A couple of months back, I would never have imagined myself sitting down, writing this article from an actual experience, sadly I am. I decided to do so because I too like you trawled the internet reading countless articles about what to expect with a fractured knee.
How Do You Know You Have A Fractured Knee ?
First of all, one of the things I noted when falling down was the fact that my knee was awkward to bend, or move in any way shape or form. I was unable to lift it, flex it; and there was excruciating pain. When I injured I fell down with a thud. I was wearing a pair of tight fitting legging’s that helped to protect me from further injury. Once those leggings were removed. It was apparent that the knee was awfully very swollen. I fractured my knee at weekend, I had been sent for an x-ray, and told to come back the next day. When being sent home I was prescribed a knee brace that helped to keep my knee in place and enable me to get to my car.
Your Knee Will Look Seriously Deformed
I recall looking at my knee the whole day prior to my doctors appointment and thinking how deformed it looked. Knees are not exactly the best features a human body can have anyway, but my right knee the one that was fractured looked like it was all squished and had no visible boney parts. It looked like this because it was so swollen.
Your Knee Will Burn
My knee felt like it was on fire. I had this really weird burning sensation and it felt like I was not able to stop it. In order to help with this I was advised to add ice. If I am perfectly honest with you I was so traumatized by having obtained the injury to begin with, I really did not like the idea of packing on ice to disturb it any more. I also found that by taking the doctors advise and elevating my leg it helped to reduce the burning sensation.
Multiple Xrays and Pain
If you have a fractured knee then you are in for a ride. You will be given appointments where you will have to have x-rays to check the progress of your knee fracture. You will also endure pain when you attend these appointments. Your knee is all of a sudden unable to support itself alone. You will feel like all the muscles in your leg are not enough to be able to help you hold your knee from not bending and creating further pain.
A Semi Full Leg Cast For The First Week
Now it does depend on the form of treatment that your doctor prescribes for you. I however, had a semi full leg cast on for 1 week. This was made up of a fiber glass slab at the back of the leg, and bandages at the front. I was under the impression that I was going to be able to go about my day to day routine as per usual, once the magical cast had been applied. Sadly, the doctor advised me from the bed, to the bathroom. Basically no movement whatsoever in order to limit the damage that was already done.
A Full Leg Cast
When you pass the okay mark for the first week. Providing your next x-ray says that your knee has not moved any further. Consider yourself lucky to have a full leg cast made from fiber glass applied. This will help to keep your leg in place and ensure that you will not have any more movement of the fractured knee. It is a very part of what to expect with a fractured knee. A full leg cast is very heavy and not all it’s cracked up to be. You will also have to prepare for having a lot of pain on your back and your hip as the full leg cast is like adding an extra 10 to 15 kg to your body weight! You will also require a pair of crutches to be able to make sure that you do not apply any pressure to your fractured knee. At this point it’s still a crucial stage in your treatment and you should not bear any weight on your fractured knee whatsoever.
A 3 Week Red Light Zone
This is what I call the the red light zone. It is a waiting game. My doctor explained to me that my fractured knee was looking good on the first and second x-rays that were performed. He also, clearly explained to me from day one that the full state of the injury was not visible on the x-ray until the swelling has gone down and it could go either way. Should the fractured knee move any more. If this had occurred it would have resulted in me having to have had surgery and a pin placed inside my knee. This scared the hell out of me. Being so active and being placed into a restricting leg cast I was all of a sudden not in control of my own destination! I was a waiting game.
It was explained that if I made it to the 3 week mark of having a fractured knee, without any movement to my injured knee then I would be okay. I would more than likely recover fully, minus the surgery. I was so in need of this to happen that I was frozen for days on end! At the third x-ray I had the picture of my knee demonstrated that a small fragment of bone had moved as result of the swelling reduction. I was not happy to see this but still remained optimistic as the doctor said even though it had moved the bone has to move 1 to 3 mm more for me to need surgery. Thankfully I escaped this and the 4 week x-ray had demonstrated that my knee was well on its was to a full recovery. A recovery that required only a leg cast, and not a pin!
A Half Knee Cast
Around the 5 week mark the doctor removed my full leg cast and put a half leg cast on. This was to encourage my knee to bend and to ensure that the joint did not continue to cease. One thing that I will say to you guys is, don’t be surprised if you cannot bend your knee at this point and do expect pain. When my full leg cast was removed my leg had started to show signs of muscle atrophy. It also had lots of hairs, bruises and it was not a pretty sight.
Despite the doctor advising me that it was safe to begin to bend the knee I was extremely cautious and if I am honest the pain did not permit me to do so. I guess everyone has their one time frame for healing and no individual is the same. My half leg cast remained until the 7 week mark where I was given the red light to remove it and boy was it so liberating to do so!
Expect Stench When Removing A Leg Cast
Yes you are lucky that it is the dawn of the covid 19 pandemic, however a facemask could by no means have disguised the stench that occurred when I removed all of my leg casts. It is a strange odor like a cross between aged matured cheddar, and terrible body odor. Almost, like the stench that you would expect from a dead corpse. I felt incredibly sorry for the nurse and doctor present when it was removed and their efforts with the alcohol rub was amazing. It did not however, manage to cover the stench at all and really I hope to never have to smell such a rancid thing again.
Hairs Bruising Are Muscle Atrophy Are Normal
You will notice that your leg that had the cast on is very hairy . Almost like you have a man leg. It will look awful to being with. There will be bruises and also your leg will have shrunk considerably. Yes, you read it correctly. Each appointment that you have a leg cast removed at should build you up to the extravagant finale where you get to see just how much your leg muscles have shrank during your time out recovering. Muscle atrophy is real people and it will hit you like a train crash. Luckily for me I read a lot and was prepared for this. I also noted it at each appointment and was told to prepare for it too.
Years Of Leg Muscle Flushed Down The Pan
Right now, what took me years of training to build up, has literally wasted away. My leg is looking so out of shape. I am also a little frustrated at the time that the recovery is taking. I had pain on my foot as the leg cast had restricted my foot to a point that I had started to walk in a different way to support it. Once it was removed my leg was so not used to being without a cast it felt sore for a week.
Difficulty Training Your Knee To Bend Again
My knee would not bend straight and I limped and still needed a crutch for the first week. Also, my leg felt like jelly. It was like all the muscles I had, fell asleep. It has only been a week since I had my leg cast removed, but I am optimistic about a full recovery. Right now I am still limping. My right leg appears to be shorter than my left as my knee doesn’t flex. I have regained only about 30 percent of the mobility which I had pre injury. I have been advised that physiotherapy will help tremendously with this. Also, I will need to work at it and train my leg how to move again.
After Leg Cast Removal
Expect to limp upstairs, Wouldn’t be able to run for a significant amount of time yet. I anticipate months ahead. I also, am very slow to walk and will not be able to perform any squats on my fitness journey. I gained 3 kg as a lack of movement whilst recovering made me inactive and over eat. I am happy to have my leg cast and fractured knee in the past and behind me. I will be much happier when I do regain full pre-injury movement. The doctor told me that usually 90 percent of movement is regained after such a fracture. I’m optimistic to be one of the percentage that regains 100% however! Keep tuned…
So there you have it guys, what to expect from a fractured knee. From someone that has actually been through it. I hope it helps you if you are a victim of a fractured knee yourself. Please comment below and reach out and let me know about your own journey. Take care guys.