Sunday 14 September 2008

Pandora's box of knee problems

I had some knee surgery a couple of months ago to try and sort some pain I had when I stressed the joint after a long walk or if jogging.

Unfortunately the recovery has not been smooth.

A few weeks ago I went to see my Consultant for my post-operative follow-up consultation. By that point I had had some physiotherapy, had a full range of motion in my knee again, and had done some light walking in South-West England. The knee was still a bit swollen though, and I did still get some twinges in it. Overall it didn't feel too bad, but I also didn't feel like anything had been "sorted".

I had thought the surgeon had found something in my knee in the operation, but in my conversation with him it became apparent that although he had done some stuff in there he hadn't really found anything that made him think, "Ah - there's the problem!"

He suggested I needed to try and stress the knee again to see if it was improved. However, I never got that far.

Almost the next day my knee started to hurt more. I was getting twinges in different parts of the knee and I started to limp again. It got pretty bad, so that it was sore to walk almost anywhere, so I made an appointment with the physio again.

While I was at the physio I mentioned that I had never had my leg length measured or my hips checked. All these things are linked so that should have been checked early on. Well, it would seem that my left (injured) leg is 2cm longer than my right. How have I managed to walk normally for 28 years? Not sure...

So here are the things that are apparently wrong with me. I'll start at the bottom and work my way up. Like the song says - it's all connected!

My feet - well I have a bit of a dodgy gait. That alone can cause a whole manner of knee problems, not to mention problems with the hips and back.

Knees - well first off I've had what I now think was unnecessary surgery, so my knee is still swollen. This means I don't have very good feedback and it feels weak and unstable. Something in there is more inflamed that before so I am getting shooting pains all over the place when I walk and the original problem with the patella ligament is almost certainly still there.

Also, I have a mal-tracking patella, which means my kneecap moves kind of funny, which can stress the knee too. Combined with the bad gait, this means lots of stress on the knees. Although my left knee is the big problem at the moment, before the operation I actually had more consistent pain in my right knee.

Thighs - well nothing permanent, but my left thigh muscle has atrophied quite badly. It's circumference near my knee is about 2-3cm less than the right leg.

Hips - not necessarily related to the knee problems - but I have very tight hips. Where this does cause problems is when I ride the motorbike - I can get some really bad pains in my right hip in particular, and I can't comfortably ride a bike with a wide tank. I'm thinking Moto Guzzi...

So if that makes me sound like an old arthritic 88 year old man, well, that is exactly how I feel. I can barely walk once around my business park at work without getting in pain, and I will tell you it is not just a little scary.

So what am I doing? I am still seeing the physio and I have exercises to try and build up my thigh muscle as well as stretch my hips. I have taping to adjust my patella when I am doing exercise. Next week I will go back to the gym and try to build up my legs.

I am applying ice to my knee once or twice a day and also taking the diclofenac (NSAID) that I was given after the op. I also went to Holland & Barret and bought Glucosamine, Chondroitin and Cod Liver Oil. I am also open to the idea of acupuncture and anything else that might remotely have a chance of helping.

I am trying to get an appointment with the podiatrist and will probably end up getting an orthotic.

It has only been like this for a few weeks, but at the moment it feels like a life time. I should never have had that surgery. I really thought the problem was some specific damage to the tendon, but it is now clear it is all biomechanical. The problem is working out what caused what...

I'm hoping the orthotics will be the biggest benefit. I really do feel like one leg is really long at the moment. Presuming one of my legs hasn't suddenly got longer or one of my hip joints collapsed, I'm not sure how I can have walked like this normally for so long. It's not that an unusual problem - David Beckham has it - Patrick Vieira has one leg 3cm longer than the other. I am not yet walking in circles!

At the moment I am just hoping I will be able to walk properly again. I also wonder if ski-ing will ever happen again. I'm kind of assuming that eventually I will get proper arthritis in that knee.

Meh - this sucks!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The haggis also has one leg shorter than the other to aid it running on the side of hills.