I have dealt with joint issues for a long time. Around 2010, I injured my knee moving a box with my leg. I know, not the smartest thing to do, but we have all pushed a box with our foot at one time or another. This time just happened to be a box that was too heavy for my knee to handle. This was also the same year I started volunteering with my local Fire Dept. The wear and tear of being in EMS (Emergency Medical Services) did not help my knee at all.
I saw my doctor at that time, and he told me it was nothing. Maybe a sprain? Maybe I just twisted it? From looking at it, he saw nothing obviously wrong. I was told to wait a few weeks to see if it felt better.
Time passed and nothing improved. I went back to the doctor and wanted more answers. I was then sent to physical therapy. A few sessions later, and nothing was improving. I found a different doctor, and even went to the ER when the pain was too much for ibuprofen to handle. X-rays didn’t show anything. I was again sent to physical therapy.
In 2012 I hurt my back. I was working in a nursing home as a LNA (Licensed Nursing Assistant) and trying to move a resident on my own as we were short handed. Something popped in my back, and I thought I had pulled a muscle. I was able to finish my shift, and saw a doctor a few days later. I had a herniated disk. I was referred to physical therapy again. This time, I went to a few sessions and then asked for print outs of the exercises and did them at home. I was quite tired of paying money to physical therapists!
In 2011 my husband finally had a diagnosis for his back pain, and had a diskectomy to fix his herniated disk. I drove him 2 hours in a blizzard to get to the hospital for the surgery. It was an interesting day, but a huge improvement in his quality of life. He went through two years of physical therapy of many different types, and a several misdiagnosis’s. Finally after a trip to a new ER, we finally got a doctor to make the diagnosis he needed for surgery – sciatica! The other doctors denied over and over that this was what he had, even though all the symptoms fit. So we were quite equipped with several exercises for back pain.
With a diagnosis for my back quickly, I had enough dealing with the pain in my knee. I could barely work, as walking and lifting made the pain worse. I found an orthopedic surgeon in a sports medicine office. He ordered an MRI to see what was going on, but he thought it may be a torn meniscus from my symptoms and pain location. He also informed me that my joints all hyperextended. Meaning where most joints like elbow and knee extended flat, my joints continued a few more degrees. Extend your arm out, like you are reaching for something far away. See how your arm is flat? Mine curves slightly. My fingers do as well. When I extend my fingers, they are slightly U shaped, where most people their fingers remain flat as if laying on a table. The surgeon mentioned that I would have made an excellent gymnastic due the extreme flexibility of my joints. HA!
Unfortunately the MRI did not show much, but the surgeon offered to do an exploratory surgery to find the cause of the pain. I agreed! I needed to know! Surgery was scheduled.
When I woke after the surgery, I was told I did in fact have a pretty bad tear in my meniscus. I was also handed very cool images from inside my knee! The images showed the tear, and then my knee after he repaired what he could. I was told that I would probably not be pain free as the meniscus is the cushion that protects my bones from rubbing together basically. I had a big chunk missing now.
Recovery wasn’t as bad as I expected. After my post-op appointment I was sent to physical therapy. The swelling and scar tissue limited my range of motion for a few weeks. When I gained back most of my movement, I started with strength training. I needed to strengthen the muscles above and below so my knee didn’t have to work as hard.
I started to feel a little better. But unfortunately it was short lived. I returned to the surgeon a year later. A year from my first surgery, I had a second, on the same exact date as the first. This time not only did they fix another meniscus tear, but they also performed a lateral release, and cauterized a nerve. This recovery was a little more difficult. I was in a lot of pain right out of surgery.
I again went to physical therapy. Again, regained my range of motion, and strengthened my muscles.
While pregnant with my boys, my back really acted up. It couldn’t handle the added weight of pregnancy. My knee took a beating during the pregnancies as well. Add to that, the fact that both boys really dug in my hips, my pregnancies were just torture! That’s another post though!
Today my joints still bother me. I’ll need to find another orthopedic surgeon down here in Texas and discuss more knee surgeries. I believe some type of replacement surgery is in my future. But for now I just take it easy when I have flare ups. Ice, heat and compression have become dear friends.
Do you have joint issues? Let me know in the comments!