Friday, July 31, 2009

The Knee-mesis

Sigh...good and bad knee news at the doc. As suspected there is some damage and deterioration of the knee joint. The MRI shows damage to the PCL, a new lateral cartilage tear and wearing on the patella which is causing some of the inflammation and fluid retention in the joint. My options are:

  1. PT and take it easy. Ease back into exercise - especially anything high impact. The doc said no running more than twice a week, especially until I can get that right quad strengthened to stabilize the knee joint or I risk damage to both knees. (the right b/c of the damage and the left b/c it's taking all the compensation from the right) I can bike, elliptical, walk, swim as much as I want - just keep it low impact.
  2. Cortisone shots. But this is mostly for inflamed joints in a lot of pain. I'm really and truly not having pain.
  3. Scope the knee to repair that lateral cartilage damage and poke around. Surgery, but with fairly speedy recovery.
  4. Meniscus replacement where they grow me new cartilage using stem cells and then repair and replace the damaged cartilage on both sides of the knee joint and smooth out my patella. This would constitute flaying my knee open and would ultimately result in longevity of the knee, but would constitute lots of pain and a long recovery.
I went for option 1. I just don't think I'm to the surgery point yet. I'm honestly and truly not in pain. The knee does feel weak, and it definitely lets me know if I overdo it. But, I think I can overcome a lot of that with PT and by strengthening that leg back up. And any pain I do have is manageable with ibuprofen and topical creams. So I'll be hitting PT twice a week for the next six weeks. At least I know I'll be getting a minimum of two workouts a week. LOL.

I'm trying to stay positive about the whole thing. I'm bummed that I have to cut way back on the running, but the doc suggested just putting that same effort into the elliptical until I can get back out on the roads. That way I'll keep my stamina and cardio fitness up and may even strengthen my legs even more if I crank the resistance way up. I'm hoping I come out of this stronger and better! Plus, it's really hard to run as much as I like in this summer heat and humidity anyway. So, I'm thinking hit the gym like a maniac, get my legs strong, lose a few lbs that are lingering around and the come back like a bull in the fall. (that's my plan anyway!)

I have to go back in 10 weeks to see where we are and re-visit the options. If the knee is still really bothering me in 10 weeks, then I would say, yeah, we may need to discuss surgery. But I really want to try out all non-invasive options first and then work our way down.

On that note- I'm heading to the gym! :)

Today I LOVE: counting my blessings and the power of positivity!


PunkRockRunner said...

Sorry to hear about the knee but I do think you have picked the right option.

It sounds like you can still enjoy other activities so you're not in danger of going crazy from not exercising. When I hurt my foot last year, I discovered spin classes and then cycling and then triathlons. So sometimes, good things come from injuries.

I suspect that by focusing on strengthening the muscles around the knee that you will come back a stronger runner.

All the best!

Marlene said...

I sooo admire your positive attitude! That will help get you through this for sure. I definitely agree with your non-surgery plan and I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that easing up on running and doing lots of PT and strengthening fixes you all up.


Sheila said...

Your plan sounds good. Focus on the positive: You are still able to run!!! Personally, I only run 3 times a week anyhow, because that's all my body can take and stay injury free. I cross-train apart from that (swim, bike, strength, etc). Glad to hear that the news wasn't too bad and I think you're right to put off surgery.

Julia said...

I admire you for being able to keep such a positive attitude through this! I'm sorry to hear about your knee, but I agree with the option you chose. I think being a diligent PT patient and good old rest will do wonders. Best of luck to ya!

Anonymous said...

Smart girl! I agree with PunkRockRunner wholeheartedly -- my hip injury led me back to swimming after a long breakup with the sport, and now, I love my open-water swims as much as my distance (running) races.

Also ... I thought I'd get all chunky from not running, but swimming and cycling were so new to my body, I ended up losing a few pounds instead!

Willie said...

ellipticals ROCK! Heck of a workout. go for it girl, this is a minor, tiny setback. No problem, you'll be back I just know it.

kara said...

Sending positive waves your way.

Speaking of waves - Swimming is a great cardio workout - I think it's OK for knees.

Jo Lynn said...

Stay positive. You and I are in a very similar situation. No two ways about it - IT SUCKS big time.

I have started swimming and Pilates. LOVE both things. I'm still hiking because I just can't keep myself out of the mountains but walking can be enjoyable.

Hang in there. And drop me a line if you ever want to cry together.

lindsay said...

sorry to hear about your knee! i would have gone with #1 too... better to exhaust all non-invasive options first. hopefully the rest and extra pampering will do the trick. hang in there; stay positive! you will get through this and back to running!

aron said...

i am sorry about your knee but love your positive attitude!! hang in there!!

Middalia Wayman said...

Your plan sounds great..The elliptical has gotten me through a couple of minor injuries it really is great, I really spent a lot of time on it when I was trying to lose weight..Worked wonders. Wishing you a quick recovery!

NoMeatAthlete said...

I think that's the right choice. Maybe you need to give those other sports a try and not think of them as replacement sports, but consider making one your new "main" sport? I know this would be really tough for me, but it might help to change your mindset that way.

Good luck with everything, I feel for you.

Megan said...

My research is on the knee biomechanics and how injuries can influence degradation of the meniscus. Let me tell you I was relieved to see that you are going the least-invasive route first. If your PCL is still intact, it can heal itself so long as it isn't stressed too badly. And I'm glad you didn't get cortisone shots. There's too little evidence that supports that type of treatment...

Keep updating how the PT goes. Perhaps you'll have to take up a new sport, like biking?? It's fun, and very low-impact on the knees. Some research even shoes that the cyclic motion improves joint health!

Runnrgrrl said...

its a bummer about your knee. but you're totally positive and you'll definitely be back at it - and given the heat, the gym is alright in the summer.

in the meantime, good vibes your way, along with your PT and all the people cheering you on, you can't go wrong!