Knee Tracking Surgery - Tracking Outcomes
The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Knee Tracking Surgery - Tracking Outcomes

In the article Kneecap Tracking - Don't Miss These Reasons It Doesn't Get Better, I listed common reasons knee pain doesn't resolve, including common bad stretches, bad shoes, treating the wrong thing, treating the right thing but returning to pronated, duckfoot or pigeon-toe gait (letting arches flatten or knees sag inward, and/or walking toe out or in), and omitting functional exercise and use. Fancy "supportive" running shoes, no matter how expensive or engineered often add to knee pain. I wrote that surgery for a tight lateral area isn't needed when you can stretch it. Readers wrote asking why stretch when you can just have surgery and cut it?

One common surgical procedures is an arthroscopic lateral release - surgical cutting of the lateral muscles from the patella (kneecap). The idea of the surgery is to decrease pull and pressure on the underside of the patella.

Studies following up people undergoing the surgery show, "The results are not always predictable or successful and in some cases, the surgery may have no effect on the patient's problem."

Another study from the Netherlands confirmed previous studies showing exercise therapy for patellofemoral pain was more effective to reduce pain and increase function than the often used "rest, wait and see." Science Daily.

Surgery often is made to sound like a quick way to get ahead, but numbers now confirm that you are restricted from full activity for enough time that your physical conditioning, flexibility, bone density, aerobic capacity, strength, and enthusiasm diminish. You will often be further behind, rather than quickly fixing a cause and going forward. Often, as much physical therapy is needed for full recovery after surgery as if you didn't go for the surgery. Stories are told of someone who had the surgery then went right back to skiing. I am the one who many of these people come to a year later. They say they are fine, but they still use pain medicine, still can't bend their knee enough to stretch enough to get relief of other tight areas and so on, and often haven't gotten back to previous benchmarks. To me, that is not "fine" enough. They slowly diminish in key areas of their life. They get new pain they don't recognize as related to compensating movement from the old ones. By the time they see me, they are often on several pain medicines, anti-depression medicines, and others that make new problems.

Surgical risks are also becoming better reported. Blood clot incidence is far higher after surgery than previous released. A study of nearly 1 million women tracked for an average of 6.2 years after surgery, showed risk continues for 12 weeks and includes minimally invasive procedures.

Not all patellofemoral pain is a tracking problem. Tracking pain is in the patellorfemoral area (where kneecap and top leg bone meet). However, other conditions besides tracking make patellofemoral pain. People with patellofemoral knee pain may be sent for tracking therapy even surgery, without needing it. Standing and moving allowing the knee to sag or rotate inward can also make rubbing. Surgery and tracking exercises do not address this. They may be done but yield no result. It is not a mystery.

Coming later this month - Knee Pain From Yoga.

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Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.