My knees are crumbling away

X-ray of an Arthritic Knee (not mine)They’re worse than I thought. My knees, I mean. And I didn’t think they were all that good in the first place. At least now I understand why a bit more.

I had my initial visit with the new ortho people, a year after my last consult in Boston with the surgeon who worked on both knees and treated me over a 12 year period. My last MRI’s, carefully lugged in on the bus and carried over in my hot little hands, were pretty worthless because they are 2 years old and the right knee had surgery after the imaging was done. But still, as an academic background, they were useful.

What he wanted to see were weight-bearing x-rays, showing how the joints look when they’re in action. One look at those and he said, no wonder it hurts so much. There’s this little space in the joint where the meniscus is, and in a healthy joint, it’s the same width all the way along. Mine looked like it was pitched cockeyed, with the bones touching on the medial (inside) part and the normal spacing on the lateral (outside) part. The ends of the bones were ground down without the nice rounded edges they are supposed to have. The right knee was considerably worse than the left, and the left isn’t going to win any prizes.

So, what to do. I have a referral to a joint replacement specialist – not to schedule surgery just yet, but to talk about long-term and short-term options. Eventually there will be a double knee replacement in my future (I do, after all, have my father’s knees and he’s already done it). Losing weight will ease the load on the joint but the damage is already done, between wear and tear of weight bearing over many years + arthritis + degenerative joint disease. Lucky me.

I also have some inserts to put into my walking shoes instead of the orthotics I’ve used for years. It seems that they correct my pronation, alright, but that actually pushes the knee in the wrong direction. Maybe years ago it would have helped – and actually, I think it did – but now that simply pushes the already tight joint into more bone-on-bone grinding. The new inserts will push the leg the other way, hopefully opening up that little cushion space enough to feel some relief.

Of course there’s the other problem that I have arthritic feet. God, it’s hard being old. When I lace on the walking shoes, the lacing presses right on the top of my foot which is where the arthritis is. The next joint down is where the shoe bends when you walk, and that presses on an even worse little arthritic space. So wearing the good for me healthy shoes actually can case more pain than not wearing them at all. The orthopedist described my pain accurately as though someone stuck a knitting needle in my foot and then ran a rolling pin over it. Yeah, that’s it. I want to avoid this at all costs.

So I’m going to have to think about managing the insert thing to help my knee with the foot and shoes issues. It’s not possible to use inserts in my adorable Birkenstock pink sandals. Which I wore today and plan to wear again tomorrow.

Are we having fun yet? That’s what I thought.

5 thoughts on “My knees are crumbling away

  1. vickie

    how awful to have both feet and knees involved – and I can see how one fuels the other. Hugs.

    I wonder if there is something that can be put under the tongue (if they are tie or slip on) to soften the pressure for you. Like a thin pad.

    There is a man at PT that just had both knees done. It is interesting to hear him talk to his therapist – because he WAS extremely bow legged – Not only did they change out the knee joints – they fixed the bow leggedness – so his legs are being stretched and contracted – totally differently than the first 60+ year of his life – because the bow leggedness is totally gone. He is relearning to balance too. He hasn’t mentioned it – but I bet he is taller too. His daughter said it is so odd to see him walk now – because he is like a different person.

  2. I totally sympathize here. My knees are really bad and I’m only 46 (was 44 when I had my first knee surgery). The doctors don’t emphasize it, but I am sure the very high weight and no exercise for many years when I was younger causes/exascerbated it. 😦

    I also have had pronation since I was a child. Only a couple of years ago did I realize that this was also probably causing/exascerbating the knee stuff. I got orthotics and they helped a little bit, but since I had the surgery, I am sure they actually make things worse (I haven’t been back to my foot doc since the knee surgery…long story) so I don’t wear them anymore at all. I need to go see a good doctor who can look at both these things and get them balanced out…I’m pretty sure I’ll have to have knee replacement at some point and I’m not worried about it…someone I knew who had it at the same time I had my arthroscopic surgery healed faster than I did!!!

    Good luck…I’ll look forward to hearing how it all resolves for you. 🙂

  3. Alan Cambers

    Iv got the same problem and im only 36. Had knee surgery last year on both knees and my left knee has gotton worse. Good look to all.

  4. Alice

    I have very grindy knees! I am very healthy normally, a vegetarian and only small (size 10 5ft 6) so its a worry that my knees well my right knee gave way while I was shopping the other day, probably damaged from years of jogging!. I am only 45 but my knees have been grinding for about 5 now. I think its time to go to the doctors. I am relieved that I can have something done about it though, bionic knees sounds quite cool. Hope they work. I will let you know what my GP says, with our long NHS lists here in the uk i am probably going to have to wait a good few years!

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