Desperate, knee remains stiff after 7 months

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  • #1452 Reply

    I am a Belgian woman of 58 and was happy when I found your website a couple of months ago.
    My surgeon lacks time to inform me well and did not tell me what to expect after the accident.
    Hope anyone can give me advice, for I am desperate and depressed.

    I was ran over with my bike 3rd December 2013. Result: a tibial plateaufracture on the left, Schatzker II and a knee “like a bag of nuts” according to the surgeon.
    I was operated on the next day and a pin was placed.
    After 8 weeks of resting, I started walking with a walking aid or crutches. Since early March with 1 crutch only.
    I have had physiotherapy since the day following the operation, 3 weekly sessions until the end of May. I did/do daily exercises, also cycle 2-4 kms on my hometrainer.
    For 2 months – April and May – I hardly made any progress. After every physiotheray session, I can bend my knee and walk normally, although still slowly. However, 30-60 minutes later my knee is stiff again. Either every left bent/normal step I do is painfull or I walk with a stiff leg (most of the time) which then results in a painfull right knee, hip and lower backpain from the imbalance.
    According to my physiotherapist I have a tendinosis patello tendon. My knee tendon has weakened that much, that after every session it goes back into its stiff position.
    My family physician consulted the surgeon and they decided I would benefit from hydrotherapy. So since early June I have 3 hydrotherapy sessions on top of the 2 regular physiotherapy sessions a week. It is the same story: in the water I can move rather well and painfree, once out of the pool I can walk normally but only for 30-60 minutes.
    This is extremely discouraging, and I am afraid I will never be able to walk normally again.
    Also, since the accident I have not had one painfree day, which wears me down. I experience 2 kinds of pain. What I call “tension pain”: the more active my day, the earlier my knee swells and the pin pushes under the skin. And inflammation pain, when my knee feels warm.
    I stopped painkillers a few days after the operation, for they have secondary effects and I want to “know what my body tells me”. Was twice on anti-inflammation meds for 10 days, the last time in May without any improvement.
    Apart from the conventional therapy I also have holistic treatments: shiatsu massages every other week; regularly ginger, cabbage and tofu packs; daily omega 3 and glucosamine/chondroitine.
    Since a week I now take a homeopathic anti-inflammation drug: pyrogenium. And I apply 3-4 ice frictions daily followed by an anti-inflammatory ointment.

    For 7 months now I have invested so much time, energy and money and I am still disabled.
    Can’t walk normally, do stairs and sit on my knees. To walk 50-100 metres I still use 1 crutch for support and extra safety. And then the pain.
    The surgeon told me from the beginning I would never be able to run again (which already was/is hard to deal with), but I am afraid I may be worse off eventually.
    The pin has to be removed the end of this year, and according to surgeon, family doctor and physiotherapists this should improve my flexbility. Is this true?

    I have always been in good health and full of energy, lead a very active life with a lot of physical activities, looked 5-10 years younger. The longest time I did not need a doctor was 4 years. Because I have invested in my health since my early twenties. I only eat organic, vegetarian food. I attended ballet classes until my early fifties, since then I practise yoga.
    Have always been so grateful and happy with my good health, which now has been robbed by an unsafe driver 100% at fault, who by the way never contacted me.
    And on top of the physical trauma I have to deal with a lot of paperwork for the insurance company and law suit.

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    • #2114 Reply

      Thanks for your posting Eileen!
      I am not at that stage yet I can forgive the driver who ruined my health, my most precious possession. Would rather have had my house burned down or that I lost all my savings.
      A good health is the key to a happy and fulfilling life.

      Thanks for your reaction Gary!
      Amazing that you can hike so many hours a day, even on rough terrain!
      If I walk 15 minutes a day with crutch, brace and a stiff leg (for I cannot bend my knee), I already am tired and the pain flares up at my right knee and hip.
      Very frustrating, taking into account I have been doing so much physiotherapy since 5th December. Also, I was so fit and full of energy until the day before the accident, now I am disabled. I do hope my flexibility will increase once the internal hardware is removed.

    • #2103 Reply

      I fractured my Tibia Plateau in 11 places when a bridge I was crossing while hiking broke. I had plates and screws.The surgeon said it was very bad. It is now 11 months later. Progress is slow and the leg is stiff but I did a hiking trip through rough country in the mountains of Canada a while back and plan on a 11 day trip up where I had the accident. I hike 3 hours a day. The leg stiffens but once I get going I can hike for 7-8 hours. I expected recovery to take 2-3 years but I see progress in small bits, such as I don’t use hiking poles anymore on my daily hikes. I try to compare where I am now verses what I was doing a few months ago and do see slow progress. Research suggests only a small number of people recover in a year and no one over 60. I am 59. Best of luck…

    • #2077 Reply


      I am sorry you are in such pain and having so much difficulty. I understand your being angry and wanting justice. However, I hope for your own well-being that you will one day find relief in forgiveness — even if the driver is a menacing moron;-).


    • #2068 Reply

      Time for an update!
      Despite 3 weekly hydro therapy sessions and one regular physio session, I still can’t walk normally with a bent knee. In water and during/just after a session I can walk well, but 10-15 minutes later my knee is stiff again. So I then continue with a stiff leg, limping, which of course overburdens my right knee and hip and lower back.
      I still use my brace daily. If I leave it off, the pain increases as the day progresses.
      When I have to walk 100 metres, I need my crutch.
      I have not had one painfree day since 3rd December, date of my accident.
      A few positives notes though:
      In the low and hot pool, I can sit on my knees (not heels) up to 15 counts by now. Don’t try this outside the pool yet.
      I can walk 5-6 stairs normally, with 1 crutch and pulling myself up on the railing.
      For errands I prefer cycling over walking, for I can do this painfree and faster. As my weight is evenly distributed on the saddle, I feel pretty comfortable. Going uphill is impossible yet, for I lack strength in my left knee.
      The hydro therapy exercises are also beneficial for my back.
      I still continue with my supplements: omega 3, glucosamin and chondroitin, vitamine D and calcium.

      I have to see my OS 1st December, shortly before the hardware is to be removed.
      Hope the 3 surgeons I consulted are honest when saying I will be able to walk normally once the pin is removed.
      For living my life right now takes so much trouble and is a daily frustration. I became slow, can’t sit on my knees, have to take regular breaks when doing the household or gardening.
      I cannot imagine I would have to continue living like that the rest of my life!
      That I will never be able to run or jump again is already bad enough.

      I am lucky to have a very good family doctor, who takes standard 30 minutes for every patient, longer is required. The first months he did several housecalls, as I was unable to go to his surgery. He coordinates my care and listens to my story, while OS don’t have time to give you essential information.

      I was desperate for a holiday, but had to cancel my plans. For what am I to do on a holiday when having daily pain and not being able to walk 100 metres without strain?

      As I was so depressed and did not want to see yet another therapist (some weeks I had up to 7-8 appointments for my knee: doctors, ct-scan, bone-scan, physio, shiatsu massage, lawyer) I tried out Bach Flower Remedies. I bought Star of Bethlehem and Sweet Chesnut, and to my amazement the drops work! I am feeling better.

      I am Lucky I have a good and supportive lawyer who will defend my case at the Police Court in September. I am still very angry at the woman who ran me over and ruined my life, especially that she never contacted me after the accident. She only stopped 50 metres past where I was laying, probably because other road users alerted her. That she left me like a ranover garbage can, proves she lacks respect and empathy.
      Therefore I will request the Judge: to force her to have her eyes checked; to attend some lessons to update her driving skills and to do some volunteerwork at a hospital revalidation centre so she is confronted with the suffering of victims of traffic accidents.
      For her life is business as usual, my life will never be the same and I will be restricted in many ways. It is so unfair.

      You seem to have become quite an expert in tibia plateaufractures. I avoid watching the bloody operation images, for I am very afraid for the removal of the hardware.
      I have a copy of all images and medical reports. Every patient is entitled to have that information. In Belgium patients rights (like consumer rights) are well established.

      Wishing you all lots of courage in this difficult road to recovery.

    • #1896 Reply


      I am sorry this is happening, but keep advocating for yourself. Decide that no matter what is past, you will advocate for your best future. Ask to see the original images and any surgery images, and then have new images taken if possible. Keep pursuing explanations about your condition and prognosis from either your original OS or a new OS.

      Stay strong. Overcome this.


    • #1895 Reply

      Hello all,

      My type of fracture was Schatzker II. I had a depression on the lateral/outside of my left knee. On the day of the accident the depression was so deep, I could nearly put my wrist in it.

      Meanwhile I have been seeing 2 other knee surgeons, for a 2nd and 3rd opinion.
      They both say that my type of fracture requires a year revalidation, and hat my healing traject has been normal up-to-now.
      Only this week, when I saw my own surgeon for a checkup, she told me that the healing period is 1 year. Too bad I had not been informed correctly from the start! During my 6 day hospitalisation in December, I saw 6 doctors (ER and ward) but not the doctor who operated me.
      I find it shocking that the most important person in your life at that particular time, is unavailable to see you. But that’s the way it goes in Belgian university hospitals. Professors, specialists, residents, med students. There is no continuity in care and follow-up, you see too many people who all have their own opinion. The patient gets hardly any information, misinformation or confusing information.
      In other hospitals the doctor who operates, follows you up during your stay.
      Please note it was not my choice to be taken to the university hospital. The ambulance has to drive you from the place of the accident to the nearest hospital.
      One of the residents told me my revalidation would take 3-4 months. That was obviously a serious mistake!!
      Also, my own surgeon only informed me in April that my knee was “like a bag of nuts”. The 5th month after my accident, I was told how bad it was.
      I would have preferred to know the whole truth from the start, so I could organise my life accordingly. It would have saved me a lot of sorrow, frustration, worries and hassle. Just one example: I had planned a holiday in the spring, journey I had to cancel in July since I am unable travel.

      Since I have been wearing my brace since mid June (as advised by doctor 2nd opinion), my knee pain has decreased considerably. While I had stopped wearing it in March, as advised by my own doctor.
      2nd and 3rd opinion said I still have a considerable internal indentation, that should heal with scar tissue.
      I now have more pain in my right knee, hip and lower back. From the imbalance when walking and from overusing my right side. The more active my day, the more pain on the right and in my lower back.

      I still have 3 hydro therapy sessions a week, 1 regular physiotherapy session and a shiatsu massage.
      Tomorrow I am seeing my GP/family doctor to discuss what supplements to take for my vitamine D shortage and osteoporosis.

      I’ll keep you posted.
      Take care.

    • #1864 Reply


      Do you have a depression fracture where the bone is compressed into itself? An OS can sculpt the bone back into position by chiseling from inside the bone underneath the plateau and adding bone material. If you are curious, you may want to watch a the YouTube video.

    • #1851 Reply

      “Does that explain the pain I have been enduring for so long?”

      Short answer is most likely. When there is trauma to the body there is going to be a pain response: the body’s way of alerting you that there is something amiss. Who knows why it was originally missed.

      Hang in, and we are rooting for you!!!!

    • #1848 Reply

      Early this week I had an appointment with another knee surgeon for that second opinion.
      My ct-scan shows there is still a fracture line and an indentation at the lateral/outside of my knee. Why did my own surgeon not see this on the X-rays taken when 5 weeks ago!?
      Does that explain the pain I have been enduring for so long?
      I still can’t walk normally (with bent knee) but with my brace the pain is bearable.
      Still go to hydrotherapy 3 times a week.
      My bot-scan shows I have osteoporosis, especially on the left hip. I was 4 times the victim of a traffic accident and 3 times (once as a pedestrian, twice as a cyclist) I was wounded on my left side. Doctor says that this is a hereditary condition.
      I was a little shocked I have osteoporosis, since I have always had a very active life style and have been eating healthy since my early twenties. Very little sugar. Never soft drinks, cola, icecream, meat, …
      Did research in book written by Kushi, Michio, with Alex Jack. The Macrobiotic Path to Total Health, (Ballantine Books, 2003) and found that osteoporosis can be reversed by adapting food. Which I will do.
      Since yesterday I started using 2 cell salts from dr Schussler. Although I have been into holistic medicine for 30 years, I had never heard about these mineral salts. An Austrian friend told me about them. /
      I use calcium fluoride and calcium phosfate, helpful for bone and joint problems.
      Too early for an evaluation yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

    • #1801 Reply

      Hope you are feeling better. I am also vitamin D deficient. I was before my accident. I also love the outdoors. I’m not sure why either, but I now take a supplement as my oncologist (from breast cancer two years ago) got a copy of my blood work and called and said it was important to increase vitamin D since it was low. I do remember that being mentioned before my injury also.

    • #1767 Reply


      (ROM stands for Range of Motion — measured by how much the leg bends at the knee. Also NWB, PWB, and FWB refer to Non, Partial, and Full Weight Bearing)

      I don’t know why my ROM was so good right out of the brace. I just began PT last Thursday, and I am doing a variety of PWB strengthening and stretching exercises 2-3 times per day.

    • #1758 Reply


      I have been doing the same kind of exercise as you, however not alone. While lying on my stomach, the physiotherapist tries to push my bent knee as close as possible to my buttocks.
      After 8 months I am still 16-20 cm apart. It was/is indeed most of the time painful.
      The surgeon told us however not to push too hard, for as long as the plate is in my knee/leg it is impossible to reach the maximum flexibility, since there simply is no space enough.
      As I practise yoga, I had no problem at all to touch my buttock with my toes when lying on my stomach until the day of my accident.

      To all of you,

      Two weeks ago I had an appointment with another surgeon for a second opinion.
      He advised me to wear my brace again, which my own surgeon had told me to leave off already months ago. To my great relief and joy, the daily pain diminished considerably! So I am wearing my brace again from morning till evening.
      I also had a ct-scan of my knee.
      Unfortunately, last Friday when I was to see this doctor for the second time, he was called away for an emergency. So I now have to wait until the 30th July to discuss the ct-scan and hear his further advice.


      As English is my 3rd language, what does ROM mean? Did not find any medical meaning for that letterword.

    • #1706 Reply
      Jay Jay

      Eileen, that is fantastic that you got that much ROM. How did you get the big of a ROM?

      Emma, my PT does not use the band just yet because I am NWB. I imagine when I am, they will work my out to the grind. In the meantime, I just have to do ankle pumps. Good luck in recovery!

    • #1703 Reply

      Hi Emma,

      My surgery was similar to yours. However, I was limited to a maximum of 90 degrees for five weeks post-surgery. When the swelling goes down, everything gets easier. (For me, after week three I had minimal pain.) The day after I removed the brace, my therapist had me use a stability ball to roll the leg out and back, using a band to help with the bending part. I went from 102 to 118 the first day. I hope you feel better.


    • #1643 Reply

      I am 8 weeks post op, plate and pins, and in my late 50’s. My fracture was displaced and in bits and pieces. My therapist had me bending my knee at 2 weeks post op using a strap around my foot and pulling it towards me while lying down (heel slides). This has been the most painful part of physical therapy so far and I do it 3 times a day at home. My therapist initially told me to do it once a day for 5 minutes and I wasn’t getting anywhere. My surgeon told me to do it 3 times a day for half an hour and while it was miserable, and I used pain pills, I am now at 120 degrees on the bend when using a soft strap. I start of gently and then gradually pull it in more and more and try to hold the bend for a count of 10. It is discouraging though that within 15 minutes of stopping y knee is stiff and difficult to bend again. I do drink protein shakes as I was surprised to find out I should be taking in over 100 grams of protein and I also take vitamin D.

    • #1626 Reply

      I don’t know about my vitamin D levels, but I did find interesting information on bone nutrition — vitamins C, D, and K; calcium; protein; silicon?; and a few other nutrients–

    • #1623 Reply

      Eileen, Diane,

      Thanks for your reactions.
      Next week I have an appointment for a second opinion and I’ll give you an update.
      Meanwhile I had my blood checked. Everything was ok, except for my vitamine D value.
      I was shocked to read my vitamine D level was insufficient and extremely low.
      Don’t understand how this is possible! I was inside the house from early December until the end of February. Since then I have been outside daily, sometimes only for 30 minutes but also for many hours a day. Unfortunately Belgium has a rainy climate and not much sun. I have always been an outdoor person, I love the sun and I my diet is healthy.
      I wonder if the vitamine D deficiency was already there when I was hit by the car, and thus may have aggravated the fracture? Or has the healing process absorbed practically all my vitamine D resources, thus leading to the present deficiency?
      Although I made some research, I did not find any answers yet.
      I wonder if anyone has the same experience.

    • #1569 Reply


      I would like to share my physical therapist’s suggestion to exercise the rest of the body, especially the good leg, because some of the benefit will carry over to the injured leg. Light weight training and gentle stretches help my back and hip too.

    • #1568 Reply


      I hope your new consultations help you find relief and recovery.

    • #1554 Reply


      Our situations are so similar it was almost like reading my own story. Mine was a car accident, other driver ran a stop sign on Dec 13, 2013. Seven months for me also. I am still having stiffness, pain, swelling, my knee feels hot. If I stand for more than twenty minutes, my hip and back are excruciating. I have eight screws, plate and bone graft. All are permanent. I am 52. Although my surgeon agreed to let me try working part time, my employer will not allow me to come back until I am able to do ten hour days. I completely understand your frustration and fears. Seven months is a long time. I, like you, was not really informed on what I might expect. I know everyone is different. I was not allowed to bend or use crutches for over two months. I count blessings that it wasn’t worse, but it is still a difficult journey. This site does help to know at least I am not the only one when it feels like I should be doing better by now.

      Wish you the best.

    • #1544 Reply


      Thanks for your reaction.
      Despite 5 physiotherapy sessions (3 hydrotherapy, 2 regular physio) for 5 weeks, things did not improve. My physiotherapist only taught me Thursday how to massage my knee. Although it is difficult to massage yourself, afterwards I can walk more or less normally for 5-10 minutes. Then the stiffness and pain come again, so that I switch to walking with a stiff leg.
      Being able to help myself, even only a little bit, is empowering though.
      I have appointments with 2 other surgeons for a 2nd and 3rd opinion, for I am so worried.
      One postive note though: the homeopathic anti-inflammation drug, Pyrogenium 30K, helped! My left knee does not feel hot any longer. Just take 3 granules and let them melt under your tongue. Take the whole tube or as much as needed. It is efficient, cheap (at least in Belgium) and has no secondary effects.

    • #1516 Reply

      We are almost the same age and I understand your frustration and depression. Although I have only just begun the recovery process, my friends are very supportive and have encouraged me in my faith. As I read about your situation, I was thinking that being able to move and then getting stiff again is probably better than not being able to move to begin with. Are things getting any better for you?

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