acupuncture

Knee

I’ve been dealing with a knee issue since December. I had tendinitis in my right knee. I think it was from one of the knee machines at the gym (which I quit using). I was going to PT and haven’t been seeing any improvements. I saw Ortho in June and got an MRI, which of course was inconclusive.

The diagnosis is “mild chondromalacia of joint and quadriceps tendinitis”. But honestly my Ortho Doc is baffled.

I decided to spend the summer going to PT and trying to see what happens. There was a lot going on with moving, selling our house, etc. PT wasn’t really helping, though and a lot of the exercises I was trying to do was making it WORSE. It was SO frustrating! And my physical therapist was frustrated too!

I recently started doing acupuncture and was actually seeing some differences–which was weird because all the times I’ve ever tried acupuncture, I never really saw any results. But this time, it seemed to help. It gave me a few weeks of relief! Then my benefits ran out. My physical therapist plead my case to my doctor for a referral so I could keep going and that finally got approved! So in a few weeks I’ll go back to acupuncture and see if that helps.

Which brings me to this week. It’s been two weeks since I’ve been to acupuncture and this week my knee pain flared up again. I had a follow-up appointment with my Ortho doc Thursday and we chatted. He gave me two options–the cortisone shot and “dry needling“.

He said that the dry needling is different than acupuncture and can be more painful. He said he’d want me to take a few days off to rest after that but with the cortisone shot, I would be ok to go to work and move around and stuff (I just couldn’t work out for two days).

Since he’s not 100% sure on what my knee issue is because the MRI didn’t really show much, he said the cortisone shot was the best bet for now to see if it would just “reset” my body. Sometimes you need to reset the pain centers and then your body can heal. I had the same issue after my ankle surgery 15+ years ago and ended up getting a cortisone shot in my ankle (it was horribly painful!!!!) and then within a week my pain was gone and I had no more issues. I know some people need to have multiple injections, but I’m hoping I’m a one shot and done person. (Crossing fingers!)

So he thinks that I have fluid and inflammation in that area at the top of my kneecap (see picture above with the arrow). The pain is at the top of the kneecap, where it meets my quad. Stretching doesn’t help. Bending my knee hurts. Stairs hurt. It’s a very odd injury.

He sprayed my leg and knee with this stuff and then gave me the injection. Unlike with my ankle shot, it was one shot and it wasn’t painful at all. Then I went to work. I was stiff and a little sore but I was able to walk and didn’t feel miserable or anything.

It will take 7 days or so to see if the shot did anything. Right now it’s a guessing game. The naturopath doctor I saw suggested I try PRP therapy. I asked my Ortho Doc about it and he’s a HUGE fan. As a sports medicine doctor he thinks it’s a great thing and wishes that HMO’s would try it. It’s still controversial and they aren’t quite sure how or why it works for some people. But he raved about it and said if I could “afford it” (I can’t) I should try it. Time will tell. Right now I’m doing what insurance covers–the cortisone shot and acupuncture each week.

Coping With An Injury

It’s funny…I was going through my draft posts to see what I had (there are so many posts I’ve started and never finished!) and came across this one. I started writing it months ago…months ago when I was feeling SO GOOD about my body and the idea of injuries weren’t something I was even thinking about. I was in a good place to write the post because I wasn’t dealing with an injury, I had clarity and no emotional response to what I was writing. It’s ironic that I stumbled onto this with my current situation. I wanted to share it anyway, because I think it addresses a lot of things.

Injuries are a part of life and they really suck when you’re an athlete. As athletes we put more pressure on ourselves and are less inclined to give our bodies a chance to rest when we hurt. We’re stubborn creatures and we’re positive that we can “work through it.” Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

This post is about how to cope with injuries that set us back. Any injury can set you back but for this post I’ll be specifically referring to the running injuries I’ve had and how I learned to cope. You can also read this excellent guest post: 8 Mistakes I Made While Injured.

I’ve had to start over several times, and I wrote a post specifically about the times I’ve started over in my journey toward health. In terms of injuries, I’ve had the not-so-serious like pulled muscles that had me hobbling for a week and I’ve also had more serious ones that set me back a long time.

I’m working hard to rehab from the IT Band issues I’ve had and I’m slowly getting my running legs back. For two years now I’ve been working on strengthening my body’s weak areas to prevent further injuries as I start to run again.

 

How to Cope With An Injury

1. Go To Your Doctor.

I see this mistake made all the time. I see it on Twitter, Facebook, blogs…runners especially are horrible at taking it easy and going to the doctor at the first signs of injury. I read these runners talking themselves out of being injured, or running through it (and hurting more).  I also see people using Google and Twitter to self-diagnose and self-treat. Really? Just go to the doctor!!! Then you’ll know for sure and have a good chance at healing.

Trust me, as an injured runner I made the mistake too, but that doesn’t mean you have to make the same mistakes. Delaying the inevitable and living in denial will just prolong the injury and the break from the activity.

If you’re really in tune with your body, you can tell immediately between a “normal” running pain and an “I’m injured” running pain.

2. R.I.C.E.

RICE isn’t just for sprains and strains. It’s just plain common sense. An injury is the body’s way of saying we pushed it too far, too soon, too hard. It wants to rest.

Rest: This means avoiding activities that cause your body pain.

Ice: Ice is your friend. You should be icing the injured area  20 minutes every few hours for those first few days to help with any inflammation or swelling.

Compression: ACE bandages are good for relieving some pain and discomfort from a swelling injury, and it also adds some stability if the injury is in your lower body. Another good one is compression socks. I LOVE these things. I have a pair of medical compression socks from when I had surgery on my ankle (it was used to prevent blood clots after my surgery) and the socks are amazing, They feel so good.

Elevation: The general rule in elevating is to raise the body part higher than your heart. If it’s your leg, sleep with a pillow under your leg to elevate it.

3. Cross Train.

If you can do another activity while you’re healing, do it. Not only will it make you feel better to still be getting some physical activity in, but you’ll keep your body strong. If your running injury is in your legs, try swimming or cycling. But only if it doesn’t hurt!

When I had to take 6 weeks off after my IT Band injury I started weight lifting. That was nearly two years ago now and it was one of the best things I ever did for myself. I wish I had done it sooner!

4. Take Care of Your Brain.

Depression is common with injuries. When our bodies are hurting, our spirits sink and despair is a normal feeling. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel hopeless–like we’ll never be “normal” again. Depending on the length of the rehab, the sadness can wear us down. The trick is to not let that happen. It’s okay to wallow for a little bit, but give it a time frame. Give it a week to wallow and feel sorrow for yourself, and then move on.

When I had to take a break from running I was a bit bitter. I stopped reading most of the running blogs I followed and loved because every time I read their race recaps I wanted to cry. I went from bitter to sad to angry that “everyone else” could run without injury and I was hobbling around with a bum knee. It sucked.  I skipped posts about half marathon trainings, I avoided the conversations about running with everyone. I knew friends and family were concerned but I just couldn’t talk about it so I changed the subject away from running.

Stay positive the best that you can.

 

5. Try Alternative Therapies.

There are a lot of alternative therapies out there that you can try in lieu of, or in addition to, traditional physical therapy. Acupuncture works for a lot of people. I’ve had mixed results from it. I had a few negative experiences with acupuncture, and then some really great experiences that worked. Give it a try.

TENS devices can also help. It’s weird at first, but feels fantastic!

Massage therapy is amazing and if you can afford frequent massages and sports massages, do it! If you can’t afford it, try Groupon deals for massage places.

6. Strengthen Your Weak Spots.

If you’re injured, there’s a weakness in the body. If it’s shin splits, strengthen the shins and calf muscles. If it’s the IT Band, try strengthen the hips. If it’s Plantar Fascitiis, the calf muscles are too tight. Talk to your doctor, see a sports medicine doctor, or go to physical therapy to target and strengthen the weak areas to prevent more injury.

Your Turn

Have you had to work on this? Are you trying to avoid injuries, or working through them?