The WAITING ROOM => GENERAL KNEE QUESTIONS and comments (good for new threads) => Topic started by: Blackbird on October 30, 2014, 03:44:02 AM

Title: Why am I getting worse? What is happening?
Post by: Blackbird on October 30, 2014, 03:44:02 AM
Greetings, this is my first post. Thank you in advance for reading.

In 2009 I had a motorcycle accident that was pretty minor as far as those are concerned. I wiped out at slow speed and dragged along for a while on my left knee. There was no damage to the joint, but the skin was pulled off the underlying tissue (this is known as "avulsion"). I had an irrigation and debridement to clean everything out. Because of the large incision (21 stitches and staples), my leg had to be immobilized for three weeks. As a result, I had no range of motion and quite a bit of atrophy in my leg muscles. But I went through the course of PT and got back to where I was before.

I should say that "before" wasn't perfect. I'm a 52-year-old woman with a history of "bad" knees. I could never sit back on my heels or do a full squat - not since I was a child, anyway. Nevertheless, I was quite active, bicycling, skiing and doing yoga regularly.

In May of 2013, I started having the sensation of my knee giving out randomly. There wasn't a much pain, just a very weird sensation and it felt unstable. And scary. So I went back to PT. After a couple of months, I actually felt better than I had before the accident. I had sold my car and was walking and biking everywhere. Walking felt pleasurable for the first time since, well, ever. Life was good.

Fast-forward to April of this year. I went to my PT for a routine "tuneup." He had a student working with him and I don't know what this guy did, but two days later I had a major "giving out" episode. Walking became uncomfortable and labored. I went back to PT twice a week for two or three weeks, but got no relief. I stopped walking everywhere - partly because I bought a car and partly because it was uncomfortable  but I began biking again. I was going for 30, 50, 70 miles per week and loving it, but walking more than half a bock was still difficult. Through the summer I just kept thinking it would get better. After all, there had been nothing "wrong" before. And I was getting lots of exercise bicycling and even losing a bit of weight (my BMI is between 25-26, so I'm not obese or anything).

Walking became increasingly uncomfortable, and with winter coming on, I was going to have to stop biking. I went to the Sports Medicine clinic where I'd originally received PT and saw a doctor. They took X-rays. I have Stage 2 Osteoarthritis, a couple of bone spurs, but no fractures or major tears. There is decreased space in the joint, but there's no bone-on-bone. And it's about the same for both knees. My right knee feels fine.

I received a shot of cortisone in my left knee. That was Friday, this is Wednesday. I know it can take 7-10 days to take effect, but I feel worse. I was shopping last night and had a "giving out" episode that hurt so much I had to grab onto the shelves and make my way to a chair before I could get up again. All today it's been stiff and weak feeling. I am very cautious about putting weight on it. I work at home, so I've only had to walk around the house, but even that is uncomfortable.

To say that I am frustrated is an understatement. I'm totally scared and freaked out. I keep searching for some kind a narrative that will make everything make sense, but it doesn't. I have a followup appointment next week. I will know more then, I hope. But right now I'm crying and afraid. I felt so great last summer and through the winter. I don't expect it to be rosy all the time, I know there will good days and bad, but this just keeps getting worse!

Thank you for reading and for any insight you may have.
Title: Re: Why am I getting worse? What is happening?
Post by: Vickster on October 30, 2014, 06:55:25 AM
Have you ever had an MRI?  If not, it would be worth doing so as they give more detail about the structures in the knees, including ligaments, tendons and meniscus (as well as more detail about the articular cartilage).  I had buckling as you describe with a meniscus tear, the knee buckled as the flap caught in the joint.  Cortisone doesn't help meniscus issues, so that could be another sign.  Instability can also be down to damaged ligaments.  Certainly worth discussing the possibility with your physio and specialist.

I know how you feel, also a cyclist with new knee issues (left a problem for 5 years, now the right has joined the party), and waiting on scan results.

Good luck :)
Title: Re: Why am I getting worse? What is happening?
Post by: Blackbird on October 30, 2014, 02:32:41 PM
Thank you - I will ask the doc next week.
Title: Re: Why am I getting worse? What is happening?
Post by: Snowy on November 02, 2014, 04:30:10 PM
My first thought was the same as Vickster's - that the giving out you describe is characteristic of ligament damage, and that a good next step would be an MRI.
Title: Re: Why am I getting worse? What is happening?
Post by: Blackbird on November 03, 2014, 06:44:50 PM
I woke up Friday and could not put any weight on it at all. I called the doc and they were able to get me in right away - got a ride form my neighbor who also happened to have a wheelchair. The doc did some of the same diagnostics as before, and there's nothing there to indicate a major tear. After that, I saw a physical therapist in the same office. He gave me some stretching and strengthening exercises, specifically for the quads and hamstrings and hip flexors. I *think* what's happening is the patellar tracking is so far to the outside, and my VMO is so weak, that it's causing problems. I was able to walk out (albeit slowly) and have been feeling some relief since keeping up with the exercises and stretches. I have followups on Thursday.

I inquired about an MRI, and the doc said I should only think about that if I'm ready to consider surgery. My brother had that surgery, where they trim and clean up your meniscus, and he said if it can be avoided, he would not recommend it.

So I am hoping against hope that the exercises and stretching will get me back to where I was.
Title: Re: Why am I getting worse? What is happening?
Post by: LAS on November 04, 2014, 12:05:13 AM
Hi Blackbird:  I agree with Vickster and Snowy.  Get an MRI.  One of the reasons they do MRI's is to see if you need surgery or not.  You would know better what you are dealing with.  With all of the issues in your knee it seems like a good idea.  If things are not any better by Thursday, I would ask the doctor to get one done.    Best of Luck;  LAS