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  1. #1
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    Anyone had osteochondritis dissecan knee surgery?

    After 3 weeks of pain, I finally made it to an ortho today who x-rayed and advised I clearly have osteochondritis dissecan in my left knee. Post surgery recovery time is rather ominous to me: best case is two months off the bike and worst case is six months.

    Anyone else dealt with this in your knee before? If so, how was your recovery time?

  2. #2
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    No responses however that kind of falls in line with the rarity of the condition; 1 in 100,000. I'll keep this updated with my results in case anyone in the future should be looking for this info too.

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    Anyone had osteochondritis dissecan knee surgery?

    Ok. Whew. Surgery was yesterday. I've been given Lortab 10 as the painkiller to use. It's a combo of 500mg acetaminophen and 10mg of hydrocodone. I'm apparently allergic to the painkiller so the experience has sucked a bit more than it should have.

    My surgery turned out to be a rare form of surgical repair. The piece of cartilage that broke off my femur was 2.3 x2 cm in size and was reattached with one titanium screw and three dissolving pins. At some point in the last week, the piece of cartilage actually flipped upsides down in my knee so rather than being able to fix it via arthroscopy the doctor had to make a 2.5" incision.

    4 weeks on crutches and 2 months of light duty ahead which means no riding, but hopefully better pain meds in the immediate future is of my greatest concern.

  4. #4
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    Anyone had osteochondritis dissecan knee surgery?

    To update the thread. Tomorrow makes 4 weeks since surgery. In my first follow up visit with the surgeon, my time on crutches was extended to 6 weeks. So as of tomorrow I should have 2 weeks left on crutches. My total recovery and rehab time is still a question mark so its getting harder to not be frustrated. I've not been on a bike since January 29th. The local weather is great for riding. I'm still on crutches. I've purposely stayed off the MTBR forums to help hold further "I miss riding" frustration at bay

    I guess frustration is part of this whole process. Hopefully if anyone else is reading this because they are experiencing this condition too, my advice at this point is to do your assigned physical therapy and dig deep to find the patience necessary to endure your time on the bench.

    I return to the doctor next Monday. Hopefully I'll get a better glimpse of when rehab and recovery will be done with. Maybe I'll be able to look at my bikes and look forward to my first ride back.

  5. #5
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    Just noticed this thread (internet sucks in Afghanistan). I've treated some cases of OCD. The biggest surgical challenge is getting the cartilage/bone to heal to the femur. Cartilage itself doesn't have a good blood supply and relies on the joint fluid surrounding it for nutrition. Hopefully your fragment had a decent amount of bone attached to it to allow for bone-bone healing. It is a long recovery, but for the longevity of your knee it's worth it.
    The good thing about knee surgery is that cycling is a main staple exercise for recovery... maybe not the mountain variety, but certainly trainer time and then road. Good luck!

  6. #6
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    Take the long view. You eventually will get back. Focus on how nice it will be when you're fully recovered, not on the time spent off the bike now.

    And when you're cleared to start gaining your strength back, take it very easy at first. When you feel you're strong enough to up your workout, give it another two weeks before doing so. Avoid setbacks. Good luck.
    A blind man searches in a dark room for a black hat that isn't there. Dashiell Hammett

  7. #7
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    Anyone had osteochondritis dissecan knee surgery?

    Thanks for the encouragement! Even if my initial riding is restricted to road riding I've got a great road bike so it's something to look forward to.

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    Follow up: The Dr's appt went better than expected this past Monday. Everything appears to be healing well. I come off the crutches on April 23rd so I'm fairly stoked to finally be able to start learning to walk on two feet again. That will make right at 6 weeks since I've been able to put any weight on my left leg, so I expect to feel a bit like a toddler learning to walk for a few days.

    I'll be able to get on a stationary bike then as well, so I'm going to pull my old Specialized Allez Elite road frame out this weekend and begin to build up a dedicated stationary trainer bike. It will be the first bit of riding on any bicycle at all in 13 weeks. As meager as it may seem, I'm stoked to finally be getting on two wheels. It wont be long before the trainer turns into greenway rides, greenway rides turn into road rides, and road rides can take ya to trail heads!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spec7 View Post
    Follow up: The Dr's appt went better than expected this past Monday. Everything appears to be healing well. I come off the crutches on April 23rd so I'm fairly stoked to finally be able to start learning to walk on two feet again. That will make right at 6 weeks since I've been able to put any weight on my left leg, so I expect to feel a bit like a toddler learning to walk for a few days.

    I'll be able to get on a stationary bike then as well, so I'm going to pull my old Specialized Allez Elite road frame out this weekend and begin to build up a dedicated stationary trainer bike. It will be the first bit of riding on any bicycle at all in 13 weeks. As meager as it may seem, I'm stoked to finally be getting on two wheels. It wont be long before the trainer turns into greenway rides, greenway rides turn into road rides, and road rides can take ya to trail heads!
    Nothing like having an injury and surgery and being off your bike AND on crutches to help one appreciate the little things. Like walking. Like taking a ride on your bike as needed. Ya know, the little things. Everytime I got messed up, after I'd healed I'd say something like "man, it sure is nice to be able to put on a tee shirt with both my arms helping" or "it sure is nice to be able to sleep on my left side again after a year" and "I know I've learned to write with my left hand but it sure is nice to write with my right hand if I want to".
    A blind man searches in a dark room for a black hat that isn't there. Dashiell Hammett

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    sounds incredibly tough, glad to hear recovery is going well though. I deal with daily knee pain, and though ive been told its just a matter of regular strengthening exercises, i still dread the day something more serious has to be done. Its good to hear a smooth recovery story. Building up the old frame for a trainer is a great idea for the rehab and I can only imagine how nice it must be to have a bike related project to play with to ease the biking itch during the whole process.

    Good luck and keep the updates coming!

  11. #11
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    I'm not totally free of crutches at this point, but I am down to one crutch which is making life much easier. It's amazing how much we tend to take simple things like walking for granted. Trainer time is still on hold until the doctor releases me. Due to the large size of the repair, my recovery time is on an extended schedule per the doctor's orders. It's not what I had hoped for, but he's the expert and if it means not having to endure this again I'm going to gladly follow his directions.

    One thing I've benefited from is the leg strengthening exercises I've been doing. I've always had issues with iliotibial band syndrome and in the first few weeks of being on crutches both hips were really hurting along with my good knee hurting as well. After several weeks of hip flexor strengthening exercises, my hips are feeling better than they ever have and my right knee is not hurting as well. My PT is advising that the strengthening of the hip flexors may reduce the issues from IT band syndrome and so far that seems to be the case. It's still slow going, but the future is looking better!

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    Mini update:
    Healing seems to be progressing faster than expected. I've been off crutches or use of a cane for almost 3 weeks now. I'm wearing a knee brace called a "Fusion" which is made by Breg. It's lots of Velcro, custom molded metal bracing, and padding. I can't help but feel like I'm wearing something that Robo-Cop or the Terminator would have had for a knee brace.
    My wife and I have gone for short walks every night this week averaging around a mile, but last night got froggy and pushed to do three miles. All was fine, but there is some muscle soreness this morning. I return to the doctor on Monday for my next X-ray and follow up. My PT advised that my recovery schedule may get shortened due to how well the healing has progressed so maybe just maybe I'll be back on the trails sooner than expected!

    If not, that's fine as well. I've learned to abide my time in the last four months that I've been sidelined. If I need to wait a while longer to avoid going through this again; I'll gladly wait.

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    My follow up with doctor turned out to be much better than expected. The bone is nearly 100% healed. The doctor advised that he's never seen bone regrowth this quickly. I'm still waiting a month to get back on the bike, but I wont be restricted to the road bike when I return. The last time I was on my mountain bike was January 29th and I plan my first ride to be on July 4th, so roughly 5 months out of the saddle.

    I'm counting down the days and its getting tough to wait!

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    Hey there, Spec7. I don't really know anything about biking, but I found your posts by googling osteochondritis knee surgery so I made an account on here to respond to you. I also have osteochondritis dissecans, and I had surgery on May 1st.

    Mine was a little different. My chunk of cartilage and bone that were damaged were about 1cm, and they were hanging on a little and hadn't completely fallen off like yours. My surgeon took all of the dead bone out, then drilled to the marrow and put a cadaver bone plug in with synthetic cartilage. It was far enough back on a non-weight bearing (when my leg is straight) portion of my femur that I can walk on it with a full straight leg brace, but I was still on crutches for the first 2 weeks.

    I've been trying to find other people who have had surgery for OCD because it is an incredibly frustrating process, and I feel like you probably get it more than anyone around me right now! I'm trying to have a good attitude, but it's difficult at times. I am sick of sitting around and want to get back to my daily activities! I agree that it makes me appreciate little things, like going for walks and how easy it used to be to shower compared to now.

    I began walking without the brace this week (still with my leg straight), and in two weeks I can try to begin to walk more "normally" because the bone should be mostly healed at that point (it'll be 2 months post-op then). I know our surgeries were a little different, but I wanted to post to say I get what you're going through. I'll be following your posts and progress. I'm glad to hear things are going well! I hope you continue to heal quickly

  15. #15
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    Anyone had osteochondritis dissecan knee surgery?

    Everything for me is going well at this point. I'll be released to start mountain biking in less than two weeks and as far as I can tell there should be no issues other than regaining muscle strength and memory.

    I think the hardest part of the entire surgery process is not the physical healing as much as it is the mental side of things. Throw your daily routine and rhythm out the window, learn to make yourself think in a different manner to accommodate your physical inability, know that things you did in the past will not be possible for weeks or months to come. I can handle the pain much more easily. Now when people mention my other knee and what if the same thing happens; the terror of the thought is not of the surgery, but rather the mental mountain that would have be summited again.

    I guess my advice for anyone else dealing with osteochondritis dissecans is to follow your doctors advice exactly and faithfully, know that your biggest hurdle will be the recovery process and the mental anguish that accompanies it, and know that it will get better. You may encounter a few set backs. Remember that by starting the treatment process with that first visit to the doctor, you are now on the track returning to when your life was normal and pain free.

    As for me, my return to the saddle will be marked by a camping trip to Damascus, VA to ride the Virginia Creeper rail trail on single speed. Sure it's easy riding, but six months out of the saddle combined with muscular atrophy may make it a challenge. Challenge or not, I'm looking forward to it!!!!

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    I'm glad to hear that everything is going well for you! That's awesome that you can begin mountain biking in 2 weeks! That gives me hope that things will eventually get back to normal haha.

    I definitely agree with the mental part being more difficult than the physical pain, although the pain just makes me more stressed out. Right now my right knee (non-surgery leg) and right hip are killing me (the knee way more so than the hip). It makes it difficult to do much since I can't use the left leg too well right now. I saw that you had some opposite hip and knee pain as well. Any ideas on how to help with that?

    I keep icing both, taking ibuprofen, and babying the right side. I don't start official PT until August, but I'm doing the home exercises, although they didn't give me any for my non-surgery leg so I've just been doing the same on both sides to see if that helps. I basically can't do stairs at all because the right knee pain is too bad. It's driving me nuts.

    It's good to know that it will all get better, and it is encouraging to think that we'll be normal and hopefully pain free after all of this. I'm worried about going through this again, too, for the mental side of things. Hopefully neither of us have to! Have fun on your camping trip, and good luck with your first ride!

    Also, if you get bored ever, I started a blog about my experience with the surgery and healing. OT With a Bad Knee I figure I can post it here in case anyone reading the thread has to get surgery to help them know what to expect based on what we've gone through. Every time I tried to find things online about OCD surgery, I could only find a lot about torn ACLs and meniscuses, and a lot less about OCD. Anyway, good luck to you!

  17. #17
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    Anyone had osteochondritis dissecan knee surgery?

    OCD, you mentioned exercises for your good leg; my Dr advised me to do the same exercises on my good leg that I was doing for the repaired leg. That's what helped me. My exercises were straight leg raises and hip flexor lifts (sideways straight leg lifts). Both eventually included varying weights of ankle weights to help with muscle regrowth.

    You may also want to check with your Dr about the usage of ibuprofen unless they prescribed it. When I asked about using ibuprofen I was strongly cautioned against it due to concerns that it may inhibit bone growth. I have terrible sinus issues and with them comes sinus headaches which is caused by the swelling of the sinus cavities. Ibuprofen was always my go to med for the sinus headaches. No usage of ibuprofen for 5 months has made dealing with sinus issues interesting, but the fact that the bone has 100% healed makes the sinus issues a blip on the radar.

    Rest, ice, and elevation will continue to be your best allies through the first three months or so post surgery.

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    Thanks for the advice! I have been taking a lot of ibuprofen because I didn't like the stronger pain meds, but I'll definitely call my doctor and ask if I should stop taking it. Did your doctor recommend anything else, or have you just been dealing with the pain with ice/rest/elevation? My swelling is mostly gone, it's just too sore to sleep sometimes now that I've started walking on it without the brace. I haven't had any x-rays yet, so I'm not sure if it's healing properly, but yours healed quickly! I'd definitely rather just deal with the pain if pain meds inhibit bone growth.

    Thanks for the advice about the exercises. I've been doing the straight leg lifts, quad presses (just contracting and relaxing my quad muscle when my leg is straight), and ankle pumps for my calf muscles. I'll ask if I can add in the hip flexor lifts, too.

  19. #19
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    Anyone had osteochondritis dissecan knee surgery?

    Another tidbit of advice: No matter how great you may be feeling, don't be overly zealous while doing your assigned home physical therapy.

    I did a heel slide way too fast and way too strong about a week ago. Last Saturday I was forced to use a crutch to just be able to move around inside the house. Headed to the doctor in 1.5 hours to see if I've done any damage....

  20. #20
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    Oh no! Good luck!! Hopefully it won't cause any setbacks. That's good to know to not push it too much. I called my doctor about the ibuprofen and they said to taper off of it, and if I needed to take anything that acetaminophen (Tylenol) should be okay as far as bone health goes.

  21. #21
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    Small follow up about my last setback. It turned out to be that I had simply popped some scar tissue left over from the surgery. The doctor said this was normal and that I may happen again. I think I made the scar tissue pop before it was ready to release, but the swelling and pain went away a few days later.

    My trip to ride the Virginia Creeper did not occur. The weekend set aside to go ride it turned out to be one of the many weekends where much of the eastern US was covered in rain and flooding. I did finally get to ride some local trails this past Tuesday. I thought I'd only get in 5 or 6 miles before the knee was out of steam. Nope, I got in about 15 miles and only stopped because it was getting dark. The knee was great and it seemed as if my riding muscles simply put themselves on pause from the surgery until now. Muscle memory is amazing!

  22. #22
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    My final post (hopefully) in this thread. Improvement continues to occur. I'm riding stronger almost every time I ride now. The doctor totally released me to resume all pre-surgery activities and advised he had never seen bone regrow/ heal this fast in all his years of practice.

    I'm super thankful for the circumstances I've been dealt even though it had me off the bike for about 6 months. Being able to ride again is one of the coolest gifts I've received in years!

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