My Sore Knee – How To Fix It

I can recall the day the pain began in my right knee.  It was 15 months ago on an overcast day in Dunedin while I was playing my beloved game of golf.  I was walking down a hill having taken my tee shot and I felt a pain shoot through my knee.  This wasn’t an uncommon feeling.  I had been climbing some steep hills around Dunedin during the summer and on the steep descent my right knee would feel uncomfortable and I wondered what sort of damage I might be doing to it, but it always came right once I hit the level ground.  So on this particular day I continued with my game and waited for the pain to recede.   It never did.   I would walk to work and home again each day, some 5kms in total, and I continued to do this with the pain persisting.  I thought I could walk it out.  About two weeks after I felt that first shot of pain I was walking rapidly home from work as my partner and I had a dinner date that evening.  I can distinctly remember my knee hurting badly and I was telling myself that I could no longer do this each day.  We went to dinner and while I was standing in the foyer waiting to be shown our table my knee really hurt.  Later that night in bed the pain intensified.  I was at a loss to understand why I had so much pain when I wasn’t even standing on my leg.  That was the beginning of the intense night pain that has wrecked my sleep patterns ever since.  I never walked to work again.

At this stage I came to the conclusion that I had damaged a ligament or torn a muscle in my knee.  I went to an osteopath for treatment and we applied to ACC for treatment which was accepted.  I wanted a quick fix and endured the prodding and kneading from the osteopath for the next 6 weeks.  No improvement.   During all this time I continued to play golf once a week.  I wore a knee brace, took painkillers and bore the pain just because I love playing golf.  But gone were the days where I could play more than once a week.  It would take a week to recover and get back out there on the course and do it all over again.   I walked with a permanent limp.  I could see the muscles around the top of my calf beginning to waste away from  protecting the knee from the pain.

I reached retirement age 6 months after the “injury” and decided to get serious about fixing this sore knee.  I went and saw a physiotherapist and came away elated at the thought that she could fix it.  I had exercises to do.  I did them earnestly and revisited the physio each week.  There seemed to be no improvement but we both persevered for the next couple of months.  Finally she suggested we get my knee xrayed.   The result was degenerative changes to the knee.  Finally, I had to face up to the fact that my knee was never going to get better with exercise treatment.

I saw an orthopaedic surgeon and he told me straight and true that surgery was the only option.  Exercise, diet, medication – none of it would fix the problem and he referred me to the public system for an appointment.  I would have a wait time of 4 months and then if accepted for surgery it would be another 4 months wait.  I could manage this.  An end was in sight.  However, he was dubious that I would qualify on the health system criteria for a knee replacement.  My GP backed this up as well.  I had owned a full medical insurance policy which I cancelled in February prior to my knee pain.  I was fit and active and the policy was due for renewal and as I got older the premiums were escalating.  Retirement was looming and I decided that I didn’t need it and cancelled it.  Murphy’s Law – within a month my knee began its painful descent into the degenerative state.

The pain could be endured  and I continued to play golf by taking a cocktail of drugs, diclofenac, tramadol, paracetamol, to get around 18 holes.  Then along came COVID 19 and I am still waiting for that initial consultation appointment – it’s now 6 months.

Sometimes in life you hear, see, read things that make you sit up and take note.  This happened to me after my weekly golf game and as we were having lunch one of the women I had played with mentioned her husband was improving daily from having had treatment on his knees.  She was a registered nurse and made the comment that she had to eat her words having seen the result of his treatment.  I asked what sort of treatment he had had and she said stem cell treatment.  He had been in so much pain in both knees that he was barely able to walk, had to climb stairs on his backside and suffered intense night pain.  Now he was able to put the rubbish out, mow the lawns and walk 3 to 5 kms.  I was desperate to know more……….