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Old 12-27-2009, 08:01 PM   #1
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valentino2003 HB User
Red face I am an athlete with serious knee arthritis, will I ever play sports again?

I am desperate for any advice that you can shoot my way.

Background: I am a 37 yr old woman who is statistically young for the level of Grade (IV) degenerative joint disease in my knees. I have been a serious tennis player and aggressive athlete most my life. Let me be clearer... it was my life.

In July '08 I finally agreed to have arthroscopic surgery done on my right knee by a top doctor. As I was extremely fit, I expected to run out of surgery, but that did not happen. My doctor, besides noticing severe grade IV degenerative change on the medial and patella joint compartments, cleaning/shaving massive bone, spurs, cartilage, had to do a partial meniscectomy due to a serious tear.

After this surgery I was in bad shape. I NEVER regained the ability to run. I have a strange limp, hop thing now when I try to run/light jog. Also my knee pain has been ten times the level it was before this surgery. Desperate to get my ability back to run, I was completely dedicated to physical therapy. But the pain, the loss of movement, and the limping never went away. I feel like this surgery wrecked my life as I was in much better knee shape before this procedure. I can't even do the elliptical machine now and the only way I can get my cardio is a painful bike ride or in the pool. I am depressed I will never play a game of tennis again. Anybody hear of the ability to run lost after an operation like this?

UPDATE: I just had my second arthroscopic surgery done last week in Dec '09 as a desperation maneuver to reduce pain and have a new Dr see what was going on. He thinks I should get a High Tibal Osteotomy as soon as possible as my bone on bone is extremely severe and my age makes me too young to qualify for a TKR. But I am worried that I will never do any sports again in my life if I do this procedure. I am especially scared after what feels like a failure after July '08's op. Any younger sporty patients have this procedure out there, and how is your activity level post surgery?

Last edited by valentino2003; 12-27-2009 at 08:07 PM.

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Old 12-30-2009, 06:45 PM   #2
let me walk
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let me walk HB Userlet me walk HB User
Re: I am an athlete with serious knee arthritis, will I ever play sports again?

Hey There Valentio2003, I am very sorry to hear that you are dealing with this. I had my first knee scope when I was 38 years old and the OS was blown away with the severity of my patella arthritis (I was stage IV back then). I was also an athlete (running, competitive in-line skating, biking, hiking, etc....). Like you, movement was my life. I was able to beat the odds for 7 years and resume MOST of my activities and maintain the intensity. I DIDN’T have the meniscus issues that you have, which makes your situation different than mine. However, my R knee started locking up on me about 6 months after that scope. It would come and go over the years with this past year (having had L ankle surgery in March 2009…putting all of my weight on my R leg) having my R knee lock up on me about 20 times a day. It was awful while trying to deal with my L ankle when my R knee would lock and stay locked for hours.

I’m curious, why did you have the first knee scope done in the first place? I understand that you feel like you’re worse off having had the first scope done to begin with…but what were your symptoms leading up to the first scope? You never mentioned what led you to have the first surgery.

Unfortunately at age 45 (almost 46), I am rehabbing from 2 knee scopes (one in September, 2009 on my R knee and one in November, 2009 on my L knee) knowing that a patella-femoral joint replacement is in my immediate future. (My L knee NEVER gave me problems till I had the ankle injury…then it was a domino effect….everything came crashing down). Oh, by the way, my OS removed a ½ inch by ½ inch floating bone spur from my R knee that was lodged under my patella next to the lateral femoral condyle. It is HUGE!! INSANE!! That explained all the locking over the years! Currently, the pain in my L knee is horrible and the only thing I can do 2 months from my L knee scope to slightly elevate my heart rate is deep water skiing. I can't bike or do deep water running...or anything that really bends my knees....they aren't ready for it...( I just returned from a snow-shoe mini vacation and I’m paying for it big-time as I type this). Like you, I have spurring all over my joint, I have a divot in my medial femoral condyle on my L knee and both of my patella’s track laterally, which didn’t make me a good candidate for the procedure that you are talking about. My meniscus are pristine, which make me a candidate for the patella-femoral replacement (that has a lot of complications).

I don’t really know much about a High Tibial Osteotomy but I do know that it’s a major surgery with a lengthy rehab (and more difficult than recovering from TKR) of a year or more. There is a REALLY GOOD knee website out there…but I can’t post it here. If I were you, I’d seek out a few opinions from other surgeons (something I am doing for my own situation).

I talked a lot...but I hope you found some of this info helpful. I beat the odds for 7 years...but in looking back I wish I would have listened to my OS and gave up some of my intensity...I think I'd be more mobile (with daily activities...less pain) now if I would have "chilled out" back then. HANG IN THERE!
Let Me Walk!

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