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Author Topic: Difficult Recovery  (Read 533 times)

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Offline klkrtr

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Difficult Recovery
« on: January 04, 2015, 05:39:45 AM »
Hi, I'm new to this site, but I was just hoping to get some feedback from some people who might have been through some similar experiences. I'm 23 years old, but my knee problems started when I was 18. I had severe knee pain in both knees and started wearing knee braces even for walking. I was initially diagnosed incorrectly when I was 18, and I was told that it would not get worse over time. I was told that surgery would not work. I was young and stupid and did not ask for a second opinion. 4 years later, it had continued to get worse. I was told that it was synovitis and that two of the plicae in each knee were larger than expected, which could be causing my pain. I attempted PT for a while, but no one expected it to do anything (it didn't).

The surgeon said that he could go in arthroscopically and remove the plicae. The expected recovery time would be 6-8 weeks while doing PT (in other words, straight-forward). I was pretty thrilled when I heard how simple the fix was. The surgery (on both knees) was on May 1, 2014. Of course, the first thing the surgeon says is that it was a success. The second thing he says is that the right knee was a nightmare, but he stuck to his 6-8 week time table.

For the first two to three weeks, the recovery was great. Of course, I had no way to know if the surgery had worked with all the of the post-op pain, but I was hopeful. I ended my PT after 10 weeks after extending my time some due to severe swelling (up to 65 mL of synovial fluid removed from the right knee). I saw almost no improvement. I continued my PT work at home, and by September, my left knee seemed to be normal (weak but pain-free). That would put me at about 17-18 weeks. The right knee was far from pain-free, but it had improved some to where I was not wearing a brace every day.

The right knee was drained of swelling a second time in December, 7 months after surgery and 5 months after the expected recovery time. It was more painful than it had been since a few weeks after surgery. It was confirmed not to be an infection, so I got another MRI done. Here's where my question comes in:

The cartilage was worn down a good bit since surgery, leading to chondromalacia (did not appear to be a problem before surgery). A "severe partial tear at midportion of medial patellar retinaculum". A few other minor things (edema, effusion). Both new from the MRI taken before surgery.

I was told I would not need surgery (thankfully), but that the recovery for the tear could take months with PT, or almost a year without PT. The doctor didn't seem too concerned about the worn cartilage, but I'm worried this could be a problem for me down the road. Additionally, I don't know of any injuries that could have caused the tear. The doctor suggested that the retinaculum might be too tight and tore itself? Is this reasonable? I guess I'm just nervous about the whole thing in general. I've lived the last five years of my life in near-constant knee pain and I want to be as informed as possible now to prevent having to deal with it again later in my life. Having an extremely long recovery time (according to my doctors and therapists) has put me on edge as well.