Torn Acl: Quad tendon graft

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6/12/2021 11:25 PM

Unfortunately i tore my acl last month and was told i will be having a quad tendon graft. Has anyone had this procedure? Any info or tips for recovery?


6/12/2021 11:56 PM

I had the same procedure in October last year. I tore both left and right, but only a partial tear on my left. I only had surgery on my right acl but I was given PRP for both knees. The PRP def made a difference in my left knee even though it was not operated on.

Your knee is gonna be STIFF for like a week after surgery. I was able to walk without any help after 2 weeks. But you'll def be glued to crutches for at least a week, to be safe. The pain was not bad if you take your meds at the scheduled times, I was off those in about a week or two.

For recovery right after surgery, try to get your hyperextension back to normal. My knee was able to go past straight before surgery. After extending it here and there every day, I got it back to normal. I was told this was very important after surgery.

In regards to physical therapy, I did not do nearly as much as I wish I did. Try and find the best place your insurance covers. Every physical therapist my insurance covered was pretty bad. I figured I would try out of pocket for my physical therapy. $100 a session for about an hour. Also didn't have the best experience there as the physical therapist kept forgetting I tore both my acls and was bending my partially torn knee as if it was rubber. So I chose to do the PT on my own, but i got lazy. DON'T GET LAZY, do your PT. Get that quad stronger than it was before surgery.

Just had my last check up and the surgeon said the graft is VERY strong, my hyperextension is good, I just need to get my quad stronger.

Damn I don't think I ever wrote that much in school... Before my surgery I was on the internet every day looking for info so I thought i'd pay it forward, good luck!


6/13/2021 1:33 AM

Had the quad graft done in 2015.

Interestingly, looked like quad was performed by most surgeons in Australia, but patellar seemed to be used more in America.

^ duboiz gave good advice about getting Range of Motion back. Before I had my surgery I could slightly hyper extend my knee, but since the surgery I can only get it to straight. I was cautious about pushing it early because I didn't want to stretch the new graft.

Definitely ice it up and get that swelling down quickly.

Hope it all goes well.


6/13/2021 6:22 AM

Things have come a long way since having mine done back in ‘99..

The exercise that helped the most for me was weighted lunges- I worked up to doing hundreds of them a day with the repaired knee..

Once I built the muscle back up I did short sprints in the yard to build my confidence back up.


6/13/2021 7:07 AM

I had ACL reconstruction in 2000. They offered me 3 choices: Patellar tendon graft (most football players get this), Hamstring tendon, or Cadaver. Quad was never mentioned back then. I had real good surgeon I trusted and grilled him on pros and cons of each graft. He said Patellar was strongest and most NFL lineman got them because of need for straight line strength in the trenches. Downside was if I wanted to crawl around on my knees like working under my car or playing with kids on the ground- it was difficult and painful typically. Cadaver I ruled out immediately because they had the highest fail rate and weren't as flexible given they were harvested some time in the past and stored until needed. Slight possibility of disease carrying from previous owner but they screened for everything they could. Hamstring tendon would be 2nd strongest with little noticeable after effects from harvesting in most people. I chose Hamstring. Read as much as you can ahead of time to understand procedures and ask Dr any questions so you are totally comfortable with it by surgery day.

Like others said, follow your rehab instructions to the letter! Don't cheat or blow it off. You'll need a good PT who works with your Dr on exercise plans and reports your progress for your follow up Dr appointments. Mine was all done in-house at UCSD network in San Diego so that helped the communication part. I was on crutches and no weight bearing for 2 weeks if I remember right. No driving for 3-4 weeks I think- and mostly based on progress reports from PT. Once swelling is gone and surgery site is mostly healed (no infections, etc.) they will get you on range of motion exercises. As that progresses they start to add strength building. If that goes well they monitor the healing of the graft and eventually you can jog and start slowly back into sports that don't require pivoting on the leg much.

healing time varies for each individual, but I was cleared to ride dirt bikes around 6 months I think. Did a GP style race at 7 months and never looked back. Present Day: had a few cleanouts in years after ACL and by 15 years or so they found some thinning and fraying of the graft but not bad enough to replace it even if I wanted. That is still the same now (had it checked 2 weeks ago). Haven't ridden much and no racing (VMX, I'm old) since 2017, but overall me and Drs are happy how the whole thing turned out over 20 years.

Good Luck!


6/14/2021 10:51 AM

Good luck man. It’s a gnarly recovery. I did my ACL, MCL, LCL, PCL, and both meniscus last March. Was stuck in crutches for 2 weeks and a brace for 8. Therapy therapy therapy


6/14/2021 11:03 AM

MotoMan12345 wrote:

Good luck man. It’s a gnarly recovery. I did my ACL, MCL, LCL, PCL, and both meniscus last March. Was stuck in crutches for 2 ...more

Were you wearing a brace? Ryno wants to know.


6/14/2021 12:06 PM

appreciate all the info guys. i’ll be having the surgery on the 16th, therapy will start a few days after that!


6/14/2021 1:34 PM

Daughter tore her's in volleyball and went with patellar graft. Hadn't heard of the quad graft but that was a few years ago. Good luck and do the therapy!


6/15/2021 5:45 AM

I had the hamstring graft, was doing PT the next day after surgery and 3 days a week for about 6 weeks. I had to fight with insurance to approve more PT and eventually just gave up and started doing my own at Planet Fitness. I was only on crutches for a couple days. Don’t blow through your pain meds too fast. I’m 8 months out of surgery and back to racing! Good luck!


6/15/2021 8:33 AM

I tore my ACL in 2012? I was given the 3 choices aswell, Patella, Hamstring, and Cadaver. I was 22 and wasn’t certain of my career path so I opted out of the Patella because as stated above I was told although strong, it will hurt to be on your knee working or anything like that so I did the hamstring. Before surgery they had a machine sent to my house that your leg straps in and it constantly bends your knee. I was told to start it almost immediately after surgery for a few times a day but only to certain degrees. In surprised nobody else has mentioned using something like this as my surgeon told me it’s fairly common for post surgery. It makes a huge difference as it doesn’t allow your knee to get stiff and helps slowly work your flexibility back


6/15/2021 10:13 AM

Had both knees done and the hamstring one healed faster, but what's left of the ham pulls easier now. Also, for me finding out the recommended PT routine in advance and practicing it before surgery made it much easier and smoother in recovery. Also, if they recommend a total replacement ever, I'd recommend looking into stem cell therapy first. The replacement may really limit movement after.


6/15/2021 4:31 PM

Had an achilles cadaver used on my first one in 06, and it tore at my first big race back. Went with my Patellar for the second on my right knee and no issues. When I had my left one done, the surgeon and I chose hamstring graft. It's what he used on a lot of the Oregon football players out of U of O when he worked on them. Never even knew quad was an option either of the 3 times. I got lucky with the hospital I went to in Eugene being catered to athletes. PT and all follow ups were at the same hospital and they did their absolute best to get me off my crutches BEFORE 6 weeks. KEEP THE COMPRESSION SOCK ON for as long as you can possibly stand it or PT says you can ditch it.

Definitely see if your insurance will cover an automatic ice machine, those things are sweet. I also had a device that helped bend/extend my left knee to help with quicker range of motion. I had slight hyperextension and almost 90 degrees of bend after 7 days because of the knee machine.


Turning dreams into realities one day at a time.

6/15/2021 7:19 PM

Tore mine 10-10-2010 at 51 years old and had hamstring graft. Swear I can still feel area where they took the hamstring. Make sure you get the ice cooler with ice bag on knee under bandages at hospital, would guess it's standard now. First night was a bitch with pain and swelling for me, by the time they got me discharged, stopped to get meds at pharmacy and home to start getting the iced it was too long of time lapse and I was hurting big time.. Get the ice and meds going at hospital. keep leg elevated After first night pain decreased considerably.. I was just taking Tylenol after 2 days.

Follow other suggestions above, all good advice especially PT and extension range, never did get mine fully back.


6/15/2021 7:46 PM

MotoMan12345 wrote:

Good luck man. It’s a gnarly recovery. I did my ACL, MCL, LCL, PCL, and both meniscus last March. Was stuck in crutches for 2 ...more

stone881 wrote:

Were you wearing a brace? Ryno wants to know.

Haha I actually had knee PADS on. A pair of a star ones. I’ve always been a mobius guy but they were beat up so had pads that day. But the crash was so bad I think I still would’ve been fucked with braces on. Maybe not as much damage but who knows. Safe to say I’m back to my braces tho


6/15/2021 7:57 PM

I had the quad graft last April. I was walking unhinged the next day. Per dr's orders. 8 weeks of PT, cant tell i had surgery now, a year later. Main thing with the quad graft, your quads retract and try to atrophy. Its absolutely important to stretch and keep the quads active. I was back at work in less than a week. Light duty, but able to walk and run my shop after morning PT. I rented a chiller with the full leg wrap for home. Life saver. If insurance doesnt cover it, they are like $200 for 2 weeks. Spend the money.


6/16/2021 8:25 AM

Buy one of these, the hospital will give a water bottle ice kit that sucks IMO this was a savor for me helps with getting your knee straight too due to how heavy it is.