Hana's recovery: Roaring back from a serious knee injury

Hana was a fearsome player on the pitch, but her commitment came at a price. 
Hana patient of Mr Simon Thompson.jpeg

Hana loves football. Ever since she was little, she prioritised the sport over almost anything else. She was dedicated and committed to her dream of one day donning the England kit and playing for her country, and she wasn’t going to let little things like a torn tendon or meniscus and knee surgery hold her back. 

Hana was a fearsome player on the pitch, but her commitment came at a price. In 2018 she tore her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and was seen by Mr Thompson. He helped her get back to playing at a competitive level and Hana got to wear the England jersey she’d dreamed of. So, when she then suffered a meniscal tear in 2020, she knew who she was going to see. 

A meniscal tear is a full-thickness tear that most often happens in the inner portion of your medial meniscus, a central band of cartilage attached to your shinbone or tibia. The name ‘bucket handle’ refers to how a portion of the meniscus tears and can flip over like the handle on a bucket. Sometimes, a torn meniscus portion may flip over and become stuck in the knee joint.

“Mr Thompson really understood how much football means to me, and he knew I wanted to get back to playing competitively,” says Hana. When she initially saw Mr Thompson in 2020 Hana had suffered a meniscal tear that left her in agonising pain and significantly restricted her mobility. “I remember when it happened,” she says, laughing now at the memory. “My boot got stuck in the grass, so my leg went one way and my foot didn’t move, which wrenched my knee. The pain was intense.” Her knee was swollen, and she couldn’t straighten it completely. Playing football was out of the question.  

Her injury happened just as the NHS was dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, so Hana knew she would have a significant wait ahead of her. “I was so lucky that my mum had private medical insurance through her work,”  Hana remembers, “otherwise I would’ve been unable to play for a much longer period.”Hana wasn’t just playing for the England Lionesses. She also played for a FA Women’s National League football club called the London Bees, and, as an active team player, she didn’t want to leave her teams for too long or miss too much of the football season. She had already had a long recovery for an ACL reconstruction and had also needed her meniscus repaired after a particularly dangerous tackle. 

Hana’s mum contacted her insurer, and they were delighted to find out Mr Thompson was covered by their policy. “As I saw him for my initial appointment it was important to me that I continue with him if possible. We arranged to see him privately and as soon as we did, everything was just so quick. I needed an MRI for the meniscal tear, and it happened almost immediately.”

“I wasn’t in the hospital for very long. My operation was in the morning, so I was able to go home the same day. But while I was there, it was great that I had my own room.”

Although she was allowed to go home the same day, that wasn’t the end of her care. Hana followed a rehabilitation schedule and worked with physiotherapists and other professionals to get her mobility back. The pain from the surgery didn’t compare to the pain from the torn muscle injury, so she was energised in her recovery from the beginning. 

Six months after she had the meniscal tear repaired, Hana was back to full fitness, playing for the London Bees. She’s currently studying at the University of Bath where she’s still playing football – her multiple repairs haven’t diminished her love for the beautiful game. 
Mr Simon Thompson is a Consultant in Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery at The Lister Hospital in Chelsea, part of HCA UK. He specialises in all aspects of knee surgery including acute ligament injuries, meniscal injuries, complex ligament reconstruction and joint replacement. His particular field of expertise is ACL reconstruction, revision ACL surgery and ACL research.

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