Submitted by: Adam
On April 6, 2019, I joined the “Band of Quadders” referred to on this website.
While walking down the two steps that lead out of my kitchen and into my garage. I stepped a bit sideways with my left leg on the bottom step, when all of a sudden, my leg gave way sideways, my kneecap twisted sideways as well, my knee buckled out from under me, and I fell to the floor in excruciating pain. I was able to straighten my leg from the contorted state that it was in, but was unable to put weight in it or lift it straight up from a lying position.
My wife quickly helped me into the car and took me to the nearest emergency room which was about 40 minutes away.
At the emergency room, the attending physician ordered that x-rays be taken immediately. The x-ray revealed that there were no broken bones so I was placed in a straight leg brace, given oxycodone, and sent on my way with instructions to remain in the straight leg brace and see an orthopedic surgeon in a week if my condition did not get any better.
For the next week I hobbled around in the straight leg brace. Surprisingly, I was able to bear full weight on it after three days from the time that the accident occurred, with no pain. The pain and swelling even subsided as the week went on. The healing process seemed to be going well and I thought I was out of the woods until I noticed that I was unable to perform a straight leg raise lying on my back or move my foot and leg forward against gravity without severe pain and weakness.
At the advice of a couple of my coworkers, I decided to see an orthopedic surgeon to have it evaluated. The ortho ordered an MRI to be scheduled for 3 days later. The results of the MRI came back a few days later and based on the results of the MRI, palpation of the area just above the kneecap, and my inability to perform a straight leg raise while lying down on my back, he immediately diagnosed me as having a severe partial quadriceps tendon tear.
Surgery was the verdict.
I didn’t like the “verdict” so I opted for a second opinion from a different orthopedic surgeon. Although this orthopedic surgeon had much better bedside manners than the first opinion (lots to be said for good bedside manners, by the way) he too immediately diagnosed me with a severe partial quadriceps tendon tear and said surgery would be necessary. So reluctantly we scheduled the surgery for two days later on Friday, April 26th…nearly three full weeks after my injury first occurred.
The surgery only took about an hour and a half. I was given a femoral nerve block and general anesthesia. The surgeon made a 4-6 inch incision in my left leg at the bottom of my quad to the top of my kneecap. He drilled three holes into my knee cap and used about 30 feet of suture to pull and anchor the torn tendon back to the kneecap.
After the surgery, he shared some sobering news with me. Even though the MRI showed a severe partial tear of the quad tendon, the tendon was actually only being held to the kneecap by a few fibers, thus it was considered for all intents and purposes a complete rupture of the quad tendon, and it was noted as such in my final surgery record. I say this because it is important to note that even with modern technology and diagnostic equipment, every detail of an injury cannot always be diagnosed with 100% accuracy. Suffice it to say, I am glad I did not wait any longer to “let it heal on its own”….because it never would have.
The pain was rough for a couple of days after the surgery, but I was prescribed a nice cocktail of pain killers to help with that. I did make the mistake of trying to go back to work 3 days after the surgery, but the pain and swelling was unbearable, so my boss was kind enough to allow me a week off to work from home where I could elevate and ice my leg.
I had my staples removed two weeks ago today and have been to 5 physical therapy sessions since then. I am going today for my 4 week post op check with the doctor and I am hopeful that he will allow the brace to be unlocked slightly to begin bending the knee a little bit at a time. At 4 weeks out, I am still experiencing some pain only when performing straight leg lifts, but other than that, no real issues to speak of. I hope to get back to the gym soon to at least work upper body, as this is a passion of mine that I miss dearly.
From reading other accounts of this injury, I know there is a long road to full recovery, and I do get discouraged sometimes, but with each little milestone of improvement I am hopeful and encouraged that the end is closer in sight. I have lots of camping and hiking adventures yet to be completed, so that, along with encouragement from my wife, helps me see the light at then end of the tunnel!