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Diagnosis and treatment

Posted Oct 22 2008 6:15pm
Well, the MRI didn't magically heal my knee. Not that I thought it would. Much. It's a joke between me and my sis that if you make the effort to see a doctor, or if you get a medical test, the problem will go away. Even the doctor asked if my knee felt better after the MRI. He must have the same theory of medical magic.

Monday afternoon I met with the orthopedist whom I had seen three years ago. Back then my knee, with some rest-ice-advil, magically healed itself so I had great hopes that the same treatment would work again. It didn't, forcing me to finally see the specialist. He discussed several possible causes and we agreed that an MRI would be in order so we could have more information to help make a treatment decision. I got that MRI yesterday morning and returned to the doc this afternoon.

Ooooh, pretty pictures. Lots of pretty pictures of my knee. That look to me like -- a knee. I have two separate issues that show up (to the doctor) on the MRI. I have runner's knee, technically chondromalacia patella, or patello femoral dysfunction. That means my knee doesn't track correctly and is causing inflammation. I also have a tear of posterior horn of the medial meniscus. It's small, in the vascular portion and it may be an old healed tear that still shows up. Old tears appear forever on MRIs so there's no way of knowing if this is an old or a new injury.

The issue my doc thinks is causing my problem is the runner's knee since that's where my pain is. So how do we fix this? We are in full agreement that the optimal outcome of any treatment is for me to be able to run lots and lots of marathons. I broke down and admitted that I'm most likely trying to run a marathon in every state. Jeez. If you can't be honest with yourself and your doc, who can you be honest with? So the agreement is that I have to take it slowly and do it right, so I can keep running until I'm 97 years old since that's how long it's going to take me to finish the rest of the 32 states I haven't gotten to yet.

For treatment he suggested that I first try running with a patellar strap. He said it probably won't work, the odds are against it curing the problem, but it's easy and very cheap to try. I'll buy one on my way home. I asked him since that meant I had to try running, whether I could join my friends for a 6-8 miler on Saturday. He just gave me a look. I revised that to say he probably meant I could run 1-2 miles on the treadmill. He nodded in agreement.

If that doesn't work the next step is physical therapy for a few weeks. Included in that will be strengthening my knee and instruction in taping my knee. Hopefully that'll cure the pain. If it doesn't work he'll try a one-time only cortisone injection.

As the goal is to run lots and lots and lots more marathons (and half marathons and 10k's and long training runs and short training runs and running until I'm 97) we'll take it slowly and hope that one of these things works. He said he knows runners and wants to oversee the rehabilitation to make sure I don't overdo it. Who, moi?? Overdo it? Ms. I-can-run-7-marathons-in-a-year overdoing it? Ok, maybe he has a point.

There is one good bit of news here. I was diagnosed with runner's knee. That means I'm a runner! Proof positive! I may be slow, may be overweight, may be out-of-shape right now, but I'm a runner. I've never really been able to truly consider myself a runner but here I am, with runner's knee, a real live runner. I actually live up to the name of my blog, Runner Girl Knits! It isn't jogger girl, or marathon girl, or slow poke girl, or aerobic exercise girl, or walker girl, it's Runner Girl.

Now I just have to be able to run again.
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