when I had surgery I xouldnt walk without my knee immobilizer. I don’t regret the surgery but I wish I know what to expect from the hamstring muscles.

  34. I tore my ACL at 21 and had a patella repair. I continued playing basketball, running, being very active for the next 10 years until I hit 31 and it was like a light went off in my knee. This was the first time I experienced pain and a severe amount of it. I had my knee scoped a year or so later. I began taking glucosamine supplements. I noticed a change in that I can’t run anymore or my knee is very sore. I am frustrated in that I have scaled back some of my exercises but I am a very active person and am not sure of the route to proceed. I’m only 37 and I recently tried an exercise class a month ago where I ran for 30 minutes on a treadmill at various inclines. My knee is still very sore after a month. I’m leery of cortisone treatments.

  35. I am a kite surfer and snowboarder. Female and 46!…Tore my left ACL, fractured my tibial plateaux and partially tore my medial collateral ligament getting on a bloody ski lift 3yrs ago. My leg got hit from behind and was caught and twisted under the chair as I sat down! (Day one of Christmas snowboarding holiday lol). Lucky huh!….as I know a surgeon, I had an ACL hamstring reconstruction within 3 weeks!.. I don’t find my knee painful or unstable.. it clicks a bit but most of the issues come down to confidence!.. the worst bit is the numb patch on my upper shin which I can’t bear to be touched!.. slight ache in real cold only. Be gone back to kiteboarding and today I gave snowboarding a go at Hemel snow centre!.. apart from crying like a big girl before getting on the button lift it all went fine.. knee felt fine as I was more concerned with not knocking kids over lol! I tried a donjoy sport brace for kitesurfing and wore it twice before dispensing with it.. even though I took it with me today it didn’t even come out the bag. Just can’t bear to wear it. The only pain I had came from my hamstring which always feels a bit tight (scar tissue).. I’m sure I’ll suffer more tomorrow lol :$

  36. I had a right patellar graft acl reconstruction by David Trettin in Louisiana (1998) October. I was a high profile athlete. I continued my career in football and baseball and later became a competitive bodybuilder and power lifter lifting ridiculous amounts of weight. 708 dead lift. I am now a physical medicine physician in Arkansas and train heavy still with weights. My main symptoms are having to put a focus on my right quads and contralateral hamstrings. My knee gets extremely tight after heavy lifts. My main concern are the screw anchors in my femur and tibia. They are trying to back out. I recently put synvisc and kenolog for a better lubrication. It has helped. I am 34 now and have no complaints about pain.

  37. I tore my ACL in the summer of 2000, at age 16. I waited almost five years before having surgery (hamstring). I have been active since about 6 months post surgery, including light snow skiing, running, and volleyball. All done with some caution. I also hate the spot on my shin that has no feeling! This past weekend, we went skiing, and I hit a patch of ice. I fell pretty hard, and my knee swelled up quickly. I just had an MRI and I am waiting for the results. I really hope I didn’t tear it again. I have limited mobility, but not as much pain as when I first torn it. I’m 33 years old now, and really don’t want to go through surgery and rehab again. I was glad to find this article and the comments. I’m hoping for the best!

  38. Had acl pateral replacement surgery almost 20 yrs ago. Am now having some swelling and pain even though i take 10 mg percocet every 6 hr. Now for neck issues. This breakthrough pain doesnt seem normal even with use of ice. Hope i can get a couple more yrs before another surgery.

  39. Hi, I am 48 and from the UK and had acl reconstruction 2 years ago this month on our wonderful NHS. I had reconstruction using tissue from my hamstring. I received 9 months of physio post-op which I was originally sceptical about but actually it turned out to be the best thing ever, not just for my physical wellbeing but also for my confidence. Two years on and I am more or less able to do more than I ever thought I would, in fact I would go as far as to say I’m pretty much where I was pre-injury! I do have osteoarthritis in my knee following all of the trauma, but other than a bit of stiffness occasionally, it doesn’t really bother me. I have recently started running again after many years and am struggling with calf problems on my weak leg and have been experiencing some swelling around my knee and some lateral discomfort. I do intend to persevere however, not wanting to waste the opportunity I have been given to carry on with an active lifestyle.

  40. Hi, Torn my ACL few weeks ago in skiing. very disappointed of the injury. I have researched a lot about type of surgeries and also non surgery option. I am a moderately active person. Not involved with sports. I read one comment here that suggesting do not do surgery. I don’t want to injure my other knee or cartilage due to instability. What are the recommendations?

  41. i had a hamstring graft almost 8 years on graft is 100% good. I have a grade 1 pivotal shift always have only but doing well i have a medial menicus tear and mcl tear tiny bit of arthritis but graft has done its job when playing rugby league.

  42. While playing badminton, I rupture my ACLI have my ACL reconstruction surgery using patella tendon 5 years ago. I never had complete recovery. I am still struggling with pain and discomfort. First two years, I tried to go back to badminton but I always have swelling on my knees afterward. I have to quit because I was afraid for doing it again. Then, I started playing other sports like swimming, cycling on uphill walking. However, I always have discomfort or slight swelling on my knee. As the time goes by, it was getting worse. Now, even after walk for an hour or more hours (at work) or cycling give me pain and discomfort, especially behind my knee. I am not sure what I should do. it gives mental stress every day. Any suggestions will help.

  43. […] These people not only pay the prices physically but also financially. The average ACL surgery costs between $20,000 and $50,000. A re-injury could add up to 100,000 spent on reconstructive surgery. And that does not include the physical therapy and recovery costs. Arthritis is also extremely likely to occur. 20 years out from surgery and 61% of people reported to have some form of Arthritis. […]

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david-headshot I am an orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist in Charleston, South Carolina.

On this blog, on my podcast, and in articles for numerous publications and in media interviews, I aim to provide you leading commentary and education on injury treatment and prevention to keep you performing at your best! Learn more about me >>


I'm excited to help with information and interviews for print, radio, television, and online media. Media information >>


Writing I write articles and columns for a number of publications and organizations. Writing information >>
Sports Medicine Simplified: A Glossary of Sports Injuries, Treatments, Prevention and Much More

Learn more about the glossary >>
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