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  • Writer's pictureErlinda Pantanilla

How I Coped With Knee Pain Due To Meniscal Tear

First, may I inform you that I am not a medical practitioner or even have someone like an orthopedic doctor in the family. What I am writing here is my personal experience in healing my left knee.

In 2002 when I was 47 years old, I missed a step and fell. I ignored that accident. There was no pain but just a simple bruise. I just applied a cold compress and that’s it. I was able to continue strolling with my friends who accompanied my first-time visit to San Francisco, California.

After two years, while we were presenting a dance number at a Christmas Party of our group “Marriage Encounter Community”, I was frozen in the dance step, fell off the ground, and was in severe pain I couldn’t walk anymore. I was rushed to the hospital and underwent a diagnosis. Findings: my left knee had a meniscal tear. I realized from my doctor that the effect of my fall two years back only surfaced when I was dancing.

The following were my symptoms:

· Pain in the knee joint

· Swelling

· Catching or locking of the knee joint

· Inability to fully extend or bend the knee joint

· Limping

At the doctor’s office during one of my periodic visits, while I was waiting for my turn, I looked at the other patients sitting in the waiting area. The majority of them are in their late 60s. I asked myself, why am I here? Of course, my case was not because of old age. Mine was due to trauma.

Going back to my first consultation, one of the main tests my doctor did for my meniscus tear was the McMurray test. Your doctor will bend your knee, then straighten and rotate it. This puts tension on a torn meniscus. If you have a meniscus tear, this movement may cause pain, clicking, or a clunking sensation within the joint. It was the most painful experience I had in my life. Even more painful in relation to childbirth pains.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the first line for investigating potential meniscal lesions, but should not replace thorough clinical history and examination. After several tests, I saw the injury inside my knee when the doctor presented the MRI results to me. I was frightened by the thought that I might not be able to walk again much more glamorous wearing my high heel shoes.

Surgery was not recommended. The first remedy I got was a steroid shot in my left knee. This was done every ninety days but with an oral pain reliever, I had to take it when needed. With this medication, my doctor advised the following actions I had to do to ease the pain.

  • Rest: I had to rest my knee after the injury. I should not participate in activities where I could cause additional strain.

  • Ice: Apply ice to my knee for 15 minutes at four-hour intervals.

  • Compression: To help reduce swelling, I was made to put something on my leg. He recommended using a leg cuff.

  • Elevation: Anytime I’m resting on a bed, chair, or couch, I should use something to elevate my leg, such as a pillow.

  • Medication: Taking an anti-inflammatory medication that my doctor prescribed can help to reduce swelling and pain. It’s best not to rely on them to heal me, but they can prevent some discomfort.

  • Stretch: You can stretch by lifting the knee above your heart. A doctor or physical therapist may make other stretch recommendations.

I followed all the doctor’s orders written above. The hardest advice I also had to follow was to reduce my weight. I was heavy for a 180-lb five-feet-two-inches tall woman. I was able to put my weight down to 150 lbs. That was the best I could do. The ideal weight for my build and age is only 130 lbs. Sorry to say, I can no longer be slim with my hectic schedule at work that goes with it dining outside for meetings.

If I was able to heal my knee injury by following doctor's orders and my own home remedies, you too can.

My Lifestyle Changed

Cut short the long story, I became a regular visitor to my doctor. For three long years, I had repeated shots of steroids in my left knee but after realizing that it no longer served the purpose, I stopped the injections. I had to be contented with all the other healing remedies I believe in. I had to live with it. No more pain. Only my inability to walk with ease. I never used a crane. I will discuss later my reason.

Life has never been the same since I was 47. I always wear flat shoes even in gowns. I only dance with body movements, not with leg work. I can’t jump. I can’t run. I opted to sit instead of moving around while at work. But the rest of my life was a happy one except for the things I mentioned.

One afternoon in January 2020 (I was 65), I had to rush to the hospital. I was in deep pain. My left knee again. I couldn’t walk. I took Arcoxia on doctor’s order but the pain never subsided. I couldn’t get a driver to bring me to St. Luke’s Medical Center located in BGC, Taguig, Philippines which is about 24 kilometers away from my residence in Bulacan. I live in an empty nest. I decided to drive myself for emergency treatment. Anyway, my right leg is all right for driving. My personal assistant accompanied me to the hospital and upon arrival, I was brought to the ER. I was crying in pain. My daughter who lives nearby immediately arrived. My other two sons followed too.

After all the tests and medical clearances, I was scheduled for knee repair called arthroscopic meniscectomy which is usually an outpatient case. I was confined because, at my age, I had to undergo various tests to ensure that I am fit for the procedure. Arthroscopic meniscectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to treat a torn meniscus cartilage in the knee.

The orthopedic surgeon discussed what I am going through. He also informed me that there are two scenarios that I will deal with. First, the procedure will heal the pain in my left knee and walk with ease. Second, if not successful, there will be another procedure that will be done. Knee replacement. The doctor told me that at my age, I can still be back on my feet if I will follow religiously the post-surgery physical therapy I had to undergo.

5 Healing Remedies I Followed Before Arthroscopic Meniscectomy

1. Shots. I had to be injected with steroids in 90-day intervals. With this shot, I can walk with ease.

2. Medicines. I relied heavily on daily doses of Advil for tolerable pains and Arcoxia for severe pain. I swear these can really help. These medicines eliminate a large portion of knee pain. Tylenol just does not work as well but I also take it if I run out of supply. But, as with any drug, they become less effective the more you take them, so the doctor changes his prescription every now and then. The only side effect was I had to deal with stomach problems. It’s a must to have a full stomach before taking these medications. Let’s face it. There is always a disadvantage in all cases. So taking the prescribed drugs is still the best option.

3. Vitamins. Also, many vitamins do help. But these were not prescribed. I asked my doctor if these vitamins will help. The answer was negative. But I am not discouraged to take it. I took glucosamine and fish oil regularly. Both of these I believe solved some of the issues. I stopped eating nuts and fatty foods.

4. Lose weight. Although I haven’t fulfilled this goal, I am still trying to lose weight. You can do that too. I have been working with a physical therapist on exercises for my knee pain before the pandemic. The stretches and the strengthening of surrounding muscles really ease some of the pain. I continued doing what I learned from the physical therapist at home. I also went to Slimmer’s World to exercise with the help of a physical trainer under the doctor’s advice. I also make sure my shoes are providing the proper support because this can make a big difference in how my knees feel on a daily basis. I haven’t worn heels for a number of years and this helps too. And, even if I don’t wear heels, I still need to make sure my feet have an adequate amount of arch support. Simple concerns like these can truly affect the amount of knee pain I experience.

5. Cold Compress. Every evening while listening to Smule songs I record and joined by my followers (that’s my hobby), I put a cold compress on both knees to reduce inflammation. I am sure this helps because it not only relieves the pain but it also lessens any swelling that develops while sleeping. My knees feel much better the next morning also because of the extra care I provide.

After my knee repair three years ago, I still couldn’t walk long distances. Last year, when I came over to Las Vegas, I started a new lifestyle. I have no more assistant to do the household chores. Before, I was served food and drinks while I continue working from home. I had no physical movements. In fact, when I came over to Las Vegas, I was wheelchair assisted. But that served two purposes. For me to beat the air flight time and to avoid pain. But living in a city where no household help is available, I was forced good to move around. This new lifestyle gave me a miracle.

Healing Remedies I Followed After Arthroscopic Meniscectomy

I no longer do the first and the second remedies before my surgery. I continued the third, fourth, and fifth. But there are two additions.

1. I am more physical. I move around the house doing the things I love to do. I cook and clean the kitchen. That’s good exercise moving around. I also do short-distance walking.

2. I follow the Law of Attraction. I follow this most ancient law. I believe that healing rests in myself. No amount of medication can stop all illnesses if we think of it. Earlier, I told you that I don’t use cranes. Because if I do, I am telling my subconscious mind that I can’t walk by myself. Every night as I meditate, I claim that I am healthy. I claim that I’ll get all my needs. I claim that I will be useful to my family and community for the rest of my life.

I am thankful to my DIY assistant. Google. I get the information I need. And this blog is just a way of saying thanks for the learnings that I get through reading. This is my contribution. At 68, I feel and act like I’m just 50. Thanks to the positive thinking I developed. Thanks to my family who is always there. Thanks, I have prepared for a good semi-retired life. Thanks to the Universe given to us. This is a happy planet where we live.

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