LAKE CHARLES, Louisiana (KPLC) — Seven months have passed since Lake Charles firefighter Danny Zimmerman tore the meniscus in his knee.
“I was at home actually splitting firewood and as we were moving the logs, I twisted just wrong and I heard a pop and a burn in my knee,” he said.
The pain quickly became something Zimmerman could not tolerate any longer.
“It was just really painful to put any kind of weight on it,” he said, “any stepping up into the fire truck, climbing steps, anything like that was just really painful.”
Orthopaedic surgeon Dr. John Noble at Center for Orthopaedics could see in Zimmerman’s MRIs that he was on a bad track to arthritis in the future – caused by wear and tear to your joint’s cartilage.
“Cartilage is this wonderful substance that is pasted on the ends of our bones that allows us to move without pain,” said Dr. Noble.
It does that by reducing the friction in motion and redistributing the stress to the bones so the bones do not feel pressure. “Once the cartilage is gone, essentially it cannot be regenerated,” said Dr. Noble.
Your best chance to preserve your bones is through early intervention, so listen to your body if you hear any popping, clicking or feel a burning sensation in your joints. That is not normal and you should see your doctor. “If they’ve had pain for 10 and 20 years, it’s often too late to do anything that could possibly be a joint preserving procedure,” said Dr. Noble.
It was not too late for Zimmerman. In fact, he was the perfect candidate to be the first in Louisiana to undergo a new bone preserving procedure in his knee with Dr. Noble, injecting a cement-like substance into the knee to prevent or delay further deterioration. “It is a reabsorbable calcium phosphate material and the bone over time will reabsorb it and replace it with new healthy bone,” said Dr. Noble.
A tiny dot is the only mark left behind by the subchondroplasty procedure and Zimmerman says his knee is pain free. “My recovery was great,” he said, “after the surgery there wasn’t much time down. They had me in a brace for about a week or two then up and walking around.”