Sports Girl Needs to Strengthen Quads to Protect Knee

Monday was D-Day for Sports Girl – Doctor Day that is. She went back for her third follow-up exam following her MPFL reconstruction surgery back in mid December.

Except for being told she could immediately resume all her former activities without risk, the appointment couldn’t have gone better. The doctor did say that her left patella (kneecap) is now completely stable with less shifting than even her right. And the x-ray showed that the kneecap now sits straight on her joint rather than presenting with an outward tilt as it did before. The x-ray did, however, highlight the two metal screws she now has permanently implanted in her left kneecap, but these have left no lingering effects, thank goodness. If we hadn’t seen them on the x-ray, we might not have believed they were there!

Sports Girls’ quadriceps, however, are still obviously smaller on her left leg than her right in spite of undergoing more than 15 30-minute physical therapy sessions over the past two months and completing exercises on her own almost daily. Rebuilding and toning muscle takes time, and the doctor says resuming physical activity now would put her at risk for other injuries such as an ACL tear. He recommends another four weeks of physical therapy and exercises to further strengthen her leg and better protect her knee before she starts working out or competing in any sports.

The doctor wants to see her again on March 29 after she completes four more weeks of strength training, so running in spring track is off the table at least until then. And we are all OK with that, including Sports Girls. She’s been through too much already to risk any unplanned setback. It’s more important that she get back into shape over the summer, so she’s ready to play high school soccer come August and high school basketball after that starting in November.

It will be equally important, I think, for her to strengthen her right leg, as well as her left. While the doctor says he doesn’t personally know of anyone who has required the same MPFL surgery on both knees, he has known patients who’ve had subluxation or dislocation issues with both knees. So Sports Girls needs to prevent this from happening on her right knee as much as she needs to rebuild her left.

Besides doing her exercises, these days Sports Girl applies Mederma to her scars daily and looks forward to the day when she can run and play ball without even wearing a knee brace and with no fear of her kneecap sliding out of place. That day isn’t too far off …

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4 thoughts on “Sports Girl Needs to Strengthen Quads to Protect Knee

  1. Glad to here sports girl is doing well. My 15 yr old son had the same surgery 2/17/10 and is also on his way to recovery. Although he missed most of basketball and will sit out for lacrosse season he has a positive attitude that by august he will be able to start football camp. I look forward to reading future updates on sports girl ‘s progress. I am using her progress as a guideline for my son and so far he seems right on course. Many wishes to a speedy recovery. And thanks for the info. Like you said in the past there is not that much info regarding this type of surgery in teens. So this has been very helpful.

  2. Hi Country Mom!
    I am 13 and having MPFL reconstruction soon and Lateral Release as well. I really don’t know much about the procedure. Actually, I completely understand it but my doctor only talks about the cutting and the screws and the grafts, blah blah blah. I was just wondering about how long was your daughter totally out of commission? If she hadn’t had Christmas break, how many days would it take her to get back to school? How long was she on painkillers? Was the pain bad for the first few days?
    Thanks for your help!

    • Thank you for your comment! I wish you the best of luck with your impending surgery. I have been a little remiss in keeping this blog updated recently. I blame it on the nice weather and being busy. Sports Girl, in fact, was able to start running a little long-distance for track a few weeks ago, so that’s been part of our busyness. I’ll write about that on the site soon.
      Now to answer some of your questions …
      Sports Girl was on the Oxycodone for one week. She took a couple of pills at a time at first and then slowly backed off. The medicine made her nauseous and light-headed. She had fairly significant pain for the first couple of days. I know it woke her up at night the first couple of nights – the first night especially – so she continued her meds into the night those days.
      As for missing school, I would think she wouldn’t have been comfortable going back until she was off the Oxycodone. She still needed to keep her leg propped up and iced as much as possible for at least a week, so that would have been difficult in school. She still iced and elevated her leg for periods of time for 3 to 4 weeks post-opp. The ice and the elevation helped keep the swelling down which helped keep her more comfortable. I would suggest planning to be out of school for about a week. Sports Girl had her surgery on a Thursday; I’m guessing had she not had Christmas break, she probably wouldn’t have gone back until the following Monday.
      Sports Girl did attend a Christmas program event just 4 days post opp, but it was difficult to travel in the car as she could not yet bend her knee, and she had to keep her leg propped up while we were there. She felt good enough to attend a semi-pro hockey game about 10 days post opp, but she wouldn’t have been able to sit in the reserved arena seats. I think it was somewhere between 4 and 6 weeks before she could start bending her knee – that was somewhat of an inconvenience/hindrance to getting around and enjoying life.
      I take it from your comment that you enjoying skiing … good for you! From all we’ve been told, Sports Girl should be in better shape to enjoy her physical activities now than she was before the surgery. So far, it seems to be going well.
      If you would like to know more, I’d be happy to have Sports Girl reply herself sometime …

  3. Thank you SO much!
    I’ve read all of the case studies, but it’s great to hear a real success story!
    Thank you!

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