This article is part of the Ultimate Guide to Sports Medicine
For someone as active and competitive as 15-year-old Shanna Moffatt, a sports injury is just another obstacle to overcome. When she was just 13-years-old she tore her right anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during a soccer game.
Luckily, Shanna’s mom Leigh Ann wasted no time in setting up an appointment with Dr. Michael Thieken, OrthoIndy sports medicine specialist. After an X-ray and MRI, Dr. Thieken determined that Shanna would need surgery if she wanted to return to sports.
ACL reconstruction surgery
Treatment for an ACL injury depends on the needs of the patient and the other injuries involved. Surgery is often necessary to return to sports and an active lifestyle; however, a less active individual may return to their lifestyle without surgery.
“From the moment I met Shanna, I knew she would do very well with our recommended treatment,” said Dr. Thieken. “She was knowledgeable about her diagnosis and treatment, motivated to return to full activity and extremely mature for her age. She underwent ACL reconstruction surgery and her post-operative course went as smoothly as one could expect.”
After Shanna’s recovery she put her injury behind her and even made the varsity soccer team when she was a freshman in high school. She also played basketball and ran frequently.
Knee injury – again
But for Shanna, this was just the beginning of her experience with Dr. Thieken. Two years later, Shanna tore her left ACL and lateral meniscus in the first game of her sophomore varsity soccer season.
Shanna was devastated. “I couldn’t go running, which I love so much; I couldn’t pick up and carry little kids at church; I couldn’t walk for a month; I couldn’t wear heels to the homecoming dance; and I couldn’t really dance either. I was very discouraged.”
Once again, Shanna made her way to Dr. Thieken’s clinic for a visit.
“After Shanna’s 2nd injury on the opposite knee there was absolutely no question in our minds where we were taking her,” said Leigh Ann. “We wouldn’t take her anywhere else. Throughout all my medical experiences living here the past 30 years, OrthoIndy has been the most positive of all of them. We are truly grateful.”
It is common for ACL tears to be accompanied by other knee injuries such as a meniscus tear; however, this always means surgery is necessary to return to sports. There was no other option if Shanna wanted to return to sports, she would need another surgery.
According to Dr. Thieken,“The anterior cruciate ligament is an extremely important ligament for stability of the knee during twisting and pivoting type motions. ACL reconstruction is a procedure done almost entirely arthroscopically in which we create a new ACL with either some of the patient’s tissue or cadaver tissue.”
“This new ACL graft is fixed in bone tunnels to allow graft to bone healing. With extensive physical therapy and time to allow the graft to mature, an individual can return to the sports and other activities that they love,” said Dr. Thieken.
Recovery and a return to sports
Shanna’s surgery was successful and she started on the road to recovery. For all patients who choose ACL surgery, physical therapy is very important. It focuses on reducing swelling and pain while returning motion to the joint and surrounding muscles. Complete rehabilitation is vital before making a full return to sport or repeat injury can occur.
“From the moment we walked through OrthoIndy’s doors and were greeted at the front desk to the moment we left, everyone who dealt with us all made us feel like we were the only ones in the hospital that day,” said Leigh Ann.
Shanna was able to train with the track team in the spring until she was fully cleared by Dr. Theiken to compete. In May she was able to run in the final two track meets. She didn’t win those races, but she was excited that she didn’t come in last, even wearing a knee brace. She begins workouts with her soccer team in June and looks forward to her junior year.
“My experience at OrthoIndy was amazing. I always felt comfortable and taken care of. Everyone was so nice and made sure I had everything I needed. Through this whole journey of two injuries, Dr. Thieken has encouraged me, and he is the reason I’m back doing the things I love,” said Shanna. “I know I have had the best care possible over the last two years of my life.”
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Thieken please call 317.802.2863 or learn more about sports medicine treatment at OrthoIndy.