The Diagnosis

Last Saturday, I hurt my left knee. I hurt my knee so bad I was unable to bend it. I was unable to walk up and down the stairs. I hurt my knee so bad it was swollen for an entire week.

An entire week.

After showing my boss and co-worker my knee on Monday at work, they immediately instructed me to see a doctor. They both suffer from knee problems of their own and the fact that it was still swollen after two days was definitely a cause for concern.

I began the process of calling orthopedic specialists in the DC area, preferably close to my work, only to find out that they were not taking new patients at this time or that their earliest appointment was for mid-September. Considering I had the Virginia Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon the Sunday following the incident,  I couldn’t wait until mid-September for an appointment.

Because what if I was still able to compete in the half marathon?

I started calling specialists closer to my house. Luckily, someone recently had a cancelation and I could come see the doctor on Friday.

Thank goodness.

I took the entire week off from exercise. I didn’t go to the gym. I didn’t talk a walk around my neighborhood. I didn’t run. Nothing. It was a terrible week for cardiovascular fitness.

But what was I supposed to do? Risk aggravating my knee further and then completely ruin any chance of competing on Saturday? Ugh terrible.

Friday came and my knee was still swollen.

I went to the doctor. After x-rays and exam he and his assistant came to a decision.

The diagnosis? Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS/IT Band Syndrome).

Common training causes that I am GUILTY of (from Wikipedia):

  • Always running on a banked surface (such as the shoulder of a road or an indoor track) bends the downhill leg slightly inward and causes extreme stretching of the band against the femur. (I typically run on the shoulder of the road/sidewalk and it definitely is not flat or smooth)
  • Inadequate warm-up or cool-down (totally guilty of just going out there and running and then coming home and not doing any stretches)
  • Excessive up-hill and down-hill running (the loop I do is a constant up-hill/down-hill run and I usually circle it at least 2 times)
  • Running up and down stairs (every weekday I run down the escalator steps at the metro station and some mornings I run up them. Total # of steps I run in one instance? 90)

Feet abnormalities that contribute to IT Band Syndrome (from Wikipedia):

From what it sounds like, I’ve done this to myself. Absolutely terrible. Depending on how I train from now on this may continue to be an issue or might just flare up on it own.

Does this mean I can never run again? Absolutely not. But, I do need to train smarter. I need to think more about what is best for my body, not just what I want to be doing.

For the next few weeks, the doctor instructed me to do daily stretches and to focus on cross training. The more I try to run before it is better, the more it will continue to be a pain in the butt knee.

I am not thrilled with this diagnosis, but there are worse things.

As Chris put it, “You got a true runners injury.”

Yeah, I sorta did.

Do you have knee problems? What do you do for them? Have you suffered from IT Band Syndrome? Any tips? Let’s discuss!!

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15 thoughts on “The Diagnosis

  1. I’m brand new to running (well, this decade anyway), and I’m having some knee problems. So far, I do not think it is an IT band issue, but I have some of your same training impediments…the crazy hill outside my house (10% for .2 miles at the beginning and the end of the run–whee!), and some inadequate warmup and cool down time. For your amusement, I do have some sidewalks, which helps with the bank, and I really look like a dog chasing a ball when it comes to seeing a nice piece of flat turf or gravel on the road…I’m just trying to make sure I restrain the urge to cross streets to hit the flat turf…as much as I dislike runner’s knee, which I probably have, nothing is worse than fender-in-the-knee… 🙂

  2. Oh, and I forgot, I picked up trying one-leg squats from some site somewhere, and they have been fantastic for the *one* day that I have been doing them…we’ll see how they work out when I actually get back on another run…

    • Not to sound like a pain buuuut, I encourage you to go visit a doctor if you’re experiencing knee pain, even if you think it is runner’s knee, because it’s pretty easy (unfortunately) to do some serious damage.

      The pain is terrible! I only really began training hardcore about three months ago, but all I can do now is be better with what I am doing. Giving myself more recovery time and not using every long run as a practice race.

      I really wish I had more flat road sidewalks to run on that aren’t on a main road. It’s amazing the difference one can feel on proper surfaces.

      • Thanks, for the recommendation, I likely will, and especially if I have any pain my next run! I am just hoping that it’s just what comes with a new and sudden start to running, but I am ready to admit to a possible injury if the next run hurts.

      • I think it can be expected, but it is better to be safe than sorry. The knees take so much stress and they are so little in comparison. If they get bad, you’re really screwed!

        Isn’t it weird how this is one of the few sports in which people routinely perform while injured?

  3. It ws great seeing you at RnR Va Beach! What a suprise! Hope you had a great run and that your blisters were not nearly as bad as you had feared! I ended up walking a bunch, the heat and humidity killed me…ugh..but I finished! Who knows what other races we may end up running into each other.

    • It was great seeing you too!! I hope you finished strong — there is zero shame in walking. It was disgustingly hot out and its better to be safe and stay healthy rather than risk passing out from dehydration!

      Congratulations on finishing!! I finished as well. My update on the race will be uploaded tomorrow. I can’t wait to read yours!!

      The blisters? Way worse than I could’ve ever imagined. Holy moly!! More on that though tomorrow 🙂

      Congratulations again!

  4. Pingback: Race Recap: Virginia Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon | Passion & Laughter

  5. I starting suffering from knee pain back in April. I was running a handful of miles every day and it had gotten to the point where I couldn’t bend my knee at all without experiencing excruciating pain. I quickly broke down and went to the doctor. He told me my problem was that my knee was not formed properly…that is, that my kneecap doesn’t properly sit in the groove it is supposed to, and my cartilage had finally gotten worn to a point where I could feel my kneecap trying to slide into place (gross and weird, I know). Unfortunately, there isn’t any cure for this, other than surgery to dig out the proper groove. I’m not to the surgery point yet, and he gave me a fancy knee brace to wear that pushes my kneecap over to where it is supposed to be. The brace works great and I haven’t had a problem since. You’ve got to take those knee pains seriously! I wish you a speedy recovery!

    • Eek! That sounds awful! Luckily you can wear the brace to help it do what it needs to and hopefully it doesn’t start bothering you again.

      The doc had me take an x ray to make sure that everything was in its proper place. I’ve got some worn cartilage but it’s def my IT band.

      Knees are definitely not something to be taken lightly. 😦

      How is your running going these days?

  6. I took a break from long distance running to focus on biking and swimming for my triathlon. I actually got bronchitis a few weeks ago and haven’t done much of anything since then, but after my race on Sunday I’m going to jump back into running everyday. I miss it!

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