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Author Topic: 4 differing medical opinions - still don't know what's wrong with me  (Read 1241 times)

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Offline virginia

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It's been 3 months since I injured my knee and no one can agree on the problem so nothing is being done.  My primary care doctor thinks I tore my MCL and possibly my ACL.  My physical therapist thinks I tore the medial meniscus.  The first orthopedist said "you aren't in enough pain for anything to be wrong" and the second orthopedist thinks it's patella chondromalacia. 

All I did was kneel down and I heard a pop and it felt like something in my knee snapped and then it felt like something is my knee moved to the side.  There was pain and a little swelling, but what I noticed most was how strange it felt.  After that my knee felt extremely unstable for several weeks.  I also had sharp medial pain as well as vague pain in the middle of my knee.  I also had trouble straightening and bending my knee all the way.  During this time I visited my primary care doctor and was referred to the first orthopedist who said nothing is wrong.  I then went to a second orthopedist who ordered an MRI which came back clear.  He then said it is patella chondromalacia, gave me a cortisone shot (I can't take anti-inflammatories right now), and had me start physical therapy.  After the cortisone shot my knee became extremely stiff and my range of motion worsened.  My physical therapist worked with me for the prescribed 4 weeks and was able to get a lot of my range of motion back, but the pain is still there and getting worse.  My knee is feeling more stable now (3 months after the original injury), but I still have a lot of medial pain, can't straighten my leg completely, and have severe pain in the middle of my knee that seems to radiate to the back when I bend it too far.  During all the time my quadricep has become extremely week.  I was working on strengthening my quad during physical therapy, but a lot of the exercises were difficult since I can't straighten my knee.  My physical therapist said my knee cap was slipping down into the joint causing a lot of pressure and decreased motion in my knee, but thinks it was due to the weakening of the quad and not the original injury.  My orthopedist still says it's patella chondromalacia and that we don't need to do anything other than give it time to feel better.  From my research, the pop I heard and felt strongly suggests I tore something in my knee, but the doctor doesn't agree.  I'm considering getting the opinion of a third orthopedist, but I'm actually starting to wonder if I'm just making a big deal out of nothing.  I've maxed out my physical therapy benefits through my insurance so I can't go back and my doctor doesn't think there is any reason for me to go back. 

Does anyone have any idea of what could be wrong?  Has anyone had a similar injury?  The fact that I was simply bending down (knee was at 90 degree angle) when this happened makes it seem unlikely that I tore anything, but my symptoms make it seem likely that I did. 

Offline Longwalker

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Re: 4 differing medical opinions - still don't know what's wrong with me
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2010, 09:41:29 PM »
Sometimes the MRI does not tell the whole story, or is not read correctly.  Mine was not read with care, and things were missed.  I never had a lot of pain, only swelling, but had a badly torn meniscus nonetheless, along with other problems.  Some of your symptoms sound a lot like mine.  It may take a scope to find out what is going on in your knee.

I had to go to a big sports clinic out-of-town before I was correctly diagnosed and fixed.  Good luck and don't give up unless the knee gets better.

Offline soozles

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Re: 4 differing medical opinions - still don't know what's wrong with me
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2010, 09:46:38 PM »
Just out of curiosity, did the OS read the MRI himself, or did he rely on the radiologist report? Depending on where you had it done, they may not read many knee MRI's and miss something. For instance, I have a torn PCL, the MRI report was read as normal, all ligaments intact. When the OS looked at the MRI himself, he saw a PCL tear which he said he was surprised the radiologist had missed. I'm now booked for surgery in November. So the lesson I learned was it may be better for the surgeon to look at the MRI himself, it's what they are used to seeing.
May 2005: Torn PCL, misdiagnosed as chondromalacia
April 2010: pain worse, lots of instability
Nov. 23, 2010: PCL reconstruction
progress here: http://pclrecovery.blogspot.com/

Offline virginia

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Re: 4 differing medical opinions - still don't know what's wrong with me
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2010, 10:51:27 PM »
Just out of curiosity, did the OS read the MRI himself, or did he rely on the radiologist report? Depending on where you had it done, they may not read many knee MRI's and miss something. For instance, I have a torn PCL, the MRI report was read as normal, all ligaments intact. When the OS looked at the MRI himself, he saw a PCL tear which he said he was surprised the radiologist had missed. I'm now booked for surgery in November. So the lesson I learned was it may be better for the surgeon to look at the MRI himself, it's what they are used to seeing.

My ortho did look at the MRI himself, but I brought the disc to my appointment and he only glanced at it for a few seconds and I don't think he looked at all of the films.  He pointed out to me that there is a hole in my cartilage (which is why he is convinced it's patella chondromalacia) and that my meniscus was fine (that's the other thing he suspected).  He also said "everything in the middle looks fine".  I went to the first two orthos based on a recommendation from my pcp and a recommendation from my friend.  I have now made an appointment with a third ortho based on several reviews I've read online, so I'm really hoping I have better luck this time.  I have to wait a couple weeks for my appointment, but hopefully it will be worth it.  Thanks for the reply!