Today marks the six-month anniversary of my knee surgery. All in all, things are going very well.
I had my last visit with my surgeon, Andrew Feldman, two months ago. At that time, he was very pleased with my progress, saying that I was ahead of where most patients would be after four months. He told me that there were four areas in which things might go wrong: the healing of the tibia, the stability of the ACL repair, the flexibility of the knee and joint, and the overall alignment of the leg. In my case, everything was working out perfectly.
He was particularly pleased with the alignment of the leg.The picture at right shows a recent picture of my knees. You can see that my “good knee” (the one at the right of the picture) is naturally a little bow-legged. The repaired knee, at left, is much straighter. In fact, Dr. Feldman over-corrected just a little, meaning that my right leg is actually a little knock-kneed. This assures that the weight is borne through the outer part of the knee, away from the damaged medial area.
For the last two months, I’ve been working out steadily on the elliptical trainer in the gym, trying to build up strength in my quad and hamstring. Last month, I began rollerblading again, which also gives those muscles a nice workout. I’m currently wearing a brace whale blading, to avoid wrenching the knee in the event of a collision or fall.
I’m still not supposed to be subjecting the knee to any significant impact, but I have been experimenting with a few minutes on a treadmill a couple of times a week, just to see what it feels like to run. It’s feeling better and better. Clearly, I’m not going to be running a marathon at any point in the future, but I do hope to return to tennis and squash and to be able to play soccer and baseball with my sons. That seems like it’ll be possible. Right now, I can kick a soccer ball pretty well, but I have more work to do before I can run after it gracefully.
The last four months have been a process of learning how to walk comfortably on the realigned knee. I still walk a little stiffly, and I limp a little if I’ve given the knee a real work out. My flexibility is good, though I can’t yet bend my right leg all the way up to my buttock. The knee is a little stiff when I get up after sitting for a while. And there is a little numbness and an occasionally prickly sensation around the area where the plate has been attached to my bone (beneath the diagonal scar in the picture) and in the muscle lining my tibia (tibialis anterior). From my experience after my previous ACL-repair, I expect that I’ll always have some odd sensations below the knee.
On rare occasions, I’ll feel an arthritic twinge from the medial side of the knee, but it’s nothing like the nearly constant pain I had before the operation. Indeed, for the most part I don’t experience the knee as “painful.”
So I’m pleased with my progress thus far, though I realize I still have a a lot more work ahead. Progress now occurs at a slower rate than it did during my intial rehabilitation. But all the time spent at the gym for the past four months is paying dividends beyond a stronger knee. My next visit with Dr. Feldman is sometime in September. I’m hoping for an equally positive evaluation then.
Now if only I could finish writing that book manuscript …