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When 30 degrees just isn’t enough 3

Posted by DarrenG on March 03, 2010

It’s already 5wks since the ilizarov frame was removed and in most respects I’ve recovered rapidly and life in a frame already seems a distant memory.

I say “almost” as there is still one issue that is holding recovery back; my knee.  Although there was nothing wrong with it pre-op, the frame fitting required four pins to be inserted through my knee to stabilise the lower part which effectively locked my knee straight.

This has meant that my knee joint has partially seized.  The tendons and ligaments have all become stiff and the muscle has stuck to surrounding tissue.  This is expected after being immobile for so long but was a side effect I hadn’t truly prepared for.

I had foolishly expected that the knee would bend as soon as the frame came off but not so!

I’ve already started NHS physio which is slow and ineffective.  I’ve had two post frame removal appointments already and whilst the NHS physio’s are very friendly they seem very unwilling to actually engage in some manipulation of my leg.  Instead they gave me exercises to do at home and when they failed I was referred to hydrotherapy.

The first planned hydrotherapy session was due yesterday but was cancelled at the last minute due to issues with the pool heaters.

Currently I have about 30° of knee movement from straight out to bending just enough to sit on low couch.

Last week that was closer to 20° but I managed to try going negotiating the stairs by leading with my bad leg.  Lord knows why, I’ve been doing it the other way from 7months but I realised my error all too late and momentum and my weight took over!

The result was my knee was forced to bend.  Although the pain was excruciating, the end result was a little more movement.  Once I’d recovered from the pain and the shock I realised it was just enough gain to permit me to get behind the wheel of our car at long last. Not quite enough to make it comfortable and switching between accelerator and brake is very tight and stiff but it was lovely to drive after so long as a forced passenger.

Sadly no more accidents since then and so today I have a consultation with a private physiotherapist who was recommended by my GP.  I’m hoping she will have more time than over worked NHS staff and be able to get my knee moving again over a few sessions.

If I can come away from each appointment with a few degrees more movement then the cost will be worth it and I might be able to put on both my socks and tie my shoe laces again.  Sounds daft but that is the only thing remaining which I can’t do myself!


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  1. Heather Wed, 03 Mar 2010 15:04:19 GMT+0100

    goodness me that looks painful. I hope you get more bend in it than that soon.

  2. DarrenG Wed, 03 Mar 2010 15:15:37 GMT+0100

    I think the redness may be a trick of the light! Certainly isn’t as sore looking in reality.

    Not painful at all really until you push it past the point where it doesn’t want to go. Then it feels like the knee cap is going to burst out!

  3. DarrenG Wed, 03 Mar 2010 15:17:34 GMT+0100

    Also delighted to report that the physio went well and after some gentle manipulation, some knee massage and some exercises it already feels a little better.

    Can now bend about 40-45 degrees (difficult to measure exactly) so I’ve gained about 5 degrees in the one session. Marvellous.

    And if I stick rigidly to the exercise regime I should see improvements daily.


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