PC #71 – My knee… the Specialist’s Verdict

He said it was “a miracle” I walked 800km on my knee.

He couldn’t believe it.

I have bone on bone.

Officially, the specialist (one of the top in the country) calls it an osteoarthritic knee. Unofficially, he calls it rooted.

Knee replacement territory, longer term, he says. Major surgery.

Short term, he wants me to get a brace for the knee custom-made – at a cost of $1,000; and an anti-inflammatory injection, once yearly, at a cost of $500 each shot.

He also wants me to do stationary bike, and rowing machine.

For those of you interested, the x-ray below shows that on the left side of the knee joint (or the inside of the knee), there’s no gap between the bones. There should be a gap around about the same size as on the right side.

Bone is rubbing on bone. That’s what’s causing the pain, and the inflammation.

All of this is not going to stop me doing the tour next year, no way.

I can perform miracles again!!

Knee

66 thoughts on “PC #71 – My knee… the Specialist’s Verdict

  1. Bill,

    A really close friend of mine has a similar condition. She gets injections a couple of times a year (I think of some cartilege type substance but maybe anti-inflammatories). She does just fine with the injections, as I am confident you will be.

    The Camino works miracles as you know. And all of us sending love and light and prayers your way will also help.

    Lovingly,
    Arlene

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    • Dear Arlene,

      thank you for your loving thoughts.

      I believe I can heal this, or make it acceptable for walking, by yoga and stationary bike.

      I’ll get the brace and have the injections too – and I can’t see why that can’t work

      The Camino is the place for miracles!

      Bill

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  2. Oh, Bill, I am so sorry to read your news. But, as always, your spirit soars! Does he say how long the brace/shot option will keep the knee functional? Are you considering the surgery now? All the best to you. My crutches and I will be doing our “happy knee” dance in the backyard when the moon rises! Julie

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    • Dear Julie –

      thank you!!

      No, he didn’t say how long the brace/injection will stave off surgery – I guess that depends on how many Caminos I do!!

      😀

      I don’t believe in surgery. I would have to be crippled before I would consider that.

      (thanks for the crutches happy dance. It made me laugh!)

      Bill

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  3. Both of my knees have exactly the same condition.The injection you’ll get will be cortisone and a synthetic synovial fluid to lubricate the joint a little and take out the inflammation. I’m sorry that of all the things we could share, it had to be this. When your braces are made, don’t rely too heavily on them -take them off and bend your legs like in yoga several times a day to keep the blood flowing.On the bright side there are ways to live with the pain and restrictions. Don’t let it become too important to you, or it will get worse. Inflammation loves anxiety.I’m so sorry, Bill.

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    • Dear Sister –

      thanks, but this is not an issue for me at all.

      Like the numbness in the left foot, it’s good to know, but it’s not something I basically didn’t intuit anyway. The x-days and the specialist just confirmed it.

      My knee hurt me when I walked around Hobart the past few days. But it still hasn’t got over the trauma of the Camino. It will. I just have to be sensible about it.

      Thank you though for your love and support.

      Bill

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      • Bill its great not getting messed up about it, but if you don’t take your condition and the treatment seriously, it will backfire. There’s no point being cavalier about bone degeration.The thing is,this bone on bone business is goung to get worse -it rubs a little more every time you take a step, and there’s nothing you can do except taking it carefully. Attitude has great influence on healingg, abdolutely. But attitude alone won’t make this better.If you want to avoid surgery you have to take special care of it.Elevate your leg. Ice your knees. Hit the whirlpool. Take breaks. Steve, back me up here before we have to start calling Bill ‘Long John Silver’

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          • Advice only offered with great love, Bill.
            And who’s to say you can’t walk from Mudgee to Muxia if you take lots and lots of time, and do all the right things?

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          • Bill,

            I’m more of a naturopathic follower than that of conventional medicine.

            I would suggest, if I may, you consult a practioner of Eastern medicine.

            Arlene

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          • Thats funny Arlene. I was just going to suggest acupuncture. It can do amazing things, Bill. Make sure you go to a really good one, and when the acupuncture therapy is complete, maintain the result with acupressure.Moxa is helpful on badly inflamed areas, too.

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          • My uncle had two knee replacements, coincidently by the same knee specialist I saw today.

            It sounds like a horrible invasive surgical procedure.

            Not fun at all.

            Bill

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        • Sister, you are right on the money. Now the question is, will he listen to you or the doctor. What I wonder is what the doctor said about the next Camino. There is a big difference in hurting and hurting yourself. Sometimes a subtle and fine line. One of Jill’s fears when her feet were bothering her so much was that she did not want to do permanent damage that she would have to live with. Of course, he can always ride in the van in April.

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          • Thank you, Steve, for the voice of reason. Wise words, too about hurting vs hurting yourself – do you think he’ll get it? Maybe we should start a “van pool ” for April just to see if he’s taking care of himself. Money to charity, of course.

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          • Better to have pain for a while than pain for a lifetime. Knee replacements are pretty routine today, of course that is while talking about your knee, not mine. 🙂

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          • Hi Steve –

            I said during the Camino – and I think I might have even put it on the blog – I didn’t care if I ended up having a titanium knee, all I wanted to do was finish the pilgrimage.

            Well, I did that – but this now is the fallout –

            Bill

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          • I do recall, and the titanium knee may be your ultimate answer, but you have to be smart until you get that titanium knee. 🙂 Grimacing and bulling through pain is not necessarily smart. And you ae too old to be trying to be macho. Guys in their 50s do that, but not in their 60s. 🙂

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  4. Hi Bill, at least you know what you are up against now, and can plan accordingly. I’ve got a similar condition in one hip, though not quite as bad as yours. It won’t stop me starting our Camino in 3 weeks, and I’ll bet it doesn’t stop you either. Sending good vibes, for your knee and your Camino next year, Peter

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  5. You’re right Bill, it’s easy to take the simple option, but so much more of a challenge to give it your all. They say the mind gives in well before the body does. BTW, I put you down as one of my resources in a new page I added to my blog this morning. Hope you don’t mind, and thanks again for your inspirational blog. Peter

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  6. Hey Bill
    It’s good to have a verdict, an official one.
    Now listen to Sister Simon. She knows where miracles come from;-)

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  7. Oh Bill – that x-ray makes my knees hurt just looking at it!!! I have sections of both knees that have no meniscus from too many years of mogul bashing when I was a young fearless silly downhill skier. Plus I played soccer or and tennis. Nothing but walking and biking since I hit my 30’s. So now years later every once in a while one knee will collapse while I am doing nothing!!! Ice is my friend. We could have a contest where we all send in recordings of what our knees sound like as we fold and unfold them.

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    • haha –

      that’s funny.

      We could set up a separate iTunes section where we play the sounds of our shot knees!!

      Bill

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    • Lol!!!!!! Mine crunch. What do yours do? I haven’t been able to sneak up on anyone for years!

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  8. Bill, Sorry to hear about your diagnosis, and good luck with making the appropriate decision!
    Three years ago I was told by an orthopedist that I would have to have both knees replaced – they had been crunching for at least seven or eight years. My xrays looked a lot like yours – bone on bone on the lateral aspect of each knee.
    I’m not a fan of surgery either – especially when alternative medicines have not been tried. I asked my Primary Care Physician for a referral to Physical Therapy so I could learn more about stretching and strengthening my legs and the supporting “stuff” around the knees. I also asked for a referral for acupuncture. She ALSO suggested that if I felt I needed massage therapy, she would do a referral for that as well.
    I organized my own stretching and yoga routines at 30 – 40 minutes every morning, and joined the YMCA so I could use their strength training machines. I got a personal trainer at the Y, and got more instructions. I’ve been religious about doing the exercises stretching, yoga and acupuncture ever since. After a few months I was back to walking to work and home – 1.5 – 2 miles each way, but I DID have to move from my 4th floor walk-up to a building with an elevator.
    About a year and a half after being told I’d have to have the knees replaced, I went for a follow-up visit – with a different doctor, but same medical organization, and the xray showed a small increase in space where there had been bone on bone. We were all very excited! When I told my acupuncturist, she said, “Of course – it’s living tissue.”
    I still have not had the surgery, am now able to walk up and down hills and stairs (not completely pain free – but almost, and no more crunching!), and intend to walk the the Camino from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago this September / October. I’m at 13 miles in my training, and getting very impatient to be on my way. A kind thought or two from the PGS gang would be much appreciated to help me along over some of the higher elevations and down some of the more slippery slopes.
    So, Bill, YOU GO, GUY!!! Make the decision that’s right for YOU! You’ve got time to do it yourself before April! – and then celebrate!
    Terry – 68 year old woman — still spelling my name with a ‘Y’ ~ ~

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    • Dear Terry –

      what a great story! And how inspiring are you, girl!!

      I think what that medical professional said to you is right – it is all there to be rejuvenated.

      You will have no probs on your Camino – and yes, we’ll send our collective love and support, although you may not need it, the way you’re going!

      Bill

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    • Terry, I’ll send you good thoughts and prayers. Check out our prayer request section at the forum, and put your name and a date in -then I can get a whole convent full of monks and nuns working on it for you,too!

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    • Terry,

      I’ll be sending good thoughts, love and light your way. You Go Girl!!

      I have a similar knee situation, in 2003 I ruptured my ACL and tore up the meniscus in my left knee. I had reconstructive ACL surgery and a meniscusectomy (spelling?). Long story bearable, I walked the Camino Frances last September/October and am returning September 15th to walk it again.

      As you know, the body is a pretty remarkable thing! It heals and regenerates!

      Buen Camino and maybe we will meet up with each other along the way!

      Arlene

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  9. Keep on truckin’, Bill! I don’t know if you ever saw the x-rays I posted of my leg on my blog but, needless to say, I have lots of faith in the modern medical community. I know that runs counter to popular belief, and I’m all in favor of non-invasive, homeopathic solutions, but I’m also OK with using new technologies to keep us going, and going, and going . . .

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  10. Ouch. Just looking at the X Ray hurt!!
    Some years ago my knee surgeon in Sydney [ I wonder if we have the same one] suggested a knee replacement but only when I felt I really needed it. He suggested gentle exercise, some walking [ on flat, even surfaces], no kneeling and swimming. Occasionally I take medication but try not to. Part of the problem was the additional pressure and altered gait due to a problem with my left foot. Avoiding surgery has been my goal and so far, so good. [ the foot was ruined by surgery]
    Bill, with your determination and focus, I am sure you will be able to avoid surgery for as long as possible. St Roch is the patron saint of knee problems and his feast day is tomorrow, 16th August. I will add a few extra prayers for you.
    Blessings
    Anne

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    • Dear Anne –

      thank you!

      I’m going to check out St. Roch.

      He sounds like a good saint to get to know!

      I’m like you Anne – no surgery unless you’re incapable of movement. There are other ways I believe to fix this.

      thank you too for your prayers. I feel them.

      Bill

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    • San Roque (St Roche, Rocky to his friends) traveled with me on my Camino. With his blessings, and my hiking poles, my knees “stood” the test of time. I highly recommend him.

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  11. Bill, ouch, ouch, ouch… imagine all the things that worked together for you to persevere on your journey… not unlike myself, remember. Difference being, that my bones were healing as I walked and are now complete A OK!. You are in for a long long Camino of recovery.

    Just as on the Camino, listen to your body and all the people here on the blog who have suffered or are in a similar boat as yourself. Sometimes it is good to loosen the grip.

    I know, myself, I would go bionic sooner than later – if that is an option, unless I could regenerate some cushion in there. – that sounds very scientific I know, ;-).

    I hate pills, but boy did I guzzle them down on the Camino to make it. Now, I do everything not to pop a pill.

    I believe each circumstance has its own solution and you havent lost all your critical reasoning just because you are 60 now. hihihihi

    Aside from wishing you a successful, speedy recovery… I am sending tons of patience to your wife and the rest of your loved ones.. You must be a BEAR now.

    Light and Love Ingrid

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    • Dear Ingrid –

      sorry for my tardy reply. Your post slipped past me in my groggy state this morning!

      I’m not in a hurry to get a replacement knee – my uncle had both knees done by the same surgeon, and he described to me in vivid detail what actually was done during the operation. They chopped his legs in two! Then put metal bits and pieces into his bones.

      I’m not in a rush to do that.

      Like you I hate pills, but those Ibuprofen got me through the walk. I couldn’t have done without that level of dosage, and also the Voltaren was a magic cream too.

      Can’t speak highly enough of that combo.

      Thank you for the well wishes though – I now need to approach this healing phase with the same level of diligence that I approached the walk.

      And no I’m not a bear … 🙂 except maybe a koala!

      Bill

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    • Great Julian –

      I’m pleased I’m a positive role model!

      Actually if I’d known beforehand that my knee was so cactus, I wouldn’t have been nearly so gungho.

      My knee brace is going to cost $1000+ the specialist says.

      That Camino continues to cost me!

      Bill

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      • Well, I *know* that I’m capable of 20-25 K on a typically Camino-like terrain, which is the minimum you *need* to do the Camino — and that’s without the knee brace, which I’ve no idea how it would affect performance.

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        • From what I understand, the brace has to be custom made, and it makes you walk kind of pigeon towed, with your knees slightly bent in, to keep pressure off the meniscus.

          So I’m not sure how it will affect walking.

          Bill

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      • The one I’d like to get doesn’t quite work like that, which is not to say your doctor is wrong or anything (plus from the sound of things, your damage is not simply limited to the knee) — the one I want to get basically uses a kind of external “exoskeleton” to help carry the weight by helping transfer it directly from the thigh down to the shin, thus relieving the knee of some of the body weight.

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