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!!

Saturday.

Some days you should really just say home and play with your kitten. Unfortunately, being the dedicated marathon trainee that I am decided to go out for my long run. Saturday was supposed to be a ten-twelve mile run depending on how I felt.

I started off feeling amazing. I ran two 10:30 minute miles and then apparently my legs decided that they were just going to go faster. And I was so caught up in the music that I wasn’t really paying attention. Miles three through six were 9 minute miles. I wasn’t hurting, my body wasn’t aching. I felt good, I had fabulous weather.

And then it happened.

I was on a downhill. All of sudden the outside of my left knee was in excruciating pain. I slowed to walk which turned into a limp. After a few minutes of walking, the pain subsided so I thought I could run again. I ran just short of a quarter of a mile before deciding that running today was no longer an option. But since walking still felt fine, I figured I’d just to walk back to my apartment. I turned my app off at 9.03 miles. I had been walking for two and a half at this point. I still had another half a mile to go.

I live on the four floor of an apartment building with no elevators. I couldn’t even bend my knee to walk up the stairs without crying out in pain.

Chris saw my face when I hobbled through the door and knew something was seriously wrong.

My knee was slightly swollen. It looked like there was a bruise under the kneecap close to where I said it hurt.

After icing it and hanging out for a little while we headed out the Redskins pre-season game.

The walk to the car was slow and painful. Bending my knee no longer was an option.

Luckily at the stadium I managed to score Chris and I a ride on a golf cart with one of the stadium attendants. From there it was an elevator ride and a short walk to the suite so we could rejoice in witnessing RGIII’s first play ever at Fedex Field.

Thankfully the Redskins won.With that win I declared this is the season we head to the Super Bowl.

The walk back to the car was slow and painful. Walking up the stairs back into the apartment was painful.

This morning when I woke up? No pain. Granted, I haven’t tried to walk down the stairs or anything, but its an improvement.

My biggest concern is that this pain will prohibit me from participating in the half marathon next weekend. This is a tapering week so my runs will be short and sweet. Two four mile runs is all I’ve got planned.

If I have to, I will walk the half marathon.

At what point should I visit the doctor? Have you ever had random knee pain occur on a run? What did you do for treatment? How did this pain affect future runs? Any trips or tricks to help avoid knee pain? Do those compression knee sleeves actually work? Any help is greatly appreciated. Let’s discuss!