So- you have seen me over the past few days, weeks, months, years… complain about pain in my knees. From general pain when I run/walk/breathe to pain from falling off my bike just before my wedding. It’s always an adventure.
Recently I decided to try running again- in a methodical- fun- social manner- so I joined Mom’s on the Run. Love this group! And… the pain was back. Sometimes worse than others- sometimes waking me up in the night because of the ache. It doesn’t hurt as much when I am actually running- it’s just all the rest of the time! LOL
So I decided that I needed to find out once and for all, am I injured? Or am I just being a baby with the pain? (Though I really do have a pretty high tolerance for pain). I felt like the time has finally come to get some “final words.” My chiro and my Physical Therapist have been so helpful over the years- but at the same time- it never really gets significantly better.
So this past Thursday I went to the orthopedic Dr. He was recommended to me by my Mom’s on the Run coach. She has seen him a few times and without surgery he has helped her to keep on running so I figured that was a good place to start.
At the clinic we discussed my history of knee pain and injuries, he watched me walk, he felt my knees and asked where it hurt, he held his hand over them as I bent them back and forth so he could feel the crunch and pop as they moved! (It’s so gross to hear them make all that noise!)
He told me that he had a pretty good idea what was wrong- but he was going to send me for X-rays right then to be sure and we would get back together as soon as the X-rays came in.
He came back and said “Yep. I was right. You have severe osteoarthritis in your knees. I thought that is what it was, arthritis under your knee caps, but you have significantly more damage than we would normally expect in a woman your age.”
Say what? I have OLD KNEES?
In my Dr. notes in the online account it says this: Findings: Severe degenerative changes patellofemoral joint, bilaterally with mild medial compartment narrowing.
(Sigh) Just this past December my mom had both of her knees replaced. I never really thought about that as “genetic.” But the arthritis that caused her knees to degenerate apparently is. At one point I looked at the Dr and asked, “Wait! So does this mean that I could need to have my knees replaced someday?” His response? “Well if you live a long happy, healthy, active life and do everything right… Yes. Definitely.” FRAK!
So- crapola… At least I know what is wrong- even if I do not like the answer.
Bandaids for my cortisone steroid injection boo boos!
Now I have to work with what I have. He gave me a steroid/cortisone shot in each knee. He said that should pretty much eliminate the arthritis pain for 3-6 months and start working within 24 hours. (It DID!) BUT it is not a cure. When it starts to wear off I need to go back and he will try a medical knee lubricant. It takes about a month for that to work but it lasts about a year for most people (if it works- it works in about 67% of people or something like that!). Then pretty much this is something I will have to keep track of and do regularly forever (until the new knees.)
He said I could run. It depends on my own tolerance for pain. I will swell and have some pain from running still (there is a lot of damage in there already and running is not exactly preventing further damage) but it will not be nearly what it is now. Ice and Advil will work. I could do it for one more summer- but he does recommend I think about finding other activities I can be passionate about. (Good thing I like my bike so much!) Of course my husband and my chiropractor are pretty much anti-running at this point because they worry about the damage I will do in the meantime even if it doesn’t hurt as much.
Also- the other aches and pains are still there- My tib/fib joint is all loose and wobbly and half the time is out of place (oh yeah- MOM has THAT problem too- thanks again! LOL) and because I have been in pain my body has been trying to compensate so there is other soreness… but that will start to get better since the pain is gone. (Fingers crossed!)
The Dr said the number one thing I need to work on is strengthening my quads to help support my knees better. I will also be sure to enlist the help of my chiro and my Physical Therapist to try to make this last as long as I can and be as healthy as possible in the meantime. Mom also has some good recommendations for joint lubrication support and being that she has been through all this already- I will be getting some of that good stuff ASAP.
So there we have it. An answer. Not one I like AT ALL. One that made me crawl in bed next to My Guy and have a good cry. One that still kind of stressed me out.. but at least I know what I am up against.
Oh and if you are wondering? I AM going to run the rest of the summer with my running group. Slow and steady. I probably will only run the two days of group- no extra intervals- and I will keep doing my SPIN/Krank class and I will ride my bike the other days… but I am going to make the most of the last summer I will EVER be able to run… and enjoy my Mom’s running group!