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Knee & Hip Problems Message Board


Knee & Hip Problems Board Index


Hi there! I agree with SweetPea.

I did have sort of a similar experience in Sept of 2005. I was cleaning out a closet in my father's house to get the house ready for sale. (He had passed away that May.) Anyhow, I stepped up on a "regular" chair that had a soft cushion seat, and I must have stepped up in a weird way, because all of a sudden, I felt and heard this tearing sound in my right knee!

I was actually able to still walk (and DRIVE!) with that leg all the way to my previous Orthopedic surgeon's office which was at the north end of the county. My guy wasn't in, but they had me see one of his partners. That guy said I might have torn my medial meniscus. The pain seemed to go away temporarily for some reason. A month later, I was back at my dad's house, still wrapping up the house cleanup. This time, I got up from a rolling desk chair in his den, and my right knee completely buckled on me sending me to the floor, screaming in pain! I could NOT stand on it this time. Since I was alone at the house and we'd discontinued his phone service, I had to scootch downstairs to the first floor on my butt to get my cell phone so I could call 911 and open the front door for the EMTs!! They took me to the hospital where my nurse friend used to work and the E.R doctor diagnosed a definite meniscal tear! They put a huge brace on the entire leg and taught me how to use crutches. They sent me home in a cab. (I live 2 towns north of where my dad's house was, so I had to leave my car at his house for a few days.

I eventually was able to get my car home a few days later, but still had to wear a smaller brace on the knee and use crutches. I saw my prior Ortho doctor a few days after this happened. He said I needed an arthroscopic repair of the knee, which he did that December.

That was just the BEGINNING of my knee troubles for the next seven years!!! When that surgeon did my scope in Dec. of '05, he was "vacuuming" out the pieces of loose cartilage for about TWENTY MINUTES! I was given a spinal but no sedation so I had to watch the whole thing! (I'm medically sophisticated because of other personal medical conditions so I wasn't really squeamish about watching what he was doing. I'll get to it in a few minutes, but looking back, I am actually GLAD I was able to watch what that surgeon did to my knee!)

Anyhow, SOMEHOW, miraculously, the knee held up another four and a half years with minimal pain, but I STILL can't figure out how, because of what later happened to the knee! In June of 2010, I went back to this former surgeon because the knee was starting to really hurt again and kept "buckling" on me. Plus I wanted a new handicap parking permit. This idiot surgeon took x-rays and told me the knee was STABLE so no new parking permit!

Four months later, unhappy with that surgeon, I switched back to my original Orthopedic surgeon who had left the other guy's group practice in 1995 to form his own practice. (Why I didn't follow my current surgeon to his new practice at the time, I don't know. Doesn't matter, since I eventually went back to him in Oct. of 2010. He had originally treated me for a mild left torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder in 1992.)

So, now, here I was back under his care (and glad I did so.). My current Ortho surgeon, whose specialty is knee and hip replacements and arthroscopic repair, took one look at the EXACT SAME X-RAYS his former colleague had done four months earlier and had told me the knee was stable, and looked at me in total horror and said, "Carol, you need a right total knee replacement ASAP! You have NO CARTILAGE LEFT AND IT'S BONE ON BONE! That's why you're in such pain!!" Right away, my first thought was, "I'm gonna sue the other guy for totally damaging my knee by taking out almost ALL the cartilage in that 2005 scope!" My current Ortho surgeon sent me for an MRI of the knee, just to confirm his diagnosis. I went back in Dec. of 2010 and he said that, yes, I DEFINITELY needed the TKR ASAP! Since I didn't want to be recovering during the winter with snow and ice on the ground, where I could slip and damage the new knee, I asked if I could wait till the following spring of 2011. He said yes, and sent me for pre-op physical therapy for six weeks so that the muscles surrounding the knee would be strong and I would have a better outcome. About a month before my right TKR surgery (4/5/11), I started having pain in my left knee because I was "compensating" with that leg all the time. My surgeon sent me for a left knee MRI and sure enough, I had developed a meniscal tear in that knee too! Since I didn't want my surgeon to replace both knees during the same hospital admission, he agreed to scope the left knee while I was on the operating table for the right TKR. I did very well with re-hab for both knees last year, although it took a few months for the soreness in the right one from being worked on putting in the prosthetic, to completely go away. Obviously, I had to have extensive post surgery PT on both knees. Initially, my surgeon thought he'd optimistically bought me about 3 years before I would need the left knee replaced. This was not to be. (Not his fault - I had "end-stage" osteoarthritis in BOTH knees and the right TKR took care of getting rid of the arthritis in that knee.) Eight months to the day after my April surgery, I was back in his office, complaining that my left knee was really hurting again. He took an x-ray and agreed that it was probably time to replace the left knee. He wanted to try conservative treatment first though, in the hope of maybe buying me an extra year before he needed to do the TKR. I had a cortisone shot that Dec. day (2011), but it only lasted six WEEKS before I needed another! In the meantime, I had developed balance and walking problems so he sent me for a spinal MRI and EMGs (nerve conduction testing) on both legs. For some reason, after the second EMG, I had a delayed reaction back spasm that night and was in agony. (Mid January of this year). I called his service and they got him on the phone and he had me come in the next day. So now I had knee AND back pain, and for the first time since I started back under my current surgeon's care, I burst into tears when he came into the exam room! He felt so bad for me and said that I was such a trouper, and NEVER complained about anything after last year's surgery. He said that he wanted to get my back squared away with no pain and then PROMISED he would do the left knee TKR early this spring! He sent me to a pain management doctor (anesthesiologist) who gave me cortisone injections at the site of the back spasm, and also prescribed a muscle relaxant called Flexiril. Within TWELVE HOURS, my back was feeling almost a 100% better! The following week (Jan 30th), I went back to my surgeon and said, "Okay, my back is fine. NOW will you please schedule my left knee TKR in late March?" He said that was fine, and again sent me for pre-op PT to strengthen the left knee muscles.

I had the surgery on March 23rd. I told my surgeon, that since I was going to again be his first case of the day, that if I felt up to it when I got to my room in the Ortho unit (of which my surgeon is Chief of Orthopedic Surgery/Joint Replacement) I was going to get up on the walker the same day of surgery. He said that was fine with him - all the better if I could! Well, I did EXACTLY what I said I was going to do - I got to my Unit room around 4 PM that Friday from Recovery, and with the help of a couple of nurses and a physical therapist, I got up on the walker, and walked 200 FEET THE SAME DAY OF SURGERY!!! My surgeon was in the O.R. all day after my case being the first one, so no one had the chance to let him know how much I had walked that day. When he came on rounds two days later, I asked if anyone had told him and he said no. So with a huge grin on my face, I told him that I had walked the 200 feet the same day as surgery!. He was totally amazed and thrilled at my motivation. He started calling me "Rascal" after that because I was always up and on my walker during my entire hospital stay!! That's his new nickname for me! (It's now how he greets me when I go in for office visits!)

He did such a fantastic job once again, that this time, it only took ONE MONTH before I was walking up and down stairs normally, one foot after the other! (Last year, it took about 4 MONTHS!) To see me walk now, unless you knew that I had both knees replaced, you would NEVER be able to tell!

My surgeon is nationally known. He's been named to the Top Doctors in the U.S. list TWELVE YEARS RUNNING, INCLUDING THIS YEAR! He also has a Ph.D. and has three patents on joint replacements - two for the knees and one for the hips!

And, to top it all off, he is the MOST KINDHEARTED SURGEON I HAVE EVER HAD THE PLEASURE OF BEING UNDER THE CARE OF IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!! (And I've had now, a total of 13 surgeries for one thing or another throughout my life.) He's my Medical Hero! He's given me back a life of full mobility WITHOUT PAIN for the first time in SEVEN YEARS!!

Friends and acquaintances have been so impressed with the job he did for me, starting with last year's right TKR, that I've been getting so many requests for referral to him for themselves or a friend or relative!! My surgeon has already taken on about 3 or 4 of those referrals who chose to go to him! YOU could also ask around amongst friends and family to see if anyone knows of a really good Orthopedic surgeon near you that they like.

Since I've run out of ways to say thank you to him, I offered back in January, to be a volunteer in the Ortho Unit of the hospital where he did my surgeries so I can help his new knee replacement patients get through the surgery! It's my way of paying him back by "paying it forward". He was delighted by the offer and they are setting up a program for me to volunteer there, starting sometime this summer.

His partner who is the hand specialist did my carpal tunnel release surgeries in both hands last October (He's also very sweet and caring, just quieter.) and gave me back 100% functionality in my hands IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THOSE PROCEDURES!!

Anyhow, I'm rambling.

What YOU need to do now, since your knee is so painful, is to get yourself a really good Orthopedic surgeon who specializes in knees and hips. (arthroscopes and/or total knee replacements.) My suggestion is: Call your nearest major University Medical Center and ask for at least TWO recommendations of Orthopedic surgeons there.

Look them up online to see how long they've been practicing, what their credentials are (Med school and residency, etc.). When you pick one, and go to him or her, ask how many years he or she has been doing knee replacements in particular, in case you're told you need that (should be AT LEAST TEN YEARS), and how many TKRs per year he or she performs (should be AT LEAST 200/YEAR.) This way, you will know you have the top Ortho surgeon for your needs. You may only need an arthroscopic repair for now, but, you need to find out long term, if you have osteoarthritis in either or both knees, and if down the line, you will need your knees replaced.

In the meantime, if your knee does get sore or swollen, you can ice it for twenty minutes at a time 3 or 4 times a day till you find an Orthopedic surgeon. That will numb the pain you might be having and prevent the knee from swelling up again.

Let me know what you decide to do and if or when you find an Orthopedic surgeon to your satisfaction.

I've been there, done that, as you can see from my story above, so I want you to have a good experience getting your knee taken care of ASAP with excellent results!

Best regards,
Carol





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