Thursday, January 24, 2008

Knee Pain

ACL recoverees, you might not want to read this post just yet.

I'm finally starting to say to friends, "My knee will never be the same."

Thank goodness I had ACL surgery. My knee is stable now, and it wasn't before. I'm not collapsing in a heap when I put my weight on my leg, as I was before the surgery. It was worth the pain of ACL surgery and the long recovery to be able to rejoin martial arts, to not worry about things like dashing down the street or walking on a wet floor.

But I do have continued low-grade pain in my knee at times. I feel my knee in a way I never did before when I do something as simple as walking down the stairs. Just doing drills Wednesday night in martial arts class, blocking very mild low kicks with my shin, made it hurt more.

In February, I return to kicking and being kicked during sparring, and to grappling (how I tore my ACL in the first place). I wonder how those activities will feel. I'm going to take it really easy, and ask my classmates to do the same--I'm going to try to team up with Larry, who also went through ACL surgery.

I'm nervous about it.

One step at a time.

Wednesday night, my entire goal was not to re-injure my knee. On Saturday, my wife and I fly to Hawaii for our delayed 25th anniversary trip--delayed, that is, by my ACL surgery and recovery in the spring. I succeeded in my goal.

We're going to the Big Island, and one of the things we want to visit is a very rare green beach (see photo), which is, I think, due to a volcanic rock called olivine.

This is the perfect time to be going to Hawaii. I can't wait.


Michele said...


The thought that "my knee will never be the same" has also been on my mind lately. I am grateful that I had the surgery and have been lucky that my knee has not been very painful. I have more residual back pain than knee pain. I have come to the conclusion that I need to give myself more time. I have been told by several people that have had ACL surgery that it took them close to 18 months for their knee to feel 100%.

In regards to your return to grappling and kicking, I agree with your comment about taking it easy and one step at a time. I also understand why you are nervous. The thought of re-injuring my knee is a constant worry.

It sounds like you have surrounded yourself with a strong karate support system. I think you have a great sparring partner in your friend Larry who has first hand knowledge about ACL recovery.

Enjoy your trip to Hawaii and congratulations on your 25th Wedding Anniversary!

BobSpar said...

Thanks, Michele, for your comments and encouragement. It's good to be reminded that the healing process may not yet be done.

Hack Shaft said...


Even just a bit over 3 weeks post-op, I can feel a huge difference in stability when I walk.

That being said, it is amazing to observe just how much conscious thought I put into how and where I step, but that's slowly fading as my nervous system re-wires to accommodate the re-manufactured product I now call a knee.

Congrats on meeting your goal Wednesday, and getting to Hawaii--you've certainly earned it!

Any idea what colors the beach green--is it copper in the rock?

BobSpar said...

Hi, Hack, thanks.

What I've read is that there's a green volcanic rock called olivine, and as it gets worn down and mixes with other stuff, it yields the green sand. Why it's green, I'm not sure.

The Big Island where we're going is the one that's still being formed by volcanic action, so that's why there would be volcanic minerals on the beach.

Blackbeltmama said...

My friend had this done in both knees. He said it takes two years for all those little achy twinges and pain to go away. I'm not going to wish away the time, but it will be nice when there's no more pain and I'm not constantly guarding it.

That beach looks beautiful. I can't wait to see your own pictures from when you return. Congratulations on making it to one goal! Next? Shodan? ;-)

BobSpar said...

BBM: Shodan? Easy, girl, one step at a time! ;-) And thanks.

Jedediah F said...


I just had my 3rd surgery yesterday. (One left and two rights). Unfortunately the pain never really goes away.

After sitting "Indian style" it usually takes a few seconds to straighten the legs before I can get them moving. I also lost the ability to do the double hurdler's stretch. I can get down about 1/2 way but not my back flat like I used to.

Also during weather changes I can feel 'something'. Nothing tangible but something I can sill feel is there. Usually when a weather front is moving in.

As far as returning to sports: You're going to naturally protect your leg. Coming off of my first I switched my takeoff leg for Track and switched my wrestling stance. For my second I was much more reserved going into my Rugby tackles.

The good thing is 90% of your reservations are mental. Given how long it's been most ACLs are 'stronger' after surgery. (Says the man that re-tore his graft). As long as your weight conditioning is about equal in both legs there is no reason to believe that one leg is weaker than the other. Only thing you can't do too much of is stretching. I've still got a nagging feeling in the back of my head that that's how my 3rd tear happened, was that cold morning and I didn't stretch enough.

I'm hoping to build a website similar to yours, with all the tricks, tips and pictures I can. Hopefully with all those tricks you pick up those first weeks on crutches.

I may go through and make comments on any other posts I see that are interesting :)

[Mat] said...

Having a partial tear, I feel your pain.

There are instances where I feel like my knee is only wobbly on lateral movemnts. Yet,

Re-injury is always on my mind.

Good luck with your acl, hope it heals well

Maute said...


I tore my ACL and my meniscus in my left knee when I was 15 and only did a reconstruction when I was 19. I'm 27 now and I have the occasional joint pains and stiffness. Once in a blue moon, my knee sometimes gives way but this is as I mentioned, a rare occasion. Also, my knee still locks due to a torn meniscus that wasn't fixed but it's nothing compared to the pain pre-surgery.

However I never once regret doing the recon as my knee is way more stable now and I can pretty much play sports without fear and hesitation. As mentioned, this fear of recurring the injury is largely mental and is part of the recovery process. It is a gradual process and should not be rushed.

I applaud your courage in doing the op at your age of 51 (if I'm not wrong) as the recovery process surely mustn't have been easy. While I was 19 and doing physio, I saw grown men in their 30s crying as they were forced to bend their knees and try to return flexibility to their knees.

I wish you all the best Sir and once again, I admire your courage and tenacity. CHEERS and all the best mate!

BobSpar said...

Jedediah, wow, good luck with your third surgery--It's good for us to read your blog, and may be therapeutic for you as well.

Mat, Maute, thanks for your comments, we all feel each other's pain!

jc said...

Well I am 58, fell off my bicycle, tore my acl, meniscus, and mcl. Since August I have been through constant therapy, meniscus surgery (menisectomy), more therapy, acl surgery on Feb. 14 of all days, and now more therapy. My husband had to help me to the bathroom for 2 weeks solid. Have not been able to bend my knee past 65 degrees so far. Am only taking 1 pain pill to go to bed and one before therapy (3x a week). Sounds like you're doing pretty darn good Bob! JC

BobSpar said...

I'm sorry to hear it, jc, good luck with the surgery!