Tuesday, January 15, 2013

MPFL Reconstruction--2 1/2 years later

I still get many comments about my MPFL reconstruction, and I'm so glad that many people have found it helpful.  I get so many comments, that it is difficult for me to respond to all of them, but I did want to give a quick update to many of the questions that I get asked.

Q:  What exactly did you have done?
A:  I had MPFL reconstruction and a scope to clean up damaged cartilage in June 2010 after a patellar dislocation/MPFL tear in December 2009.

Q:  How many surgeries have you had on your knees?
A:  I have had four total:  two on my left knee and two on my right.  When I was 15, I had both knees scoped with a lateral release.  This surgery was unsuccessful in stopping my patellar dislocations.  At 17, I had a left knee realignment.  From what I remember, ligaments were transposed and are held together at the base of my knee with a screw.  This has successfully stopped dislocations, but according to doctors, my knee still appears unstable.  I've had MPFL reconstruction/scope on my right knee at the age of 37.  A piece of my hamstring was grafted on the inner side of my right knee, and the scope cleaned out damaged cartilage.  Although suffering a partial dislocation, my knee is stable and generally in good shape.

Q:  How long were you off from work with your MPFL surgery?
A:  This is complicated!  I work in a school, so I actually scheduled the surgery during summer vacation.  Therefore, I wasn't really taking time off from work.  I had about 2 1/2 months off from school to recover, but I truly believe that I could've gone back to work the week after the surgery.  I wouldn't have been as mobile as I would have liked, but I was up walking around, doing some housework, taking walks...the day after surgery.  I had very little pain.  At the most, I would have taken two weeks off from work if I had the surgery done during the school year.

Q:  Did it hurt?  What kinds of pain meds did you take?
A:  In all honesty, it wasn't that painful.  For the first two days, I took percocet regularly to stave off pain, but those gave me a headache that hurt worse than my knee, so I stopped those after two days.  I did have a nerve block which helped, but it left part of my leg numb for about six months.  Not painful--just annoying.  And, I have full feeling back now.  I was also given vicodin, but I never needed it.  I occasionally took ibuprofen before physical therapy.

Q:  How much therapy did you do?
A:  I went to 24 physical therapy sessions--3 x a week for 8 weeks.  I also worked out extensively at home--stretching every chance I could get.

Q:  How long before you got full range of motion?
A:  I could go around fully on a bike at 4 weeks, and I also could bend my knee fully at 4 weeks.  This is only because I did the stretches and strengthening exercises religiously at home and at therapy.

Q:  Any complications?
A:  Yes.  I received a cortisone injection last week in my right knee due to pain.  The doctor believes it is inflamed scar tissue.  The injection worked (yay!), but I have no idea how long the effects will last.  I may have to have another scope to find out if scar tissue is blocking my patellar tracking, because my knee is locking in place.


Madalyn Oconnell said...

It's good to hear that you actually took longer time off work than what you felt like you needed. While you say that there wasn't much pain and only felt discomfort, you wouldn't want to overexert yourself and end up hindering your recovery. Rest is just as important as physical therapy and exercise in getting back full range of motion. I hope things are going well with you. :)

Heather said...

Hi. I'm sorry to bother you but I had MPFL replacement (cadaver ligament) and lateral release on my right knee in May 2011. I'm almost 2 years post op. I did all the physical therapy religiously and hit all the goals before most!

But over the past few months, the ligament has been hurting (I don't know if ligaments actually hurt but it hurts in that area). It's been swelling, too. It's also been making snapping noises upon full extension. It feels ... tight, if that makes any sense.

I can't run due to pain. I ride my bicycle at least once a day. That has been making it sore but I do it anyway. I also walk the beach every day (I live in Florida). I have an appointment with my ortho on Friday but I'm just nervous. I can't afford anything else. When I ruptured it, my insurance did me very, very wrong. I'm still paying off the FIRST surgery. This knee has been through a lot of surgery ...

Any ideas? I this normal???? The knee doesn't feel like it's dislocating anymore. It's crunchy but I'm aware I have chondromalacae patella. Any insight is helpful.

Thank you and I hope everybody continually recovers!


Anonymous said...

Hi there!

I found you via google or kneeguru forum last year, don't remeber exactly. As you are the one who is still active online after a couple of years I do have one question for you.
Just to be clear to dates I had my MPFL reconstructioon just one year ago and one think which bothers me is the fact that my knee still grind (?). Don't know if it's appriopriate word but that sound frustrates me. My doctor said to me that it could last over couple of years - that's why I'm here! Do you still experience that?

Appreciate your answer & big hug,


Junkgirl said...

Hi, Marta!

Thanks for writing. Yes! I do experience knee grinding. A lot of it, in fact! I had a recent surgery to clean up scar tissue around my knee, but that didn't help. Unfortunately, for me, it's some tracking issues and cartilage damage. I had pain, too, but after working my IT Band on a foam roller, things got better. I hope your knee feels better soon!


Anonymous said...


thanks for your response, I didn't hear about IT band so now I'm looking for translation in my native (polish) language. It seems very interesting, I need to investigate it.

But did you have this tracking issues (I assume your kneecap clicks in some way, right?) all the time? My concern is that 1 month ago I fall on the floor and it has started to click more often since then. I don't know, but maybe you could recommend running some tests from your experience?

Anyway, glad to hear that it's going better for you. But suck the life because doctors say that it should be 100% normal, when it isn't right?

Anonymous said...

My daughter is 3 years, 3 days post MPFL reconstruction. She recovered well. Like you, spent days in therapy and worked hard to return to normal. Yesterday, she felt an unusual movement inside her knee. It is uncomfortable for her to bear full weight on her leg and it is painful to extend and flex her leg as well as point and flex her foot. She says it is very stiff in the joint. Is this similar to the pain you felt with the scar tissue problem?

Junkgirl said...

Hi! Glad to hear your daughter recovered well! With my scar tissue issue, I did not have pain bearing weight on my leg, and it did not hurt to flex and point my foot. My pain was more like an ache that hurt when my knee remained bent for long periods of time (like after sleeping). I do feel a grinding pain in my knee, and my doctor said that's from cartilage wearing down. With the cartilage issue, I have felt pain while bearing weight, but not the pointing and flexing. I would have her contact her doctor to get some input...