Stitch

Undiagnosed ACL Tear Leads to Arthritis and Future Knee Replacement

What is your story about?
I'm a 40 year old male with a left ACL that's been torn since around 2010. Because it went undiagnosed, I never had surgery and continued to play basketball almost daily. As a result, I developed arthritis that will require a knee replacement when I'm 50. I also tore and had surgery to repair my right ACL in 2019.
What symptoms did you experience and how did they progress over time?
I tore my left ACL around 9 years ago, playing basketball. At the time, I got some bad medical advice that it was just a knee sprain, so I continued to live a very active life (including almost daily basketball) for the next maybe 8 years. My knee would buckle every so often, and there would be swelling and soreness, but it was mostly stable. Since I wasn't trying to protect a torn ACL, I just thought that's how my knee was. As a result of daily basketball, I definitely lost a lot of mobility, but as long as it's stable, you just work through the pain. I also tore my right ACL in mid-2019.
What was your diagnosis process like?
At the time I injured my left ACL, I was told by my doctor it was just a sprain. After about 8 years of symptoms, the pain got to be pretty bad, so I went back to an orthopedist for knee pain. Did a physical exam, x-rays, and MRI. Found the old torn ACL and extreme arthritis from all the knee micro movement. So, 9 years later, I have advanced arthritis in that knee and have since learned it's torn after finally seeing a doctor about the pain. For my right ACL which recently tore, I got that looked at right away.
Have you considered surgery?
For the left ACL, my current doctor suggests that he could do the ACL repair, but that it would likely be more painful because of how long it's been torn. So, now I'm 40 and needing a knee replacement but finding that doctors won't do the replacement until around 50. So, the plan right now is to wait until as close to 50 as possible and have a knee replacement then. For my right ACL, I had surgery on the 31st of July 2019.
What treatments have you tried for your left ACL?
I didn't try physical therapy, but I didn't really know it was actually injured until about a year or so ago. So far we've just tried various steroid and gel injections. The standard cortisone steroid injections work great, but they only work for about a week at a time. So that's not a long term solution. I tried an expensive injection called ZILRETTA. It was supposed to be a time release steroid injection, but it only worked for a month or so. Was about $2k and was pretty painful. Not worth it to me. Lately, I'm trying a hyaluronan injection that is supposed to supplement the knees' natural ...(more)
What advice would you give others with your condition?
If I knew my ACL was torn way back when, I would have definitely had it repaired. I played sports for 8ish years on a torn ACL because I never got it looked at. I caused some advanced arthritis in my knee that will result in me getting a knee replacement when I'm around 50. Get it checked. Knees are nothing to mess around with, you are flirting with affecting your quality of life.