A little over five months ago, I had knee surgery. The specific procedure I had was the MACI Procedure with a MPFL Reconstruction. I had significant cartilage damage, which is what the MACI portion of the surgery was to fix. Since I have dislocated my knee a few times, the MPFL Reconstruction was imperative to stabilize my knee. The recovery wasn’t easy in the beginning, but five months out and things are really starting to look up!
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Image via Pexels by Sinara de Melo
What is the MACI Procedure?
The MACI Procedure is a two part surgery. Its main purpose is to help fix damaged cartilage using your own cartilage. Say what? Your own cartilage? Yep! The first part of the surgery, the surgeon takes a biopsy of your cartilage, it gets sent to a lab, and they GROW more of your cartilage! So obviously, the second surgery is where the surgeon cleans up the damaged cartilage and then implants the new cartilage. Very cool and perfect for someone that may benefit from a knee replacement (like me), but their insurance company says you must be older.
What is a MPFL Reconstruction?
MPFL stands for Medial Patella-femoral ligament. This procedure is for people that have recurring dislocations of the kneecap. Since I have dislocated my knee multiple times, my surgeon felt that this procedure was necessary in conjunction with the MACI Procedure. With this reconstruction, my damaged (stretched out) ligament was removed and a donor tendon was put back in. At five months post-op, I can tell you that I truly feel a difference in that aspect. I used to not be able to trust my knee. I would feel it “slip” all the time. So far so good!
The Recovery Process
One of the biggest things I dealt with, during recovery, was my surgical leg tightening up. My quad muscle and my IT band were always tight and no matter what I would do to stretch it, it would tighten back up. The only thing I could do for quite awhile, and it did provide some relief, was to use the tiger tail massage stick. While I was able to straighten my leg right away and did well at getting my hyper-extension back quickly, my range of motion (bending of my knee) was slow to return. The green stretch strap was instrumental in helping me, not only stretch my quad, but also work on that range of motion.
Five Months Post-Op
So now we are a little over five months post surgery…how are things going now? I was able to get out of the brace after 121 days of wearing it (yes I counted). If that isn’t good enough, I am also able to go to the gym and use the bike and rowing machine. Both of which really make my knee feel better, as well as make me feel like I am getting back to normal life. My only real issue are my knee still doesn’t bend all the way just yet, but I’m working on it; also, going up and down the stairs isn’t the most comfortable (or quick). However, other than that, I feel really good. I won’t be fully healed from the MACI Procedure until around 18 months post surgery, but as of right now, I am happy with my progress and how things are going.
My biggest piece of advice? Put the work in. If you know you are gearing up for knee surgery, don’t just sit around and wait for the surgery. If you are able, do some rehab, either with your physical therapist or on your own. The stronger you can be going into the surgery, the better you are coming out of surgery. Also, put the work in after surgery. Things will hurt. You will feel like you don’t want to do it. But you have to! You have to push yourself. It is shocking to me how weak my surgical leg got in 4 short months in the brace I had to wear. If this surgery has taught me anything, it’s that I want to make sure I am always active, especially as I get older. And finally, get that knee elevator I posted above. It made a world of difference when I got home. Messing with pillows was nuts and often left me not sleeping. It’s worth money.
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