Anterior cruciate ligament choice stress

"Surgery? No surgery? Surgery? No surgery? Surgery? No surgery?"

This is the sentence that occupied my mind for a long time after I tore my anterior cruciate ligament on the field hockey field last year. I think an essential question for many of us who suffer a complete rupture. Not to mention that I now have the words "complete rupture" in my standard vocabulary. Anyway, that aside. 

 I can still remember the blow well, me on offense on the field hockey field in Utrecht. After an intense corona year with no field hockey training, we were back on the field the first game after the winter break. I felt fit, after all, I had been running a lot and doing YouTube classes in my dorm room. However, after the first ten minutes things went wrong. I launched an attack and sprinted at full speed towards the other side of the field. The last woman of the opposing team thought she could easily intercept the ball from me by sticking her stick uncontrollably between my legs. My knee stuck, I felt a snap, followed by incredible pain and an intense scream. 


Choice stress!

This was the beginning of the medical circus you find yourself in after a simple movement. A visit to the physical therapist followed and after they pulled my knee in every possible way with three men I still got a referral to the hospital. Yes, a complete rupture. My anterior cruciate ligament was completely torn. After this observation, I had to visit the orthopedic surgeon where he presented me with two options: conservative training (non-surgical) or anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (surgical).  

Conservative (no surgery)

With a conservative workout regimen, you do not need surgery, which is beneficial because surgery obviously carries risks. In addition, a conservative regimen usually takes less time than if you have surgery. However, on average about 33% get back to their former sports level. I honestly thought this was pretty low. Another advantage is that you can always decide to have surgery, of course. However, this option does require you to look carefully at your insurance. I only had 9 physical therapy treatments in my package. The rest was at your own expense, an expensive joke when you consider that you can come twice a week for six months anyway. This caused me stress on the spot. 

Anterior cruciate ligament surgery

With an anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, about 50% get back to their old sports level. I did hear from the orthopedist that many people opt for surgery to add extra reinforcement to the knee so they can return to their old sport. However, the surgery causes you to go through a long rehabilitation process and, of course, there is always a risk of things not going well. As for the cost, after your surgery you will be on a chronic code, in this you will pay for the first twenty treatments yourself plus your deductible. After that the treatments are reimbursed for a year. So still an expensive joke, but better.... 

Well, after the orthopedist explained this to me in five minutes, put a leaflet in front of my nose and then ushered me back out the door, I was at a loss for words. What the hell am I going to do? I called my parents and they said they thought it was a tough choice too. Maybe a second opinion was a good idea? 

    Second opinion anterior cruciate ligament treatment

    And so it happened, two weeks later I was sitting in the chair with orthopedist number two. I felt that he took more time for me and listened to me carefully. At least that already felt a whole lot better. After we briefly discussed the options he actually advised me to operate. This because I am young (24 at the time) and still in the prime of my life. I would like to be able to play field hockey, bike, run, ski, et cetera again. Oh yes, and suppose I am on vacation one day it seems wonderful to be able to do other sports without thinking. He said; you do get a bit more strength if you have surgery but opinions are still divided on this. 

    After the talk, I walked out the door quite relieved; it was just a nice talk. To hear that opinions within science were still divided about what is the best choice did make me a little doubtful. My idea: still vague and I really had no idea what to expect. What I do know is that the contact with the orthopedist, the feeling I got with him, and the practice I was in was the deciding factor for me. I find that as an athletic young woman I want to trust the orthopedist. I want to get a good feeling with him because after all, he is going to tinker with something that is an essential part of my life for me; my knee. 

    Seven months after anterior cruciate ligament surgery

    Now seven months after my surgery, I am sitting at my laptop thinking about this. It's really just a rollercoaster; both mentally and physically. Whether I'm glad I had the surgery? I don't know, the journey is long and hard but with the right physical therapist, working out two/three times a week is a joy. I am very happy with that! I hope that in a few months I might be able to be back on the field hockey field, but even that brings back questions. I do realize that such a complete rupture, completely changes your life. And as for choosing whether to have surgery or not. I think you may trust your gut and the orthopedist. 

     Will be fine,