Oh my God, I can’t be that person who starts saying “I used to run, but now my knees are bad.”
I’m sure it’s wrong that this was my first thought after hearing the MRI results, but I’m sure my second thoughts weren’t much better. “Shit this is my life. I love running. Running is my job. Shit. Damn. Holy balls.”
Listen according to some British Scientists, swearing is actually a very effective pain-killer, so I will not apologize for my internal outburst.
As a kid I aced tests. I loved taking them because remembering things comes naturally to me.
As an adult, I seem to be flunking them left, right, up and down. Low hormones, low iron, low Vitamin D, high triglycerides, degenerative ACL, missing cartilage, potential DVT, torn meniscus… yeah, I’m real wonder of health for someone who workouts out and choose to eat veggies.
WTF. Sorry needed another pain-killer.
All right you know the history of my hormones so that’s really just an icing on the cake kind of thing, let’s talk about this MRI.
For the last few months, I’ve been unable to fully extend my leg, which was annoying at first, but not worrisome. Pain however soon started to accompany this which is not surprising, you need to extend your leg to walk, run, etc.
Lot’s of Graston, muscle manipulation and work with a great PT doc, we just couldn’t make any progress. But I had that amazing Malibu running retreat to go to, so I plowed ahead, figured out some KT Tape and went on my way until I got home.I practiced my new mindful technique for the 30 minutes of laying still in the raucous MRI machine and headed home assuming nothing much would come from it. Within a few hours I had a call that left me befuddled.
Following is a general overview of things and I’ll be diving in to more details in coming posts, as I have heard from SO MANY of you that one or more of these issues have left you sidelined. Once I got past the initial, holy moley, I did what I do best…research!
The first thing to take care of was a follow up ultrasound due to signs of deep vein thrombosis. I have 0 risk factors, but apparently endurance athletes with a very low resting heart rate might have sluggish blood flow to the legs which could be the cause of this.DVT is deadly if missed. In essence it’s a blood clot in your leg which can be dislodged by air travel or running, then flow to your lungs, heart or brain. I went in for the above ultrasound immediately and we found no clots, so one thing I’m doing now is more compression socks when using my standing desk.
- Stand frequently on long flights to keep blood from pooling in the legs
- Wear compression socks
- Manage your hydration
- Learn about the risks (especially for endurance athletes who take long flights)
- Understand that swelling and cramping in the calf is a key symptom
Read more on Runner’s World from an athlete who had it >>
Thanks to my time on Dr. Google, I had assumed that a meniscus tear would be found.
The meniscus tear I anticipated due the location of my pain and to my good fortune, I think, it’s not a place where they recommend surgery. Surgery is recommended when there is a flap or when it’s in the interior of the meniscus and won’t get enough blood flow to heal on it’s own.
This is indeed my left knee MRI, so hey any doctor friends feel free to tell me what else is wrong.
More to come on this recovery!
Not a terribly surprise that whatever I did to twist my knee hard enough to tear my meniscus, also likely strained my ACL. The ACL runs from the back of your knee around to the front of the shin and I’m guessing this injury is what keeps tightening up and keeping me knee in flexion.
Again for me no surgery was recommended, so I’ll be adding new PT exercises to my daily drills. I’ll be sharing these in the next post.
This was likely caused by the swelling from the tear and the strain, so hopefully it will resolve on it’s own over time. It’s not terribly large, so there’s nothing to try and fix and it shouldn’t be limiting my range of motion.
But hey why not add something else to my list of what’s wrong?
Missing Cartilage – Arthritis
The doctor believes this is the main culprit of my stiffness and extension, whether I agree is another story because it came on so suddenly, I still believe the tear is the key.
Osteoarthritis: “The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that causes your cartilage to break down and for bone to rub against bone.“1999, as a senior in high school, I had surgery on this knee because of the cartilage. I tend to think nothing has actually changed and comparing my MRI to others there is still a good amount of joint space there…again, I’m not a doctor, just a determined runner.
This is potentially why my knee is so locked up after I sit, that standing makes me look like a 80 year-old, as I clutch my knee and remain bent for the first 5-10 steps. After which the joint seems to warm and I’m on about my business.
Lessons learned here:
- Just because it’s on an MRI doesn’t mean it’s something awful
- Even someone who does PT everyday all ready can step in a hole and get injured
- It’s 100% ok to be frustrated and annoyed with an injury
- Then it’s time to use these mental steps to move on
- Just because I’ll tell you below that I’m still running, doesn’t mean everyone should.
After visiting the Orthopedic he basically said, hey if the KT tape is working then run.
If it’s super painful, more cross training.
Get on the PT bandwagon and you’ll probably need a knee replacement years down the road.
None of this is caused by running. Arthritis and such happens.
Great, except I don’t accept not knowing WHY.
Getting older isn’t enough of a reason for me, so I’m digging in with more Physical Therapists, research and talking to others who have combated any of these issues.
One of the first things I need to put in practice is reducing inflammation and supporting my joints. Following are some of the key things that studies are showing to work for Osteoarthritis and general injury healing:
- Increase Omega 3’s (but only with a high quality Fish Oil, otherwise you’re creating inflammation!!)
- Glucosamine Sulfate
- Improve my Vitamin D which is low (the fish oil above contains some and more time outside)
- High fiber, veggies galore (already on it!)
- Work on range of motion
- Continue working with Chiropractor (alignment and mobility are really important)
- Decrease inflammation with foods (uh oh sugar)
- Remove foods that cause allergic reactions (continues to be eggs and too much dairy – Could try a full elimination diet)
- Continue Tumeric I’ve been using (has helped my dad’s arthritis too), potentially add in Boswellia extract
- Be open to alternative techniques (read my full post on one’s I’ve tested)
- Understanding when to use heat and ice for best results
We too easily accept things as “just how it is”.
There is new research saying arthritis can be turned around with the right program for many people.
There is research saying running is not damaging our joints, it actually lubricates the joints.
There is no one size fits all, so just because you have a bad MRI, doesn’t mean running is over.
Stay tuned for more, but in the mean time…
I’m playing with the KT Tape and for those who asked here’s the method working for me before my run this weekend and update here. Unfortunately, I will say after taking it off I’m usually in some pain because I probably pushed too far when it made things feel good.
Also of note, I like the roll vs the precut strips where I feel like I am always wasting some. And have friends who are swearing by it for their back and shoulder issues too.
Let me know if you’ve recovered from any of these?
Let me know if you’ve got other running injuries you’d love help with!
Other ways to connect with Amanda
If IT Band Pain is the cause of your knee issues, which is for many runners, checkout the Ultimate IT Band Solution.