anybody here ever have acl surgery?

tn pilot 85

New Member
First off, I know this post seems a little out of place, but I want to hear from other pilots on the subject and not an AME. I tore my ACL playing hockey about a week ago and need surgery to fix it. I am considering having a patellar tendon graft to repair the damage. However, I am afraid this type of graft might cause me long term discomfort while flying.

With a patellar tendon graft I am taking a small strip of my patella to replace my ACL. The surgery will basically leave a cavity in my patella, although most of the bone is supposed to eventually regrow. However, alot of people who recieve this type of surgery report having long term tendonitis and discomfort in their knee especially during elevation changes or when low pressure systems role in.

Obviously, this would be a problem for me since I am a pilot. Have any other pilots on this forum have had this type of surgery or an ACL replacement in general? If so does it bother you while flying? How long was the recovery, and how long did it take you to get back to flying. Right now it seems like I am going to have put off my CFI training for at least a few months.

My only alternatives to replace my ACL are to use a cadaver part or use a piece if my hamstrings. I do not want to use a cadever part because it creeps me out too much. I also do not want to use my hamstrings because they never grow back, however I might do it if the this is the only safe bet with flying. Again, I would appreciate any advice on the subject from any pilot that has experience with ACL surgery.
 

L-16B

Well-Known Member
First off, I know this post seems a little out of place, but I want to hear from other pilots on the subject and not an AME. I tore my ACL playing hockey about a week ago and need surgery to fix it. I am considering having a patellar tendon graft to repair the damage. However, I am afraid this type of graft might cause me long term discomfort while flying.

With a patellar tendon graft I am taking a small strip of my patella to replace my ACL. The surgery will basically leave a cavity in my patella, although most of the bone is supposed to eventually regrow. However, alot of people who recieve this type of surgery report having long term tendonitis and discomfort in their knee especially during elevation changes or when low pressure systems role in.

Obviously, this would be a problem for me since I am a pilot. Have any other pilots on this forum have had this type of surgery or an ACL replacement in general? If so does it bother you while flying? How long was the recovery, and how long did it take you to get back to flying. Right now it seems like I am going to have put off my CFI training for at least a few months.

My only alternatives to replace my ACL are to use a cadaver part or use a piece if my hamstrings. I do not want to use a cadever part because it creeps me out too much. I also do not want to use my hamstrings because they never grow back, however I might do it if the this is the only safe bet with flying. Again, I would appreciate any advice on the subject from any pilot that has experience with ACL surgery.
4 years ago I was in South Padre, TX on Spring Break giving a not so skinny girl (I was drunk) a piggy back ride from the pool to the hot tub. I slipped, and ended up tearing my patella ligaments, and acl. A year later I was jogging full speed and now the only time I can tell a difference is it's tighter when I squat down. It wasn't even brought up on any interview I've ever had. You'll be fine. Your surgery does sound like it will be more extensive than mine was, but all you can do is try, right? And I was flying within a matter of months, actually right away with my dad, but I couldnt push the rudder pedals just yet.
 

tn pilot 85

New Member
4 years ago I was in South Padre, TX on Spring Break giving a not so skinny girl (I was drunk) a piggy back ride from the pool to the hot tub. I slipped, and ended up tearing my patella ligaments, and acl. A year later I was jogging full speed and now the only time I can tell a difference is it's tighter when I squat down. It wasn't even brought up on any interview I've ever had. You'll be fine. Your surgery does sound like it will be more extensive than mine was, but all you can do is try, right? And I was flying within a matter of months, actually right away with my dad, but I couldnt push the rudder pedals just yet.
What type of surgery did you use to replace ypur ACL?
 

Bama

Well-Known Member
I had an acl repair in which my tendon was used as a graft. This surgery took place a few years ago but I have no complaints with my knee. It seems the more time that has gone by the better it has gotten.

The surgery itself is nothing to be scared of as long as you are in the hands of a good surgeon. The recovery process is not fun and will be painful. It will take a few months of physical therapy which I recommend not half-assing. In the end you'll be glad that you didn't. I dreaded going to PT and did not get my quad back to the original size before atrophy. It took a couple of years before my right knee matched my left. All in all, in the end my knee is just as good now.... plus I can pop it on command!

As far as the procedure.. do you really have any other options?
 

FlyingFireman

New Member
Greetings...I tore mine while playing volleyball. I had the repair using a piece of my hamstring. I would recommend this approach, it is the trend where I am from and causes less problems usually than the patellar tendon. Not to mention, the patellar tendon graft will create a huge scar on your leg.
My advice is this:
1) keep exercising if possible before the surgery to help build some muscles up...you're going to lose a lot of muscle in the leg over the next few weeks, so try to prevent it because it will make for a better and easier rehab.
2) Plan on being out for a good month. You will be on crutches for about 2-3 weeks and will still be somewhat unstable even at a month. Depending on your tolerance, it is a pretty extensive recovery.
3) Take the pain medicine as much as possible. Usually it says take one to two tablets every four to six hours. Take two, every four hours at least for the first week. It's not an issue of being less of a man etc, but you need the pain medicine to be able to do good rehab, and to be able to generally have a better quality of life for the first few weeks.
4) Pray for a hot physical therapist.
5) Don't overdo things in therapy, you'll regret it down the road...tendonitis etc.

Sorry I don't have much advice as it relates to flying, I am only PPL student and don't have much experience with pressure issues or the career pilot lifestyle.

Take care,

Mark
4)
 
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