A while back I made a comment about how the only response I would get when asking about physical therapy was “It sucks.” For the first few weeks of my physical therapy experience, I thought that everyone else was just a huge wuss for saying that; for those first few weeks PT was, if anything, very slightly uncomfortable. Of course, that was before my therapist started bending the crap out of my knee, turning me into a blubbering, whimpering baby.
See, physical therapy after ACL surgery is really separated into two parts. Part 1 involves strengthening the atrophied muscles in your leg so that you can eventually get back to doing things like playing sports. Part 2 involves having your stiff, swollen knee bent to the point where the pain becomes so overwhelming that you begin to long for the sweet respite of death. Seriously, it HURTS. Bad. And, unfortunately, the only way to improve is to make it hurt more. Now every PT session ends with me begging for mercy while my therapist inflicts horrific pain upon me. On days when I have PT, I become more and more anxious as I progress through each session because I know what’s in store for me at the end. (Hint: It’s the exact same thing Clubber Lang predicted for Rocky Balboa moments before beating him within an inch of his life in Rocky 3).
Come to think of it, I’d almost rather be in Rocky’s place. Taking 10,000 overhand rights to the face from a severely pissed off Mr. T would be a walk in the park after suffering through a knee-bending session with my physical therapist.
On the bright side, I have increased my bending ability from 45° to 125° over the past 9 weeks since surgery, so I’m well on my way to having full range of motion in the near future. My therapist also called my ROM “amazing” the other day, so that’s pretty encouraging. Normal ROM at the knee joint is around 140°, so I should be able to achieve that before long. Also, I’m getting close to the 12-week mark since surgery, which is significant because 12 weeks is how long it takes for bone-to-graft healing. At this point my body will have fully assimilated the zombie tendon in my knee and it will have become “my” tissue for all intents and purposes, which is kind of weird to think about. It is also at this point that I will also be able to start doing some light running and legitimate weightlifting with something other than 3 pound ankle weights. In the meantime, though, I’ll just have to keep being a trouper and try to get my full ROM back.