Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Knee Surgery and My Christmas Gift

Well, I finally bit the bullet and, on November 6th, 2014, had arthroscopic surgery on my right knee.  My orthopedic surgeon said that my surgery would be a "slam dunk" and it truly was!  During my orthopedic consult, the doctor explained that he was extremely confident that the surgery would be successful since the pain I was experiencing was due to a medial meniscus tear and not at all due to arthritis; if I had arthritis in that knee, the surgeon would not have been able to guarantee such good results.  Fortunately, my right knee is arthritis-free, miracle of miracles with all the years of running so many miles, not to mention all the pounding from four years of college basketball and tennis.

The surgical procedure was only 45 minutes long and primarily involved cleaning up the torn meniscus.  I actually walked up three flights of stairs to my apartment post-surgery and then proceeded to become "best friends" with the IceMan ice machine, one of the greatest creations ever made.

DonJoy Iceman CLEAR3 Cold Therapy Unit
The IceMan

DonJoy Universal Pad

Knee Pad & Wrap for the IceMan

For three days, rest, elevation and ice were of paramount importance. After that, I was able to move around pretty well; the biggest issue was the swelling, especially because I always stand while working. 

I started physical therapy five days after surgery, but only went three times.  I found that I could do all the exercises myself and have been quite diligent.  The most important exercise is the Supine Straight Leg Raise - it strengthens the quadriceps (frontal thigh muscle) without putting any pressure on the knee. It is also critical to regain full range of motion in the knee joint as quickly as possible.

Supine Straight Leg Raise

For six weeks post surgery, I spent as much time as I could on the upright bicycle, trying to maintain some semblance of aerobic fitness.  Then, on Christmas Day, I decided that it was time to "test drive" the knee; it was an absolutely beautiful day in Fairfield County, CT -- the sun was shining and it was about 45-50 degrees.  I actually ran one-and-a-half miles outdoors and it was sheer bliss!!!  I cannot think of a better Christmas present to have given myself.  The best part was that my knee felt so great.

I know that I have to come back slowly so I am integrating a little running with lots of indoor cycling.  I must keep reminding myself..... in the long run, SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE.  At this point in my life, it's all about perseverance -- I want to be able to run for as long as possible, so I must be patient.

Are you considering arthroscopic surgery?  Please let me know if you have any questions about the procedure or the recovery process.