Saturday, December 19, 2015

It's That Time of Year Again!

Yes, time for my annual holiday message.

First, I hope you're all looking forward to the Christmas break. It's a great time to celebrate family and community. Smiles and kindness and hugs and good cheer have their own healing power.

As the old year turns to a new one, for knee pain sufferers it's a good opportunity to look back and assess, and then gaze hopefully forward.

Are you in a better place on Dec. 31 than you were on Jan. 1? What was the dumbest thing you did to your knees this year? What was the best thing? What was the best lesson you learned? Did you find a low-stress, high-repetition activity and figure out how to make it work for you?

Looking ahead: Do you have a plan? Even better, maybe you have a Plan A, a Plan B, a Plan C, and even a Plan D if none of those work out. Are you feeling optimistic? Remember, negativity exacts a tax on the healing process.

Also, something I consider very encouraging: Any time you're in a better place on Dec. 31 than you were on Jan. 1, guess what? You're getting better! It may not be much better, and maybe you wanted to be all healed in three months, but it's a gain, no matter how small.

Next year, I'm going to talk about a few things other than my knees. For one, I now have a "frozen shoulder" that I'm dealing with :(. But, on the happier side of things, the Morton's neuroma I was diagnosed with in my right foot is no longer an issue.

I'm going to share some of my other ordeals here, because for example the odd tale of my Morton's neuroma really should be told. I came to understand a LOT about the Morton's neuroma diagnosis in the past couple of years. So if you've been told you have MN, stay tuned.

Okay, that's it from me for now. All my best, and a big thank you to all the good people who take the time to comment here, and help others!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

More Evidence That Cartilage Can Heal

As you all know, nothing cheers me like a good success story – or even a small yet significant victory on the long road to healing.

Well, one member of our small community here who uses the handle gcoza posted this comment this week:
Today I went on my second MRI of my left knee. The first was prior 27 months and showed significant chondromalatia patella on the upper medial side of the patella in the area of 12x9 mm. New MRI medical report showed no sign of chondromalacia patella. Nothing!!!
He even posted the before and after images of his knees here.

This is great news, but if the irregular cartilage has really filled in, I’m not that surprised. As I mention in my book, clinical studies show that cartilage defects can change A LOT over two years. Places where the cartilage is worn almost to the bone can suddenly look almost as good as new.

I can remember reading all this and thinking, “Damn, this is big. I’m reading all these articles and books about healing bad knees. Why doesn’t anyone mention this?” Instead, much of the prevailing thinking cleaved to a sort of “car part” model, if you will. That is, you could think of your knee cartilage like the tread on your brand-new tires. After time, it simply wears down.

It’s a simple, fatalistic, and profoundly flawed way to analogize about human bodies, which are full of cells that are constantly renewing. Hell, if we weren’t built that way, all of us would die of senescence at the age of three or so.

So congrats to gcoza. He is quick to note that he hasn’t beaten knee pain yet. He’s better, but still has a good way to go. But man, it must feel unbelievably good to stare at an MRI that essentially says, “Hey, all your hard work at recovery is paying off.”

Now, granted, that fill-in cartilage is probably of the inferior fibrocartilage variety that’s less durable than the original. But as I have mentioned before, over time fibrocartilage has been shown to begin to take on characteristics of normal hyaline articular cartilage.

Update: I feel that I should share this. Gcoza has now said that the MRI was faulty and that the cartilage didn't completely heal. Here are some excerpts from his latest comment:
Unfortunately, I went for another MRI because my orthopedist said that the pictures are not of sufficient quality. This time images are much better quality and revealed chondromalacia patella 1b.- 2 grade on both knees. Im feeling about the same. Neither better nor worse. Status quo. My next step would be stem cells treatment because I tried more-less every other possible option ... Conclusion is: chondromalacia is irreversible, but with time one can feel better. Now, three years from the beginning of my knee problems , constant pain was reduced by at least 50-70%, and the function of the knee is also improved by at least 50%. Now I can squat. Three years ago I could not walk up and down stairs.
Okay, so this isn't the success story I was hoping for. However, he has reduced his pain and improved the function of his knee. That's some progress. Getting better can take a long time unfortunately. Maybe he'll have success with stem cell treatments. If he does, I'll report back.