Well…two year anniversary has come and gone. The pain is still here. Still good days and bad days, but never any pain free days. I am finally convinced that I should NOT have ever had the surgery. I definitely consider myself worse off now. At this point it has simply become survival each day…not sure what to do next. Still haven’t heard anything from anyone about sub-chondroplasty. That is supposedly the newest surgical technique for this issue. Anyone reading this considering having microfracture for a weight bearing area…I personally would say avoid it!
In a week or so I will be “celebrating” my two year anniversary of my microfracture surgery. I have tried to detail as many thoughts as possible on this site. Not a whole lot has changed recently…still have good days and bad days. The unfortunate part is that any type of impact still greatly affects the knee. One positive from the surgery is that the general pain from simply standing has been greatly reduced. I plan to do a nice write up for the anniversary day…more details to come!
So for the past few weeks I have begun incorporating dead lifts into my workout routine. Although I do feel that this lift puts considerable stress on the knees, I can say that I have been very comfortable in performing the activity. The strength level in the knee at this point is still not 100%, but I do believe it is getting closer. The thing that I like about the dead lift is that it does not require much bending of the knee, and obviously no impact. I started fairly light (3 sets of 10 at 135 lbs) and am now up to 155 lbs. in my reps. Overall, this seems to be a beneficial exercise for building the muscle around the knee while minimizing the negative effects of the workout, such as pain in the affected area. The post workout pain from this exercise is pretty minimal. Again, I stress that in my situation the most aggravating activity is any type of impact (running, jumping, cutting etc.). Has anyone tried dead lifts or any other type of lifts after microfracture? Were they beneficial?
So last Wednesday I played my first softball game in nearly two years. Prior to surgery, I was a junkie…playing several nights a week and tournaments on the weekend. Granted, all that I really did was DH and jog the bases…(I can’t really run around center field yet). The knee didn’t feel that bad hitting, but jogging the bases was a bit painful. The next day was especially more painful than usual. I think I may have pushed it a bit too far!
Hyaluronic Acid Injections were also part of my recovery from microfracture knee surgery. I received two of these injections total. I cannot recall exactly when the shots were given, but I believe the first was a few weeks post-surgery, and then another one a few months later. As far as the results of whether or not these injections helped, I really cannot comment due to the fact that I can’t compare to what I would have felt if I had not received the shots. In my research, it seems that most of the results are inconclusive and there are many mixed reviews. These shots are recommended for people with osteoarthritis whose hyaluronan (liquid that helps lubricate the joints) has thinned in the knee joint. The concept is to help replace some of the missing hyaluronan with the injection. Can anyone comment on their experience with these injections?
Here is a link to the most recently published article on E-Zines:
So in regards to the OATS (osteochondral autograft transfer system) procedure, from what I understand it is basically a transfer / implantation of one’s own osteochondral grafts. It seems as if this is only recommended for defects in the 10-20 mm range. I’m assuming they remove cartilage from another area of the knee (where it is not needed) and then transfer over to the affected area??? Not sure if it is recommended for a post-microfracture defect. Can anyone comment on receiving the OATS procedure after microfracture surgery?
So it has been 21 months since the microfracture surgery and debridement. I still have arthritic pain nearly every day. There are good days and bad days. Really don’t have much swelling, just constant burning and aching in the joint. I have most of the strength back in the quad, but not all of it. Part of the issue is that weight training on that leg is painful. I’m still considering other procedures. I have heard about the OATS procedure and my doctor recommended a new procedure called subchondroplasty. Still receive relief from the compression sock and taking the glucosamine, however I’d rather not have to use these. Anyone else recovering from microfracture? How is it going? Thoughts on OATS or subchondroplasty?
Kenyon Martin and Greg Oden are two of the more famous NBA players who have had microfracture surgery. Just recently, Martin has made a successful comeback and is making a contribution playing for the Clippers. Here is an older article where Martin talks about Oden and microfracture surgery. Dr. Richard Steadman is often considered THE GURU when it comes to microfracture surgery. He is referenced in this article.
How is it that some people come back fine after microfracture surgery and others do not? Well, my own belief is that it depends on a number of factors, but a few that are MOST defining:
- How large was the cartilage defect prior to the surgery?
The size of the articular cartilage defect prior to the surgery would seem to make a huge difference in the success and recovery. Obviously, the larger the “pothole”, the tougher it would be to fill it in.
2. Where is the defect located?
My own defect was located in a weight-bearing part of the knee, near the tibial plateau I was told. I feel that this is a major reason as to why I’m still struggling with the issue. I know other people who have had microfracture in spots that are not weight-bearing and they seem to be doing much better.
3. Was the proper recovery protocol followed?
As I mentioned before, following directions of remaining non-weight bearing, not bending the knee, using the CPM machine, etc. is vital for a successful recovery. If these directions are not followed, the “scar tissue” or fibrocartilage may be damaged and not form properly.
Here is a Copy of my most recent published article on Ezines:
Knee Microfracture Surgery – Should I Get It?
In researching the history of the surgery, I knew that there were plenty of risks that went along with it. At the time, my only goal was to get it fixed and get back on the softball field. I decided to go ahead with the surgery, and had it done in July of 2011.
The procedure itself is actually quite simple. The doctor can perform the surgery arthroscopically, which helps with some parts of the recovery. The concept behind this surgery is based on the fact that the cartilage defect in the knee does not have the ability to repair itself due to a lack of blood flow. This cartilage defect, or “pothole” as some doctors call it, causes friction between the femur and tibia. This friction causes bone bruises and arthritis type symptoms. In surgery, orthopedic doctors will prep the area by removing any damaged or loose articular cartilage near the defect. The doctor will then take an awl and drill several small holes into the bone below the defect. These holes will basically begin to bleed and eventually a clot will form. The hope is that in time, this clot turns into a fibrocartilage, which will replace the missing cartilage and effectively eliminate the pain.
I can say that two years later, I still have my doubts about whether or not I should have had the surgery in the first place. The entire process has become very personal for me, so much so that I have developed my own website dedicated to the surgery, http://www.kneemicrofracturesurgery.com. My hope is to develop a support community for anyone who has had or will have this surgery. There have been several things that have helped me along the way and I’m sure there are several other stories and ideas out there!
Over the past two days, I have jogged a mile on the treadmill. Crazy enough, for some reason, my knee actually has felt a little better each day that I ran. I’m planning on taking today off…see what happens!
Although at this point I must admit that I am still uncertain as to whether or not I am better off after the surgery than I was prior, there are several things that I have found that help on a daily basis.
1. I have found that remaining active has reduced the arthritis and arthritic pain in the affected area. I no longer compete in any impact sports like I used to, such as basketball and baseball, but I have found that being up on my feet and walking / moving around effectively reduces daily pain in the knee. Also, staying active keeps my overall weight down, which reduces pressure on the joint. Lose the extra weight and decrease pain!
2. I take a high quality glucosamine with chondroitin supplement three times daily.
3. I work to safely build the surrounding areas of the knee, such as the muscles, tendons and ligaments 3-4 times a week.
4. I have also become an extremely dedicated weight lifter, and strengthen my entire body 3-4 times a week. I firmly believe that this is a huge help. I focus on core areas, upper body and as much of the lower body as possible. I also focus on hip strengthening. There have been several studies that have showed that strengthening the hips can reduce stress on the knees.
5. On “bad days”, where the knee really seems to bother me, I wear a compression sock from my ankle up over my calf to the bottom of the knee. I truly have no idea why this helps! I stumbled on it by accident when my physical therapist recommended it for swelling. It greatly reduces the pain while wearing it. I rarely use it nowadays, but there was a point where I was very reliant on it. Again, I have no idea why it works, but my thoughts are that it increases the blood supply within the actual knee. Perhaps this supply masks the pain or possibly provides a lubrication or barrier between the affected joints???
In the spring of 2011, my life as an avid athlete came to an abrupt halt. After playing in a men’s league basketball game one night, I awoke the next morning to a sharp pain in my left knee. A few weeks went by, and although the pain subsided a bit, it never actually fully went away. After a visit to the local orthopedic doctor, accompanied by an MRI, I was told that that they had found a “cartilage defect” in my left knee.
My son and I
The doctor explained that a surgical procedure was really the only option to fix the issue, due to the fact that cartilage cannot regenerate (re-grow) itself. Before making any decisions, I decided to go about researching the procedure, which I later found out to be “microfracture” surgery. At the time, I found several websites that explained the actual process of the surgery,however, there were no real help sites, review sites or even community sites for people who did in fact have the surgery. In my research, I did find that this was a newer type of surgery and that results greatly varied. There were a few success stories, and unfortunately many stories of people who have struggled after the surgery. Long story short, I did end up having the surgery in the summer of 2011. At this time, I am still in the re-cooperating / rehab process. Yes, it is going on two years since the actual surgery itself and I am still working on getting back to normal. I know there are many other athletes and/or active people out there that have had this surgery. The goal of this site is to provide a community and forum for those people (including myself) to share thoughts, ideas and remedies in recovering from this surgery as quickly as possible. If you have anything to share, please do so, as I’m sure it will be greatly appreciated by all who are taking on or will be taking on this challenge!
In the first months after having microfracture surgery, I would have sworn that I would never run again. In fact, walking was such a challenge, I was happy with the minimal progress I made on that front. I am now about 20 months post surgery and still haven’t really pushed any REAL running. I have jogged at times, but only at a slow pace. I really don’t know if it is a good idea to do the running or not. I can say that it is still not very comfortable and I fear that it may be doing more damage than help. My hope is to eventually try some more challenging types of running…such as planting and cutting, however I’m not sure if I’m ready for that.
Is anyone else still having knee pain after having microfracture surgery? I have posted my story on this web page and my hope is to generate discussions, ideas and support for anyone who has gone through or will be going through microfracture surgery. Please post any thoughts, issues, help, rehab ideas, success stories in regards to this surgery. I know I am very interested to hear about it and I’m sure many others would greatly appreciate and feedback! This IS THE MICROFRACTURE SURGERY COMMUNITY!