I went to see an orthopedist today. The orthopedics office has a regular gym as part of it, with several people working on various bones. I hoped I might become one of them.
He was really nice and spent time asking questions and checking my legs' movement and then got two X-rays (down from three to save me money) and took 25% off the bill because I don't have insurance.
The upshot is that I have arthritis and that this is the actual cause of my knee displacement. You can see gaps on one side of the knee and the bones rubbing together on the other. There are also bone spurs that cause pain. There are no exercises that will make a meaningful difference, but he did give me some basic ones to do to make the best of it. He asked about glucosamine and I said I had taken it but stopped when I realized it is an animal product (shell fish). He said most products that might help are in fact animal products so this does limit those options. But that the real answer is surgery, knee replacement. It involves going in, reshaping the knee, replacing the worn parts with plastic and metal, realigning. In the end, I'd have straight knees and would be able to do it ALL. Although he did say my movement is quite good, that I wouldn't see a huge improvement in range of motion except in straightening my legs (which I can hardly do now). But my legs would be straight, I wouldn't have that pain, I would have improved balance and I could hike forever.
What a dream.
But the cost would be in the neighborhood of $50,000.
So unless I come up with insurance that covers this kind of thing I cannot choose that option any time soon. In the meantime, he said try two aleve tablets twice a day (he thinks my stomach may be able to handle a low dosage like this) and see how it goes, try hiking and doing what I want to do. Don't do leg extensions. Well, I knew that.
In a way, there's hope, although remote. What bothers me now, though, is that I went into the medical clinic several times over the years when I did have insurance and nobody ever followed up with this and discovered the cause or sent me off for surgery. I could have had it done then and it would be over. Of course there is no point getting worked up about it now. I just have to be more persistent in the future. I am glad I was persistent enough to pursue it now, and to find this orthopedist who is so easy to talk to, who listens, who explains. What a wonder.