Thursday, April 06, 2006

Pain-Free !

Today I went to my orthopedist and had the first injection of Synvisc into my left knee. Synvisc is hyaluronic acid--the same thing as joint fluid; and it works by being injected into the joint and lubricating the knee directly. It is not a pain medication. For almost two years I have had continual, sometimes incapacitating knee pain. This was the second specialist I have consulted. Both told me I needed to have total knee replacement surgery.

I tried hydrocortisone shots and they would work only partially and very briefly--and when the pain came back it would always be worse than previously. Anti-inflammatory medication had very modest effects and it was easy to see why. When I looked at my x-ray, it was clear that I basically had no joint space whatsoever in that knee. It was bone against bone and it looked awful.

It certainly felt awful. Osteoarthritis tends to run in my family, but the activities of my wild youth didn't help--all that jumping out of airplanes; baseball, soccer and rugby; etc., likely only accelerated the process. My daughter is of the opinion that my constant knee pain is what makes me so grouchy (moi??); although my grouchiness predates my knee problems, I'm sad to say!

My reluctance (read "fear") in having the surgery is related to the fact that I have had numerous surgeries (for various problems) in the last several years and always managed to have significant complications. Add that to the fact that I would have to take about 3 months off of work and you can see how unappealing the prospect seemed to me. It also doesn't help that I simply hate...hate the anesthesia and have all sorts of bad reactions and I don't want to have to take narcotic pain meds.

So the orthopedist suggested a trial of the Synvisc as a last resort before really seriously considering the surgery. He cautioned me that it doesn't work in everyone and that optimal benefits may not show up until after the 3 shots, each 1 week apart. The injection was practically painless, and only took a few minutes. Supposedly the results may last up to 6 months.

It is now four hours later and for the first time in 2 years, I am walking without a limp, and without any pain at all. The knee feels...completely normal--for the first time in a long time.

I am really hoping this lasts!

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