I am 43 and nearly one year out from microfracture surgery (Nov. 2012) and am struggling. I had a stage four 2cm x 2cm injury to the lateral fem condyle, right knee. I followed the recovery and rehab to the letter, NWB for nearly two months and religiously did my time in the CPM 6-8 hours every day, plus religious phys therapy. I wasn't an elite athlete by any means, but I enjoyed crossfit as well as being able to lift weights, play with my kids, spend long days sightseeing or shopping, etc. I used to row or walk or even sometimes jog for fitness, as well as lift respectably heavy weights.
My knee pain with normal walking and standing is greatly reduced, however I have not returned to the gym. A full day of walking (say, at the mall) has me icing my knee that evening due to pain. The thought of walking for fitness (fast-paced as to produce a good workout) makes me shudder. I haven't even consider going back to weight lifting or crossfit (which is how the injury occurred). My doctor happily pronounced that I can now do "whatever I want". His solution to continued pain with activity is to start injecting my knee. I really don't want to start injections.
I'd like to know what exercises I CAN do that will help me regain muscle strength, my fitness level and balance (stairs are still really difficult, for example) but will not compromise my knee repair. I am quite fearful because the microfracture was necessitated by a traumatic injury and required an even more traumatic recovery! I've gained weight because I don't feel comfortable working out anymore... and the increased weight has my knee hurting even more. I want my microfracture repair to last as long as possible, what can I do to stay fit that will not do harm? Any info is appreciated!