Tag Archives: knee pain

The Decision Not to Get Knee Replacements at Age 46

3 Jun

This post was supposed to be all about Day 1 of Insanity.  I would write about the difficult fit test (I was pouring sweat).  I would write about how I proudly crossed my workout off my Insanity wall calendar (I almost asked Adam to take a picture of me I was so excited).  I would write about my meals for the day, following the Insanity meal plan (I’ve been surprisingly satisfied).  I would tell you my initial thoughts and excitement (Shaun’s voice is slightly annoying, but I like the set).

Though all those things happened this morning, this post is not about all that…

This morning my alarm went off as usual and I excitedly remembered today was the day to start Insanity.  I laid in bed a few more minutes trying to convince myself to wake up.  No matter how excited I am for something, I still don’t want to wake up.  I must’ve fallen back asleep because I suddenly woke with a huge start, “I have a sports med doctor appointment this morning!!”  I completely forgot about my follow-up appointment and panicked that I was too late.  (How I remembered it in a start I have no idea).  Thankfully it was only 6:50 am and my appointment wasn’t until 8:30.  I decided to just move quickly in order to get through Day 1 of Insanity.  Adam took my before pictures and I watched the DVD.  Hilariously, step 1 was Obtain MD Consent…well isn’t that just convenient.  After finishing the fit test (I was only slightly sweaty and asthmatic), I quickly showered and went off to the doctor.

Over the last month, my recurrent knee pain has greatly reduced.  I have been going to physical therapy twice a week and performing exercises to strengthen my hips at home.  My Physical Therapist is wonderful and tells me I have been making great strides with my Runner’s Knee.  I would agree because my knees no longer ache at rest.  I’ve been feeling good and she even cleared me to start running this week (yay!).  My appointment today was with the sports med doc who originally diagnosed my runner’s knee and prescribed physical therapy.  Honestly I completely forgot about it altogether! (oops!) On my drive over I was contemplating whether or not to tell him I was starting Insanity.  After watching the intro DVD this morning I started getting really nervous.  It showed the proper form for squats, lunges, and jumps…all things my doc previously told me to avoid.  Is it possible Insanity might be harder on my knees than running?

Once I arrived a resident reviewed my symptoms and history.  He examined both knees and I explained the pain (and my decision to run 2 half-marathons sort of against doctor orders).  The resident was a runner and also has done Insanity – how convenient!  When I told him sheepishly I started Day 1 of Insanity today he just sort of shook his head.  He thought for a moment and said, “you know…Insanity will be harder on your knees than running.”  Le sigh.  I was really hoping he wouldn’t say that.  After he finished his exam my doctor came in to take a look.  He was very pleased with my progress and said that he could tell that things were looking better.  (Hooray!)  But… (and there’s always a but) my knees are still recovering and they aren’t fully there yet.  Okay.  I can deal with that.   He said it was time to start running and gave me a 5 week schedule to follow to build back up my mileage.  The first run is .5 mile just to give you an idea of where I’ll start out.  Double sigh.

Should I even mention Insanity?  He’s just going to say no.  If he doesn’t want me to run more than half a mile I hardly think he will allow Insanity.

“Well, I don’t know if the resident told you…but I just started Insanity today and I was hoping to incorporate that daily.”

Look of unhappiness crosses doctor’s face.

“Is that the one full of squats and jumping?”

I started feeling hot as my face turned red

“Yeah…”

After discussing it for a few minutes my doc agreed to allow me to start Insanity but… not bend my knees more than 30 degrees.  I also wasn’t allowed to double up running and Insanity – too much stress on my knees.  I could do one or the other.  I left with a running plan, prescription for orthotics, and a huge lump of disappointment in my stomach.  I couldn’t help but feel depressed.  My plans were all shot now!  I should’ve felt happy that my knees were making such good progress – instead I was so incredibly disappointed.

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Ignore the laughter – 2 convos at once…but you can see where Dr. Adam’s feelings are on the matter.

The rest of the morning I had a bit of a sad attitude and really didn’t know what to do.  Should I do Insanity, but have to modify like crazy and worry about my knees?  Should I push it off for a few months until my knees fully recover?  Should I try it for a week and see how my knees feel? I threw around all the options in my head and landed on what felt to be the smartest decision: I shouldn’t continue with Insanity yet.  (Noooooo!!)

My knees are just beginning to recover, I would be heartbroken if I had another setback with them.  Yes I’m a little heartbroken I can’t get going on Insanity, but the nice thing is: I still have the DVDs and program!  It isn’t going anywhere, there is no rush or time limit on finishing it.  I’m just going to have to be patient and wait until my knees are ‘back to normal.’  At the heart of things I’m a runner, and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that…especially after I’ve seen so many improvements lately.

So I’m sad to report that you won’t be able to follow along with the Insanity program.  No updates, no reports, and no reviews.  I always love following blogs that have goals and programs so it’s disappointing not to be able to write about that journey. But I think there comes a point where you just have to let go of ego (This is where I say get a grip Kelly…your only hard-core dedicated reader won’t care what you write about.  Hi Mom!) and do what’s smart.

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Yeah I even let this thought cross my mind…thank goodness for Adam and auto-correct.

So instead I’m going to come up with a game plan over the next few days and create a program to help strengthen my knees and my running.  I have no idea what that will look like – but I’m sure I will think of something.  Throughout the day I have felt more positive about my diagnosis, and honestly, I’m truly happy to be taking care of my knees.  I believe they will thank me some day.  And maybe, just maybe…I’ll get that sub 1:50 half-marathon.

So until I have a plan…have a happy Monday!

-Kelly

The Dreaded Runner’s Knee

1 May

Well, I finally did it.  I went to the doctor about my knee pain.  As a long distance runner I’m very accustomed to over-use injuries.  Whether it’s stress fractures or sore joints or ankle pain – been there done that.  Normally the recipe for success and recovery is the same sad story: no running, rest, and ice.  When my knee pain started last September I did just that.  I dropped my half-marathon, I stopped running completely, and I let myself totally rest.  About 6 weeks later I began P90X and maybe a month after that I started running again – this time only short distances.  I am pretty “by the book” when it comes to treating injuries, so I really expected a quick recovery.  My body had something else in mind.  When I started training in February for the mini-marathon I experienced little knee pain and felt confident progressing.  About a month ago, however, I had to walk home because the pain was too much.  That was the final straw.  If weeks of rest, strength-training, and limited racing didn’t solve the problem, there had to be more to the story.

Today I found out that I have Patellofemoral syndrome aka ‘Runner’s Knee.’  This is the most common running injury and certainly nothing out of the ordinary.  It’s a relief that this is something pretty standard, but also a bummer that it is bad enough to be qualified as something.  My sports med doc was very thorough, and I left feeling a bit sad but confident about the next steps.  I had a resident in my appointment, which was fantastic because the doc ended up explaining verbally all of his testing and tweaking – which was great for me!  I loved hearing the explanation behind all of the pushing, pulling, and analyzing he did.  Based on my pain, symptoms, and physical exam he came to a swift conclusion that I have runner’s knee.  Yay – no MRI or x-rays needed!  But sad that the pain was real enough to lead to such an obvious diagnosis.

What is Runner’s Knee?

According to trusty Wikipedia, Runner’s Knee is caused by the prolonged repetitive compressive or shearing forces (running or jumping) on the Patellofemoral joint.  The result is the thinning and softening of the cartilage under the patella (hence the pain under my knee cap – makes sense!).  Essentially my kneecap is irritating the groove where my femur is resting.  It is very common, and is found twice as often in women due to wider hips (thanks Ma!).  It’s tough to say exactly what is causing it in my case, but it could be any of the following:

  • Overuse
  • Biomechanical problem – my body just might be more prone to it (something about Q angles?)
  • My quads are weak, specifically the inner quad
  • My hamstrings are tight
  • My gait isn’t aligned appropriately
  • Or a few other things

kneepain

So how do I fix it?

The bad news: no running.  This was to be expected.  I think this is a big reason I’ve been putting off this Dr. visit for so long.  I knew this was going to be the first order of business.  Though he did tell me, “I know you have your races coming up so go ahead and do those.  I’d tell you not to, but I know you wouldn’t listen anyways.”  I laughed and told him he was very correct.  He must be a runner :)

The good news: there is more to the story than just rest and ice.  Obviously rest and ice is the first step, but there are also exercises for strengthening the inner quad muscles.  Additionally I can tape my knee and wear a brace that might provide some support and relief.  The last step: Aleve twice a day for 2 weeks.  That’s a lot more anti-inflammatory medication than I’m used to taking, but he wanted to be aggressive in relieving the inflammation.  I have to admit that it felt pretty good walking out of there with a prescription and Physical Therapy referral, as opposed to just “rest and stop running.”

Hopefully I’ll get my first PT visit scheduled soon and I’ll be on the road to recovery.  I’m still looking forward to my upcoming races, but sad that I’ll have to take a break once they are done.  I’ll be sure to soak up the running happiness and really enjoy them.  Biking and swimming were the recommended replacement activities, but I’m still not sure what my next step will be exercise-wise.  I’m not sure how much this will affect my 2013 Fitness Goals.  Really I’m just trying to process the information.  Let’s see.  Essentially any bending motion irritates it more: so no Plyo, likely no Insanity, lunges, or squats for a few weeks, along with the running.  Sigh.  Should I start thinking more seriously about committing to biking and swimming?  Ugh.  Knees – you can get better!  I believe in you!

I’ll leave you with some old lady advice: take care of your bodies and be sure to stretch and rest appropriately! You don’t want to be sad and benched like me!

-Kelly

How do you handle periods of rest and recovery?  What’s your favorite ‘recovery’ exercise?

15K In the Morning!

5 Apr

Tomorrow’s the day!  The day I hope I can just cross the finish line! :)  The I Run This Town 15K is a part of the mini-marathon training series and takes place tomorrow morning.  I participated in the 10K about a month ago and had an awesome experience.  My pace was fantastic (like unprecedented-for-me fantastic, see my post here) and I felt strong – I was thrilled I had decided to do it.  I picked up my packet today for the 15K distance and I’m ready to go!  However, I have good news and bad news.

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Do I look ready or what?

The Good:

I’m happy to report low to no race anxiety.  That’s fantastic news for me.  Normally before a race I get so nervous that I make my stomach upset and affect my run.  This has happened for the past couple half-marathons (particularly the mini-marathon last year) and I’ve been trying to combat it more lately.  It’s super unpleasant (take my word for it) and takes a lot of the fun out of racing.  I’m happy my stomach isn’t churning tonight!  Unfortunately the low race anxiety is due to the fact my mind knows I won’t be performing in peak non-injured condition.

The Bad:

I have an ice pack on each knee and will be thrilled if I can finish the thing!  Never mind any pace goals!  My knees are back to giving me trouble.  I pulled out of a half in October due to knee pain, and it is back to haunt me again.  I’m doing my best by icing, hydrating, and taking some pre-race advil.  This evening I’m staying in and having a quiet night to better prepare for tomorrow.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed and just hope for the best at the race.  Send me your positive vibes in the morning as I could use all the help I can get!

Happy Friday and enjoy the weekend!

-Kelly

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Yeah, this is a bummer.