Knee Surgery @ The Steadman Clinic

by bert on February 17, 2011

My wife Sharon”s knee surgery at The Steadman Clinic went really well and we are back home getting after the physical therapy. Here”s my little documentary video of our Steadman Clinic experience:

Dr. Robert LaPrade and The Steadman Clinic

Knee surgery? Hmmm? Sharon is 48 and prides herself on having never even taken pharmaceutical drugs. Aggressively and continuously searching for ways to avoid western medicine, both Sharon and I were concerned about going down the road of an invasive surgery. One week after the injury, we headed for the Vail Valley Medical Center and The Steadman Clinic to meet Dr. LaPrade.

Our biggest concern was whether or not the ligaments were torn or damaged so bad that they may be able to be rehab-ed without surgery – MRIs and x-rays said otherwise – the ACL and FCL (LCL) were damaged beyond rehabilitation. But hey . . . the human body can heal itself right? Yes. And No. The two things that western medicine is really good for is trauma and diagnostics. And besides that, what else would would we do the with the $7K per year we pay for insurance? That”s why we live in America isn”t it?

The Steadman Clinic – World Famous

Steadman Clinic

Dr. Robert LaPrade

The good news is . . . and was, the replacement and repair of the ACL and FCL ligaments went every bit as smooth as all the rest for Dr. LaPrade”s surgeries. (now would be a good time to checkout his bio) Dr. LaPrade and his team originally diagnosed the extent of the damage of the ACL and the FCL correctly but also were concerned that the meniscus had some damage as well. All the good vibes and healing Power of the Universe came through and when they got inside and looked around at everything they found that the meniscus was not damaged and did not need any repair. The 2 1/2 hours scheduled for the surgery was done in 2 hours and shortly after Sharon was down in her room resting and well attended.

Beyond the Steadman Clinic

Although my easygoing, good-natured side would usually breeze right over this piece, I feel I need to throw this in to make a point.

I”ve skied a lot at Vail and Beaver Creek and I worked with a company in Avon, so I”ve spent a fair amount of time in the Vail Valley and met some really great people. However, due to the high volume of tourism and expensive real estate,Β in my past experience with Vail I found the area to be fairly impersonal and inhospitable . . . until now. Everyone at the Vail Valley Medical Center, The Steadman Clinic, and the Howard Head Sports Medicine Center were very real, genuine, and completely helpful in every way.

Howard Head Sports Medicine Center

Zachary Chandler

Since injuries are part of skiing Colorado and we have some of the best powder skiing in the world, it”s a relief to know that there is a well-run facility with people who care to handle those types of injuries with the highest level of professionalism.

From the Steadman Clinic, next was the Howard Head Sports Medicine Center – both very conveniently housed in the Vail Valley Medical Center. Here they handle an outrageous amount of physical therapy clients and all of the therapists were highly skilled and educated and just hanging out there was an education in and of itself.Β  Casey, Laurie, Emma, and Zach really got Sharon up and out and into the PT routine in nothing flat. Sharon worked with Zach the most and we both can”t compliment him enough for his skill and understanding of physiology and how move on after a knee surgery like this.

Even as the days wore on with a morning and afternoon PT sessions for 6 days after the surgery, keeping spirits up was made much easier with all the upbeat attitudes of every one around and it was especially gracious of the staff to help us get Sharon a shower and get her hair washed – it really made her day!

Thanks to all of you at the Steadman Clinic, Howard Head Sports Medicine Center and the Vail Valley Medical Center!

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

bert October 5, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Hello Davida – Sharon is doing amazingly well for having such a major injury and a major surgery. We are due back up there on the 26th for what should be the finally testing and release – better be . . . we bought our season passes on July 4th! I will get Sharon to post so you can hear it from her.



Davida October 5, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Thanks Bert,
I’ll look forward to Sharon’s reply when she gets a chance.



sharon October 16, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Hi Davida, yes I feel I am doing well. I’m now hiking fairly steep hills, dancing, yoga, etc. I still have some stiffness, but my physical therapist says it can take a long time for all the inflammation and fluid inside the knee capsule to finally go away. I almost have full range of motion…lacking a few degrees on the extension and bending, but I think that will come as the stiffness goes away. yes, I would definitely recommend LaPrade. He is so highly trained at complex issues that if he finds anything undesired while in surgery he can handle it on the spot…which he did for me. I found him to have a good “bedside manner” as well….he was a good listener and had a nice sense of humor. Given his skills and reputation he could have easily been a snobby doc…but not the case. Hope this helps…let me know if I can answer more questions. Good luck! Sharon


Davida October 1, 2011 at 8:48 am

HI Sharon and Bert,
I’m 47 and finally deciding to repair a ruptured acl from 6 yrs ago. Considering Dr. Laprade or a Steadman clinic doc in Denver. How are you now at 7+ months post surgery?
Thanks for your helpful posts!


Sharon March 17, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Hi Dana,

Sorry to hear about your knee…really. It is a major process to put humpty dumpty back together again…but all will be well in the end! I’m almost at 6 weeks post-op now…coming along fine.
To answer your question…I too was confused…got a lot of conflicting info about allo vs auto. In the end I decided the best one is whichever your chosen surgeon has the most experience with! Imagine your surgeon doing the same routine over and over again…vs trying something new. Not a pretty picture πŸ™‚
For me…I was so thrilled to have the level of expertise that Dr. LaPrade has within driving distance of my home town. Given his credentials, I felt very comfortable going with his recommendation (which is really saying something since I generally do NOT trust doctors at all). He told me they typically use autographs for the ACL, and allo for the FCL. What really surprised me was after the surgery he explained that they needed to change horses mid-stream….because my hamstring tendon turned out to be too small he didn’t want to use a portion of it so they used a cadaver part for the FCL instead. I was pleased to know that he had the experience and confidence to make such a judgment call while in the operating room…sometimes things come up that can’t be predicted. I was also relieved to know that my hamstring tendon was still fully intact…I really was NOT excited about yet another insult to my body (be removing a portion of this). On my own I would have preferred all cadaver parts from the get-go…but I chose to trust my doc, and then ended up unexpectedly getting what I wanted in the end. One more note: Afterwards both the surgeon and the PT told me that within a couple of years my body will have laid down my own collagen tissue and I will have grown my own new ligaments (as well as blood vessels and nerves) …the cadaver parts are just what they call “scaffolds” to give a structure for my own cells to grown upon. I was very happy to hear this…so that in a couple of years I can pretend all this never happened πŸ™‚ Good luck to you! Let me know if I can share any other info/opinions with you. Cheers! Sharon


Dana March 17, 2011 at 5:17 am

I ruptured my ACL and tore my meniscus while skiing in sun Valley. I am at a cross roads of trying to decide between and autograft and an allograft. I am an athletic 48 yr old female who is getting mixed info. Any opinion on best overall outcome?


bert March 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Hi Dana,

I’m going to get our new resident knee expert (Sharon) to give you an opinion – she did a lot of research on what we had done for her – I think it might be helpful to you. Bert


Sharon March 2, 2011 at 1:02 am

Hi Katie! Sharon here. So sorry to hear of your injury…what a drag. Bert asked me to respond to your questions…so here we go πŸ™‚ Turns out I had torn my ACL and FCL also…so my surgery was scheduled to be more lengthy than just for ACL…about 2.5 hours. I actually didn’t realize in advance that I would have a choice about the anesthesia until the morning of surgery when I met the anesthesiologist, Jan Lowrey. She was awesome, and explained the options…general or epidural. Because my surgery was to last a bit longer, she said for some people it can be quite uncomfortable to remain still while conscious for that long. Also she said that I would still be given some other narcotics (presumably so that I wouldn’t be a pest during surgery!) and thus I wouldn’t remember anything anyways. With that, plus the notion that I didn’t want to risk any chance of a spinal cord injury (which may have just been my imagination) I chose to do general. Also, Dr. Lowrey did give me a nerve block on the femoral nerve (similar to the epidural but in the top of the leg, not in the spine) which deadened the sensations directly in the leg during the surgery and for about 2 days afterward…so this allowed her to use less general anesthesia than otherwise. All in all I had no problem with the general….no nausea or vomiting…and it felt like it was “mostly” out of my system by about 2-3 days later. I do know however that it can take up to a year for the liver to detox out all those chemicals, so I am doing lots of extra alternative things now to help that detox process. One more note… my new physical therapist shared with me that he has seen people with lots of aches and pains resulting from the epidural….because you feel NOTHING your body can lay there in an inappropriate position for quite a while…creating joint tweaks and nerve pinches that you don’t realize are happening.

The other part of the situation is all the post-surgery narcotics the hospital nurses try to push on you. The morning after surgery one of them said to me “you’ll never be able to get through PT this morning without them”…so I took a Percoset. I know she was trying to be helpful, but…. Yuk! On top of my knee sensitivity now my stomach was swimming and my head was spinning. That was the only RX pain med I took. I did take a number of specific essential oils for all-natural pain relief which I think helped a lot. I can honestly say that yes I had a lot of “unfamiliar sensations”, but nothing I would call real “pain”. It was amazing! Maybe the non-narcotic approach isn’t for everyone, but I am happy to have not toxed my liver any more than the general anesthesia….and I have a great memory now of all that has happened. A major adventure indeed!

As for blood thinners, they didn’t give me any choice….for 6-weeks post-surgery I am taking one 325 mg aspirin…to avoid clotting problems. I think the Rx blood thinners are only used with people who already take that medication for blood pressure problems. Chances are your doc will be very specific about what he/she will let you do in that department.

What doctor are you going with? And are you going to the Steadman Clinic where I went? I am VERY happy that I went with LaPrade. I cant imagine anyone with more knowledge of the knee and that helped me get over my fear and gain trust…plus he was such a good listener…happily putting up with all my million questions! Also, Dr. LaPrade has a wonderful Fellow training with him, Dr. Willoman (sp?) and he was very knowledgeable and helpful too.

Well….today is exactly 3 weeks post surgery, and I feel like everything is on track for me to regain 100% functionality (which will probably be better than before my accident.) The PT can be a bit of a push at times, but you sound like you’ll breeze though it! You have a great attitude and are doing the necessary research in advance. Plus…you have some youth is on your side which will help πŸ™‚

I am more than happy to answer any other questions you might have…just gimme a shout at

Cheers and good luck! Sharon


katie February 28, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Bert & Sharon – thanks for sharing! I am 30 years old and just tore my ACL backcountry skiing. I too avoid Western medicine and do not take prescription drugs. Can you tell me a little more about the choices you made for anesthesia (I’ve heard it’s better to get an epidural?) as well as blood thinners (I’ve heard taking aspirin will suffice and is less risky than the Rx blood thinners)?

Also, which approach to ACL repair did you take? Patella?

I love seeing you both in high spirits and thank you for documenting this from your mindful perspective!


bert February 22, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Hi Nancy, glad you like my post and found it helpful. We stayed at the Christy Lodge in Avon, it was the best deal we found. We may have even received a better deal – call Kathryn Brock at the Howard Head Sports Medicine Center – 970.476.1225 – she may be able to make it even better. If you have the bucks, the Sonnenalp and the Four Seasons are just a couple blocks away and will deliver all the luxe and swank you can shake a stick at! If you think of anything else I might help with, just let me know.


nancy nelsen February 22, 2011 at 7:48 pm

My daughter will be having knee surgery completed by Dr La Prade. It was interesting to read your review. Where did you stay when your wife had her surgery. My 21 year old daughter and I will be traveling from california. I would appreciate any hints or info that will make our stay easier.


bert February 17, 2011 at 7:05 pm

I’m taking good care of her, you can count on me! See you in 6 weeks for follow up! Thx!


The Steadman Clinic February 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Sharon – We were sad to meet you, but happy we could help. Bert, take care of that wife! Let us know if we can do anything to help you along the way.


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