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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Kneecap Dislocation: 6 Month Update

If you're interested in my kneecap dislocation story, you can find my other posts here.
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Hi everyone! I figured it was about time for an injury update, since I previously mentioned it would take up to 6 months until I was fully recovered. 

Since then, I've had some setbacks. At my 3 month follow-up appointment my orthopedic surgeon found my gait concerning. I was still having issues fully extending my leg while walking, which is a possible sign of a cartilage or meniscus fragment blocking my knee. He decided to put me on a waitlist for an MRI scan (I'd previously only had X-rays). He didn't seem too concerned though, and gave me the go-ahead to resume all my normal activities.

My MRI was scheduled for early November, which was three months away at the time. In the meantime, I followed the direction of my wonderful physiotherapist and slowly built up the atrophied muscles in my left leg. Although my surgeon told me I could resume all my usual sports, my physiotherapist advised that I avoid high-impact activities until I built back the muscles that would stabilize my knee. 

 It's really been an exercise in patience. The muscle I've been rebuilding is located on the inner quad and is called the vastus medialis (VMO). The VMO is crucial for knee strength and support, but it's also impossible to isolate. So I've been slowly building strength, first with isometric exercises, then progressing to quarter squats, quarter lunges, wall sits, leg presses, and finally to full squats, lunges, leg extensions. As I built up strength my gait returned to normal; I suppose my poor leg was so weak before that it couldn't hold my body weight while fully extended. 

Image by Geneer Construction
My knee will crack a lot more now, and sometimes I notice a painless friction as I bend my knee (which makes me wonder whether I do have a meniscus tear or some wear). I've since had my MRI, which was a really interesting experience. The Burnaby General's MRI facility was really calming, with an artificial sunlight above the machine. I was tall enough that my head stuck out of the machine so I could stare at the clouds during the 30 minute scan. 

I have an appointment to hear the results on Tuesday of this week. I'm hoping I can avoid surgery if possible, because I'd hate to go through another long recovery and rehabilitation. I'll keep you posted on the news. For now, I wish I could have built up my VMO and muscles a little more before this appointment. There's still a visible difference between my legs, but at least now I can squat and have what's considered full range of motion.  

I figured I'd share some photos of my knee/leg at the 6 month milestone:


As you can see, I'm still a little off from my original muscle size and flexibility...but it's getting there! It's been a long road, and the worst part about this injury was definitely the anxiety. There's nothing worse than not trusting your body, and every step of the way I've had to fight a fear that my knee would crumble under my weight again. 

Tomorrow I'll try jogging for the first time since May (I've been avoiding it until I was more comfortable with my leg strength). Hopefully it will be an empowering experience. I can sense that I'm almost back to normal now. Hopefully it'll be soon.