Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I've had two sessions of physiotherapy so far. I really wasn't too sure what to expect for the first session, not having done too much other than yoga and the post-op exercises over the five weeks since I had my surgery. I didn't even think to bring shorts to my first session, although I was wearing trackies that I could roll up above my knee, so that wasn't too bad.

For my first session, she asked me a series of questions about the kinds of activities I did, and how the pain had been since the surgery. Then she got me to lie down on the couch and asked me to do a couple of exercises to test out my quad strength and leg extension ability. It was immediately obvious to her that I didn't have full knee extension. And, as I discovered, this was a very bad thing, and my years of sleeping with a pillow under my knees (to ease my lower back) had contributed to a genetic predisposition towards bad knees.

If you want to know how bad it was, I really hadn't been walking with full extension for probably years, mainly because I thought locked knees were bad. There was even a dance class I had earlier this year when our teacher focused on full extension, and that ended up causing me pain, though, to be fair, it did happen the same week when I jarred my knee, which eventually led to my being told by my osteopath that I needed to get an MRI which started me down the road of being referred to an orthopedic surgeon, and, now, here I am.

In any case, she gave me a series of exercises, and told me to concentrate on walking with a straight leg (bending my knee where necessary, obviously), which means that my leg should be straight when my heel strikes the ground and that my legs should be fully extended mid-stride. It definitely felt unnatural the first few times I tried, but, after having concentrated on it for the past week or so, not only am I standing up straighter, I've apparently added an inch to my height. Wahey!

I did my best to work on the exercises after the first session, and while I'd felt and seen some improvement, I wasn't too sure whether I'd made the progress that my physiotherapist expected me to make. To my pleasant surprise, she said I'd made good progress with my knees. My right knee is apparently at zero degrees (although a healthy adult female should have a range of motion of -5 degrees) but my left knee still needs a little work. Still it's nearly there, so that's encouraging to hear.

I'm now working on doing some weight-bearing exercises (wall squats) and working on steadying my knees when walking up and down steps. My legs have been cheating over the past few years so my quads haven't been engaged when climbing stairs. Instead, my ligaments have been doing the work, so they've stretched which has contributed to there being an excess amount of lateral movement in my knees.

I mentioned that I'd been suffering from IT band pain in the past year. She believes that's also linked to my knees. The IT band's main function is to stabilise the knee, and there's added friction whenever the knee is bent. I hadn't been not bending my knee for some time, so that exacerbated the pain, she said.

It's just been rather astonishing to learn of all the damage I'd manage to inflict on myself inadvertently. I know that part of it is down to the structure of my knees, but, still!

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