Knee injury resurrected!
June 20, 2009 9:09 PM   Subscribe

10 uneventful (knee wise) years after ACL reconstruction, my knee is very swollen and very sore. Advice needed!

(I'm Mrs "the normshow" and using his account)

15 years ago, I tore my ac ligament (in my knee). 10 years ago I had the reconstruction surgery and went through the associated physio. I'm in my late 20s now.
Since then, I've had some joint pain, but mostly been ok. I'm moderately active (walking, biking, spinning, yoga, hiking). 2 days ago, I was sitting!! SITTING!!! in a pub, and my knee just went. (I did spend a large portion of the day before walking in high heels)

Since then, it's been able to bear weight, but my range of motion is severely restricted and I'm pretty swollen. Bending, straightening and any lateral movement are seriously painful! I've taken a little bit of ibuprofen and alternated between icing it and keeping it in a tensor bandage/brace when I have to walk. I'm hoping I'll be able to get into a sports med clinic that accepts self-referals, but any advice on what type of treatment I should seek? Is it likely/possible that I've torn the reconstructed bits? What might be injured and how might I have caused this? Anything to help me get back to my day to day activities (or at least get to work, run errands and get on and off public transit in the mean time?)
posted by thenormshow to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think you are taking the correct steps. When I hurt my knee the plan was RICE. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Keep off the knee, ice it and and elevate it when you can. Stay off the heals. Wear shoes that will absorb some of the impact from walking. And as you planned, go to a doctor. IANAD, but I do know of someone who tore a reconstructed ACL so it is possible. Aitting in a pub and blowing out your knee sucks. Next time, stand.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:04 PM on June 20, 2009

Knees are tricky. I have had a few knee surgeries caused by, from all anyone can tell me, sleeping. Go to bed fine, wake up, knee all messed up. Apparently that sort of thing is common. The knee specialist I saw said he sees it in patients about 40% of the time. You get your legs tangled up in the sheets or what not, then bam your knee is messed up in your sleep, however crazy it sounds. A barstool is a much more active thing, heh.

All kidding aside, I highly doubt your surgically repaired items let loose, they're specifically sewn together and designed not to, it's more than likely a torn meniscus or cartilage. Especially cartilage, that will make your knee swell up pretty quick and painful in my experience.

There are several studies about knee cartilage surgery. For the tl;dr factor, it doesn't do much. In my experience it relieves the swelling and pain immediately, and for anywhere from a few months to a few years, but the same old thing happens again eventually.

I'm at a point now where I know my knee will hurt, and it will swell up every now and then, but it's not that bad. Having your ACL reconstructed, you're familiar with that pain. For me, post 2nd surgery, it's definitely better than when it first happened (uh, first happened the second time with torn cartilage). I still hike 6-7 miles in the backcountry every weekend, but I definitely take my pills. I saw a doctor about it not too long ago and he prescribed me Piroxicam, which is an anti-inflammatory like Advilish, and it's really helped a lot.
posted by sanka at 11:49 PM on June 20, 2009

My wife had exactly this happen, except her injury was not the ACL but one of the ligaments that holds the kneecap centered sideways. She had an injury as a teenager, and ten years later had a dislocation while walking on a level sidewalk.

She wound up having a second surgery. This was in 2001 and no trouble since.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 2:21 AM on June 21, 2009

All advice above is better than mine.

I would just like to add that (as a knee pain sufferer) I've recently learned the meaning of the 'Knee-bone connected to the thigh-bone' song. The problem could be in your feet, ankles, shins or pelvis. Even in your lumbar region.

See a physio, chiro or osteo AND a GP.
posted by evil_esto at 2:32 AM on June 21, 2009

I hope you have not had a failure, but they do sometimes occur in which case you will require a revision surgery. The sudden onset of fairly major symptoms is not a good sign. Go with RICE and then get the to an orthopedist.
posted by caddis at 5:38 AM on June 21, 2009

One thing you should also consider, once the pain has gone away, is seeing a physical therapist who can suggest exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee.

Weightlifting exercises such as squats and leg presses can go a long way to strengthening those muscles and hence the knee itself. Of course, given your history I wouldn't blindly start such an exercise program but rather do it with the help of someone trained in physical therapy.
posted by dfriedman at 6:33 AM on June 21, 2009

IT's a week later and Mrs. Show was diagnosed with a partially torn meniscus. We'll know more after the MRI, but surgery seems unlikely. She's up and about now. She's at physio twice a week. Thanks to all for the advice.
posted by thenormshow at 8:59 PM on June 28, 2009

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