Pop Goes the Knee – My Journey with Osteoarthritis

types of meniscus tears

In September 2016 while on an easy 3 mile jog I stepped wrong and felt my knee “pop.” I felt a sharp pain and had to limp home where I put ice on my knee. I tried ice and rest for a few days with no improvement so went off to see my doctor where I was referred to an orthopedist. An MRI and several X-rays revealed that not only did I have a probable torn meniscus, but I also had osteoarthritis, to the point where there is not enough cartilage remaining in my right knee to make a repair possible.

The orthopedist said there was not much I could do short of total knee replacement. I asked about physical therapy and he said that it often simply makes the condition worse.

I tried the recommended treatments, rest, ice and a started wearing a neoprene sleeve. Eventually my knee felt better – good enough that my wife and I took up ballroom dance lessons.

I also went to another orthopedist for a second opinion and he referred me to physical therapy, mostly stretching exercises to relieve pressure on the patella. I’ve had injections of hyaluronic acid – a lubricant to help supplement the synovial fluid in the knee joint. More recently I’ve had new pain in my left knee which the doctor thinks might also be a torn meniscus. However in this case he thinks there might be enough cartilage to be worth a repair.

After this I had cortisone injections, which helped a little but weren’t as big a relief as I was expecting.

So far the pain isn’t constant. I’ll have a “flare up” that can last two weeks or so. After a little rest my knees will be comfortable enough to walk normally. Recently I had a touch of fever, probably a seasonal bug, and remarkably all pain and discomfort vanished from my knees. Now that I’m done with the fever I can feel discomfort in my knee joints again. I don’t know if the fever interrupted the inflammatory response in my knees or exactly what that was about.

If the disease progresses normally and I end up with knee replacement surgery then I can expect to get worse and become more immobile over the next 4-5 years until a major surgery might offer relief. I realize that I need to learn more about the disease, treatments and what I can do to make things better in the mean time. So as I learn more, I’ll post more.