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Knee & Hip Problems Message Board

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I found out yesterday that my doctor wants to do arthoscopic Lateral Release surgery. I am kinda nervous.. I dont know the date yet. For the people who have had this done... I am curious how long you were off work? How was the pain afterwards? How long on crutches? How long were you in the hospital ( I know its outpatient)? Any other tips you can tell me? I also live upstairs & if we still live here when I have the surgery then I may have to stay at my parents house for a week. I appreciate all of your help.
Hello. My name is Tammy, I just joined this website and I am looking for information on lateral release surgery. I saw you posted your message in October 2008. I just found out yesterday that I am having the surgery. I previously had gone to one doctor and he told me I have a condition called Osteochrondritis Dessican Lesion or OCD of the knee and for me to take Motrin and I can return to work. Upon doing research and speaking with other people I found out it was not as simple as just taking Motrin. I seeked a second opinion and went to a doctor that my mother in law has seen. Well it turns out that the first doctor somewhat misdiagnosed me. I do have the condition that he said but I also had a tilted knee cap and my knee is all out of line so he has scheduled me for a LR for March 2nd. He told me the recovery was quite painful and that physical therapy is required for about 12-16 weeks. Have you had your surgery yet? And if so, how has your recovery been?
I have read so many different stories on here so far. Some people said in a week they were walking, others said it took 3 or more weeks.
Luckily I live on a first floor apartment so it should not be too hard for me when I come home. However me and my husband have 2 young children, 7 and 4, so that will make alot of work for him.
I had this surgery done on my left knee back in May and I just actually had it done on my right this past tuesday! So I'm Two days post-op right now. Basically i find crutches come in handy for the first 2-3 weeks personally the first week is the worst although im full weight bearing its just impossible right now. For me right now the pain is more bearable than when i had my left one done because they had two sets of incision within my knee this time i only have one so its not as painful. I have at least a week off school. But when it comes to work if you have a sit down job you should be able to go a week after. But any others is probably up to how the pain is. I was at the hospital from 10am until 2pm so 4 hours, i was let out early because i was doing good. Its easier when you know what to expect, i babied my left knee, but its best to keep it moving more because it speeds up recovery. You have to remember to wiggle your toes and move your ankle. Ice it and keep it raised up for a while! I personally don't find it that bad of a surgery, my first one was a lot worse because i was scared of hurting it. The muscle hurt up my left with my left for the first few days which made me not want to move it, this time I have that but i don't baby it as much. I try and weight bear a little at a time right now its still way to weak to handle it. With my home there's a step to get to the door and then stairs either up or down. If you know how to do the stairs with crutches there shouldn't be a problem. The first knee was hard because i didn't know how to do the stairs so when i came home from surgery i was frustrated! Allow someone to help you out for a while! I find during the first week the pain starts to settle down, but when you take off bandages it becomes painful again i'm guessing because the compressions gone. If you have any specific questions just ask :)! I lived with this for 5 years and as soon as i had my left fixed it was just amazing! I had it in both my knees so i noticed the difference between the fixed and non fixed one!
Thank you for all the information. I have been having pain in my knees for years and it has been debilitating so I am praying I will feel a lot of relief once I have recovered. I will be out of work for sometime. I am a manager at a restaurant which requires a lot of movement for long hours so I have taken time off until about May or June. I want to be fully recovered before I attempt it again. My surgeon told me it is a painful recovery and to try and speed up recovery as fast as possible. I will be going to physical therapy for a while as well. Did you go to physical therapy with your first surgery?
well i don't find it too painful but its the matter of figuring out how to put your leg so your knee doesn't hurt. I was in physio for about 4 months its 3 months but it took longer because i had missed a couple weeks. I was going twice a week it was that or three times a week but because i have to travel half an hour to my physio i went with the two times. I had a bad experience with my first physio therapist so i was really determined to find a good place to go after surgery! Which was a huge key into my recovery because it helped going to a place that was very helpful. I start physio following my appointment tuesday with my surgeon. I'm looking forward to it because it deffinetly helped bring down the swelling and reduced the pain greatly!
I'm 8 days past a lateral release to my left knee. This is long...but I know I like reading here are mine! After rolling my car in 1990, tearing my meniscus and not getting it fixed until 2001, then having scar tissue removed in 2004, I was surprised to have more knee pain flare up this year. MRI's and X-rays supposedly showed nothing except a Baker's cyst that was caused by some sort of damage in the front of the knee to leak fluid into this sac - i.e. cyst. The doctor indicated he would do arthroscopic surgery to check it out and likely clean up any scar tissue. Apparently he changed his mind or did his homework late in the game, as 5 minutes before surgery time, the doctor indicated he may perform a lateral release. I wish I'd known how to plan for this! This was done at 6:30 a.m. on a Friday and I'd told my new employer I'd be back to work on Monday...nope!

The first two surgeries I had prior to this were a piece of cake - I was wearing heals to an event two weeks after the meniscus repair! Not this time.

The surgery took less than an hour. I needed a lot of pain meds immediately after. Te pain was tough at 24-48 hours, but was tolerable after that. I stopped taking pain meds, but do take 800 mg Ibuprofen 3X a day for inflammation, and it does hurt sometimes. My leg was immobilized anytime I wasn't flat on the couch for the first 4 days, and with crutches at all times. The worst part was trying to go to the bathroom, which is quite awkward with your leg immobilized! I elevated my leg religiously the first 3 days and used ice 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off from the time I got up until time I went to sleep. My physical therapist was pleasantly surprised at how little swelling I had at my first PT visit on day 3. I was able to bend my knee to 68% with considerable effort during PT. I was down to one crutch after day 5 - allowing more weight on the leg. The swelling has increased with more movement and weight, but I was told to expect this. I was also told not to be afraid to take my pain meds if I felt I needed them.

Four days after surgery, I was alone one night trying to warm dinner in the microwave. After spilling steaming hot food and trying to clean it up best I could from the floor, I came up and something snapped at/above my knee. I screamed bloody murder with the pain, and then started crying - I was scared to death I'd ripped something. My mom just happened to call 2 minutes later and put me on with my step-dad who is a general surgeon. We determined I likely snapped some scar tissue as it wasn't swelling or continuing to hurt. Physical therapy concurred and said it was "a good thing" was okay - I didn't have any extra swelling, etc. However, the next day, they did work me too hard in PT. The new guy thought I was 2 weeks along, not 5 days...and gave me things too hard to do and I cried! He backed off the weights and exercises.

I have a number of exercises that are basically to strengthen the quad muscles. Some are relatively easy and are for movement, others are harder for strengthening. It is a very, very slow process that takes a lot of patience and a lot of reps throughout the day. Continuing to elevate and ice the knee some throughout the day and definitely ice at night if I'm couch-bound watching TV. I'm told that I will likely be at 60% at 6 weeks out and 85% at 8-10 weeks out. I can report back to work on day 10. Since it's my left knee, I am told I can manage driving by Monday (day 10), though I'd prefer not to if I personally didn't have to. If it was my right knee - I'd hesitate driving for several weeks. I feel there is little strength or control - especially with city driving - constantly tapping the brakes. Big bumps or curves can be alarming - tweaks of pain.

A few other notes - I couldn't shower for 72 hours, much less go up stairs (I was carried up on day 3, and went back down on my butt, which PT said to continue to do for a few days). I had a friend drive me to Great Clips to get my hair washed on day 3, and I can't say enough about the advantages of Baby Wipes in lieu of a real shower/bath. The stitches came out on day 7, and I couldn't shower again for 24 hours. I'm down to one crutch and it's up to PT to tell me I can go without, though I have been crutch-less at times, washing dishes, etc, shifting the weight to my right leg. I think I'll be totally off crutches by day 12.

As a single gal with a cat, I wished I'd had more notice about the type of surgery and recovery time so I could have planned to have my mother here, or at least better coordinate with my friends in advance - not to mention my new employer. I was able to set up remote computing from home, but I could only manage about 1-3 hours a day at most to keep up with emails. I had planned food for 3 days, not 10. Friends brought food, filled grocery lists, cleaned for me, and got me my creature comforts together so I'd have less to attempt in their absence. I couldn't and still can't do a lot of things. I have a stand-up shower and I had difficulty stepping out of it and drying off my lower half as I couldn't bend my leg. I'm not trying to sound over-dramatic and I am no wimp; I'm very independent and hate anyone doing anything for me (ask my ex-husband!)! My advice is to over-prepare for time off and allow yourself to recover slowly for long term benefits! Ask your doctor a lot of questions - ask about "what if" they find something else and what the worse-case scenarios could be. Because I'd had two arthroscopic surgeries before, I thought I knew what to expect - I was very wrong! I can't say I'm the norm - I haven't seen many stories myself...but this is and was my experience and I hope it helps you some how. I wish you the best of luck and hope you have better, faster, great results!
KityKatKey, thanks for the story. I'm currently scheduled for a bilateral release, which is both knees. I'm really struggling with the idea because of the stories I read on the internet. One knee is definitely worse then the other which is another reason why I'm hesitant, I don't have issues with one unless I'm cycling or running excessively. My question to you is would you recommend someone to do both knees or would you say just do the worst one and wait until the pain in the other knee is imbearable or prevents you from doing activites. I was only planning to do the less painful knee as a precautionary measure b/c I do feel pain when excessively exercersing, but not doing everyday things, so I thought I'd get the experience and the PT over with. I'm also concerned that I may develop a pain that I didn't have before, but I guess that is just me getting nervous right before surgery. If you can give me your opinion I'd appreciate it. Thanks and a very big thanks for your detailed story
I find this all very interesting - I have had a lateral release in both my knees, the first in 2001 and the second in 2002 (that knee has just been replaced after a later accident). In both cases I was put in a splint for weeks afterwards and on crutches and didn't have any PT except my surgeon told me after several weeks to get onto an exercise bike. Hmm how things have changed. One of my surgeries was very successful (the knee I later destroyed huh??!!) and the other not so successful. On both occasions I was off work for 6 weeks.
I had the lateral release done October2/09 and am beyond frustrated.My right knee feels solid like it is cemented in place. I have been going to therapy now for 2 and half weeks five days a week for 1 hour and 45 minutes. I get ice , ultra sound, do leg lifts,use the range of motion board, bike, do lunges and get stretched. My final stretch is lying on my stomach and the therapist pushes my leg forward to the point that I am crying and trying to jump off the bed.. I leave everytime holding back more tears. I than later in the day do an hour of exercises at home and am icing all day and even when I am sleeeping. My concern is it doesn't want to bend . Now, I was told to wear my brace in a locked position and did so for 2 weeks and am wondering if it healed in that position. I am consumed all day with what more can I do and I just don't know. I also still having swelling and it is warm and hurts behind my knee, is that normal? I seen my doctor a week after to have the stitches out and he said it looked good. I don't see him now to Dec 10 . I don't know,maybe I am asking too much.
Hey - just saw this!

CYBERGROOVE: I would NOT do both knees at one time. It is way too much energy just to get one knee better. I would do your worst knee first as you'll need all the good parts to get through through. It's physically demanding to have all of your weight on your "good" knee and hip...which yes, could potentially put some pressure there. I suggest crutches for 2-3 weeks, though I did go to one crutch to start putting more weight on the leg after one week with my PT encouragement, but I felt that was too soon. This past weekend, my boyfriend pushed me around in a wheel chair and I have to say, the rest was just what I needed to hit PT this week. It's a slow process. My doctor says I will be at 60% at 6 weeks. three weeks, I am walking more normally though it doesn't feel normal. I have a Baker's cyst so I still have issues from that keeping me from some exercises and causing pain when it gets "Caught". I also have some issues with pain from my "IT Band" which no one has exactly explained to me. It's above the knee.

MANGOSSA: You should not be doing any exercises that cause pain. You have to STOP and tell them it hurts and they should find a different method to get the same results without pain. Or ASK them to find a different way. This is not a "suck it up - no pain, no gain" situation. Please don't push yourself too hard. The exercises will be tough, but there's a difference between exersion and pain. I kept the immobilizer on for three days unless I was elevating/icing. After that, I kept off the leg except when in the bathroom or kitchen where I'd slowly add some weight (per nurses instructions) - such as a bit of weight just on the toes of the affected leg...then to balance a bit more, but with little weight, etc.

I have physical therapy 2X a week for 45 minutes. I still elevate my leg at night and during the day if I can at work. I do have a recumbant bike and other equipment at home, but I do minimal work - maybe 6-10 min. on the recumbant bike (this week) the leg lifts with one-pound ankle weights and pushing a towel up and down a wall. I find the bike the best exercise to improve the motion without weight, but at first I could not do a full rotation and would go up half-way and go back half-way. Then one day, I could go all the way around! Now the bike is pretty easy, but walking can still be hard. sometimes my knee will still lock up. I have a transition period with my knee hurting when I go to sit or after I stand to walk, then it adjusts. The key is baby steps to a full recovery! My knee is getting better - slowly. I found I had to remember how to walk heel to toe instead of limping which has helped a lot. If you think 60% at 6 weeks, then 2 weeks is only 20%. As a result, you shouldn't expect a lot. Don't forget to ice and elevate religiously. I overheard PT guy tell another knee patient that they do every other day because every day is too much - the body needs some rest. I do a lot of different exercises at PT that is more intense as there's little rest than at home where I pace myself. It's for a reason - it's hard, but not painful! Remember, you will NEVER be back to 100% - likely 85% max.

Another note - if this had been my right leg, I don't think I would have been able to drive for at least three weeks after surgery. I can go up stairs slowly, but I can not yet go down-stairs...I still go down on the good leg and meet up with the "bad" leg.

Best of luck
KITTYKATKEY provided her story and helped me decide if I should do one or both knees. Her story and response helped me be prepared and to only do one knee, so I want to share my experience as well in hopes it helps someone in the same situation I was in. Should I have the surgery or not? With all the negative stories on the internet it was quite hard to make the decision.

Before I continue, I want to give a little background on me, I’m a 32 years old male, very active, lift weights, cycle and run to stay in shape and occasionally participate in triathlons. This is important because how your body handles recovery, depends on the shape you are in and how strong your legs are. My symptoms were lateral knee pain, tough to go down stairs, couldn’t run more then 2 miles and couldn’t cycle more the 30 miles with out my knees hurting and swelling.

Another thing to note is the pain wasn’t consistent and couldn’t be replicated during the Dr exam. Xrays revealed a moderate tilt in both patellas. This is something else to think about, depending on the severity of your tilt there will be more cutting which means more recovery time. Now back to where I left off, the hardest part was to make the decision to have the surgery. I decided to have surgery after symptoms continued after 6 months of PT, stretching and strengthening. The Dr offered me other options to try before surgery, but I told him that I wanted to be pain free and not have to worry about this any more. He said the best chance of achieving that is with surgery.

I had surgery 4 weeks and 2 days ago. I was in and out of the hospital in 4 hours, the surgery was the easy part. I was sent home with knee wrapped in gauze and an ace bandage with a ice pack. The next 3 days I used crutches to get around and iced and elevated my knee consistently. Up until this point I had 0 pain and was taking no pain meds. 2 days after surgery I had my follow-up, the Dr explained to me that he removed two inflamed areas, a flap of plica and performed the lateral release. He said that he was glad I opted for surgery because of the other findings.

After that he revealed my knee this is the first time that I saw it since surgery, it looked like a turkey that was shot up on Thanksgiving day from all the block injections. It was very swollen, he ended up draining some of the fluid. After 3 days I started putting more weight on my leg and doing prescribed exercises, this is where I could begin to feel pain in my knee. On post day 4 I was getting around without crutches for short periods of time, but continuing to use the ice pack and elevate as much as I can.

You MUST listen to your knee, when it begins to hurt rest it, “no pain no gain” doesn’t work for this recovery. 7 Days after surgery I start PT, everyone at the PT Office was impressed on how much I could flex and do, I contributed my success to this point from beginning to walk, stretch and exercise 3 days post op. 8 Days after surgery I had my 2nd follow-up visit, DR was happy with recovery thus far, removed stitches and drained fluid from knee again. During the first 2 weeks after surgery I had good days and bad days as far as pain, but wasn’t anything that was intolerable. On my bad days I took ibuprofen.

Now 4 weeks later, I am able to do whatever I want to do within reason (still no running or cycling), I give much credit to the PT (IT’S A MUST). I’m going 3 times a week right now and will continue to go for probably another 2 or 3 weeks depending on my knee. The only difficulty I have is going down stairs with more the 4 or 5 steps, my knee begins to hurt right below my kneecap.

Things to know:

1) Choose a Dr you trust and you feel comfortable with. ASK QUESTIONS!
2) Be prepared to be out of work for 6 to 7 days with an office job, longer if you have a job that requires you to be on your feet for long periods of time.
3) Be sure to have someone to help you the first day or two around the house.
4) Be sure to Rest Ice Compress Elevate often the first two weeks especially the first few days. To this day I still RICE after PT appointments.
I would not recommend anyone doing both knees (bilateral release); however, if you are going to consider it.

Things to think about:

1) You MUST get a wheelchair or walker to get around the first day or two
2) You MUST be a person that can be lazy for 5 or so days, do not expect to do too much the first two weeks besides RICE and PT
3) You MUST have the will power to go to PT and work extra hard.
4) You MUST have someone to help you at home for the first week.
5) Be prepared to take 2 to 4 weeks off of work.

If you are having knee pain and you’ve seriously tried PT with no prevail and you want the best chance to be pain free and DR you trust recommended this surgery, then I’d say go for it.

Hoped my story helped.
It's always good to hear others posting on their success stories about lateral release surgeries. I've had my left and right knee both done, while 17, my left knee has so more issues than my right knee. My PCL is degenerating and the bone has some issues so i had a 75% chance of recovery and a 25% risk of needing further surgery, which would have meant bone surgery. My left knee is coming up on 2 years post-op and hasn't bugged me since, it has been doing amazing. I don't regret doing that surgery for that knee! I didn't think twice about doing the surgery because prior to the surgeon who did my surgery i had another who was suppose to be the best of the best and he just sent me to physio, didnt really pay attention to me as a person at all and just said it's a weakness in the muscle. Physio ended up causing both knee's to become worse. So eventually i was fed up with being in so much pain that i went to see my other surgeon who fixed my broken arm and right away he picked up on something the other one didnt, i can't put my ankles together. So before he decided on surgery for my knee caps, he wanted to see if my problem actually wasn't my legs being bowed. My problem i learned stems from the fact my hips are wider then they should be which causes the bone at the knee to be all screwed up which causes my caves to kind of bend out it looks like when i stand. My right knee has been having issues following surgery, its almost a year post-op but is still giving me troubles, but from what i experienced with my left knee i wouldn't listen to the stupid websites that talk about lateral release surgery and make it sound like its not worth the try, it is, and if i have to try it again with my right knee then i will because i can not describe the feeling i got when 6 months post op i was done physio and i could go up stairs with less pain than i ever have had for the past 5 years, thats the moment you really go wow, and as the year passes to being a full year post-op it just gets better. Super worth it!
I had the procedure done Oct 2/09 and so far I am ok. I will say most importantly you must be patient and listen to your doctor and therapist. my problem was when I felt good I did more , but you pay for it by the end of the day. basically the first week for myself I was trying to adjust to using a walker and not being able to do for myself like I used to. As far as pain I would say to not be a hero and see how long you can go without taking anything ,you knew when you were ready for something. I tried everyday to see how much I could do , but stopped if it was hurting. My therapy was intense. I started in therapy 2 weeks after the procedure and honestly the first week and a half was painful. I was going 5 days a week for 2 hours a day for 10 weeks straight than it tapered off to twice a week and now I am down to once a week and have been gvien permission to start back at my gym which I have been doing. My surgeon credits my therapist for taking me on for the 2hours and 5 days a week and says because of it that is why I am doing as well as I am. My surgeon said usually you need to go no more than 3 , but had no problem with me going 5 days. I did get frustrated and worried because I had a drag like limp 5 weeks after and it lasted almost to my 8 to 9 week mark. I now walk for the most part normal without the limp so that is good. My muscles however aren't strong enough yet around my kneecap from being cut . Sometimes when walking my knee buckles and I almost fall, but my surgeon said this is normal it realisticly I should give it another 3 months to say a complete change. You read some post they say you will never be 100%, but I choose to worry about myself. When I read that I was scared and thought to myself what did I just do to myself. I than realized I can't get caught up in other posts because we are all different. If you ask my therapist and his helpers they are amzaed at how far I have come to walking in on crutches for the first week with the brace than on to the second week with no brace and one crutch than on my 3rd and 4th week I had a cane and on the 5th week and on I walked with in with a limp and now go back walking almost normal again. My therapist says right now I am at 75% and getting better everytime I go in. I went dancing for the first time on my 6th week and did ok.
I don't know it all depends on you. When I went to my surgeon after my first week to have the bandgages removed he was amazed on how little swelling I had. he said my knee should have been double the size. I am a fast healer, but have been always determined to stay positive and it worked so far.
I was off for 12 and a half weeks and am on light duty at work till furthur notice. My best advice is don't push yourself to do anymore than you know you can do for anyone. You do not want to injure your knee.
My lon term goal is to be able to walk down the stairs at my beach where we have our 5th wheel trailer at Ippperwash beach Ontario(about 30 satirs). I can't walk up or down normal. I am better going up than down , but i will do in time. I hope you do well and my best advice is to take it one day at a time. Don't focus on how long you have been off and still feeling pain etc or adjusting to your walking abilities if you do it will break your spirit.

I will say I sometimes felt I was bothering people around me and didn't talk to many friends about if I had a bad day etc.
Anyway Good luck
Glad to hear that something I said was helpful! Here's the update: My surgery for left knee lateral release was on Oct. 16th (see previous details). I was released from PT after 6 weeks and given a routine to follow at home. I've been good and bad about it, actually. The added element I did not do in PT was treadmill for 15-30 minutes with 2 minutes on/2 minutes off at inclines progressively higher at 3-5-7. Well, I did 3-5 for 16 minutes total on Thanksgiving Day and I was completely wiped out for five days. So much pain and swelling, so I laid off it and iced it, continuing to stretch and do exercises without weights, but backed off on all else. After that, I spent three days walking and standing at a trade show and did pretty well handling that. Sitting and NOT moving is worse! I'd rather be moving!

Christmas slowed things down with family around, but I have been diligent since (in addition to needing to shed the holiday pounds!). I'm keeping the treadmill moderate at intervals of 1-3, but increasing my time and speed. I still have some pain that concerns me, but I hope to learn more tomorrow at my 3-month evaluation. My left knee doesn't look like my right knee, not sure if that is normal or not at this stage. I have a lot of mobility, but I do not feel ready to get back into ballroom dance lessons as twisting, pivoting and coming down the stairs can still be an issue. And here it is winter and I can't go skiing or ice skating! 10 months from now - find me on the slopes!

I can not remotely imagine having both knees done at the same time - so do think this through and be prepared if you go that route. It does take a lot of discipline to do PT at hang onto it as long as you/insurance will let you! Best of luck!
I am a year a half post op from a lateral release on my left knee and six and a half months post op from a right lateral release. Both knees are still tracking correctly according to the surgeon. I do have off and on pain in my left knee, but the surgeon says that I have scar tissue beside the outer part of my knee cap. I also have bursitis in both knees. My right knee is painful right now, but I had to have it scoped again last week because I tore my medial meniscus. I have been doing my at home exercises, and I have noticed that cycling helps me if my knees are stiff. I hope this helps.

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