Knee Surgery Cartilage Transplant – Part 1 of 2

The after effects of two previous knee surgeries for torn cartilage

sports injuries torontoWell – here we go again. After a very active 15 years since having a second knee surgery to remove torn cartilage I will be going under the knife this winter.

How/when did the original injury occur?

When in grade 10 during a high school football game my knee was twisted as I was toppled by a brick shithouse.

Brick ShithouseA very big person, normally male who is as broad as he is tall yet carries very little fat. Not the sort of person you would willingly upset.

At the time I didn’t even know the knee was injured and finished the game. Three hours later I tried to get up off the couch and couldn’t bend my leg. Looking down at it revealed a lot of swelling. A week later after a lot of icing the range of motion improved as the swelling decreased. However with certain movements my knee would momentarily ‘lock up’. I sought out my Medical Doctor (MD) and he told me to rest it. Unfortunately he didn’t even put his hands on my knee to try a few orthopedic tests.  After a week of rest I went back to my highly intense activity level.

Poor advice and lack of a diagnosis

I continued to play hockey and basketball but the leg slowly got worse to the point of it locking up 3-5x every game (I would painfully ‘snap’ it back in place). Another visit to my MD proved futile as his advice was again to rest.

At this point I was very aggravated because I felt he should just admit that he didn’t really know what was wrong. The least he could have done was refer me to someone who had more experience with these types of injuries such as a sports therapist, physiotherapist or chiropractor.

Finally I sought out a sports therapist who instantly recognized the diagnosis as torn cartilage (lateral meniscus) and she mentioned locking of the knee as a textbook symptom.

normal anatomy of the kneeSurgery number one

We tried a course of therapy over six months with no noticeable improvement so the next step was consulting with a world renowned orthopedic surgeon. He performed surgery to remove torn fragments and repair the meniscus.

A lengthy rehab followed and once the surgeon gave a go-ahead I was back playing basketball and hockey. Although the surgery helped – my knee would still lock up with certain movements. I was forced into early retirement from basketball and hockey in grade 11.

Surgery number two

The second surgery was three years later to further remove debris and torn cartilage. This left me with about one third of the original cartilage. During the next 15 years I continued being very active with limitations – no more hockey or basketball. I found a new passion in cycling as I now commute to work by bike 90% of the year. My activity level ramped up when my son was born as I felt I needed to ‘train’ so I could keep up with him. 🙂

Oops – I over did it!

Over the past few years after finishing a half marathon, a sprint triathlon, an obstacle course, and lifting heavier weights including a new personal best deadlift my knee pain increased quite substantially – go figure!

So in retrospect – I overdid it with respect to exercise considering my knee is very much damaged goods. This winter I will be getting my third and toughest knee surgery to date – a cartilage transplant from donor tissue.

I will tell you all about cartilage transplant surgery in my next post. Stay tuned!

Have you ever had knee surgery? What did they repair and how is it now? Leave a comment below…

This post is also featured on The GoodLife Blog.

2 Responses to Knee Surgery Cartilage Transplant – Part 1 of 2

  1. Hi,

    Yup, snapped my knee skiing in NZ in the early ’90s.
    Xrays showed i had an avulsion of the Tibial Plateau and soft tissue damage, so they put a screw in there until it healed and then I had that taken out a year later. After much rehab knee has been great until recently…a combination of scar tissue, arthritis and age I think. 🙂

    • Yes – unfortunately once we go under the knife it usually comes back as an issue decades later in the form of arthritis. My hope with the upcoming third knee surgery is that it will delay the onset of osteoarthritis.

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