Rehabbing a Partial ACL Tear with Physical Therapy, No Surgery

What is your story about?
10 years ago I partially tore my ACL. I consulted with a number of providers, but none seemed to think I was a surgical candidate. I've pursued physical therapy several times now, and most recently I've seen improvements from the approach. I'm still looking into additional treatments options as I continue to have inflammation in my knee.
What symptoms did you experience and how did they progress over time?
I partially tore my ACL over 10 years ago. It happened lifting something heavy at work. I thought it was just soreness, so I was playing basketball that same day.
What was your diagnosis process like?
I didn't have insurance, so I didn't see a doctor for over a year. The orthopedic doctor took an MRI and said it was a torn ACL. But he said he didn't deal with knee injuries, so I should a knee specialist. I took the MRI to two so-called knee specialists who both refused to look at the MRI saying they didn't need it to diagnose a torn ACL. They did the Lachman test and said it didn't feel torn but they didn't know what was wrong and I should just stretch more. Then I took the MRI to another specialist who said the cd with the MRI wasn't compatible with his computer. So, I got a copy of the M ...(more)
Did you pursue surgery?
I did rehab on my own for years mainly riding bike, wall squats, and stretching with hardly any change. When I got Obamacare I saw another specialist who actually looked at the MRI and confirmed a partial tear. She said it wasn't torn enough to need surgery and sent me to physical therapy.
How long did you do physical therapy for?
I originally did about a month of PT years ago before I knew what was wrong. It didn't really help except when they stretched me, because my hips and glutes and I guess iliotibial bands are really tight. I did about two months of physical therapy last year after the previously mentioned doctor confirmed a partial ACL tear and said I had problems with my hips being out of alignment I think. The routine was mainly to strengthen the muscles around my knee. It started with stationary bike and stretching. Then weighted straight leg raises on back, sides, and belly, and clamshells. Then assisted bo ...(more)
Where are you at now in terms of recovery?
My good leg is still a lot stronger than the injured, but my main problem is inflammation in my injured knee. It doesn't hurt when exercising; I played basketball for years before I knew what was wrong. It hurts whenever I'm sitting or lying down with my leg outstretched. It throbs kind of like when you can feel your pulse in an injured area. If I bend my knee it stops hurting. I think the tightness is contributing to my knee soreness.
Are you planning any future surgeries?
I guess not, but I wish I could just get a surgical scope to see how much is actually torn. The only diagnosis is the MRI from over ten years ago which the first doctor said showed a torn ACL. I saw two knee specialists at the time who refused to look at the MRI and said it didn't feel torn. The specialist I saw last year who sent me to physical therapy said the MRI showed a partial tear but not enough for surgery. I had a followup with the knee specialist a couple weeks ago. She did the Lachman test and said it still doesn't feel torn and to keep doing physical therapy on my own. And if it st ...(more)
Have you considered any other treatments?
I would love to get PRP or stem cell injections if I had the money. I read about that years ago, and it seems like the perfect option for treating a partial tear. So naturally it's not widely available or covered by insurance. I had a shot of cortisone years ago that a dermatologist said would reduce inflammation and clear up my skin problems. It didn't help, but as a side effect I broke out in zits all over my arms and legs. So when one of the orthos recommended cortisone shots for my knee I declined. And another ortho told me the shots would just make my knee worse in the long wrong. I'm s ...(more)