Second Daughter Experiences Patellar Subluxation, MPFL Surgery

I still can’t believe it happened. It was the last basketball game of the season at the end of March, and she fell to the floor grabbing her knee.

Those of you who have followed my blog are probably thinking my oldest daughter Sports Girl – Callie – hurt her knee again. But it wasn’t Callie this time; it was my middle daughter, Tessa.

It took us a while to accept the fact that Tessa has just experienced patellar subluxation in her left knee just as Callie had at about the same age.  We even encouraged Tessa to go back into the game to keep playing. She tried, but she promptly came back out explaining that her knee started to give out again. She was in pain, and she was scared.

We continued with our denial. Since it was the end of the basketball season, we thought perhaps Tessa could recuperate and do some exercises and light weight training on her own to get past it. But her knee slid out two more times during physical education classes during April and May.

Then Tessa attended a week long basketball camp in early June. While the knee didn’t actually sublux during the camp, it did swell considerably. And so we dug out her sister’s old pre-surgery knee brace for her to use and scheduled an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon later that month.

Handsome Hubby was ready to schedule surgery right away. But even with her sister’s history, the surgeon approached Tessa’s issue conservatively.

Unfortunately, it was a familiar routine with a familiar ending. Tessa completed six weeks of physical therapy, and she performed the exercises faithfully. But when we went back to the doctor late in July, he wasn’t satisfied with the results. When he started to wiggle her kneecap with her leg extended straight, Tessa experienced extreme apprehension. To be honest, she about came up off the table.

So today I am sitting at the hospital waiting for Tessa to come out of surgery  – the same surgery Callie had done almost three years ago. Tessa is having a cadaver ligament inserted in place of her MPFL to stabilize her knee. She will also most likely have a lateral release performed and any other maintenance necessary to allow her knee to track better.

Callie hasn’t been completely without issues. She has had some discomfort and mild swelling around the ligament when she resumes a new strenuous activity, such as when soccer practices started twice a day in early August. There’s also the scars which will always be present on her young skin around her knee. Callie has some general tightness in her knee, as well, and cannot always easily bend her knee far enough to touch the back of her foot to the inside of her thigh. But I can’t do that either!

But we do know from Callie’s experience that the surgery works; it leaves the patient in better shape than before. And so we are going through it again with our second daughter at an even slightly younger age. Callie had surgery shortly after she turned 14; Tessa just turned 13 in May. Both girls had the surgery as eighth graders in school. The goal is to save precious cartilage that is damaged with each subluxation.

I always thought that Callie’s initial injury was primarily due to some sort of unusual blow to the knee she received during physical education class. But after Tessa has had the same injury, it’s hard to deny that the issue might be due in part to genetics.

Rylie is only five, and we know that this surgery cannot be performed until the patient has finished growing. But we have joked that perhaps if we get Rylie’s knee fixed now, we might be given a buy two, get one free offer. But we are only kidding. We are hopeful Rylie can somehow avoid the same fate. Besides, we know the health care industry doesn’t offer any such discounts anyway!

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Knee Injury Leads to Bike Riding

Sports Girl dislocated her patella a couple of weeks ago – first in P.E. and then again a few days later at soccer practice. Both were extremely painful and scary experiences for her even though both times the kneecap almost immediately went back into place without any manipulation.

After the second dislocation incident, she visited the doctor. The diagnosis? She hadn’t done any permanent damage to her knee, and she may just be prone to this type of injury because of how her kneecap sits on her knee and how she moves. She should wear a knee brace to give her support (we tried out several and purchased one for her last weekend), and she should exercise to build up her thigh muscles.

The muscles actually hold the knee in place – not the ligaments and tendons. One great way to strengthen thigh muscles is to go bike riding, preferably up hill.

This has prompted us to get our bikes out of the garage, hose the dust off, pump up the tires, grease the chains and get ready to ride. Sports Girl pulled Busy Toddler in the bike trailer up and down our third-of-a-mile gravel driveway earlier today (Sunday, May 3,). The driveway slopes slightly downhill, which requires an uphill ride on the way home. Busy Toddler had a blast and didn’t even mind wearing the bike helmet, and Sports Girl got a good workout to keep her in shape to play soccer.

We are also planning a family bike ride this evening. It’s a nice day – 50+ degrees with little wind, which is unusual for us. The clouds are starting to move in, so hopefully they don’t bring rain. It should be fun, and it will do us all some good to get some fresh air and some exercise!