After a skiing accident last winter, Sarah Foster, a keen athlete, running coach and busy mum to a young family, needed ACL reconstruction surgery.

Sarah was determined to get back to doing what she loved doing most, running. So, after researching experienced, specialist knee surgeons in London, she felt confident that her ACL surgery would be performed by Mr Shah Punwar.

Dedicated to her knee rehabilitation plan, just ten months later Sarah completed the hilly Beachy Head Marathon. She takes us through her own experience of ACL surgery with Mr Punwar and his team.

Finding the right knee surgeon

Following a ski accident that left her with excruciating knee pain, Sarah’s main concern was that her injury would take her away from her passion of running. Furthermore, she worried that it would affect her responsibilities as a running coach, not to mention a busy mum that regularly cycled with her children on the school run.

An MRI revealed that she had completely ruptured her ACL. Sarah followed the advice of her physio, so that she could get moving again. But, amidst lockdown restrictions, she was devastated not to be able to join in with the virtual running sessions alongside her friends from Greenwich Runners.

However, Sarah was delighted when the news came that she would be able to have ACL surgery. She looked into the pros and cons of surgery, and after a recommendation she spoke to expert knee surgeon, Mr Punwar and his team to find out her options. When Mr Punwar asked Sarah what her main goals were, she replied, “I want to run a marathon again.” His response was, “Well that’s what we’ll do then!”

Sarah’s ACL knee surgery

Sarah was encouraged by the success rate of ACL surgery, and she followed her physio’s advice so that her knee was as strong as possible before the surgery. Furthermore, this would ensure a good recovery after the ACL surgery.

Sarah met Mr Punwar and his team ahead of the surgery so that she could be assessed and have the procedure fully explained to her. Sarah said, “I left feeling very reassured and very happy to proceed with the ACL reconstruction.”

On the day of surgery, Sarah remembers being greeted warmly by the reception team. And the nurses that prepared her for surgery who she said, “really put me at ease”.

“I did some strength tests with the physio, that would be compared with after the surgery. Then Mr Punwar and the anaesthetist both came and spoke to me to explain exactly what would happen – I really felt quite special!”

Sarah recalled how quickly the procedure went, “I just remember talking to the anaesthetist, and then the next thing I was waking up in recovery! I don’t remember a single thing. The best thing was the cheese sandwich after. I was so hungry as I had to fast the night before the surgery.”

Sarah was given some pain relief medication to take away, and was able to leave the hospital the same day.

Sarah’s recovery – and a marathon goal!

Sarah recalls that she was “totally pain-free” in the days immediately following surgery. She quickly came off the painkillers and was able to walk without her crutches within a few weeks.

When she returned to see Mr Punwar at the 6 month stage, he was very pleased with how her surgery had gone, and how it looked.

“It was a very tidy scar,” she said. After conducting a few tests to check the knee’s strength, he said, “I am happy to discharge you!”

Sarah had the Beachy Head marathon, taking place in October, firmly in her sights. Mr Punwar and the physio team supported her fully in her goal, and guided her through an exercise plan. In the weeks that followed, she progressed with her training, made modifications, and was continually assessed.

Although confident in completing her goal, Sarah had lost a lot of fitness in the period after she was injured. So, rather than risk another injury by running the whole way, she decided to power walk her marathon with some of her fellow Greenwich Runners. When they crossed the finish line of the race together, Sarah felt a huge sense of achievement. Furthermore, she felt “no knee pain whatsoever!”

Sarah is now making plans for other races in 2022, including the Great North Run and, of course, another marathon. Sarah’s advice to others that are considering ACL surgery –

“Go for it! Mr Punwar has been fantastic, as were the rest of his team. The surgery has enabled me to carry on running marathons, which is what I wanted to achieve.”

If Sarah has inspired you, get in touch with Mr Punwar to discuss your own knee injury and to find out whether ACL knee surgery would be suitable for you.

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