The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

9 Months Produces A Healthy Baby But Not A Healthy Knee

I saw my surgeon on Thursday, nine months and one day after my surgery. My knee feels solid. But I've had a fair amount of pain in the kneecap area. I noticed that I was limping when descending stairs. For awhile I told myself that it was just soreness, that if I kept working out it would go away. But while other things got easier -- running is no longer difficult -- the pain has persisted.

So I went to Palo Alto, changed into paper shorts, and waited to be seen. (Now that everyone has smartphones, no one minds being stuck in the doctor's office so much.) He said my ACL is doing fine, but that my other problem was not. I have a spot on the head of my femur where cartilage is missing. This causes the pain. (It also causes me to wince every time my browser tells me that I have misspelled "cartilage".) During the operation he debrided the bone to encourage cartilage to grow back, but apparently this has not happened.

The surgeon told me I had chondromalacia, which means "bad cartilage." Though in my case, he noted, I have "no cartilage." The base treatment is simply exercise. Strengthening the quad muscle relieves the pressure between femur and patella. Of course, when one's knee hurts, this causes swelling and pain, which leads to inability to exercise and quad weakness. So he showed me some exercises that would strengthen the quad without much pain.

If the exercise doesn't work, the next step is an injection of synthetic lubricant. The surgeon noted that this should only work for a day, but somehow lasts for months. Perhaps it stimulates the body to produce more synovial fluid. "Sign me up for some of that needle-in-my-knee voodoo," I thought to myself.

Failing that, the last resort is to attempt to transplant cartilage from a donor or my own body. Even the surgeon didn't seem enthusiastic about that.

So I'm working out my quad muscle three times a day. I don't mind needles when it's a shot in my arm, but when I had fluid drained the day after my surgery it was one of the least pleasant things to happen to me in a doctor's office. I hope that six weeks of hard exercise will get my knee healthy.




What? Draining fluid from my knee has only one drawback that I'm aware of...I can't do it myself nor can I do it on a daily basis.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:31 PM  

Post a Comment