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last tuesday i had surgery on my knee to repair a torn meniscus and to remove the screw from my previous surgery. prior to surgery i had questioned the surgeon as to whether he would repair my supposedly ruptured acl, to which he had a feel of my knee and said “no, because your knee actually doesn’t feel that unstable.” good, i thought.

after surgery i was informed “your acl is entirely in tact.” wait, what? how could that be? nine months prior, i had an mri scan and 4-5 different professional opinions all confirm the same diagnosis: i had completely ruptured my acl. there was no “end point” and a significant difference in laxity between my knees. and for me, i “felt” the pop. i knew what that pop meant. i knew it was my acl. how could i now have a fully functioning acl?

who knows. perhaps i never “fully” tore my acl. perhaps the “pop” was actually my meniscus. or perhaps, me joking with my doctor about healing my acl actually came to fruition.

after receiving my initial diagnosis, the doctor wanted to discuss a reconstruction. i refused. mentally and emotionally i couldn’t go through that again. instead, 4.5 months of devoted conservative management and a further 4.5 months of continued strength work and i have a fully functional acl.

so what does this all mean? for health care professionals, it’s so important to treat the person, not the diagnosis. collectively, due to the law of large numbers, you can successfully predict the outcome of many patients. but individually? you cannot. all individuals respond differently because all individuals are different. as such, they should be treated according to their symptoms and functionality, not what the picture says.

and for individuals, don’t always accept your diagnosis as a life sentence. be open. be curious. be the statistical anomaly.

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