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Author Topic: Left Patella ORIF ---Post-Op  (Read 10539 times)

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Offline kindergartenteacher

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Left Patella ORIF ---Post-Op
« on: January 26, 2013, 08:24:16 AM »
Let me start by saying that I have never felt such unbearable pain in my life until I fractured my left patella (kneecap). I have fractured my ankle before, but it didn't require surgery so the healing was much easier.

I fell on concrete on 1/3/13, and caused a displaced fracture in my left patella. The first night after the ER visit was terrible, and I consulted a surgeon the very next morning.  :o I was given a much better immobilizer from a physical therapist after my initial consultation with my OS. Due to the swelling, I did not have my ORIF surgery until 11 days after my accident.

After my surgery, I was admitted into the hospital overnight for pain management. After only 8 days, I started P/T. My therapist wanted me to work within the 30 degree range for the first week of P/T. On the first visit my ROM I got to 33 degrees, and only 4 degrees straight. I was given 5 exercises to do at home; however, I cannot do these at home without my pain level going straight to a 10.

 After the second P/T visit, my ROM got to 34 degrees and 3 degrees straight. This was after many exercises & VERY gentle movements. I also started doing weight-bearing exercises with my crutches. Immediately after this appointment, I went to see my OS. He then opened my knee brace up to 60 degrees, but my therapist said that we are going to work on adding 10 degrees per week. I am still unable to get my ROM above 34 degrees.

On Day 11 post-op, I started feeling SO much better!  :D I am able to get up and down without assistance. Day 11 post-op is actually 23 days since the initial injury, so I was more than ready to do things on my own. My husband was also very ready for me to be able to maneuver around better. I go to get my staples taken out on Monday, and I am honestly a little nervous about that.

I am doing P/T 3x per week, and I am wondering when I will be able to go back to my kindergarteners. My doctor seems very skeptical to let me go back on Feb. 4th like I had initially hoped. This would only be 3 weeks post-op. He says that I could do desk work, but I am wondering how that's possible with a room full of energy filled 5 and 6 year olds. It is still extremely hard to sit in a chair, and I have to have a pillow underneath my leg in order to be comfortable. It takes me a long time to get up out of a chair still, and I know how impatient my 5 year-olds can be.

My doctor told me that I will need to be able to stand for extended periods of time and be off my pain medication before I can return to work. I have always joked that kindergarten teachers should get hazard pay, but now I am honestly worried. I do NOT want to re-injure my knee, or to have a student trip over me and injure it.

Here's to hoping for a painless staple removal on Monday and a quick recovery (if that even exists).

How long were (are) you laid off work post Patellar ORIF? Is it normal to still be needing pain medication 12 days post-op? Should my ROM be greater than 34 degrees at this point in healing? Does it hurt you to straighten your leg? (It hurts me REALLY bad. I can barely sit a few minutes with it at 3 degrees at a time without being in excruciating pain.)

How long did it take you to fully recover from this nightmare? My doctor seems to think that I will heal quickly since I am in my early 20's. I hope he is right!


1/3/13 Displaced fracture (Left patella)
1/4/13 Consultation with OS & NEW immobilizer
1/14/13 ORIF surgery
1/15/13 Released from hospital
1/22/13 Started P/T 3x per week

Offline kindergartenteacher

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Re: Left Patella ORIF ---Post-Op
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2013, 06:13:48 AM »
I found out on Tuesday that I won't be discharged to go back to work for at least another 2 weeks. Until then, I am still going to P/T three days a week. At my last session, my therapist (and I) forced my knee to bend to 60 degrees. Now, this was a VERY painful task, but at least I know that it is possible.

I was so worried about getting my staples taken out, but it wasn't bad at all! The rubbing alcohol that my doctor used afterward was actually more painful than the removal of the staples. He also used paper Band-Aids to put over the incision. I had never heard of these. I am able to get them wet in the shower, and they actually stay put. 

I am still having some trouble getting around, but my pain is manageable for now. 

I guess for now, my only questions are:
Is any one out there having trouble sleeping at night? If you have had a Patellar ORIF Surgery before, how long did it take you to recover? How long did you do physical therapy?

Offline kindergartenteacher

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Re: Left Patella ORIF ---Post-Op
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2013, 02:41:06 AM »
23 Days Post-Op
Today at physical therapy they took away my left crutch when I walk inside. I still use both crutches outside though. I was able to get my leg to 78 degrees today, which beat my previous record of 65 degrees from 2 days ago. I am still having problems straightening my knee out, and I can only get it to straighten out to 4 degrees. I was also able to get on a tread mill at .7 miles per hour (VERY slow!) I am pleased that I am actually able to keep a small pace though.

Besides the pain of physical therapy, I have been resting somewhat better. Even though I am still not released to go back to work yet, I know that my students are being taken care of.

I guess one of my only complaints is that my knee pops and grinds when I walk now. I can't stand that feeling, and I am still hoping that I won't ever have to have my hardware removed from my knee.

Does anyone else have that same grinding feeling in their knee?

Offline kindergartenteacher

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Re: Left Patella ORIF ---Post-Op
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2013, 06:19:51 AM »
25 Days Post-Op
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Physical therapy was tough today, as always. My tech decided he needed to move my kneecap around while I was lying down on the table. This is by far my least favorite part of physical therapy. They say that they have to do this to keep my knee from locking up. There are many exercises I don't like; for example, straight leg lifts, bending at the knee and raising your foot, lunges, etc. This one, however, made me cry from the pain. My tech actually told me to lay down because he was nervous that I was going to hit him. (Not that I would ever hit anyone.) I was more than ready for him to leave my knee alone! Does your therapist move your kneecap around?



They taped my knee in hopes of getting the swelling to go down some more. It is still pretty swollen, and the tape is supposed to get the blood to circulate more around my knee. I hope it works!

I went to see my class today. I have never seen so many toothless grins all at once. I had my substitute to tell my class that I was coming so that they would not swarm me when I came through the door. Instead, it was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. That moment was so priceless to me. They are so ready for me to come back, and I miss them so much. I think they are starting to realize that teachers can get hurt just like they can.

Until I can go back to work, I'm going to keep doing these dreadful exercises and work through the pain.

Offline kindergartenteacher

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Re: Left Patella ORIF ---Post-Op
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2013, 05:53:38 AM »
One Month Post-Op


I have to keep reminding myself that I am gradually getting better. I am walking on the treadmill VERY slowly. I can walk a little ways without crutches, but I usually use 1 crutch. I can force it to a very painful 90 degrees after working it a while.

I returned to work today for half days for the next 2 weeks. By my kids' snack (9:45) I was completed exhausted and in terrible pain. By the end of my half day (11:30), my knee was so swollen that it gained back all the centimeters that it had lost last week. It's hard for children to understand that when you are in pain, they need to be extra cautious and follow directions. Half days don't sound all that bad. You can do anything for 4 hours, right?

 It's the constant sitting, standing, walking, tying shoes, bending over, sharpening pencils, looking for materials that you haven't seen for 6 weeks, etc. that really drains all of the energy out of you. Oh and not to mention walking really long hallways to make copies, check your messages or circulating the classroom constantly to facilitate their learning.  When I was completely well, there were days that I was exhausted by the end of the day from everything. Right now, I am honestly in a lot of pain until the moment I am able to prop my leg up in the recliner. It's very hard to give 100 percent into teaching when you aren't completely healed. Today, I feel like a failure. I am not sure, but I think I may be over-doing it a little too soon  :P I am definitely going to talk to my doctor to see what he thinks.

Other than that.......
No one has answered any of my questions on here. Am I really that boring? 

If you had a Patellar ORIF, when were you able to return to work? Is it normal to still be in a lot of pain at this point? Did you return to work too soon? Do you have problems sleeping?

Offline KarenSand3941

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Re: Left Patella ORIF ---Post-Op
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2013, 11:26:33 AM »
I fell Nov 28th and fractured my patella. I had surgery Dec 4th. I am being released to return to work 3 days per week on March 4th. Everything you have described I have been through, only I am 59 years old. So much pain! Elevate your leg, ice it, wear those lovely compression socks, and take your pain meds! Sleep helps, but time helps more. Sounds like you are doing great with PT. It is a bad injury....slow down.....you are the one that has to live with your knee the rest of your life!
Tired....will post tomorrow. Just know you are way ahead of schedule !

Offline Mistyd

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Re: Left Patella ORIF ---Post-Op
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2013, 04:31:33 PM »
I've never had an ORIF - although I have broken other bones... can imagine how painful the knee cap must be.  :o  I do know that knees take time to heal.  Lots of patience! Due to the duties the knee has to do (support weight, bend, flex, twist, etc) every time we move (for the most part), healing can be tricky and up and down.  Gravity will pull swelling to the sight over the slightest thing increasing pain, discomfort and sabotaging range of motion.

I know it is natural to worry about how your healing is progressing.  Especially, after such a painful and serious injury.  Still, I would honestly say that until you have reached the 3 month post op time frame (and even then, swelling and occasional pain could be expected), you should expect ROM to vary (although progress), pain to occur w/or w/out known provocation, and swelling to be daily.  Your outlook on life will probably fluctuate too, as most of us would much prefer being able to do things on our own  ;D ;)

It is good you went to see your class.  Doing little things like that can be great morale boosters.  They also give you indications of how far you have come, and how far you have yet to go.  And while that might be distressing, keep in mind it is better to know now how far you need yet to progress, then to find out once back at work and expected to be able to do your job effectively ;)

Enjoy the time you have off right now knowing you will be back soon.  Enjoy that you have no work related responsibilities that could sabotage your progress and make life all the more difficult.

Hang in there!  :)

God Bless,

Misty
Living for the Audience of ONE: Jesus Christ

'95 -knee injury
5-'04 -knee scope cleaned up grade III tears
12-'12-knee scope cleaned up tears
2-'13-harvested cartilage for upcoming ACI
...awaiting ACI

Offline kindergartenteacher

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Re: Left Patella ORIF ---Post-Op
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2013, 06:13:04 AM »
KarenSand3941 and Mistyd, you have no idea how excited you made me to see that someone has finally replied! I hate that we all share broken bone stories though   :P

Since my last post, I went to work on February 14th for another half day. I talked to my principal before and after work to discuss with him my problems. I decided that I should go see my doctor because I was overdoing it. Thankfully, I had a parent volunteer that day to help me survive until 11:30.

My doctor decided that I probably just need some more time off. I have another appointment next Tuesday, so I guess I will try to go back again after that.

Today, I did a lot of new exercises in P/T. I was actually able to pedal a bicycle all the way around! (Of course, it was backwards, and I almost fell out of the seat from the pain!) I did it though. My ROM is 94 degrees now. It only increased 4 degrees since last week. Progress is progress though. I also did lunges & was able to hold onto a bar, lunge forward, and set my right (good) knee on the floor. P/T has been very hard, but I believe that I have the best therapist & techs because they help me laugh through the pain.

I am now walking around my house with no crutches and with no brace! I never thought I would feel comfortable doing that so soon, but it is nice to do things on my own. I still wear my brace in public & carry 1 crutch with me.

Karen, I was actually never given a compression sock, but I do wear an ACE wrap all the time. Thank you for your advice. I was told in P/T today that I am very independent, which I guess can be a good thing. I am trying to still take it easy with very minimal trips to town. I did make the mistake of going to Wal-Mart the day before Valentine's day by myself. That was a nightmare! I'm actually only taking 1 pain killer at night, and I take Aleve twice a day. I hate the way the pain killers made me feel "foggy".

I feel like I am so behind schedule because I've been off work for 6 (almost 7) weeks now. I feel like my students need me back, and I know that some people don't understand why I've been off so long. You understand, of course, because are going through this nightmare also.

How soon did they have you start physical therapy? What is your ROM now (if you don't mind me asking) What sort of exercises do they have you doing? I have to remind myself to slow down on a daily basis, but some things are just easier if you do them yourself. Do you know what I mean?

Misty , I hope you don't ever have to have an ORIF either. I have never been a very patient person when it comes to healing or being down  :P You are right about the swelling varying. Since I've been home again, my knee is starting to look a little more "normal." I can even start to feel the wires a little. I am trying to build my endurance by staying up on it for a couple hours at a time. I went to my classroom to make copies, do lesson plans, clean up, etc. for my new sub this week. It definitely reminded me why I'm off this week! I told all of my kids' parents that I have to take care of myself before I can take care of their little ones. The pain definitely needs to be under control before I go back!

THANK YOU BOTH FOR YOUR ENCOURAGING WORDS!





Offline kindergartenteacher

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7 Weeks Post-Op
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2013, 05:56:39 AM »
I am now 7 weeks post-op. I am still in quite a bit of pain, but I am managing to get around. I went back to work last Wednesday, and I have been incredibly busy ever since. As hard as it is for me to admit it, I still have to have help in my classroom. After several breakdowns on Friday, a close friend and co-worker volunteered to make my copies for this week over the weekend.

I also found another teacher to do my bus duty for me. At the end of the day, there is no way that I would be able to walk the entire length of the bus line that is located on the opposite side of the building from my classroom. I am still finding it difficult to teach with my leg propped up, and my knee is constantly swelling and throbbing pain.

My ROM is only 102 degrees. I am not sure if this is good or bad, but it had increased about 8 degrees over the past week. I am slowly getting better. My students keep asking me why I am limping. By the end of the day, my leg throbs so badly that I am not sure if I will make it to my car.

I'm no longer using crutches or my knee brace because my doctor says that my leg will get stronger faster without them.

I am just wondering when things will get easier. I had no idea how hard it would be for me to go back to work. 6 year-old children just don't quite understand.

Offline FionaKim

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Re: Left Patella ORIF ---Post-Op
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2013, 09:26:53 PM »
hi, Fiona Kim here - I am so sorry to read about your left knee patella fracture... I was interested to read your story because I fractured mine on Jan 9 2013 - transverse fracture with displacement and had surgery on the 10th to add pins/wires and tension wire - so we are kind of on the same time line but I have not had anything like your pain so I feel for you.  Also,, I am in the Uk and think you are in the USA so it is interesting to read things with that in mind too.

Your range of motion sounds fantastic - I am only at 65 degrees at 9 weeks but my pain comes with waking in the night with pain - I think I must twist the knee in my sleep and oh if only I could lie on my side for longer that 2 minutes!  I can feel one of the wires poking out just under my skin which makes me feel quite feint.  Also my boss won't allow me back to work until I can do my job properly  and this involves lots of getting up and down from my desk so I am bored.

I only found this internet site today and have posted my story - the main thread of lots of peoples concerns is how long will this all take, when you cannot see the end of it all,  it can be so overwhelming and I am sure you want to get back to work but it sounds as though your knee lets you know when you have done too much so - I don'tknow - I take lots and lots of rests between exercises but I do keep flexing all the time.  I don't get too much swelling but I have to really warm my knee up slowly before doing slides and bends otherwise it feels like a mechanical leg and I hit a brick wall very early on.  I cannot wait to have the hardware out but I find it distressing to read that it could be a year or more before the surgeons do that!    The more research I do, the more I read that patella breaks give a whole load of pain and recovery time and trouble for their tiny size.

WEll I wish you luck... and will continue to read your progress.  Take care ---- Fiona Kim

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Re: Left Patella ORIF ---Post-Op
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2013, 04:24:19 AM »
Fionna Kim,

It is very interesting to read other people's journeys through this nightmare! You are correct - I am from the USA.

It's been about 9 1/2 weeks since my surgery, and I was at 123 degrees yesterday! :)
I still wake up with pain at night also, but it is nothing compared to what it was before & after surgery. I usually wake up very stiff also. It takes about an hour in the morning for my knee to no longer feel stiff.

I sleep on either side with a pillow between my legs. At first, this was very painful, but now it is very comfortable. It is actually the only way that I am able to fall asleep at night.

I've been back at work for about 3 weeks now, and I've seen a lot of improvement since then. I don't use a crutch or a brace. I just keep in wrapped with an ACE wrap. I actually don't even limp until the end of the day.

Now that the swelling has gone down,  I can see 2 wires in my knee also, and it is very gross! I am debating whether or not to eventually get them taken out, but I know that it won't happen for several months if I do get them out. I hate the pain that comes with the wires, and I can definitely tell when the weather is changing.

Are you going to physical therapy or just doing at-home exercises? I have found that it has helped me tremendously. I always start it with being on a stationary bicycle for 8 minutes. I am just now able to get it to go all the way around easily. Before, they would just have me go back & forth with the peddles to stretch it. They also have me doing several balance things & straight leg raises with weights.

Maybe your knee will let you be able to go back to work soon. Just keep doing those exercises, and it will get there! I look forward to reading your progress as well!


Offline Mistyd

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Re: Left Patella ORIF ---Post-Op
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2013, 03:27:34 PM »
So glad to hear you are on the mend and getting a routine back..YAY!!  I know there is still a lot of healing left to do, but it is always nice to hear when things start getting better for someone  :).

Congrats on the range of motion!! Hard to get back I am sure  ;)

God Bless,

Misty
Living for the Audience of ONE: Jesus Christ

'95 -knee injury
5-'04 -knee scope cleaned up grade III tears
12-'12-knee scope cleaned up tears
2-'13-harvested cartilage for upcoming ACI
...awaiting ACI

Offline FionaKim

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Re: Left Patella ORIF ---Post-Op
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2013, 03:44:05 PM »
Goodness, waiting  11 days for surgery  - I really feel for you that must have been awful - . 

Thank you for your reply.  I am only finding out because of the Knee Geeks, that this particular fracture is a hard one to recover from - but I will push the slide to bend exercise as much as possible - I am at 65 degrees now - went to physio on Thursday 21st. 

I do drive a stick shift so that's out for now and I live in a rural village here in the UK and need two busses to get to work so at the moment I am on extended R&r HA HA.

Well, I shall be reading your recovery with interest - thanks so much again for the reply - it is amazing how much better you feel to see how others are coping.

Kind regards - Fiona Kim

Offline FionaKim

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Re: Left Patella ORIF ---Post-Op
« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2013, 05:09:34 PM »
Hello Kindergarten Teacher - I do hope you are progressing well?

I guess like me you are now at 15 weeks - I go for my 4 month post op next week.   I suppose I am pleased at my progress when I read about patella fractures and the length of time it takes and then sometimes I get so sad - thinking - will I ever walk normally again?  Will I ever run or kneel down again? I'm only 52 and was so active before.   I know I want the wires out - reading some of the different notes by people with broken knees who have wires and plates, we all feel sick at the thought of foreign bodies in our legs and the more you think about it the sicker you feel - so I guess you have to just push the thought away!! 

I wonder if your knee swells by the end of the day still?  Mine does, and if I stay in one position for a while it is stiff and really hurts to stand and get going again.  I have been told by my PT not to try to walk up stairs properly yet so I do baby-step-same leg lead still and of course the OS will not sanction driving yet so I am really fed up.  You don't miss these things until you have to then it's a mental challenge as well as a physical one.

Over all progress is there - just very, very, tortoise'ly slow.  My range of movement is 100 degrees now - after 4 months and I walk around my village  (short walk) without my crutches, but if I go out in town I take both and walk slowly but am ALWAYS CONCENTRATING ON WALKING PROPERLY - NO MATTER HOW SLOW - it is better to walk slowly and to perfect  than to walk fast and perfect your swing or limp. 

Well, To all who are reading this with similar problems - good luck, take care all and stay in touch.

Fiona Kim in the UK

Offline kindergartenteacher

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Re: Left Patella ORIF ---Post-Op
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2013, 02:54:42 AM »
Well, I just got through typing a very long post & it got deleted somehow! So, here goes again.....

I went to the doctor today, and everything was great! He said that my scar is bigger than he had hoped, but that happens with some people. I am using Mederma to make the scar fade, but it will still be very huge. I had to have x-rays again today to make sure that the bone has grown back together properly. My next doctor appointment is in 2 months.

I am not sure if I want to get the wires out or not. He said that he usually only takes out the 2 K-wires that are drilled through the center of my patella, and he leaves the figure 8 wire in. (He is doing the hardware removal surgery on another patient tomorrow.)  On the plus side of this, it would be a minor surgery with 2 small incisions. I don't know if I want to have to go back through the healing process of my knee again though ----especially after reading the horror story of the poor lady who had hers taken out and then re-broke her knee. It does irritate me, but I have to decide if it is something that I can live with. I am hoping and praying that I don't have to have another surgery. It has drained me financially, as well as mentally.


My knee doesn't swell too bad at the end of the day, just enough to hide the wires a little better. It does get very stiff at night or if I sit too long. I am actually not doing PT anymore because it was so hard to drive 45 minutes there from my school all the time. When they discharged me almost 3 weeks ago, my ROM was at 130. I felt like that was really good. They said to just keep doing at-home exercises., and I will be fine. 

I am walking "normal" most of the time. I have been off crutches since the end of February though. My doctor actually said that he couldn't tell at all that I had surgery from my walk today. By the end of the day, I limp a little sometimes. It depends on the weather though. It's  crazy that a bad weather front can make my knee swell and be in a dull, achy pain all day. Does it do that to you also?

I am able to climb stairs normally. It is still a mental challenge, and I have to take them slow. It just feels very strange to put that much pressure on my knee.

Fiona, I am so glad that you commented back. I am interested to hear how your progress goes & when you decide to get your hardware taken out!