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Preoperative course of anterior cruciate ligament surgery

September - October 2022


Hi all, how nice that you are going to read my story! My name is Pauline, I am 24 years old and have been playing field hockey with a lot of love for years. Coincidentally, I am a physiotherapist myself and I also coach people after knee surgery. So no unknown trajectory from that perspective, now unfortunately I am on the side unknown to me as a patient and future expert by experience.




During Thursday night practice in late September, I was defending a teammate and made a sideways change of direction. My right knee went in, I felt a snap in the knee and out of nowhere I was on the ground. No pain so carefully watched how it went. Standing? Check. Walking/running/jumping? No problem. Without worries I played ten minutes of games until, during a spin, I had that moment again where I sagged through the knee and was suddenly on the ground. Immediate bummer and disappointment of course. My first thought was about Sunday's game, soon I won't be able to play... Later, when I got on my bike and landed on the ground for the third time that night (this time not a soft landing with the bike on top of me), I knew things could be very wrong. This is the beginning of my story. In the coming months, I am going to do my best to take you along with everything I experience, physically and mentally, fun and not fun moments. 



I was fortunate that the next day at work my knee could be assessed immediately. The initial conclusion and suspicion on a serious cruciate ligament injury was quickly made and the next step would then be towards the orthopedist and an MRI for confirmation. Meanwhile, my knee had grown well thick, I was running anything but smoothly and I spent the first week resting a lot. Once my knee was quiet (little swelling/good mobility), the preoperative work with the physical therapist (how nice such colleagues) was quickly built up. Through strength exercises I tried to get my leg as strong and stable as possible again. Fortunately my knee responded well to this and I was able to train a lot in the first weeks. Meanwhile, I had also been to the orthopedist who confirmed the diagnosis of a complete anterior cruciate ligament rupture with a tear in the inner meniscus. The orthopedist, physiotherapist, but very important(!) also I myself agreed that given the injury and sports desire, surgery would be the best choice. 

Well, as I write this above, it sounds like the first few weeks were quite carefree and easy. Looking back, at the beginning I was mostly focused on the physical recovery of the knee and not dealing with the mental blow. A long-term injury has a big impact on your plans and never works out, which is how I was almost on a plane to travel for a few months. Slowly the realization came and in retrospect I also found the first weeks stressful, uncertain and full of question marks. Combined with well-meaning questions from family/friends/teammates/colleagues, this ended up taking a lot of energy. At times I thought lightly of it as I had few complaints physically, however, it remains a serious injury and you may also feel badly about it. Personally, I always look for a solution and the positives, but now I first had to accept that there is no fun option. Even though I have plenty of background knowledge I found it very nice and motivating to get good guidance at the beginning and do something in terms of sports. My advice is to use the time you have preoperatively to cope with the mental setback, get familiar with your physical therapist and in addition recharge yourself in order to get energy and meaning in the long post-operative rehabilitation despite everything. 


At the time of writing it is right before surgery and I feel upbeat and full of good cheer. Worked out a lot, spent a lot of time with dear friends and encouraged my team a lot. Today I trained for the last time and it's quite a crazy idea that in a few days you simply won't be able to do all those exercises. We will see how the next few months go, but I have a lot of confidence in achieving a great result with the help of all the people around me. See you soon!

Week 1-6 after anterior cruciate ligament surgery.