Knee Fix Questions

Here is a “planning for the future” question about knee problems/solutions from a Michigan reader…

Hi George

I’m in Michigan most of the year, near Ann Arbor. But did play some of the Florida and national tournaments last year (70s). and I plan on playing most of Fla tournaments next year (75s).

I had a small meniscus tear this year that has pretty well resolved and didn’t affect my playing (singles and dubs) much but the MRI shows inner left knee cartilage pretty well gone from OA; so while I’m presently not having pain I know I’m on borrowed time.

I have begun wearing an Ossur One Unloader brace as a prosthetic measure. I’ve found it comfortable and not a hindrance to my singles game. One study suggested that wearing such a brace could substantially reduce further wear in the knee and extend the time until replacement is needed.

Also have been looking at all the replacement alternatives and there seem to be several different variations and procedures, from minimally invasive robotic to more conventional. My intent is to continue to play singles as long as possible and when the time comes for replacement, I want to ensure I find the best place and procedure possible. Hearing others’ experiences could be helpful.

P.S. I have read your book and appreciate the tips and advice it contains!

Terry Warner

Your Advice?? Since I am a “hip replacement specialist,” I defer to others who have had knee problems.

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6 thoughts on “Knee Fix Questions

  1. For the knee, some input from my side. Total knee replacement is last resort. Check out injections like the newer stem cell and related and get their input/opinions.
    Check with several Ortho’s in your area. Go to their websites, see what knee they use i.e. Stryker, Zimmer. Some of these knee companies have had recalls and issues. Do your research.
    Might also find someone who actually measures and makes a knee for you, .i.e. Biggs in Naples, FL.
    Always get two or three opinions after MRI.
    If replacement is last resort and surgery done, go to a rehab facility for minimum two weeks. Insurance will pay for this.

    Howie, “the voice of experience” speaks. I think that the “custom knee” concept is a new and intriguing one. thanks, george

  2. Weight lifting for the quads and hamstring strength takes the pressure off the joint and keeps more of it on the muscles. Not just tone but strength is needed – a qualified personal trainer or even better a physical therapist can guide.
    Of course, very important is not carrying extra weight – extra weight puts egregious amount of extra stress on the joints. Fitness helps you earn the right to play tennis or recover quicker if you cannot play because of injuries (which do happen to tennis players).

    Winder, it always gets me when i see already-injured players religiously doing rehab; but then nothing when they are better. Thanks, george

  3. Twenty years ago I was playing soccer and blew out my ACL and had meniscus tear. The tear was repaired but ACL not. Did rehab religiously and had knee pain whenever I played tennis- soccer never again. Today at 75, when I play tennis, I use plenty of bio freeze, a knee brace with metal sides and tape to hold knee secure. Also I do a moderate weight exercise program. Fortunately, I am pain free. I hope this is of help.

    Ralph, thanks for the tips. george

  4. Suggest you check out: https://regenexx.com/
    There is a ton of info on their site.

    There is stem cell and then there is stem cell. If you can spend the time researching these folks you might find an interesting alternative solution. They have 60 licensed facilities / offices around the world and work with professional athletes and ballet dancers. Some fly into Sarasota from as far away as Brazil.
    Key point: the docs that my wife used in Sarasota were formerly practicing as orthopedic surgeons and are athletes as well. They did not want to go under the knife so they researched alternatives and found Regenexx. Then they joined/licensed Regenexx Technology/methodology/ etc.

    I had a knee replacement over a year ago and had some horrible experiences and I continue to go through rehab/etc… Should have been months but will be close to 2 years or more before complete recovery . MY only regret is that we found out about Regenexx after my knee replacement. I would have at least had an evaluation. The evaluation is covered by insurance but not the procedures.
    Well worth spending the time looking into these folks…good luck.

    Doug, thanks for sharing this interesting alternative! george

  5. Of course, prevention is the best medicine. However, that requires consistent programs of warm-up, stretching, strength training, and cool down, which we are not very good at doing. Obviously, keeping the quads and hamstrings strong will protect the knee. But it is equally important to strengthen the gluts and diligent stretching of the I-T Band, hip flexors, adductors, and calves. Maintaining a good, healthy weight will also play a major role. Finally, picking the right parents also helps.

    When some type of evasive procedure is needed, it is very important to follow an intensive strengthening program, as tolerated, 4-6 weeks prior to the surgery. The more fit you are increases your chances for a better outcome. As mentioned above, the rehabilitation never stops. You need to continue to warm-up properly, good stretching/cool down, and maintaining an effective strength level.

    Although technology has improved greatly and success is much more likely, anything evasive should be a last resort. Although I am not totally familiar with Regenexx, it should be something to consider before a total knee replacement. Specifically, do your homework and find out what is out there and how what are the long term outcomes. Good luck.

    Larry, always appreciative of your professional insights. I am a huge believer in “getting ready for an operation” and the impact it has on positive recovery. thanks. George

  6. When to consider joint replacement? It’s a tortuous decisions for an athlete, especially one that has continued to play for years while managing the pain. My family physician wisely advised me to learn from the orthopedic practices I was visiting but to listen to my body. He said, “You will know when you are ready.” In my case it was when I could no longer play without significant pain, the swelling would not abate and I could not sleep more than an hour at a time. My “custom knee” was installed 12 weeks ago. My thanks to all of my tennis friends that endured my 20 questions leading up to surgery, especially Howie Ames.

    Brian. Great to hear your custom knee is doing the job! Howie is also doing well with his new hip! Thanks. George

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