Nicole Hall Gives High Marks to Her ACL Surgery at Virtua

An avid runner, skier, dancer, and high school field hockey player, Nicole Hall has plenty of mileage on her knees. So, when the elementary school special education teacher twisted her knee chasing after a child who ran into the parking lot, she knew something was wrong. She had immediate pain, swelling, and instability.

Following an MRI, Nicole’s doctor suggested she had a partial dislocation of the right kneecap called a subluxing patella. Her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) was swollen and damaged, but not torn. He suggested physical therapy.

Physical therapy helped her achieve a full range of motion, but Nicole still had to wear a knee brace nearly all day—even while sleeping.

“My knee kept popping out. I would be doing daily activities, and I would fall to the ground. This would be 10 to 20 times a week,” said Nicole, 35, who had ACL reconstructions in 2002 and 2004. “I suspected something else was going on.”

Hardly able to work, walk, or parent her 4- and 6-year-old girls, Nicole sought surgical intervention. Nicole’s first doctor said he could fix her subluxing patella, but it would require two surgical procedures and she would be out of action for four to six months. She reached out to Virtua orthopedic surgeon Mark Schwartz, MD for a second opinion. A pivot shift test quickly confirmed Nicole’s suspicions.

“My knee immediately popped out. It was a complete shock. He said, ‘You need ACL surgery,’” she said. “It made sense to me because that’s what I was seeing and feeling.”

Dr. Schwartz performed Nicole’s surgery on Feb. 28, 2020 at Virtua Memorial Hospital.

“After a thorough examination in the office and review of her X-rays and MRI, I determined that she tore her previous ACL graft. Nicole was still extremely physically active and wanted to continue with athletic activities. I recommended a revision ACL reconstruction,” said Dr. Schwartz. “After carefully weighing her options, Nicole decided to continue under my care and have me perform this rather complex and intricate revision surgery. Fortunately, we were able to do this arthroscopically and minimally invasively.”

Nicole described her ACL as being “like a broken rubber band.” 

“If I had not gone to Dr. Schwartz, I would have had a completely different and unnecessary surgery and gone on with my knee popping out. I would eventually have had terrible arthritis,” she said. “He did a great job with the surgery. I am so thankful I insisted on a second opinion and went here. He did an amazing job.”

Nicole praised the Memorial staff. After surgery, a physical therapist came into her room, got her out of bed, and taught her how to use her crutches, including going up and down stairs and getting in and out of bed and a car. She went home a few hours after her surgery.

Nicole completed four months of outpatient physical therapy, and is now jogging, walking, and running intermittingly, and riding a bike.

“I have my life back. I’m finally myself again,” she said. “I’m so thankful I went to Dr. Schwartz and had the surgery. I can live my life without a brace.”

Personalized Orthopedic Care
From pain management and physical therapy, to surgery and rehabilitation, Virtua Health can help you get back in the game. Our board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons guide your care – from diagnosis to treatment, and beyond. Learn more about the Virtua orthopedics program or call 856-517-8812.

Updated February 3, 2021

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