Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hopalong


Today was a beautiful day: sunny sky, dry air, new snow and temperatures that haven’t been above freezing in more than a week ... leaving nothing but powder dusting as far as the roads and trails stretch. In short, perfect conditions.

I, however, can’t say the same about myself. Still have that mysterious knee pain. I’m unable to bend my right knee at more than a 30 degree angle without pushing through a lot of pain. It has good periods and bad, but what doesn’t change is how weak and sore it feels, regardless of what angle I have it at.

Since it’s been a week, I’m beginning to have a lot of empathy for what Geoff when through earlier this month, struggling with mysterious foot pains. It’s really frustrating, especially since I don’t know the diagnosis or even the cause. I had that theory about overextending it in a posthole, but who knows?

The worst part, beyond everyone asking me ‘Why are you limping?’ is that all of this pent-up energy is just pooling and fermenting inside of me. I’ve had to cut back my caffeine intake. Today, I went to the gym to do some upper-body weight lifting and pedal the stationary bike with my left leg while propping my right on the frame — just to get some of the shakes out. I even walked on the treadmill for a little while. My knee loosened up and felt great all afternoon, but this evening is back to being stiff.

I’m thinking about going to see a doctor this week. But if I’m going to drop a big co-pay on an ‘expert,’ I’d like something a little more substantial than vague guesses. Geoff received a lot of good info by reaching out to other ultrarunners on the Web. So I thought I’d do the same.

If you’re still reading after my gripe fest, maybe you can help me. My problem is stiff/soreness on the top of my knee, mostly in the tissue immediately around my kneecap. It’s tender enough that it hurts when I press down on the top of my knee. There was some swelling for three or four days, but that’s mostly gone down. It is getting better, just slowly. I’m not sure if the pain is in muscle or tendons. It’s basically right in the joint.

Has anyone out there ever experienced something like this? Since I don’t know exactly how it happened, any information will give be a leg to stand on, so to speak.

Thanks again. I know the importance of recovery and the virtue of patience. But recent comments about “major reconstructive surgery” just have me a little worried.

But if I can’t bike in this beautiful winter weather, at least I have a good sporting event to watch. The 350-mile Iditarod Invitational began today, which means that every 12 hours or so, some names will appear in white text on a black screen, telling me where each hardcore winter racer is located and when they rolled through. The updates are slow and not very visual, but for me, this is more exciting than the Superbowl. Go Pete!

17 comments:

  1. nathan5:39 AM

    Yeah, that's a bummer. I've had arthro on my right knee from a bum landing with knee flexed tearing the meniscus. I don't remember any pain in the patellar tendon, but I do remember pain when I'd push on the lateral condyle, and I certainly lost part of the range of motion to intense pain. Did your knee start hurting as soon as you hit the ground? Mine did. If it didn't then maybe your cartilage is OK but your tendons are "angry" from all the work and you have some tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon.)

    I'll tell you one thing, joints are slow to heal. And mine have never come back 100% from my own injuries (but they are still getting better 3 years after arthro and 12 years after the initial injury.) I take the glucosamine chondroiton supplement and though I don't know if it helps, I have a hunch that it does.

    One of the best ways I've found to cope with bad knees is by taking anti-inflammatories before I am going to beat on them. I think they help to keep the joint from swelling as it's used. I don't know if I'm preventing harm with them, or just masking the pain while the harm continues. I'd like to think reducing the swelling reduces the wear and tear on the joint.

    I'd suggest you go have an MRI. You don't have to have surgery, but at least you can find out what's hurting and avoid all of this non-sense if it's something simple and relatively benign.

    And I'm right behind you on the doctor's are anything but experts. Once they exceed their area of expertise doctors are often just as clueless as patients.

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  2. I'd 2nd the advil!

    It may be as simple as just resting for a few more days (such a pain in the ass I get so stir crazy) I's also recommend the mri if the pain is still there....

    Maybe say hey to a Chriopactor and have them feel around?

    Get well and such a cool thing to follow you the other weekend!

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  3. I don't know a lot about knee pain, but you might try reaching out to the downhill skiing community too. Skiing is notorious for knee injuries.

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  4. Anonymous6:50 AM

    You said you went down on your knee and sort of twisted it a bit? I think you also said there was some 'sharp pain' at the time of the incident mostly masked by your want to get up and get going... Having had 4 knee surgery incidents I'm no doctor, but I paid attention to my knees (a little too much probably).

    I'd put money on either:
    1) meniscus damage
    2) bursitis

    Hopefully it's just bursitis... it's painful but not permanently bad. The hitch in the knee though makes me lean towards meniscus damage... You can mostly tell tendenitus if the area were the muscle and bone connect is sore to the touch/push...

    Keep in mind that swelling is your body telling you: "hey, i'm hurt! take it easy please", the best thing is to do as it requests and take some anti-inflamatories (advil/aleve/aspirin NOT tylenol all it does is kill the pain but nothing for the swelling). You can also make some strides against the swelling with some ice/heat. get 2 big ziploc bags, fill one with half/half water/ispropol-alcohol, remove as much of the air as you can and seal it, put that inside the other bag and put in the freezer, it'll slush-up and be a good thing to wrap around your knee (secure with ace bandage, with layer of cloth between bag and skin (these will cause frostbite on bare skin). Ice for about 20 mins, then drop a heating pad on your knee for 10 mins. wash/rinse/repeat. The alternating hot/cold helps to break up the inflamation and wash it away. (note you'll probably need atleast 2 of the ice-bags...)

    good luck! as one othe person mentioned joints take a while to heal, knees especially (complex and used much more than one realizes).

    -Chris

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  5. How about - go to a Dr.?

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  6. I'm definitely no expert, but I get some inflammation and pain just above my knee cap whenever I over do it. I think of it as my bodies way of telling my I need to back off. My pain is in no way as severe as yours. What I do it take lots of Vitamin I (ibuprofen/Advil)and lay off the leg for a few days. It goes away as quickly as it comes. Give it a few more days and if it's not subsiding it's most likely more serious. In that case take Snakebite's advise.

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  7. I agree with Doug. I made a turn while walking and twisted my right knee in some weird way (ok, time for the jokes about walking and chewing gum now). But I had some swelling just above the knee on the outside and it got very stiff. Cycling was not bad but walking and bending it hurt.

    It coincided with some pretty crappy cold weather here so I laid off cycling outside, spun easily on the trainer and generally rested it. Now, a month later, it feels much better. Your body just went thru quite an ordeal and it may just be time to rest it a bit.

    And, if that doesn't work, listen to Daddy Snakebite.

    Cheers

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  8. Anonymous6:14 PM

    i reckon it could be patellofemoral pain / chondromalacia patella (CMP) just from the long bike (the twisting may be a red herring)

    is it worse going up and down stairs? - if so pretty good for CMP

    i agree with the rest, ice sort of things but not so keen on the anti-inflamatories - but rather like the glucosamine / chondroitin for joint cartilage

    mri is a non invasive way to see what is going on but may be $$$ - i would certainly have one before going under the knife

    good luck

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  9. My suggestions, based on my experiences a couple of years ago:

    Don't risk anything. Stick to basic treatment (rest, ice, compression, elevation) and see if it gets better. If you don't feel like you're improving after a week or two then go see a doctor, preferably one with sports medicine experience.

    Whatever you have to pay is worth it if it saves you from a lifetime injury.

    Oh yeah, make sure you don't go to the doctor until you have gotten rid of as much swelling as possible. It is very hard to diagnose an injury with a lot of swelling, they might just tell you to treat it and come back.

    Good luck!

    Regards,
    Anthony

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  10. Nice interview on MTBcast with Joe!

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  11. I had an injury on the 'top of my right knee' from extending it weird play tag football. It seemed to take a while to heal up but it finally has although running more than 12 miles or so still bothers it.

    I'd take Ibuprofin, take it easy and evalualte in another couple of weeks..?

    Had surgery 8 years ago on left knee and it takes awhile to recover but feel it was worth it. Might wait till your mostly recovered and back in the lower 48 unless you can find a good surgeon for sports injuries there.

    Think surgeon for various sports teams who operates on athletes regularily..

    Good Luck

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  12. I think riding 100 frozen miles might be related to the cause?

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  13. Try the Vitamin I(buprofen) but start with 600-800mg with an initial dose and then taper down... I've had bursitis, tendinitis and some patella inflammation...

    For me it took about a week of taking Vit-I before the pain and swelling went down... then i made the mistake of stopping the dosing and it took a week for the pain to come back and then another week after i started taking the Vit-I again for it to subside.

    Rest it, Ice it, Vitamin-I, lots of water (i would always aggravate the bursitis when i would get dehydrated - generally adding a week of pain for each day i was dehydrated)...

    Joints need lots of water to help heal and bursa stuff takes FOREVER to heal.

    Good luck Jill... and don't let them stick ya with a needle for that cortisone stuff - it no work for me - and rumors are it's worse than not doing it... in the long run

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  14. I had the synovial membrane burst in my right knee a couple of years ago after I landed on ice with it, which is (yet) another possibility. I didn't get any pain from it for several hours, but after a while it was pretty painful and I ended up going to see the doctor. The only things that could be done were rest, ice and ibuprofen (which, from what I can tell, is the basic prescription for all knee injuries short of broken bones anyway). I think I was off work for a week with my knee out flat, and off the bike for a month. I found cod liver oil tablets and a glucosamine/MSM/chondroitin combination tablet helped recovery.

    A knee brace helped for a while and I got into the habit of wearing it in colder weather after my knee healed up. This turned out to be a bad idea as the compression ended up causing the synovial sac to leak again!

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  15. The Gnome10:09 PM

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patella

    ah the patella. A big joint hinge that gets fussy when over used. After a while at the game, I know that big gears are bad for it. Lighted the load if you're a masher. Are you a masher?

    Good luck on the recovery.

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  16. Anonymous7:55 AM

    Sister!

    I'm very worried about you. You remember when I injured my knee in 8th grade. I was unable to bend it for 4 weeks and then have 4 weeks of physical therapy. And it still bothers me 10 years later. YOU NEED TO SEE A DOCTOR!! Being a nurse I can tell you first hand that Doctors don't know everything. But they can do tests or x-rays that may help determine the extent of the injury. It could be just a minor injury...but why take the risk. You could seriously and permanently damage your knee to the point that it may never be the same again. Now that I am done being mom. I love you. Take care of yourself!

    Lisa

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  17. Lots of guesses here, I would just suck up the co-pay and see a Dr. that knows sports medicine.

    I know where you are coming from, I did the ultra sport in 2005 and have had knee problems ever since. I woke up in bufallo camp to intense pain in my knee and not being able to bend it really well, stabbing knee cap pain. It was basically cartlidge inflamation that hadent had the chance to get inflamed from going non-stop, but when it did.. did it ever... I continued on to McGrath Hobbling along, should have bailed at Nikolai.. It basically ended my endurance racing "career" and now 2 years later I still have problems with it.

    Dont take it lightly, dont take Vitamin I and try to go biking. Take care of it and see a professional, or 3.

    Eric P.

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