The Range of Motion Battle Continues
Roughly four months after a very invasive and challenging cartilage transplant/microfracture knee surgery I was under the knife again for a ‘clean up’ surgery.
The toughest challenge in the recovery/rehab has been trying to get full range of motion back – specifically knee flexion. At the three month post-surgery check-up both my surgeon and I were disappointed in the lack of knee flexion. Only 100 degrees (130 degrees is normal).
I was also worried because of ‘heat’ and swelling in the knee joint (sometimes a sign of infection). Another concern was the permanent stitch that was jutting out of the side of my leg causing pain when my pants or tensor bandage rubbed up against it.
The biggest fear I had was that my body was rejecting the foreign cartilage (meniscus) from the donor. As a Biology professor I know all too well how the immune system can attack and destroy things it deems as ‘foreign’.
Goals of Knee Surgery Number Four
My surgeon decided that we better do the ‘scope’ to look for:
- scar tissue
- healing of the microfractured femoral condyle
- proper placement of the lateral meniscus transplant
- healing of the tibial plateau bone slot
- that annoying permanent suture sticking out
Another reason for the surgery was to ‘manipulate’ the knee under general anesthetic. This was the part I was LEAST excited about. Basically it entails bending the knee beyond the range it has been in for the past four months – OUCH!
Recovery Room Wake-up
As I GROGGILY awoke from the surgery the first thing I noticed was that the inside of my bottom lip had a large cut in it. I hypothesize this was due to biting my lip while under anesthetic as a reflex to the extreme, albeit, unconscious pain experienced during the ‘manipulation’. No one ever did give me an explanation of how this happened. 🙁
Hopefully it wasn’t a result of some deranged nurse, anesthesiologist or surgeon practicing mixed martial arts on my face.
My knee felt better a few days after this latest surgery but still not great. The range of motion has improved slightly but my torturous rehab sessions are only yielding small improvements. Decreasing swelling in the knee is still the hardest part as I would literally have to ice all day and elevate the leg above my heart level to make a big difference. Last week I met with the surgeon and had my stitches removed. He reported that the surgery was a success:
- the bones are healing well
- the donor cartilage looks good
- the permanent suture was trimmed down
- no signs of rejection. 🙂
I am very happy overall with the surgeries as I no longer feel like someone is jamming a screwdriver into my knee joint 12x per day. The only downside right now is my lack of range of motion and swelling. I am optimistic that I can continue improving my knee flexion but I face an upward battle. My end goal is to be riding my bike to work again and playing sports with my son. I can’t wait!
This post is also featured on The GoodLife Blog