physical therapy

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.

A Different Body

I knew that things would be different after.

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1 Week Postpartum

Having lost 110 pounds — nearly 10 years ago — I had some loose skin on my stomach. It wasn’t too bad. I think a combination of being 25 years old when I started to lose the weight and the fact that it took me a year and a half to lose the weight made the skin “bounce back” a little easier. But I still had a little bit. It was something I was self-conscious about. Even at my skinniest (143 pounds) I never felt truly comfortable about my stomach. I wore a bikini in Hawaii and it was both scary and liberating but I was never 100% confident when I wore it. It was just the way it was.

Something happened when I got pregnant. I was no longer self-conscious about my stomach. As it grew I also grew to love it. It was something special and wonderful. Even during that in-between stage where I just looked kinda chubby and not quite pregnant yet, I still loved it.

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Now that Logan is here, my body is mine again. Sort of! Things sure have changed and in a lot of ways it feels like my body is that of a stranger’s instead. My stomach is kind of oddly deflated right now. It’s not really about loose skin as much as just being “deflated”. It’s a bit weird and it feels like it’s not my body.

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I’m definitely in-between in clothes. Nothing fits quite right. Part of that is the extra pounds and part of that is the deflated stomach issue. So maternity clothes are too big and baggy, my old clothes are too small, the clothes I wore in the early months of my pregnancy sort of fit but don’t look quite right either. Pre-pregnancy I was in a size medium for most shirts, now mediums don’t really fit but sometimes the large sized shirt is too big. I need a half size!

I recently decided to buy some new clothes. I just had to. Breastfeeding = I definitely needed new bras. I bought some new workout clothes that fit a little better. Had to buy a pair of jeans for work (pre-pregnancy I was a size 8, now I’m somewhere in between a 10 and 12 and of course neither size really fits well!). I bought a few pairs of capris, shorts and shirts. Some of them are in a size bigger than what I used to wear, some aren’t. I’m trying not to give the label too much mind, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a bit disappointing.

It’s just weird not feeling quite yourself. 🙁

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15 weeks post partum

Another issue I’ve discovered is that postpartum healing takes time. I knew it would. But to be honest I “bounced back” pretty quickly at first and perhaps went back to some activities to soon? Who knows, hindsight and all that…but I’ve stopped running temporarily. Partially due to the flare-up of my back issues. I am disappointed for sure. I thought I was “Back to Normal” (normal???) and so it is frustrating to see my limitations.

Talking to my doctor about some of the general issues I’ve had she explained that breastfeeding does a number on your body that you just don’t realize. The big one? The ligaments are still loose like when you were pregnant. I did not know this. It’s funny–there are a zillion books, websites, blogs, etc about pregnancy and all the shit your body goes through giving birth but rarely do they ever REALLY discuss the aftermath. I know in our childbirth class she whizzed through the postpartum part in 30 minutes and didn’t cover any of the issues I had after giving birth (perfect example: hot flashes? Who knew that was a thing?!?! Thank goodness for Google.).

My doctor said some of these issues I’ve been having won’t resolve until I stop breastfeeding (come on ligaments! Get back to normal!!). Again, I’m disappointed. I was really looking forward to getting back into running, running outside this summer, and running the two 5k’s I signed up for this fall. It was kind of crushing to realize that that might not happen and I just need to make peace with that and do what my body CAN do. I’m trying not to think about it, or put too much pressure on myself but it’s hard. I was so expecting this all to just happen naturally and I was healing really well and felt okay to get back into fitness.

In addition to my back flare-up I’ve noticed my IT band is inflamed. I haven’t had issues with my IT Band in years (thankfully my runner’s knee hasn’t returned–knock on wood). I am guessing this is related to breastfeeding and ligaments being looser.

So in a lot of ways I am feeling frustrated with my body.

I saw the physical therapist I was seeing last year for my back this week and she said that my back issue is entirely related to being pregnant. My core is gone. The repetitive issue of bending over to pick up the baby, not having core strength due to pregnancy just lead to a back strain. She thinks the IT band flare-up is also related to my core issues (and the breastfeeding thing) so basically it’s all just a “you had no core strength for almost a year injury”. She said that running probably didn’t help–because you DO use your core a lot for running. So I went back to running too soon and should have focused more on core strength in those early days of being back at the gym.

She also suggested I don’t do the ab machines at the gym (she said they are not good for the body), which I stopped doing once my back hurt. She gave me some PT exercises to strengthen my core and I’m hoping that I can try running again soon.

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My new goal is to focus on strengthening my core and doing some low-impact activities. We used to go hiking every 4th of July–we didn’t this year–but I’m hoping we can start that soon. It’s a good, low impact activity we can do together.

I knew things would change, but it’s hard when you feel like you are “normal” and yet…you aren’t back to your normal yet. I keep forgetting that for nearly a year I had limitations! So that’s what’s going on in my life right now…healing, strengthening and waiting!