Kneaded Gnu Knees: The Path to Knee Injury & Recovery

by Heather

June 5th- 3 months, 4 days ago. {Update: almost 4 years ago now}. Three miles into the woods at Algonkian Regional Park. The dull pain that I’d felt in my knee on  my last few runs struck again- and struck hard. It didn’t take long for the pain to kick into high gear.

I knew I needed to stop running. But when you’re 3 miles into an out-and-back 6 mile course that lead you down a single path in the Virginia woods, where do you stop?

I quickly discovered it hurt more to walk than it did to run, so I kept running. {Although at this point I felt like I’d finish faster if I crawled….}

Immediately after the run my knee was ok- sore, but manageable. But by the time I got home from the race, I knew I had just done some serious damage. {I was right.}

After icing & resting for a week, I still couldn’t walk. There would be no miraculous recovery- it was time to go to the doctor.

icing knee

Endless x-rays and an MRI later, I learned I had iliotibial band friction syndrome, patellofemoral pain syndrome, swollen knee fat pads, and misaligned tracking of the patella. {This was good news compared to the initial diagnosis of a torn meniscus, which meant knee surgery.}

{And judging by a new set of x-rays, I also have chondromalacia/early arthritis, and severely tilted patellas- & my “good” knee looks worse than my bad knee. Fun.}

runner's knee knee fat pad

Several rounds of physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, and more resting & icing ensued. Along with several snazzy new taping styles:

kinesiotape mcconnell taping

I still couldn’t run.

Yesterday was my “final” follow up appointment. The one the doctor scheduled to make sure I was back on my feet & running again.

When he saw I wasn’t, his reaction: “Well, WHY aren’t you better yet?” Umm I don’t know doc, isn’t that your job?

One of the things the doctor had prescribed in physical therapy was iontopheresis: which uses ultrasound to drive cortisone deep into the joint. The PT had other ideas and never did the treatment.

An internal office showdown ensued. {Hello, you work for the same company, in the same building- can’t you guys talk?!}

The doc decided I had to have the cortisone as a last ditch effort. Of course I’m thinking, great more PT. But he said he’d do it today- awesome, one less visit for me!

Then the nurse came in and pulled out two giant syringes with long exposed needles- and just left them on the counter haunting me for the next 20 minutes. They didn’t mean iontopheresis- they meant cortisone injections.

needles

To skip the details, those things HURT. {I did get complemented on my strength of dealing with the pain. I should have gotten a frickin gold star!}

So then I was sent home to let the cortisone do it’s thing along with some stronger anti-inflammatory creams and instructions to come back in another month.

No improvement by next month? Back to that surgery option.

{On a side note, I reacted to the cortisone and have since felt like I’ve packed an entire 2 weeks of the flu into a single 24 hours.}

I’ve already been sidelined for the 2 races I was most looking forward to this year: Iron Girl & 36 North

So here’s to hoping the cortisone does the trick… adios fall race season. <– spoiler alert. None of this worked. Updated: March 2014

You can follow the “highlights” of my knee injury here:

A Restless Month- MRI Time

And the Verdict Is…

All About IT Bands

Hurts So Good- PT Starts

Adding to the Diagnosis

An Attempt with Kinesiotaping

Trying McConnell Taping

The missing triathlons: More Than a Tri & The Post in Which I Admit Defeat

Have you had a running or sports injury? Are you back to running?

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman September 9, 2010 at 8:58 am

Oh my goodness, I feel like you’re me years ago. I also got cortisone injections after my doctor told me I shouldn’t still be feeling so much pain after rounds of PT including taping and so on. (My response: Well I do, so how can I fix it??) It’s different for every person, but the cortisone didn’t do anything for me at all. That’s when he said he could do exploratory surgery (code: open ya up and poke around till we find something). I didn’t want to do that, so that’s what led me to get PRP. I’ll be honest: The pain is a gazillion times worse than cortisone injections but it also works. I’m not sure if it’s something you’d be into, but here’s info I wrote on it: http://www.notsuperhuman.com/2009/10/what-is-platelet-rich-plasma-therapy/

I’m crossing my fingers that the cortisone works for you!

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Catherine September 9, 2010 at 9:10 am

I had a dance injury that required 3 rounds of cortisone shots in the side of my foot. 🙁 It wasn’t fun at all, so I can totally sympathize. I hope the cortisone works for you and you can avoid surgery!! I know I don’t “know” you but I was so proud of you for going through all the PT, I was really hoping you’d be up on your feet again soon!!

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Heather September 10, 2010 at 9:30 am

Aww thanks!! 🙂

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Matt September 9, 2010 at 9:29 am

Those needles scare me just looking at them. Yikes!

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Dorry September 9, 2010 at 9:35 am

You’ve been through hell with this! So sorry the cortisone made you sick but hopefully it will help your knee. And yes, you deserve a big gold star for dealing with the scary needles. Eeek! We are all pulling for you! 🙂

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Kelly September 9, 2010 at 9:52 am

Ugh, I am STILL paying for all my PT appointments, they totally neglected to inform me how much this would cost after the fact, it’s crap. I hope the cortisone works for you, I never had to go that far luckily.

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Heather September 10, 2010 at 9:31 am

Oh my gosh I know- I almost passed out when I got my bill, and I was only half way through!

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Madeline - Greens and Jeans September 9, 2010 at 11:58 am

Oh geez girl. I had cortisone shots for my IT band and still had to end up having it surgically released. What a nightmare. Of course, recently I’ve had to go to the PT for a back injury and I’m shaking in my boots to get the bill. Ugh. At least they have me up and running and ready to rock my fall marathon!

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Heather September 10, 2010 at 9:32 am

I’m glad you’re good to go for your marathon-woohoo!!!

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Nichole September 9, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Ah bb:( Sending you well wishes. I know this seems like such a journey, hang in there champ. I can’t imagine what you are going through, but I am so proud of you for getting the right help.

PS – I love that new snazzy tape!

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Heather September 10, 2010 at 9:32 am

All the cool kids are wearing it 😉

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Kristina @ spabettie September 9, 2010 at 2:59 pm

sorry, sweetie… I’ve had cortizone make me feel flu-ey also… I’ve had multiple cortizone treatments and they have helped me… I really hope this works for you, hang in there, I know it is hard but I am So Proud Of You for doing what needs to be done for overall healing… so there can be MANY Fall Race Seasons in your future! 🙂 XO

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Heather September 10, 2010 at 9:33 am

Glad it’s not just me! (I mean, bad it mad you feel sick, but glad I’m not crazy;))

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Lisa September 9, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Oh GOD. I probably shouldn’t have read this post. I hurt my knee. I have a doctor appointment on Monday. I am praying it’s not something horrible. 🙁

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Heather September 10, 2010 at 9:33 am

My fingers are crossed for you!!

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Sarah September 9, 2010 at 4:19 pm

I’m sorry to hear that you had a cortisone shot. When I broke a bone in my foot and it didn’t heal I ended up having 2 different cortisone injections. After the first 24hrs I could see an improvement in my foot. I hope your injection works for your knee! Itoo am hoping to avoid surgery and know how you feel.

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Amanda @ bakingwithoutabox September 9, 2010 at 5:32 pm

You poor thing! Ugh. I hate injuries. I’m dealing with an ankle injury which doctors never bothered to diagnose even though I’ve been to two. I took a whole month off (agony) and came back to do ok on a 5k only to crap out on easy 1 miler a couple of days later. So it’s back to the drawing board for me. But I feel so bad for you missing the whole fall season 🙁

Love the snazzy tape! Ouch on the cortisone injections. You deserve more than a gold star. You deserve ice cream with a cherry. Feel better!

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Heather September 10, 2010 at 9:34 am

Mmmm ice cream….I like the way you think 😉

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Leslie @ Chomp! September 9, 2010 at 7:31 pm

really sorry to hear about your knee!
i don’t have a knee injury from running (since i’m not really a runner, but that might be because I already have bad knees haha). When I was 13 my left knee cap dislocated for the first time, so my patella was also badly tracking, but to the point where it would occasionally pop out of place. 3 years ago I had major knee surgery to tighten everything up. crutches for 5 weeks, cane for 2 months and physio for 4 months. no fun. knee is much better now, but my focus will always have to be strength training to keep my muscles strong enough so its never a problem again.

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Cynthia (It All Changes) September 10, 2010 at 1:49 am

Sorry you had to get shot. I had the same dilemma with my calf tear. On round two of the cortisone and this time I got a nasty bruise. Hoping it works for you. I know you much miss the running like crazy…I do.

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Orthopedic Doctor October 24, 2010 at 6:58 am

Patellar maltracking is not a good news.. especially for runners. It causes a slow damage to the knee joint. But yes as regards meniscal injury that is a much smaller issue. Good going ..
Orthopedic Doctor Just blogged…Broken Knee Injuries Symptoms- Diagnosis- and Treatment

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