So how did I end up in this position writing this blog… well I’ll have to take you to a Monday night in early November 2019. I’m midway through my touch footy game and I’ve gone to play the ball in the middle of the field like the 1000 times before, I stepped through with my right leg, planted my foot and twisted ever so slightly inwards. All of a sudden I felt a pop in my knee and was instantly overcome with a intense sharp pain as I collapsed to the ground, It was like someone had taken my legs from under me. I clutched at my knee and knew that I had just torn my ACL. Everyone ran over and to try to reassure me that maybe it wasn’t and that it might just be a meniscus tear. As I lay on the sideline in pain one of my teammates who is also a physio did a quick assessment with Lachman’s test (an orthopaedic test for ACL injury) as best he could but I couldn’t get my hamstrings to relax. We both just looked at each other and knew exactly what was wrong but he tried to reassure me still.
As soon as I got home, I grabbed all the ice packs I could find and lay there with my knee propped up with some towels and ice packs on. As I lay there with so many different thoughts racing through my head there was 1 main one that kept coming back, and that was surgery or no surgery so I messaged a few friends in the industry with many more years’ experience than myself to get their thoughts. They all came back with the same answer “you’re a good prospect for conservative management and if you end up being a ‘copper’ then great, go with it all the way and if that doesn’t work then think about surgery”. So off I went the next day to get the MRI and came back with what I already knew and that was I had torn my ACL but also had managed to tear my medial meniscus twice with a horizontal and oblique tear.
The first week and a half was pretty tough I was barely able to extend or flex my knee, so it made getting around a bit difficult. My hamstrings were constantly firing trying to guard my knee and from this they were starting to get pretty sore. During this initial stage I pretty much stuck to 3 basic things to try restoring as much movement as I could in my knee and get my quads to switch back on and hamstrings to switch off.
These 3 things were:
Dry needling: The Dry needling was the only way I was able to get my hamstrings to relax, I had tried constantly stretching them without any real effect.
Knee squeezes into rolled up towel: The knee squeezes into the towel provided massive benefit as I was able to start purposely activating my quads and regain some control over them. Prior to this I felt like my quads were just firing off randomly and almost sending my head of heels, I lost count of how many times I almost ended up on my backside because of it. I wasn’t sure whether it was the shock of the contraction or the pain of my knee going into a range it didn’t like that hurt more.
Half turns on stationary bike: The stationary bike was a great way for me to try and regain some range of motion through my knee all while not having to try and push too hard to gain some results and I was slowly able to progress to full circles before the end of week 2.
Over the next couple of blogs, I will be taking you along on my ACL injury road to recovery. I will be going through what rehab I am doing and the focuses of each stage of my recovery.
Written by Lewis Criniti - Physiotherapist (MPhty)
If you have recently injured your knee and need assistance with a rehab plan or are suffering from any musculo-skeletal complaint, then the staff at Northside Sports Physiotherapy can guide and assist you.
Hornsby – 9476 1666
Wahroonga – 9489 4588
Lindfield – 9489 4588