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Author Topic: 3 years - still can't straighten my leg!  (Read 4576 times)

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Offline tomh

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3 years - still can't straighten my leg!
« on: February 04, 2008, 01:56:22 PM »
Hi

It's been 3 years since I last straightened my leg, and I'm now officially fed up with it. My knee is painful and swollen, it clicks (specifically the knee cap), and there is a conspicuous Baker's cyst at the back. After hanging weights off my leg, I can actually get it pretty close to straight - probably about 5 degrees, but it is too painful to actually contract my quads at that point.

Here's my version of what happened to my knee. I ruptured a disc in 2001 (L5/S1) which resulted in a loss of feeling and weakness in my legs. My right leg has basically recovered, but my left leg, which was more seriously affected atrophied quite noticeably. This resulted in instability, patellar mal-tracking, and quite a bit of pain beneath the patella. I was going to go to the doctor about this, when my knee became very swollen about this time in 2005. This was eventually diagnosed 18 months later as a meniscal tear, and last August - 2.5 years after the injury - I had an arthroscopy. I had a pre-op x-ray done which showed an alarming amount of clouding between my patella and the lateral part of the patellar groove. I found this alarming as I had seen x-rays taken 2years previously (subsequently lost by the hospital) which were clear. I was told the surgeon (who I have never met) might perform a lateral release (I don't think he did).

Here's my take on my surgeon's version of what happened to my knee: Tore meniscus - fixed meniscus. It's how it seems, but I've never had the chance to ask his opinion.

Grateful as I am to have had my meniscal tear attended to, I don't think that its the "real" problem with my knee, it just an added complication which made matters worse. My opinion, for what its worth, is that walking around with an atrophied leg for several years resulted in mal-tracking and chronic pain and swelling, and probably contributed to whatever caused my meniscus to tear. Until I can straighten my leg, I don't have much hope of working on my quads to correct the tracking.

Nobody's listening, so I have to (with hopefully some advice from this forum) formulate my own plan. I'm considering finding someone who will drain my knee and give me a cortisone injection. I could then perhaps take some anti-inflammatories for a few weeks while I try to get my quad to respond. There must be a VMO in there somewhere?

You can probably tell I'm getting a bit desperate!

T.

Offline tanyap

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Re: 3 years - still can't straighten my leg!
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2008, 02:04:54 PM »
Hi Tomh,
Im not surprised that you feel a bit desperate but before you start taking desperate measures and self diagnosing lets go back to basics a little and discuss whats going on:

Prior to your disc rupture could you straighten your leg? Did it become bent slowly or one day it just wouldnt straighten?
What about physiotherapy? Have you tried it, if so what does a physio say about this?

Now - what about a new OS - it seems odd that you have had a surgery and no info on what was done, can you make an appointment with the same OS for a follow up?

When you say 'no one is listening' - what do you mean? What are they actually saying?

Now - the good news. There are a number of us on here who have been trying to deal with seriously atrophied quads (me), a knee that wont straighten (friendsfan, fitnesskitty for a while) and we have all made good progress with physiotherapy. So you might want to browse some of our threads to get some info - there is a lot of chat about VMO from me and others that might help you out.

In the meantime Id be inclined to think you need to go to whoever performed your surgery and ask them whats going on?

Any thoughts?
Tanya
1986 - recurrent dislocations of right patella began
1988 - Modified Hauser Procedure
1991 - dislocations started again
2005 to 2007 - 150 dislocations in 2 years - OUCH!!!
June 2007 - new OS, new physio
Oct 2007 - VMO woke up
Mar 2008 - big quads, still dislocating
Apr 2008 - next OS app

Offline jan uk

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Re: 3 years - still can't straighten my leg!
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2008, 03:02:22 PM »
 Hi there tomh sorry to here you cant straighten your leg i know exactly what your going through i am 18 months post op and i cant straighten mine either dispite physical therapy.And know one seems to have any answers so i really do sympathise let me know if you find a soloution i would be very grateful, meantime good luck hugs jan
r/k patellar chrondroplasty,patellar debridement,lateral tear micro fracture.nerve problems l/k full dislocation lateral tear meniscus tear.twice.

Offline tanyap

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Re: 3 years - still can't straighten my leg!
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2008, 04:14:49 PM »
Hi jan_uk,
what are the doctors telling you?
tanya
1986 - recurrent dislocations of right patella began
1988 - Modified Hauser Procedure
1991 - dislocations started again
2005 to 2007 - 150 dislocations in 2 years - OUCH!!!
June 2007 - new OS, new physio
Oct 2007 - VMO woke up
Mar 2008 - big quads, still dislocating
Apr 2008 - next OS app

Offline celinenj03

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Re: 3 years - still can't straighten my leg!
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2008, 10:04:40 PM »
You have the right attitude. You do need to take charge of your own case here. I am going through something similar. I have an OS who performs ops on me and tells me I'm great and better than I think, but in reality I still have issues so I had to go through a handful of OS's until I found one who would order the tests that would find out what the problem was.

You need to find someone who will at least explore the problem. Once you find out what it is, then you can pick your surgeon.

Do you have a good family doc? Perhaps you already tried and failed with him or her.

Do you believe your back is still the root of all evil with your knee? Have your back problems been completely sorted leaving you to only focus on your knee?

I am now seeing an OS who specializes in knees and backs. Perhaps you could find someone like this?

A lot of docs are reluctant to take on a patient with a HISTORY. I found this out the hard way. But then I got smart and I decided I would only talk about one issue at a time. Like in your case perhaps you could just focus on the cyst (gee, what is this strange lump behind my knee duh) and let the doc take it from there. A lot of them don't like to get involved with a possible mess created by another surgeon.

I would say if you could get an OS to 1) order an MRI of your knee 2) standing xrays of your knee (bilateral) and sunrise views of the patella, you would have answers to several of your problems right away.

Don't just drain and do cortisone it's like putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound.

Good luck!
Terrible Triad - 1/16/06 - Basketball
3/15/06 - Scope/Cleanout of to achieve full ROM
5/3/06 - Surgery-ACL Reconstruction-Allograft
9/12/07 - Large Loose body removed;Grade 4 Lesion on LFC
9/17/08-Microfracture, Lateral Release (all right knee)

Offline tomh

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Re: 3 years - still can't straighten my leg!
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2008, 11:57:20 PM »

Thanks for the advice so far. My knee was fine before I injured my back (did 4 marathons and an ironman in the previous 12 months), and although it was painful prior to tearing my meniscus (at times I couldn't walk up stairs at all) , I could straighten it.  In retrospect, hobbling around on a weak leg I could barely feel was probably quite unhealthy for my knee.

You can't just see a surgeon in the UK, you have to be referred. I recall dragging myself to see my GP after I ruptured my disc. I was in a lot of pain, and had a fair idea what I'd done. I asked to be referred to a specialist, and was refused. About a year ago I asked a GP if there was some way I could tell whether my leg wouldn't work because of my back or my knee - ie. could I be referred to someone who knows about such things. Again the answer was no.

I'm pretty sure my back has healed as well as it's going to (it's been over 6 years after all) and any weakness due to nerve damage is minor compared to the swelling and pain in my knee.

T

Offline friendsfan

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Re: 3 years - still can't straighten my leg!
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2008, 09:03:54 AM »
Tomh, Hi welcome to the board. If nothing else you will get lots of support here. Where in the UK are you? Im in Nottingham. I had a injury to my left knee knee last March and I was unable to bend or straighten it for several months, I have only started improving, but I have come on in leaps and bounds. Im now sturggling with the last 5 ish degrees of extension. I have started swimming and I have noticed a big difference.

Have you asked your GP why he wont refer you? Because he must have a valid reason not to. can you not see a different GP in the same practice? And if all this fails how about going back to casualty? as you might get a referral from them. I shouldnt say that, but Ive had to do it before and it worked.

faye
5-3-07 injured knee-no ROM
2-5-07 LK scope + MUA
26-6-08-LK TTT and scope
10-12-08-LK MUA
12-6-09-RK scope
26-8-09 RK TTT

Offline tanyap

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Re: 3 years - still can't straighten my leg!
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2008, 09:09:01 AM »
Celine - what you say is soooo true - surgeons dont like a patient with a history at all. I was having no luck until I tracked down the surgeon who did my original surgery 20 years ago!!! So he had to deal with his own history!!

Tom - can you see an OS privately? It sounds like you need a new GP if your current one wont refer you. You may need to do quite a bit of loud complaining and shouting to get yourself seen by someone who has the expertise you need but do not give up - you KNOW that something is wrong, a GP knows nothing about knees or backs except that they hurt - you really need to find someone who will listen to you and refer you.

tanya
1986 - recurrent dislocations of right patella began
1988 - Modified Hauser Procedure
1991 - dislocations started again
2005 to 2007 - 150 dislocations in 2 years - OUCH!!!
June 2007 - new OS, new physio
Oct 2007 - VMO woke up
Mar 2008 - big quads, still dislocating
Apr 2008 - next OS app

Offline celinenj03

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Re: 3 years - still can't straighten my leg!
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2008, 03:12:11 PM »
I don't understand how you guys walk around with 5 degrees lacking in extension. I am having a hard time just being at 0. I know it has affected my back and neck.

Anyway, you say you walked on a leg you couldn't feel. You obviously had or still have nerve damage. When the nerves are damaged, the muscles don't fire. It could be that you are lacking physio. Wouldn't that be nice, if that were all it was??? haha.

Anyway, I would think an EMG would also be good for you. Of course you won't get all this right away. It may take awhile especially with NHS.

Agreed, best approach is to go to GP and cry. I mean really complain of EXCRUICIATING level 9 pain and knee locking up. That should hopefully get you an MRI, I pray.

Let us know.


Terrible Triad - 1/16/06 - Basketball
3/15/06 - Scope/Cleanout of to achieve full ROM
5/3/06 - Surgery-ACL Reconstruction-Allograft
9/12/07 - Large Loose body removed;Grade 4 Lesion on LFC
9/17/08-Microfracture, Lateral Release (all right knee)

Offline jan uk

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Re: 3 years - still can't straighten my leg!
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2008, 11:13:56 AM »
Hi again in answer to tanyaps question what has the os said about not being able to straighten my leg? thats an easy one to answer (nothing)in the uk the surgeons um and ar alot if your not case book you get passed to someone else,thats how our system seems to work sad but true.I see pain management to help deal with the constant pain i walk with a stick and have muscle wasteage and thats it,like tomh we get no answers just the pills to try and suppress the nerve pain that work very little,so you try and deal with the pain and mental state the best you know how,I think for most of us that suffer we look to all knee geeks for comfort in the knowing were not alone and that there are others that suffer simular problems that can help.thanks for being there.jan
« Last Edit: February 06, 2008, 11:16:33 AM by jan uk »
r/k patellar chrondroplasty,patellar debridement,lateral tear micro fracture.nerve problems l/k full dislocation lateral tear meniscus tear.twice.

Offline tanyap

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Re: 3 years - still can't straighten my leg!
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2008, 11:17:40 AM »
Hi Jan_uk,
couple of questions:

Do surgeons think that there is nothing physical blocking your movement or what exactly is their explanation for you not being able to straighten it?

Have you had any improvements due to physiotherapy?

What was your operation 18 months ago and could you straighten it before that?
tanya

1986 - recurrent dislocations of right patella began
1988 - Modified Hauser Procedure
1991 - dislocations started again
2005 to 2007 - 150 dislocations in 2 years - OUCH!!!
June 2007 - new OS, new physio
Oct 2007 - VMO woke up
Mar 2008 - big quads, still dislocating
Apr 2008 - next OS app

Offline jan uk

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Re: 3 years - still can't straighten my leg!
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2008, 11:29:39 AM »
Hi tanya my op 18 months ago was micro fracture although its a non wieght bearing op i walked out of the hospital.so they had to redo the op 6 months later so i think alot of my damage was done at that time, my os has'nt said why i cant straighten my leg but i do know i had considerable pain trying to at physio so no physio made it worse i now have nerve damage.yes i could straighten my leg before.jan
« Last Edit: February 06, 2008, 11:48:31 AM by jan uk »
r/k patellar chrondroplasty,patellar debridement,lateral tear micro fracture.nerve problems l/k full dislocation lateral tear meniscus tear.twice.

Offline tanyap

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Re: 3 years - still can't straighten my leg!
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2008, 11:50:59 AM »
is the nerve damage as a result of the operation?

i think you need to nail your OS on why your leg wont straighten.
1986 - recurrent dislocations of right patella began
1988 - Modified Hauser Procedure
1991 - dislocations started again
2005 to 2007 - 150 dislocations in 2 years - OUCH!!!
June 2007 - new OS, new physio
Oct 2007 - VMO woke up
Mar 2008 - big quads, still dislocating
Apr 2008 - next OS app

Offline celinenj03

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Re: 3 years - still can't straighten my leg!
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2008, 01:36:48 PM »
maybe you have overgrowth from the microfracture procedure, like a build up of fibrocartilage. This could block your extension. Why not have a cleanout performed? I feel sad that you are walking around like that when there is something that can be done other than just taking medicine the rest of your life and being depressed. You shouldn't settle for that result. The lack of extension is a problem that should be addressed by a doctor. Please get help.
Terrible Triad - 1/16/06 - Basketball
3/15/06 - Scope/Cleanout of to achieve full ROM
5/3/06 - Surgery-ACL Reconstruction-Allograft
9/12/07 - Large Loose body removed;Grade 4 Lesion on LFC
9/17/08-Microfracture, Lateral Release (all right knee)