what is the pain-level involved in "tearing your ACL", is it comparable to a Mom giving birth?

I still remember the iconic Joe Theismann broken-leg, where immediately you knew that shit had gone wrong, and he was done.

Nowadays, the death-knell to an athlete seems to be “tearing your ACL” but when it happens, you seldom see him go down in writhing pain, with opposing players waving frantically for the medical staff to rush out and tend to him.

In fact, the latest incident I know of is 49ers QB Jimmy Garappolo. I didn’t see it live, but I remember seeing the Monday morning screen-crawl about “49ers fear Garappolo may have torn his ACL”. So apparently it’s not an “if you’ve torn it, you KNOW it” situation?

I’m just wondering what the pain-level associated with that is. The way the NFL studio-heads talk it up, you’d think it’s an 11 on the pain-scale of 1 to 10. I’m sure there’s gotta be some Venn-Diagram overlap of Moms who have both given birth and also torn their ACL (granted, not at the same time I hope) :).

Any comparison between the pain-level of the two?

I don’t remember if it was his ACL or PCL Steve Yzerman tore, but when it happened he looked like he was in some excruciating pain.

Not having given birth, I cannot compare it. It was bad. Not the worst pain ever, but close. Felt like someone took a fire-ax to my lower leg. Unlike other injuries, after the peak experience, the pain subsided to a larger extent than for example bone breaks.

You can’t compare injuries to childbirth, because hormones make it a very different experience. Try tooth abscess or kidney stone, two of the top contenders in most pain sweepstakes.

I suffered a partial tear of my ACL a few years ago. The pain was so minor that within an hour I was warming up and considering trying to play in our second game of a double-header (fortunately I decided not to risk it). I did wake up that night with significant pain but it faded by the next morning.

Two years later after completing physiotherapy I tore it further. Again the pain was minor, but this time I knew exactly what had happened.

I haven’t suffered a lot of injuries so I don’t have much to compare it to. There was no pain when not putting weight on the knee. Even when I did put weight on the knee the pain really wasn’t all that bad. I suffer from chronic back pain and I’d easily take going through another ACL reconstruction than back pain.

I can’t imagine it’s even close. Most of its nerve supply is for proprioception not pain. But in many of these injuries, it’s not the only thing damaged so I’m sure there’s plenty of pain but not necessarily all attributable to the ACL tear.

As mentioned above, passing a kidney stone is the usual suggested comparable.

I know nothing of ACL, but I was in the delivery room when our daughter was born.

My wife screamed like nothing I had heard before or since.

Labour was incredibly painful, and after 36 hours of intense back labour, it was an unplanned c-section.

But it resulted in an amazing and beautiful baby girl.

I have had scream-and-puke-inducing migraines that are no where near as intense as childbirth, but the suffering was worse, because the pain was pointless.

Meh it wasn’t horrible. Total tear in one knee skiing. It hurt but I managed to ski down the rest of the way. I didn’t have any idea at the time that the injury was that bad. It was swollen and I hobbled a while. The Army misdiagnosed it so I never had surgery. More discomfort and ache than sharp pain.

The other knee had a half tear years later. That was just a pop and a dull ache for weeks. Then arthroscopic surgery that cleaned up the left over garbage.

I never gave birth but I expect it is a hell of a lot more painful.

I had a partial tear that essentially made a cartilage hangnail, and it was not particularly painful in itself. When the errant flap of cartilage would float into the wrong spot and improperly clog the space between my upper and lower leg bones as I walked, however, the pain was so sharp that I would immediately crumple to the ground.

As for the birth of my kids, honestly I didn’t feel a thing. :wink:

I don’t know about tearing an ACL, but two years ago I tore my plantar fascia on my left foot…separated it from where it attached to the heel. That was way more painful than being in labor with my son (no pain meds). I’ve experienced several things including migraines that were worse than being in labor. I never got to the pushing part as I ended up with an emergency c-section, so maybe that part would have been worse, I don’t know. But labor was a piece of cake compared to that plantar fascia tear.

When I tore my ACL skiing I heard a pop but felt no pain. It was packed in snow, so that may have helped, but it didn’t really hurt.

Doesn’t even come close to labor pains. Or a broken toe.

Oops. My description was of tearing Achilles’ tendon. Not ACL. Sorry, please ignore and carry on.

You can live without an ACL. I have for a few decades. I could even run. It really mostly effects being able to make quick turns. I would expect tearing the plantar tendon to be much much worse than that. It sounds awful. I was hobbled with plantar fasciitis for a while and that was bad enough.

I think some variation in pain due to ACL tear is expected, since each injury is unique. In some cases the meniscus is left intact, while in other cases it is torn up as well. Stretching, partial tearing, or complete rupture of the Posterior cruciate, medial collateral, and lateral collateral ligaments can also occur.

That sounds more like a meniscus tear. It’s a disc of cartilage that is padding between the bones.

I’ve done both. I did the meniscus in eighth grade, that hurt quite a bit. Did the ACL about 7 years later. That wasn’t bad, just felt like the knee gave out, a small amount of pain.

Now the achilles. That really sucked. Hurt like hell when it snapped up into my calf. But that pain wasn’t anything near the pain from recovery of the donor site on a skin graft.

I’ve done both. I’ve torn both ACLs and finally blew out on completely. I’ve also given birth to twins au naturel. The ACL tears are sudden, intense, sharp. piercing, holy shit!!! kind of pain. Blinding, rolling around on the floor, clutching you knee, surely a nuclear explosion happened inside there. This pain lasts for 10, maybe 15 minutes. It then settles down to a more manageable I’ll-probably-never-walk-again throbbing.

Finally rupturing the one happened while I was sitting down in a bar at a table at a Dopefest, I was working on my third pitcher of mini-Coronas? (don’t remember which beer they sold in buckets at this particular bar) when I planted my heel into the ground and turned my upper body to talk to the person next to me. RRIIIIIIIIPPPPPPP!!! “I’ve done something horrible to my knee” is what I ended up telling the person instead of what drunken drivel I was about to say. Since I was drunk and not standing on it and putting weight on it, I didn’t fall down immediately and roll around clutching at it. Instead I finished my bucket of beer, ordered more, got up and hop-danced a bit. Hopped all around talking to everybody and finally told my husband we were going to have to call a taxi because there was no fucking way on earth I was going to be able to handle the subway ride home.

There was a point during childbirth between contractions (which are probably a step below the ACL tearing) and actually pushing out the babies (painful? I don’t remember. There were babies coming out of me!) called 'transition" that was, without a doubt, the most painful endurance tests ever. It’s like a contraction but it doesn’t stop. It just keeps getting worse and worse and worse and worse and HOLY CHRIST IT SURE CAN’T GET WORSE and yet it does. It does get worse. And it gets worse some more after that. At one point I got out of my hospital bed and told everyone I was done. I didn’t want to have these damned kids. Fuck this shit, I’m going home.

At the end of the worse ACL pain I ended up with two bum knees that will give out for no damned reason and will suddenlyl hurt for no damned reason. At the end of childbirth I ended up with two wonderful, smart, beautiful children: a policewoman and EMT fireman. So in the end, the ACL was orders of magnitude worse.

There you go - someone who has experienced both.

I can second the description of a blown-out ACL. I window-shaded my left one back in 92. Deep, deep, “you know you’ve lost part of your body” pain that blooms like a nuke. Not something I would wish on anybody, not even a [redacted].

I posted about both too!

Invisible without my Mod Hat…

I’m sorry. Your post was lacking the detail and TMI we expect here on the Dope. :stuck_out_tongue: