Microfracture Surgery Recovery – 18 Week Update

While I still have some pain, I am doing better.

This is still the long grind part of rehab. It is not too fun, there are no quick milestones, but I am starting to feel and do better. Short walks were making me sore, but they aren’t anymore.  I’ve got more endurance, and more muscle. I probably can only consider it to be a base of muscle, but it is better than what I had before.

With the pain in my knee, I took a pretty good break from the standard PT exercises. I started them again this Monday and they felt pretty good. No popping and minimal pain, so I think the rest may have done me good.

Well, I suppose this isn’t too exciting of a report, but I am finally seeing some improvement.

  22 comments for “Microfracture Surgery Recovery – 18 Week Update

  1. Banged my kneecap on my boys Jeep bumper this past April. Originally diagnosed as Bursitis. In May, the knee gave out and it popped going downstairs in my home. Had Open Chondral Microfracture surgery on the 16 weeks ago. Loose body measuring 20 mm x 15 mm removed. Have been a serious runner for 40 years prior to this. At 13 weeks post surgery was able to start walking/jogging 2 – 3 miles every other day on the artificial turf at the local high school football field. Other days I am biking 60 – 75 minutes. Was warned by surgeon to be really be careful of increased swelling and have have a lost a bit of weight which of course takes additional stress of the knee. Patience and self control are so important with this injury as I have learned not to even jog two days in row not to run on the roads yet.

  2. Well, I’m 10 years old for sure. The knee is doing pretty good. I’ve learned that ankle/knee stability helps a lot. It was just 10 years for me.

    I’ve ridden 2,000-5,000 miles per year since. My knees feel great riding. I don’t run and never really did. In the past 3-5 years walking is actually better. I used to get some residual knee pain, but things are better.

    Both my meniscuses are torn, so I need to be careful. Most of my pain comes from them getting in the wrong spot. So I still get the occasional swelling and pain. The funny creaks and noises when I bend it sound odd, but don’t hurt.

    Someday I might still need the replacement, but I’ve delayed it a long time for sure.

  3. I know it has been 10 years for most of you guys, however; I just had left knee meniscusectomy and microfracture for about 1.5cm grade IV lesion of the medial femoral condyle. I am a runner and stepped in a hole while jogging and hyperextended the knee.
    Immediate pain and swelling as you all are aware of.
    Lots of clicking, swelling etc.

    I’m 1 week post op! WoooHoo!!!
    Stuck in bed with CPM ugh .
    I would LOVE to hear some your success stories.
    I really want to hear how Julie is doing.
    Thanks Guys!
    Johnny

  4. Hi Guys,
    How are you all doing now?
    Wanted to get some updates since it has been quite some time since you all had your surgery.

  5. One thing my doctor, Dr. Behr, said was that many people try to do too much too soon (like vacations with a lot of walking). So, I did get a good warning.

    Go easy on the camping trip. Nothing like needing an ice pack far from being able to get one. Bring plenty of anti-inflammatories so that you can at least fight it should it rear its ugly head. I found that swelling was mainly from muscle/tendon imbalance and once they started to swell, it just gets worse unless you stop the swelling.

    My doctor also said that the elliptical machine is the best. Gym bikes are bad for knees. The elliptical makes my knee feel good.

  6. Hi – it’s been a year since someone commented on this thread and I can only assume that everyone has healed up and all the pain and discomfort has become a distant memory. I hope so in any case.

    I’m now in week 10 post op and still limping along on one crutch. Every now and then I experience pain related to what feels like the bones rubbing against each other – I don’t know how to describe it – it’s just not muscular pain and I am terrified that all this effort has been wasted and that the op didn’t work.

    My microfracture was relatively small according to the surgeon’s assistant – essentially the size of a South African 20c piece (about 6mm diameter), so the success rate is fairly high. But with this amount of swelling and pain, it feels like he’s just about done the whole kneecap!

    I’ve been on the CPM once a week since the op and yesterday in the pool did some rotation type movements – I’ve been told not to go on the exercise bikes at the gym but I’m dying to go back and start shedding some weight, which will help with the knee. So now I need to figure out which machine will cause the least discomfort – maybe the elliptical? I see someone mentioned using this up above – should be ok I reckon?

    Anyway, we’re going camping next week – the day after Christmas and I’m a little worried about still wobbling about with the crutch. My other half is not going to be impressed about having to set up camp with very little help!

    One thing that annoys me is that the surgeon didn’t explain that I’d be out of action for so long – ‘a couple of weeks on crutches and you’re done’ was what he said. Yeah, right! I would’ve waited till next year to do this if I had’ve known – the pain was bearable and not at all constant.

    Oh well, let me know if you’re doing well now and have no further problems with the knee – it’s been a great source of comfort reading about everyone’s experiences – at least I know I’m not unique in what’s happening to me!

    Jacqui

  7. Julie,

    I started weening off the crutches at about 7 weeks and it took about 2 weeks to shed them. I am at 11 weeks and still have a bit of a limp but I just walked around the mall today to do xmas shopping. Not perfect and I still have a lot of work ahead but not too bad overall.

    All I can tell you is what worked for me, I focused on using one crutch at first putting more and more weight on the knee. Then walking short stretches, like the chair to the couch w/o crutches ( a few steps). Once I got past the mental block I was able to push thru the discomfort to go further distances (Like the living room to the bedroom :)). From there I walked during the day until the knee got too sore or tired, then I went back to the crutches. Within a week or so after that I realized I really didn’t need the crutches. They are still sitting there, one in the front entranceway and the other in my office but haven’t used them for weeks.

    Not sure if that helps. Good luck.

    P.S. Thanks everyone for the entries, it is nice to know there are others dealing with this same road back.

  8. I definitely started walking too much too quickly. Pretty much went cold turkey – threw the crutches away at exactly 6 weeks. I think it took a couple of weeks before I was walking normally on the flats and uphill. Still not, at 14.5 weeks, able to go normally downhill or down stairs.

    I agree with Steve that it takes a long time for the muscles to build back and that those imbalances cause pain and swelling. Normal, i think. There’s a reason NBA basketball players are out for an entire season with this type of surgery.

    I can say that each week i continue to notice some improvement though it’s slow and grinding. It does get better.

    Jim

    • I’m scheduled to go for micro fracture surgery on the 14th of Oct. And I’m just wondering about how much longer I will be out of work. Right now I’m nwb and unable to but my knee straight. My knee hurts all the time and there are times when I stand to go to the bathroom and my balance isn’t there it takes about 3 minutes for my balance to get back to normal before I can move. My job is stressful on my knees and I’m on feet 8 hours a day climbing ladders and bending also for most of the day.

      • Donna,

        I hope you are getting though the first week well. Your doctor obviously knows more now that he has done the procedure. I was able to work from home and started as soon as I got off some of the heavier meds. As soon as I could drive, I could crutch to work. I was non weight bearing for 8 weeks, so that was a big factor in my limits.

        Good luck,
        Steve

  9. Julie,

    I think I went to walking too fast. A cane is a great idea too.

    I think one of the biggest problems is the slow speed that your muscles rebuild in contrast to the strength of the existing tendons an ligaments. The tendons and ligaments pull/compensate like you have full muscle. That imbalance causes some pain and swelling.

    Sure there are other things, but it is a slow process. I am in the week 20 range, and I think I am just starting to walk normally. Had I used a cane and one crutch longer, I think I’d be doing better now.

    Either way, you are in the doldrums of recovery. Good luck, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    Steve

  10. Hi all. I check in on this site to help reassure me that I am ‘ok’ through all of this. I agree, wholeheartedly, that this is as much of a mental challenge as physical. Here is my question… and could use some input.. I am 12.5 weeks post microfracture and STILL using crutches. I am so frustrated with this. I am weight bearing… but still can’t put full weight and my PT advises to keep using these so that I dont walk lopsided with just one crutch. I am just surprised that you all seem to be walking with no support 13 weeks out. How did you do this? Did you just embrace the pain and go for it? It swells and sends shooting pain the more weight i put on it… and i am just a bit down/ frustrated. Any advice on how you got rid of the cruthces? (my doc said i should use a cane .. as my next step). Thanks for the feedback, support, etc.
    Julie

  11. Hi All,

    So, I went to see the physio today and all seems well. She said that the cracking is normal and is a combination of the swelling and tendons and muscles being weaker than usual. She also said that it all looks like it’s healing fine. Hence, I feel slightly more optimistic.

    When my knee clicks and locks up, I do a few leg slides which is where you sit on the floor with a carrier bag under your foot (to eliminate friction), bend your good knee and slowly bend and straighten the bad leg (by sliding your foot towards and away from you). This usually loosens it up a bit….

    I’m still not allowed to go on an exercise bike and she just gave me a few more exercies to do to keep my quads and hamstrings alive!

    I have to go back on the 27th Dec to be taught to walk again – nerve-wracking as I reckon it’s going to be quite tender. I’ll be looking forward to driving again too.

    I still have a bit of swelling around the incisions and she said to massage them as it may form scar tissue.

    But for the time being, I’m happy to report, all seems good…

  12. External swelling isn’t that bad and does not even really present itself after walking or PT exercises. Internally i know there is still fluid and i’m hoping that between that and generally weak muscles and tendons the popping can be explained.

    The pain is not really all that bad – when i walk my labs around the neighborhood, 3 miles or so, i tend to try and jog the uphills. While it doesn’t feel “right” – it’s not too painful. Again, hoping it’s the weak muscles.

    I think you’re right Steve, that building back up is going to cause some pain and swelling – no way around that. At this point – 14 weeks tomorrow – i have no problem on either the bike or the elliptical. I like the elliptical, coming from a running background it feels good to be vertical working out again.

    While not back to my pre-surgery levels, i will say i can tell the surgery will have many more positive effects then not. For instance, ladders prior to the surgery caused alot of problems. Got up on the roof last weekend with no problems.

    I guess i’m lucky though – mine was an acute injury and i only had to live with it for 1.5 months and the rest of my knee is perfect.

    Hang in there – it will get better for all of us.

  13. I’ve had swelling right through now (~ week 19+). Once swelling from the surgery goes down, it feels good for a bit, then I start to rebuild (exercise). That brings on new swelling.

    I think that once you get through the beginning stages of healing, the hard battle/balance of rehab vs. continued healing kicks in. The muscle doesn’t come back perfectly, so that causes some pain.

    That said, my pain is much better now. Sometimes it feels similar to what I had before, but not too often. Week over week it is a little better, but day by day I don’t seem to notice much. My gauge is how far I can walk in the morning before I get pain. Every week I notice it is further. Last night I walked with my daughter from the parking lot to the mall without using the stroller for support. It was fun, but I was quickly in almost too much pain to walk. I swelled a bit. After stretching and icing, it got better. My PT predicted it, so I didn’t get too scared with it.

    I think it will take 6+ months total before I feel a lot better and can say how I am really doing.

    I too get popping after sitting. Particularly if I am in the car, or at my desk for a long time. Stretching helps, but when I get stiff, it takes a long time to stretch. My PT says it is a combination of weak muscles and tendons that tightened that are built up for much stronger muscles. I too thought I would be doing some more jogging at this point, but no chance. That said, I am just now starting to find myself taking fast, running like steps after the kids. My body is feeling more ready for it and it isn’t bad. I’ve got no endurance, but I think that is a sign of healing.

  14. Jim,

    That’s exactly what mine does. I have to manipulate it to try to avoid it. The physio told me it’s commonplace and usually down to internal swelling – do you think you’ve still got that at week 13.5 though?

    The thing that gets me though, is this is precisely what it was doing before I had the op….

  15. Steve – i’ve found your posts most reassuring and accurate as to my timeline. Paranoia rules however. i’m now 13.5 weeks post surgery. While i can get around fine, walk 3 – 4 miles/day, do my PT exercises, etc. there’s still much pain and weekness. Most concerning, the way the knee pops at times after i’ve been sitting and stretch the leg out. While not very painful it makes me think bone-on-bone and that the procedure didn’t work.
    I had the benefit of having an arthrogram 11 weeks after to see how the hole was filling. Result – my surgeon said in most of the defect it looked about 50% filled, mildly encouraging. Said week 16 i could being running again up to 2 miles/day. Going on week 14 – not a chance i think i’ll be there. Keep at it everyone – everything i read suggests patience pays.

  16. Thanks for the encouragement – I just seem to read bad-news stories! I’m pleased you 2 seem to be improving and maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    I think the hardest part is being stuck in most of the time. I’m forever asking people to come round for a cup of tea! They haven’t got time though, cos they’re flat out running my kids round the place!!

    I don’t usually sit still for 5mins so this is like a proper kick in the teeth. Oh well, I suppose you’ve got to speculate to accumulate! I think you’re right about the mental torture though.

    I managed to get to the shops at the weekend but my crutches ended up rubbing my hands raw. Great for the sympathy from random strangers though!

    I’m seeing the physio on Thursday so I’m going to bring up the clicking with her. I can get through it all if I think it’s not failed already! Hopefully she’ll say I can get on an exercise bike or something. My legs are quite lean anyway, but the bad 1 is fading away!

    Going out for a good old curry with friends on Saturday night so lets hope booze and crutches go well together – something tells me they won’t!! Guess I’ll be perched on a bar stool all night.

    I’ll keep you posted anyway…..!

    Thanks for taking the trouble to reply.

    P.S. Your stories have made very interesting reading. Keep it up….

  17. Lisa,

    Hang in there. The first 6 weeks or so stink! Your knee is essentially trying to heal the trauma of the surgery. For me, somewhere between 6-8 wks my knee started to feel a little better. I think Steve is right its likely swelling related.

    I am now at 10 weeks and I am walking w/o crutches and the freedom that brings is fantastic. I’m just focused at this point on range of motion and building up muscle mass. So, if you get out another month or 2 and you are still having the issues you are experiencing, then I would be concerned. Until then just keep pluggin.

  18. Good luck. I hope all goes well. I had no pressure on my knee for the full 6 weeks, so I can’t comment on any clicking. It will take time for the microfracture to set up, so I would guess it is a combination of the microfracture not being set up and a lot of swelling. Swelling causes a lot of strange things in the knee, including pain in unrelated areas.

    Too bad on the CPM, I think it really helped.

    The one thing I will say, is don’t get bummed out so soon after surgery. This takes a long time to heal. I don’t think you will know much for another 4 months, even then you won’t be fully healed.

    The hard part is probably the mental part. You body will just keep healing away.

    Good luck!

  19. Hiya, I had microfracture on my lateral femoral condyle and a bit of a meniscal clean up almost 4 weeks ago.

    I was playing netball in June and felt a bit of a “pinging” in my knee so I came off the court but when I got in the car it totally gave out on me. Typical hey?! I could hardly put any weight on my leg for a couple of weeks but after a couple of months, the only symptom really was a slight locking and clicking on the outside of my knee on a day-to-day basis when straightening – not really painful – but more pain on running. There was no way I could’ve played netball. 6 months later here I am – with 1 withering leg and 1 other half realising it’s not easy being a worker, housekeeper, taxi driver, food shopper etc!!

    I’m toetouch-weight bearing on crutches for 6 weeks and not driving either – not easy with 3 kids to run around after and school runs to arrange! I’ve only got a few exercises to do from the physio and we don’t seem to have CPMs in the UK.

    I know I’m only a short way down the road, but what do you think of the fact that my knee is still clicking and slightly locking in the same place as it was before m/f? My physio (who I’ve only seen once) said it’s probably down to swelling inside settling down but it’s really getting me down as it doesn’t seem to be getting much better. I haven’t seen the surgeon since the day of the op and don’t know when I will again.

    Anyway, better get on any do some knee slides but I’d be grateful to hear your thoughts!

    Cheers.

    Lisa.

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