Following your rehabilitation protocol to the letter is probably the most crucial thing to maximize your chances of having a successful microfracture operation. Gentle cardio exercises (e.g. stationary bicycle with zero resistance) are very important and must always be an integral part of your microfracture rehab. However, it’s important, that you follow all of your doctor’s orders and suggestions as is. Don’t try improvise! You should under no circumstances walk, run or do other exercises that are not into your everyday routine without asking your doctor first.
Walking and Running after knee microfracture surgery
Did you recently have a knee microfracture? Wondering when you will be allowed to walk and run? Well..it's gonna take a while.
Microfracture is a type of arthroscopic surgery performed for the treatment of damaged cartilage. Usually the operation is carried out in damaged knees. During surgery, the doctor drills small holes in the bone where the damaged area lies. Almost immediately, bone marrow -containing stem cells, progenitor cells and several growth factors- starts to flow from the holes. Overtime, the bone marrow matures and forms new cartilage. The procedure is very simple and usually takes less than an hour. However, the rehabilitation process is lengthy, with multiple stages of increasing intensity. Click here if you want to learn more about the procedure.
Walking after microfracture
In order to start running you must first start walking. And before walking, you usually have to undergo at least six to eight weeks of intensive rehabilitation. Prior to walking, you will be using the aid of crutches to avoid putting any weight on the operated leg. After about 4 to six weeks, you will be allowed to start putting some weight on the operated knee. Each week you will be allowed to put a bit more weight.
Six to eight weeks post-op you will be finally cleared to walk without the help of crutches. Please note that during this whole time you will have to use a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine. Purpose of the machine is to help you increase mobility and decrease your healing time. Patients that can't get a CPM (e.g not covered by insurance) are advised to bend and straighten the operated leg without putting any weight multiple times a day, five hundred or more. Your doctor will most probably advise you to get a stationary bikes and/or to do water exercises as well.
The video below shows how the cpm machine works
CPM machine in action
Initially, your doctor will recommend you with a specific amount of walking. You shouldn't overdo it, otherwise you risk breaking your newly formed cartilage. With the passing of time, you will be allowed to increase the amount of walking that you do each day. Most patients are able to go for long walks with no problem after about three to four months.
Running after microfracture
It will probably take quite a while before you are given permission to include running in your life. Running is a high-impact activity that puts your knees under a lot stress. It is very easy to injure your new cartilage during the first six to nine months after microfracture surgery. Most patients are allowed to start running after nine to twelve months. At first, you will be advised to run only for short distances or short periods of time.