Think you have a torn ACL? Don't hesitate to consult a doctor

Nov 10, 2018

We've all been there: an in-game collision, a bad fall, a shooting pain after a sharp pivot. After hurting yourself while playing, it's pretty scary to have it checked only to find out that you did do some real damage under your skin. That's why most of us are probably guilty of just going for "rest" and crossing our fingers that the pain goes away.

A lot of the times, you'd recover as if nothing happened. But yeah, it's scary to confirm your worst nightmare (like the infamous ACL tear) by having it checked which is why many would rather consult Dr. Google or other bros. Well, Drew* is a bro who thought "I'd be fine" even though he is an actual med student (now doing his internship) himself and should really know better. Consider his ACL horror story the closest you can get to the consultation you've always feared.

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What did you do to your ACL?

Malala yung akin. ACL tear but for one year I kept playing football cause I thought I was okay. Then one particular game, I had knee to knee contact with another player then I couldn't straighten my knee na or walk straight. It was swollen AF and they had to drain it cause it was full of blood. I ruptured a different ligament and it caused a buckethandle tear in the front of my knee so I couldn't straighten it.

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That white area is a pool of blood in his knee

So you said you tore your ACL, did you actually have it checked to confirm?

Yeah, two years ago. I had an MRI na (a couple of weeks after I felt it in the game) and it showed a complete tear on the left ACL. That was the initial injury.

It was swelling for a couple of weeks and then I had pain and limitation of movement. I iced it lang for a while and it eventually subsided eh. So like two months after the MRI I was walking normally naman and was able to jog again so I started playing football again. I could just feel na may buckling siya when I jump, ha ha!

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"Just" buckling! What did the doctor have to say after the MRI?

Elective ACL repair–like it's not an emergency so you can schedule to have the repair whenever you want. Actually, I should have done either rehab or surgery but I didn't. Kala ko kaya sa gym and jogging!

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Of course, there's time to take a picture of your swollen knee being drained

So it could possibly just be rehab needed after an ACL injury?

Yeah, my friend also had an ACL but went through 3 months of rehab and till now he's still playing. Physical Therapy lang with Knee Strengthening. But the standard is still surgery followed by 6 months rehab. But if you aren't active in sports and don't plan to be, pwedengrehab. Studies are still inconclusive kasi if not repairing the ACL actually causes early arthritis.

Active meaning? Can I just stand in the backcourt and ping passes around?

No sports that require strenuous changes in position running and jumping so mostly all, ha ha! Technically, this also means my friend's knee is a time bomb.

So you ignored your ACL and tore a second ligament?

Yes, weakened na yung knee ko to begin with so the load is straining the other portions na.I tore my medial meniscus (different from the MCL) and they had to shave off that portion. So added part to what would have been just an ACL repair.

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Is an ACL repair risky or difficult? Or somewhat "easy?"

Well, medyo standard na siya. However because the ACL can't grow back on its own, they have to take a graft from somewhere else (in my case hamstring) and secure it with a metal implant. So I have a pseudo-ACL now. Moral is if you have a knee injury you shouldn't prolong treating it. Either stop active sports to prevent more injury till you get surgery or at the very least start rehab.

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Our man, on the table

Is it really possible to self-diagnose?

Tough call, knee damage is usually harder to diagnose than, let's say, an ankle sprain. Usually danger signs are if the swelling won't reduce, if there's pain and limitation during knee bending or straightening, and most especially if it can't bear weight. An ortho and a PT can usually clinically diagnose an ACL tear–there are maneuvers they do to see if it's loose. Gold standard is MRI.

And another problem pa with ACL is it can happen a lot as a non-contact injury. My cousin tore her ACL when she twisted trying to open a stuck-up window.

My god.

Ako nga med and I still didn't get it done, ha ha! Pero medyo hassle yung post-op, as in "paaaain" for 3 days. My MRI was P7,000 (not sure if discounted) by the way.

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After all that, can you play again now though?

Gonna try na but my ortho said I should go to the gym for knee strengthening first. I finished my PT already!

You had a complete tear, but is a partial tear any "better" to have?

Depends parin. Problem talaga sa ACL is it doesn't grow back, sounds like eventually magigingfull tear rin yon.

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