A little over four weeks ago, I had my second knee surgery. If you recall, back in October, I had the first part of the knee surgery for my right knee. While I’ve already been through this once (and not that long ago), this second surgery recovery has not been easy. With that said, planning is key. Some things that helped me the first time around, did not help at all this time, but don’t worry! I have found new knee surgery tips and I am sharing them all with you. Hopefully they help someone else going through knee surgery!
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Why Knee Surgery?
For years (like 15+ years), I have dealt with knee pain in every aspect of my life. 12 years ago, I dislocated my knee for the first time and over the course of the next 12 years, I put up with my knee slipping slightly out again and again. In July of 2018, my knee dislocated again. This prompted me to see the surgeon again. We had tried every option available to me, other than surgery, but it was finally time to bite the bullet and have knee surgery. My kids were older and much more self sufficient and my husband was in a place in his career that he was able to work his schedule so he could work from home and help with my recovery.
What was the Surgical Plan?
My surgeon asked me what mattered more to me…fixing the instability, alleviating the pain or both. Obviously my answer was both. There was no way I could choose between the two. Both bothered me equally on a daily basis. In answering with both, my surgical plan went from one surgery to two. The first surgery was this past October. The surgeon went in, cleaned up the underside of my kneecap and took a biopsy of my cartilage. That biopsy was sent to a lab on the East Coast where they grew more of my own cartilage. The second surgery that I had four weeks ago, the surgeon cut away the damaged cartilage, implanted the new cartilage (called the MACI procedure) and then used a donor tendon to replace a damaged tendon to help stabilize my knee (called MPFL Reconstruction).
Most Important Knee Surgery Tips
First and foremost, TAKE YOUR PAIN PILLS. Set alarms on your phone to remind you. Just take the darn pills. I missed a dose or two and the nerve blocks wore off and I can’t even begin to put into words the amount of pain I was in. We eventually had to call the on-call nurse and she told my husband how to administer the pain pills in a different way (a bit more frequently, but still safe…he asked!) and finally…after a day and a half…I was over that insanity. So take the pills…even if you don’t think you have that much pain. Just do it. This is, by far, the most of all the knee surgery tips.
Elevate and Ice
Once I was done taking pain pills (only needed them for about four days), the best way to help my pain is by elevating it and icing constantly. I was sent home with a machine to ice my knee. You put water in the machine and frozen water bottles and it constantly keeps the pad on your knee cold. If you don’t get sent home with one of those, I highly recommend you buy one. I sleep with it every single night and use it during the day. I also recommend you get one of the elevating wedges. Shortly after the first surgery because trying to get the pillows just right never worked. The wedge was amazing and worth every penny!
Do Your Exercises
My surgeon sent me home with several exercises I needed to start right away. Once I saw my physical therapy team, they gave me more. The two most important exercises for me to do right after surgery were heel pumps and quad sets. The more you can work on getting your quad muscle to fire properly, the better! Another thing I would highly recommend is a strap to help stretch your hamstring and a Tiger Tail rolling stick to help massage your quad muscle. Trust me, those two things are a must have!
IDSON Muscle Roller Stick for Athletes- Body Massage Sticks Tools-Muscle Roller Massager for Relief Muscle Soreness,Cramping and Tightness,Help Legs and Back Recovery,Black GreenThe Original Stretch Out Strap with Exercise Book by OPTP – Top Choice of Physical Therapists & Athletic Trainers
Catch Up on Netflix and Reading
Part of my recovery requires me to use a machine that was dropped off at my home. I set the degrees each day and it bends my knee accordingly and repeatedly. Since I use this machine every single day for six hours a day, I have a lot of time to just sit and watch Netflix or read. So far I have watched:
- How to Get Away With Murder (remaining season I had left to watch)
- Santa Clarita Diet (seasons 2 and 3)
- The Crown
- Criminal Minds (currently watching)
When I’m not watching Netflix, I am reading. You can find my favorite books on my book site, A Real Page Turner.
How Long is Recovery?
It will be 18 long months before I can return to normal activity. Right now I am on crutches and doing rehab. I am hoping that I will get off crutches in a few weeks and start building up my strength with walking and gain the ability to start driving again. Ultimately, I cannot wait to be able to return to the gym. I’ve missed working out. Going from working out 3-4 times a week to not being able to work out at all, stinks big time! BUT, if this fixes my knee and makes it so I don’t have to be afraid to take a step, then it will be worth it to wait a little while longer!