it's never happened to me, but i do know if a situation you can probably relate to. i'll follow up your long post with a long story to go with it.
i grew up playing soccer. my best buddy was one of the better soccer players in the state. he was up for Mr. Soccer his sophomore year. (irrelevant, but pertains to the story). summer after sophomore year during summer soccer he caught a foot to the knee and had a slight tear to the ACL. probably what you had, as you can't walk if you have a full tear. the doctor spotted it right away and told him he had a choice. he could have surgery and be out for 6+ months or he could rest and let it heal. the doctor told him it would never be that same without surgery, but it would heal and he would be able to play junior year in the fall. he is a competitor, so he said "let me play." as it was, he was not the same. he wasn't half the player he had been. he was bad that year, and he isn't even a player based on speed or quickness. he was just a ball controlling midfielder. but he never had confidence in anything he did and he never felt right. his knee felt like mush (much like your knee feels, i'm sure.) he said he always felt like the next shot to the knee would break it. and because of that he never had the confidence to do anything.
interestingly enough, in our third to last game, he broke his ankle. he talked to his doctor and asked while they are doing surgery on his ankle, could they do his knee as well. turns out, no, thats two different surgens.. haha.. but what ever. he had both done within a week and rehabbed them together.
long story longer... he said it took 8-9 months before he rehabbed his knee to full strength, but once it was full strength he said it was significantly better then anytime since he tore it. he has always said his biggest regret was not just getting surgery right away.
It is a significant investment of time. also, if you are not the type of worker thats going to go all out and rehab it right, you might as well not do it at all. but, if you are willing to put the time and effort into it, i think you will be amazed what it's like to live with a normal knee again. it's easy to just live with what you've got and deal with it, but a couple of years from know you will thank yourself for getting it fixed.
blah blah blah... long story, i know.. but, you're young, get it fixed while you still heal fast and have the energy to hit the gym every day.
My kid brother tore his ACL when he was 14 and again at 17 (if memory serves - regardless, it was twice before he turned 18), same knee both times. It tore a second time because he was still growing after the first surgery, they knew it would likely happen again with the way the first surgery went. Anyway, he's over 30 now and has had no issues since the second surgery. So I'd get it fixed for good (surgery) since you're only 21.
Yes doctor, I am sick. Sick of those who are spineless. Sick of those who feel self-entitled. Sick of those who are hypocrites. Yes doctor, an army is forming. Yes doctor, there will be a war. Yes doctor, there will be blood.....
by jake_twothousandfive » Sat Aug 06, 2011 10:19 am
I tore mine my freshman year of college during finals week in a game of backyard football. Completely siderailed my summer. I couldn't walk at all, not so much because of the pain but it gave out when I put too much weight on it. So I had surgery right away. I won't lie, the recovery process is long and hard. The first few weeks are spent attempting to regain full range of motion. My knee was locked into a small range of motion (I couldn't either bend it or extend it fully) following surgery so a lot of time was spent pushing it down and pulling it in for barely noticeable, painful gains. That was the most painful portion of recovery for me. The next phase is muscle strengthening. I couldn't get my upper leg muscles to fire so I needed electrical stimulation to help reactivate them; though I don't think that's always necessary. The next several months are spent on mostly strengthening exercises, which aren't painful but boring and tedious.
If you do go ahead with it, the best advice I can give you is to take it very slow. Intentionally hold yourself back from doing too much, too soon. Following all of that I retore the same ACL during a physical therapy session evaluating my progress. During the vertical leap test I landed on the injured knee and put just enough pressure on it to tear it again (about 8 months following the first surgery). I then had to have surgery again and went through the same process a second time. Not fun.
Fast forward two years, I can run several miles a day at a good clip with no pain. The strength is still not all back, and the explosiveness I once had never will be, but I can lead an active lifestyle and never wear a brace. Doing a quick measurement now, I can tell you that my injured leg is still 2 inches smaller around than the non-injured leg. At one point the muscles had atrophied to the point where there was about an 8 inch difference in the circumference of each leg. I can play any sport but I'm nowhere near as good at them as I once was.
The best athletes in the world take 7-9 months to fully recover when, I imagine, nearly all of their time is devoted to recovery and they have the best doctors to work with. You should expect it to take you a bit longer than that.
"Don't take anything for granted, because tomorrow is not promised to any of us." ---Kirby Puckett
I have an appointment next Monday regarding my knee. I hurt it 18 months ago playing basketball and have avoided the Dr. on purpose ever since. I have finally broken down and have an appointment scheduled since my standard of living has dropped significantly in the last 2 months. I am hoping it is a partial tear and not a complete tear, but the joint laxity has me worried. I am a father of 4 (ages 10 to 5 weeks) and want to be able to play sports/games/hike/etc. with them all so I finally broke down and scheduled an apt. I've seen many of my college teammates and friends go through surgery and the biggest thing I found it that most don't rehab enough. I understand that some go to far and re-injure the knee, but in the most part I've seen a lack of rehab is what causes future problems. Good Luck....to you and to me.