Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Carticel @ 8 months

I had my 8-month post-surgery check-in with my carticel knee doc yesterday and got a very positive review.

First, here's a recap of where I am @8 months: after Carticel implantation for a defective femoral condyle last summer, I am fully mobile, with roughly equal strength in both my "good" and "recovering" knees. Knee pain has been minimal, and typically only after prolonged effort, although I have occasionally had sharp pain when torquing or turning my knee. Walking straight and climbing stairs are completely without issue for me, though my walking gait is not totally back to normal.

(Here's my prior Carticel patient blog entries, from oldest to newest:

For the last ~2 months I have been doing my own exercise and PT after completing formal PT. I have been wearing a short unloader brace on my recovering knee for short periods on strenuous days and during all physical activity (e.g. biking, PT.) Exercise has been limited to no-impact activities (elliptical trainer, stationary cycling, swimming, etc) though on warm days this winter I have cycled outside, racking up ~140 miles over ~10 rides. Doctor's order were to limit biking to routes that do not require me to 'stand up' on the pedals, so I have minimized hills - not an easy task when you live at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My longest ride is ~1:30, though around 1:15 I start to "feel it" in my knee.

Doc update:

I passed each knee test with flying colors - the doc reported knee flexion at 145 degrees, and he was very happy with the tested strength of the knee. I was asked to squat and also to lightly jump with my feet shoulder width apart. Doctor Z reported mild surprise at how well I managed both tasks. (These were both things things that I hadn't tried since surgery 8 months ago, and my initial (internal) reaction when asked to squat was "are you sure that's a good idea?")

I mentioned my (minimal) knee pain and knee tenderness (especially after prolonged activity, like biking for 1:30). Doc reported that this is normal - the new tissue in my knee is only 8 months old, and the analogy he used was that in the case of newborns, new tissue doesn't handle full weight stress until 9-12 months after birth. (i.e. when the baby starts walking.)

My guidance going forward is basically a continuance of existing guidance: continue with no- and low-impact exercise (biking, swimming, etc.), though I can now restrict brace wear to only those times when there is an obvious need for care. (In other words, I do not have to wear the brace while biking, but I should put it on if I know that I will be spending time walking over uneven ground, such as a walk in the Blue Ridge.)

I'll see the Doc again in 4 months, at which time I will probably (possibly?) be permitted to do some light running and other physical activities involving turns.

So, I'd say this sums to "so far, so good!"


Kelley said...

Just checking n to see how you are doing. It's good to hear all is well. I am 6 months post op and coming along well. Unfortunately, I just got home from having a scope and had more cells taken because I now need a carticel transplant on my other knee. I honestly cannot imagine going through the whole thing again. I do enjoying reading your blog and checking up on your progress. cheers, Kelley

Tim Gallagher said...

Wow, Kelley, so sorry to hear that you're going to have to go through with the implantation and rehab all over again. I'll bet, though, that the second time will be easier.

(Similarly, my Mom had 1 knee replacement, and then needed another.She definitely dreaded the 2nd surgery & rehab, but said it was easier the 2nd time.)

I've had similar concerns any time over the last 8 months that my "good" knee was sore, but thankfully no issues yet.

Glad to hear though that your 'improved' knee is treating you well.

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