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ACL Advice

Original Post
Scoop Norris · · Truckee · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 45

I had a complete tear of my ACL. My orthopedist is strongly suggesting I not get surgery due to my age, 61. I don't think it can hurt to try physical therapy and see if can get the knee stable through strengthening the hamstring, but anybody out there skiing and climbing with a missing ACL?  FWIW I have had two surgeries for meniscus tears on the same knee.


Tony K · · Pa · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

Unfortunately as we get older are bodies heels slower and the percentage of have a successful acl repair are greatly diminished 

52 been climbing 35 years and now injuries suck takes twice as long to heal

John Butler · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 5

I lived without an ACL in my right knee from age 20 until age 50.  I did a lot of exercises to get my knee working again at age 20. It actually ended up stronger than my left knee. Back then the remedy for a torn ACL was to disassemble and reassemble the knee... horrific. Doing nothing but rehab was definitely the right call.    

By about age 40 it seemed like I would twist my right knee once a year or so and it would take from 1-4 days to feel right again. I decided to get a hamstrimg graft to replace it at age 50. The rehab was way easier than what I went through at age 20. I was climbing in the Winds 6 months later. 

I would do it at age 60 (I'm now 61)

rob.calm · · Loveland, Colorado · Joined May 2002 · Points: 630

In my early forties, I tore my L medial meniscus from a combination of basketball and yoga. The only treatment back then was total meniscectomy using open surgery. It was before arthroscopic surgery. I had the L medial meniscus removed to relieve the pain, instability and “giving way” incidents.

Then in my late forties I ruptured the L ACL in a bouldering fall while also chipping off part of the weight bearing surface of my L medial femoral condyle. Worst part of it was that I had to give up running because of the damage to the femur. There was some modest instability in the knee due to the ineffective ACL but nothing too bad.

If one is doing cutting sports, e.g., basketball, then an ACL is needed, otherwise it’s a judgment call. If the joint is not hurting and there is no bothersome instability, then there’s no need to do anything. Many people get along just fine without an ACL. It would seem in your case that watchful waiting is in order. If the knee doesn’t bother you, there’s no need for surgery. Your orthopedist’s cautious approach to surgery is commendable.

I’m now 86 and am still able to climb without having a L ACL. My L knee has become arthritic as seen on x-rays but is not painful and is flexible. Two knee specialists over the years have said I do not need surgery. I’ve never done physical therapy but lift weights regularly (for over 60 years). Deep squats are the exercise I have found most helpful for keeping the knees functioning (YMMV). One of the knee specialists thinks squats are a bad exercise and the other thinks they’re great. It pays to cautiously experiment with various exercises.


Muscrat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 3,610
rob.calm wrote:

I’m now 86 and am still able to climb without having a L ACL....


You sir, are an inspiration. There are times i am discouraged, as i sit here recovering from RC surgery. I have been diagnosed with no functional ACL in either leg (race car accident 40 years ago). Now in my 7th decade, i guess i am not going to hit those 5.13's i was projecting, but hearing your story gives me hope to carry on.

Thank you, and 'climb on'!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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