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Author Topic: Life after a Lateral Release  (Read 19143 times)

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Offline KayJay

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Life after a Lateral Release
« on: December 10, 2006, 08:07:09 AM »
Conforming with the intent of this thread here is my story -

I was having intermittent pain for about a year and a half, initially in both knees and later only in the left one.  It was on the inside and on most days never bothered me and others, it hurt so much when I ran that I could hardly walk when done.  But there was no consistency to it and the few times it grew bad enough to go to a doctor, x-rays were taken (which showed nothing) or I was given some motrin for the pain. 
However, one afternoon I suddenly started having a popping or snapping sound/feeling in the outside of the knee that came with every step I made but didn’t hurt.  I attempted to run on it and it was very annoying and on the verge of pain so I went back to the doctor. 
Thankfully, an MRI was ordered which only showed that I had a badly torn meniscus and some “roughage” on the back of my patella.  By the time I had the MRI read, it had been over two months since the onset of my problem with no change, so I opted for the surgery so I could run again (I am in the military and also enjoy running 10k races).
I found out after the surgery that my patella had been laterally tracking and had a lateral release done along with smoothing the kneecap and trimming the meniscus. 
I was to wear a brace that was to be locked straight when I walked but was allowed to bend the knee up to 90 degrees while sitting.  My knee was swelled like a balloon but even over the course of the first few days didn’t really have too much pain and the bit I had, the meds handled it fine.  In fact I had no pain for the first day and a half at all.  I was walking around the house in disbelief.  (I was supposed to be on crutches but hardly used them at my house.)
The hardest time I had locked down at the house was not knowing what it was I should or shouldn’t be doing.  I ended up calling the nurse on call at the hospital who told me a few things that helped.  She did tell me straight leg lifts were good and to work on bending my knee while seated was also fine.  She also said that resting my leg in a bent position on pillows would aid in the bending (a big no-no I was later told by my physical therapist (PT)). :-[
I was scheduled to see my surgeon about 10 days after surgery.  Up until this time I had not used my pain meds only once or twice since the first few days but the ride to the hospital was excruciating and we had to stop so I could some. 
The surgeon said everything looked fine and that I needed to get my physical therapy started.  I did that day and was scheduled for it three times a week to have (I believe) my quad stimulated to help the nerves and muscles recover from the surgery.  The only actual movements I did was riding the bike for 10 minutes to warm up which was extremely painful the first time and the leg lifts during the therapy.  After the few couple of times I grew bored to tears with this and wanted something to do!  In fact, the third day after starting therapy I started on my own to try and walk – I cheated with the brace and had tired of resetting it at 0 to walk, I left it at 90 degrees when on my feet but made sure to keep my leg straight.  It hurt like the dickens in my attempts but thought that was normal.
However, the next day at therapy I told my therapist of my efforts and she was NOT happy at all.  She then informed me of part of the procedure that had been done to my knee that I had not been aware of – because my patella had tracked out of alignment for so long my cartilage had worn a hole behind the kneecap so it was drilled into to get blood flow to aid the healing (at least this is how I understood it).  So, bottom line was my knee could not handle any pressure on the back of it for at least 6 weeks which is why it had to be kept straight when on my feet.  (Well, why didn’t anyone tell me sooner?) :P
Anyway, after three weeks I was allowed to do some additional movements in therapy which always ended in them icing the knee. 
Six weeks didn’t come soon enough which allowed for me to have the brace taken off and allowed to walk.  OMG!  It was almost like I had forgotten how and kept reverting to straight legged unless I concentrated on it – and then I looked like a tight rope walker trying to do it right.  I was helped out in therapy by one of the technicians who noticed my problem and showed me how to walk heel to toe. 
That very evening I was at the club/gym I belonged to and was walking heel to toe across the floor and had a very sharp pain in the knee.  I paused then moved on and again the sharp pain.  It was with me at every step, so I quit and went home cutting my workout short (note:  I was still lifting weights since a week after surgery and had been cleared to ride the bike for up to 30 minutes at this point). 
The next day I tried again to walk in the morning and the pain immediately returned.  I tried to contact my surgeon certain that I had overdone something but had no success.  The following day with the same problem, I went to my PT and told her about what I had done.  At first she though that I had overworked it on the bike or something but after closer inspection of where the pain was, realized that it was the tendon.  In my walking attempts I had stretched it to the point that it was inflamed.  Stretching and a bit of pain was normal but it was excruciating for me so she stopped my other therapy for a few sessions to use electro-therapy to administer anti-inflammatories directly to the tendon.  It was almost like night and day.  Up until this point I had a hard time trying to walk with the pain and tightness caused by the tight tendon but after each session the pain was diminished enough for me to work it out. 
I had a hard time trying to walk without limping or straight legged until I finally climbed back onto the treadmill on my own.  I started out at a measly 2.0 pace and hanging onto the rails but worked up to a 2.5 by the time I was done in 10 minutes.  After a couple of times like this, I used my IPOD for the first time while walking using the beat to even out my stride and pace – it worked wonders in a very short amount of time. 
My knee handled everything great and I was very conscious of any sign of pain that would show that I was pushing it too much but I never did.  The swelling was entirely gone by the fifth week and I have yet to have any in my workouts since.  The only pain I really had during the period was when some scar tissue “snapped” which stopped my workout at that time but I continued with the next day. 
After this I had an easier time doing my therapy and walking until I saw my surgeon at the three month mark.  Everything was going as it should in my healing and he then cleared me to start running. 
I was so happy!!!  That is until I tried, but then I expected a bit of discomfort in starting.  My first try was outside and I hoped to jog for 30 seconds to a minute (a far cry from the 7:45 minute miles in a 10 mile I used to do).   With the “discomfort” I managed 30 seconds basically at a very bad limp, then walking for two minutes.  I managed 20 minutes of this before quitting.  It was a start although my knee was a little sore after (a good ache from the workout).  But because of it I became real “gimpy” when trying again two days later even though my knee handled the workout a lot better. 
The third try was spent entirely on the treadmill trying to work out the very bad limp I had quickly acquired with some success.  BTW – all the running I do is intermixed with walking and no matter how much it is bothered by my jogging steps it does not hurt in the slightest when walking, which is a reminder that with the pain there is no injury, it is just getting used to the concept of stepping a lot harder, which I have not done since May.
I have since passed my 4 month mark and can run up to 30 minutes pretty easily.  My pace has improved up to 6.5 (9:13 mile) for short periods.  My knee has handled everything relatively easily and all I have is a slight twinge (no pain) every now and then in my running which all but entirely disappears the more warmed up I am.  Surprisingly when I have to stop earlier than my planned workout time it is due to my other leg’s soreness as I’m still slightly favoring the “injured” leg.   Something that I’ll work through in time I’m told. 
My current goal is to do a 15k race in March and I am almost up to 3 miles already (2.75 the last time I checked my distance last week) – way ahead of my goal for this month.  I have had no bad pain since starting to run (other than the scar tissue tearing) and am almost done with physical therapy as I only go once a week to the gym to strengthen the leg muscles.  The leg presses the PT has me doing causes a bit of pain when I reach three quarters straight legged as my knee pops, but she says this is normal and it will get better as the muscles get stronger.  (This is the only move that I have ever hated in my therapy but it seems to be helping as my left leg is getting closer to the right in the weight.)

I am far from being completely recovered and I know that it will take many more months before my knee even feels “normal”.   I have a bit of hardened scar tissue on the side of my kneecap that I'm trying to get rid of and I still ice my knee for 15 minutes at night or after a hard workout if able to (although there has been no swelling for weeks).  But to this point, I feel that the surgery was a success and that I was blessed with an outstanding surgeon and therapist that has helped me through this.
I apologize for the book and I hope I haven’t bored anyone to sleep.  I just wanted to share my experience which I hope to be not only my first but last experience with any kind of major surgery. 
My hopes and prayers are with you all in your successful recoveries also.

Offline Quinkin

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Re: Life after a Lateral Release
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2008, 08:58:30 AM »
Good story Kay Jay.

Hope things cpntinue to improve for you.
To wish impossible things

The Cure

Offline GemmaLeigh

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Re: Life after a Lateral Release
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2008, 01:41:56 PM »
Thank you for posting this story, it has given me hope that i will be able to start walking my dogs again after my operation.

Good Luck with the rest of your recovery :)
1995 - first trip to the doctor with 'growing pains'
1998 - xrays show left patella is out of place
1999 - first dislocation
1999-2006 - Physio therapy every week
Jan2007 - Traumatic dislocation
feb 2007 - OS suggests surgery
Jan 2008 - date for surgery 30th jan

Offline Silkncardcrafts

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Re: Life after a Lateral Release
« Reply #3 on: February 29, 2008, 10:25:54 AM »
Hi there,

You are certainly one of the lucky ones. I'd encourage you to go to the gym at least 2 times a week. Apparently you need to go at least twice a week to get the benefit. The more bike work you can do the better.

Unfortunatley I was one of the unlucky ones and developed medial instability after my lateral release on both knees. My right knee has been fixed and waiting more surgery on the left.

Keep up the good work ! All the best with your great recovery.  :D
11/1996 - RK LR
07/1997 - LK LR
11/1998 - LK MPFL Reco
12/2005 - RK LR Repair
07/2006 - LK MPFL Repair
11/2006 - LK LR Repair
22/05/08 - LK Trochleoplasty
11/02/10 - RK Trochleoplasty
07/03/11 - RK Chrondroplasty

Offline KayJay

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Re: Life after a Lateral Release
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2008, 02:30:28 AM »
Hi people - who stopped by to say hi!  I used to hang out on the site all the time but have not been on in quite a while.  Since I've been out so long, I'll need to see what's been happening. 

Kjwilkin - I'm sorry to hear that it didn't work out for you on the first shot.  But it sounds like your right knee is good the same will be done for the other?  With good results likely?  I hope...

GemmaLeigh - Did you have a lateral release done too?  I apologize that I haven't looked beyond this thread and you may have already posted the story.  Will look shortly...

Thank you Quinkin - it has improved...and gotten worse...and improved...and gotten worse...then there's now...and I'm not certain but optomistic. 

To elaborate - since I've posted back in December 2006 - I ran a 5k with my daughter in January.  We ran her pace so my knee wasn't pushed.  And we still finished in a respectable 27 minutes with the last block being a full out sprint for the finish that I thought I would never be able to do again - with no problem to the knee either.
I did my first 10k back in February and was surprised that I was only 2 minutes off my PR of 48:13. 
Unfortunately, in March - a week and a half before the before-mentioned 15k, I had an intense leg workout with my trainer and overdid it.  My knee hurt for almost a week - enough that I went to the doctor to make sure everything was okay - and overuse injuries in both calves - I could hardly walk for the first few days.  Although I jogged out a 3 miler a week later and three days before the race, after taking the time off I felt that it was not worth taking the chance to run the race and backed out (I had already paid too :'().  My doctor wanted to put me on a "no-running" profile (military) and I begged him not to as I had a physical fitness test in two weeks.  I did cut back the running to shorter distances and maxed out the PT test.  However, on the next 10k (2 weeks later) that I ran, the lack of mileage was very telling and although I finished only 2 minutes slower than my previous one, it took about 15 minutes to walk out the knee soreness.  NOTE:  When building up, my knee gets a little sore but usually goes away within a minute or so of walking. 
Actually that's the good stuff - the bad was two weeks after this last race I ended up with real bad foot pain that took a podiatrist from that April to September to finally realize that it was a nerve issue.  It has actually gone away around August and thankfully, hasn't returned since.
I returned to running afterward, but within a month or so I ended up with a problem in the other knee.  I've since been diagnosed with a torn meniscus which happened while standing still!  I had my leg locked out and felt a sharp pain on the inside of the knee.  I had really bad soreness, but by the time I had seen my usual doctor, was referred to ortho and got an MRI, it was a couple of months and the soreness was all but gone (usually bothering me when I did aerobics with a lot of lateral movement or walking on an incline for a long period of time).  When I finally got in to see him, he confirmed the tear but left it up to me whether I wanted surgery then or not.  I didn't want him messing with the knee while it wasn't bothering me and he felt the same.  So he released me from my profile to go ahead and train for my next test. 
I have had virtually no problems with it - I get a reminder every once in a GREAT on the inside of the knee letting me know that it is still there and will not heal without help.  I believe my age (and weight gain) has slowed my progress in my workouts (or unconscious paranoia ::)) but never has my knee even slowed me down in itself.  I would like to get back to running 10k races again and could probably run one now (real slow).  I've also got a new horse that I'm working with to start racing in December and my knees have so far had no problems with my riding (but time will tell). 
Overall, I do have a direct line with my doctor that if my knee was to flare up like it did last time, I can get the surgery scheduled right away.  (Don't really want to go through that again though... :( )
So yes, the knee that had the surgery has been doing wonderfully and has not stopped me from being able to do anything I've wanted.  I've been told (and believe) that it will never be 100% normal as I do feel a twinge once in a while as a reminder - but it becomes rarer and rarer. 
After reading so many knee problems people have, I can't help but pray for them to get better.  I've been blessed with how my surgery and recovery came out.  I do hope that you well wishers (along with others stopping by) are able to recover from your "issues" to enjoy life at it's fullest. 
THANKS AGAIN for stopping by to read my "novel"!  PLZ let me know how it turns out for each of you...even on this thread.


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Re: Life after a Lateral Release
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2008, 02:57:56 AM »
You are an indsiration to me. I am also in the Military and work many hours as a recruiter. At first after having the Arthoscopic and Lateral Release I was making great recovery time, but with all the driving and standing I do because of my job I have been experiencing a lot of problems. I am now starting to get foot pain, its weird... at least its not an every day thing   ;)

I was never the best runner, but I miss running all together.

If you have any tips please let me know. Thanks.

SGT Kowalczuk, Jillian
California Army National Guard, Recruiter