A Lesson About Knees and Injury Prevention

Posted by: | August 23, 2011

In amongst the Tofino waves, my right knee was ruined.  I was on a surf trip for my vacation, and whilst swimming through the waves in order to surf, I overextended my knee.  It made a very loud popping sound, which made me stop and consider how it felt. It didn’t hurt, until a few days later, when it really started swelling.

I actually didn’t think it was really wrecked. In fact, I didn’t even mention it in last week’s article about my vacation because I thought it was a little sprain.  It hurts a little, but it is bearable. It makes some popping sounds, but hey, I just turned 31. Those are the sounds of getting old, right?

My colleagues convinced me, however, to visit my doctor, since it didn’t seem to be healing.  In the back of my mind, I remembered that both of my brothers have bad knees- one in fact has had surgery and can no longer ski due to the injuries. I eventually saw a doctor on Thursday afternoon.

Denial was a lovely place to live for a little while.  My doctor, however, crushed that fairly quickly.

So now I am learning all about my knees.  I always like to consider family history, and with this investigation, I believe that I have found the tragic genetic Jolly Flaw, in fact. Both of my brothers it seems have knees that are ruined. My one brother has had surgery, because after ignoring his meniscal injury and continuing to play soccer, he continued to injury the rest of his knee. You can also hear my eldest brother coming from a mile away: click, click, click says his knees.  I like to learn from my elders as much as possible, and so I’m seeing what I can learn from my brothers’ knees.

So my doctor hasn’t recommended surgery (yet), and while I have an injury, I am looking into preventing any further ones. For example, I am fairly certain that the reason I wrecked my knee in the first place is because I don’t stretch. I know. It’s ridiculous, particularly given the fact that I have the tightest IT band ever (because of mountain biking a lot recently).  So I am looking into ways that I protect my knees, for example by learning from articles like this one from Runners World.

I am also learning a lot about physical therapy (PT). I haven’t started any PT yet, since I’m still working on minimizing swelling after only a day’s worth of mild walking (which isn’t much, let me assure you).  I pulled my resources, however, and got some great advice from a colleague who works in the field and has also needed PT, about choosing a PT that suits me. She says:

Choosing a PT is the same as choosing an RMT or any other practitioner, so you can look at it in that respect. Consider:

·         Experience

·         Training/Credentials/Extra coursework

·         Interests – is the person very sports-minded?; has s/he worked with teams?; do they have a particular interest – e.g., shoulders, hand therapy, pain management, sports injuries, etc.?

·         Availability

 

While I am considering how to help my knee heal, I am also having to reconsider how I will take care of my mental health.  Prior to this injury, my way of dealing with stress was to rock climb or mountain bike. I have goals to race my mountain bike next year in memory of my friend Glenn (who I wrote about last December) in a 67 km bike race called the Test of Metal, and this injury could keep me from achieving that goal. All of these factors make this a rather concerning injury.  So how can I deal with stress? How can I stay relatively in shape?

I asked my doctor these questions and got some realistic answers: swimming and spinning on a stationary bike will be doable.  I don’t yet have any experience using either as a stress relief tool, so I have also started working on projects that I find peaceful and meaningful. I have an art project for example, that I started last summer when I had busted ribs. I am working on my song writing more. I am trying to be clear with my family and friends about my need to spend time with them in new ways now. I am thinking of borrowing a friend’s kayak, because it will allow me to be outside. I am going to go out on a fishing boat this weekend. Essentially, I know that if I have a lot of spare time, sitting around the house, moping about my injury, then I won’t be a very happy person.  So I am finding new ways to be “me.”

Anyways, wish me and my knee luck in healing and preventing any further injuries, and finding a fulfilling life in the process, that doesn’t include my usual activities.

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One Response to “A Lesson About Knees and Injury Prevention”

  1. I read this article and the links with great interest. While I am not an “athlete” I do want to stay mobile and pain free for as long as possible. My family genes make me susceptible to condramalacia and I am trying to learn what I can do to prevent further damage. I have heard that women can be particularly prone to knee problems because of wider hips or something. Perhaps a Lunch and Learn seminar can be organized on “knee health”, I for one would be sure to attend.

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