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Microfracture surgery

Hi Im back but this time I had some questions and concerns about knee surgery that I had on Jan. 18. I just added my 12th surgery and second knee surgery. I have been falling alot since my thoracic discectomy back on May 24, 2012. I fell on my knees at the beginning of Dec. and was having severe pain in left knee. My ortho did a MRI and said that I did have severe arthritis and swelling and because he could not see anything so wanted to do athroscopic surgery to see what was wrong and fix it.

When I came out of surgery I was in horrible pain and was given Dilaudid which did control my pain and didn't make me sick to my stomach. I have taken Nucynta for almost a year for CP and surgeon said he would write a prescription for Dilaudid since I had been on other for so long. I am so thankful he did because Nucynta did not touch the pain. He told my daughter that they found severe arthritis and no problem with the meniscus which was bad because that was something that could be fixed but arthritis can only be slowed down and would come back :(

The surgeon tried to explain to my daughter what exactly he did but she did not understand everything so I got online over the weekend and learned that microfracture surgery is a procedure where they remove the arthritis and inflammation and using a little tool they make little fractures or holes in damaged area and it sets up a super clot and hopefully will make new tissue but this will never be as hard and tough as original so sometimes it does not work and even if it does it will only last a year or two. I dont know if I want to go through this every few yrs. compared to replacing knee.

It can take from 6-12 months for recovery and first 6-8 weeks non-weight bearing on crutches :( That has been very difficult for me because it hurts my back from using the crutches just this weekend around the house. More I read about the procedure the less sure I am of how I will do. It is not for people who are not active...well I have not been active for past yr. due to back pain and it is also not for overweight people which I am...makes me think that there was nothing else he could do but replacement and because of age he does not want to. Just needed to vent and get someone elses opinion on what they think?????

thanks for always being there,


  • Hi Kelli. Can't help you much with the knee options, but I can tell you our family's experience with micro fractures and just how long it is to recover and how seriously you need to take the care instructions. Long story but my 16 year old daughter was playing basketball in August 2011 when she had a bad fall and ended up with a hugely swollen and painful right knee. Hubby brought here home, (8pm on a Sunday night) and we did the RICE first aid through the night. Next morning I took her to our local hospital drop in centre which is managed by Triage nurses and save you time waiting in ER if you don't need to. She examined the knee, very painfully, said it was only soft tissue. After a week of being on crutches and her not being able to weight bear, took her to the Dr to be told , yep, soft tissue but can take ages to heal, so don't worry. It did gradually heal but was never completely pain free, and despite repeatedly asking dr's over the next 10 months when we were there for other things we were told injuries can take ages, a young girl like her wouldn't have done anything major from such a simple fall etc etc. In July last year we put our foot down, demanded referral to a sports physician for a diagnosis. He examined her and immediately said he was sure there was damage to the meniscus but was also worried about the anterior of the knee and top of the tibia. I was amazed when he immediately sat at his desk, picked up the phone to speak directly to the radiologist to ask for an urgent MRI. We had the MRI next day and was back at his office 8am the following morning (he came in early to see us). He then revealed that he was right, it was a very nasty injury that someone so young rarely suffered, but at least it wasn't the bone cancer that he also had a feared a possibility. Cutting this long story short her injury from the fall was that she had torn a deep wedge of the anterior cartilage completely away, and the very top of the tibia bone was also cracked and starting to split vertically. In addition, because it had been undiagnosed for so long, she was already developing early arthritis in the knee. She had surgery the next week and they had to drill numerous microfractures so that the tibia bone would bleed and hopefully start to register that it needed to commence a healing process. So 3 months no weight bearing at all (in her final year of high school) and three months very gradual weight bearing we are still on tenterhooks to see if it has worked. If it has she has probably delayed the inevitable arthritis by a decade or two, but she will still need a full knee replacement probably by her mid thirties. If not we have the choice of trying a replacement of her cartilage using "cadaver tissue" or accept it will be a knee replacement by her early twenties, so I guess the take out for you is that microfractures are only done when they are really needed, and if you don't follow the instructions, and they don't work, there aren't many further options, even for someone as young and fit as our daughter . The best thing we did was get a really good physiotherapist for her to work with. Swimming might be an option for you down the track, but at first she wasn't allowed to do anything but walk in the water. So you are very right to feel the need to vent, I really encourage you to get professional assist stance to work out further down the track when you can weight bear what exercises you can do without hurting your back. Good luck.
  • kamgramkkamgram Posts: 483
    edited 01/21/2013 - 5:53 PM
    Thank you so much Shell2y. That is what I was so scared of...not knowing if it will heal or if I may do something to mess up. Non-weight bearing is very hard and Im not sure if I am at all times. I just signed up for the gym to use pool for therapy but must wait until I can bear some weight. I am going to talk to my surgeon as well as general and make sure I get the care I need. I never dreamed that a knee injury would be worse on me than back surgeries. My brother had a knee replacement at age 54 and is now disabled from post office because of surgery. They wanted to wait at least another 10 yrs. but there was no way. If I have to have knee replacement It will be before age 50 :( I hope nd pray your daughter does well and because she is young and fit maybe this will help in the future. I truly thank you for all your advice and encouragement.

  • Hi Kelli. We had to accept that we needed to hire a wheelchair for her for the three months non weight bearing. While she could use the crutches and hop around the house, outside it was impossible over any distance, so for school or out it was a wheelchair with a leg extension to account for her knee. It was also the shower stool, the frame to help get on & off the toilet, and many of the other aids I was actually using to recover for my lumbar fusion ( yep, both recovering from surgery at the same time, poor hubby & other teenage daughter as our carers) . She also used my walker in the kitchen rather than her crutches as she could put her plate, drink, book or whatever in the basket, the push & hop to the chair form the fridge or counter (she found that easier than crutches for that). She used the elbow crutches rather than the armpit ones, but apparently that's an individual preference but some can work much better than others for people so it might be worth really checking which ones you find easier. Hope you get all the support you need - cheers Shelly
  • I know I am going to have to get a wheelchair the get around when I have to go out. I will have to look into a walker with basket because there are times when I am here by myself and can fix drinks and plates but have no way to get to table so that is an excellent idea. I really dont think I am totally non-weight bearing at times because when I get into shower it is very dificult to get in and out without putting weight on it because it is either on floor or in tub and very difficult to use crutch in those situations. Once again thank you so much for your help :)

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