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Author Topic: The knee problems that never go away  (Read 1003 times)

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Offline theycallmej

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The knee problems that never go away
« on: April 02, 2010, 04:18:07 AM »
Hey guys-- this is my first post on the forums and it is sure to not be my last. Forgive me for rushing into my own problems, but it is why I have joined this board-- I need help.

I'm 19 years old, male, and I didn't have knee problems until I was 15. I led an active lifestyle at that point in my life, running nearly every day, and I had finished going for a run that was nearly 6 miles long when I only used to do 1 or 2 when I felt like it. I was dead tired and afterwards just rested for the day.
A while later I was joking around and chasing my uncle when I pivoted, fell, and hurt my right knee. I couldn't put weight on it or pressure and after a lot of ice and tears I was laying down at home. I didn't get up for a day or so and I made sure to get my knee healed up, afterwards I didn't have a single problem.
Fastforward a year to when I was 16-- heavily active, doing exercise every other day and doing everything to get my body in shape. I ran 4 miles frequently, worked out with weights and did squats. I was doing a one-legged squat on my left knee and I went and bend down quite far (bad form) and when extending the knee, I heard a noise that was similar to tin foil. It was a crunchy noise, and I immediately fell and felt a really odd sensation in my knee. It wasn't pain, it was just ODD.
Iced it and thought I'd recover-- I was back to running within a week though I just felt like my knee was loose. I took a break and gave myself a small bit of rest but I kept having the urge to run again-- I just wanted to keep going. I had some pain develop 2 weeks after the injury so I stopped all exercise and decided to rest, but then I went back to exercise yet again and decided to ignore the problem, everything seemed fine.


A month or two later, I was going to the doctor's because the problem wouldn't mend. After a visit to the docs, they looked me over and said it could be that my kneecap just wasn't tracking properly. They took an x-ray and after waiting for 2 weeks they said I had "mild arthritis" in my knee. Mild arthritis? What? I was 16-- it didn't make sense. I was worried sick and went back two months later to have the doctors look some more. They scheduled an MRI and told me that my knee looked perfectly fine. I kept up running because I thought that everything was alright then. However, things got slowly worse-- I developed discomfort almost all of the time and it's still here to this day-- laying in bed at night my knee just feels funny if I go on my side. Anytime I have to bend and straighten my knee a lot it bugs me-- then there is the worst thing of all, when I do my sit-ups. I do sit-ups where I lay on my back and am in position with my legs and upper body lifted, then I extend one knee and touch my opposite elbow to my other knee in a twist fashion. A popping occurs everytime I extend my knee-- never when I bend it, just mid-way through extension. It doesn't hurt, it just feels very, very funny.
More x-rays were taken last year and I was told, still, that nothing had changed and I was fine. I took physical therapy for a year and things seemed to get slightly better-- I really did feel like things were changing for the best, but nothing was getting tip-top. I got a knee brace, similar to the cho-pat brace and it worked well for me, but I didn't want to wear it all of the time. I still have it, I just don't wear it often. One major symptom went away-- a feeling that my knee would have to pop, so I'd push forward and it would actually pop and feel good but then loose after a short while. Even to now, that has gone away completely-- that may be good or bad.


At that time, which would be about May of 2009, my right knee was not bugging me. Things got great around June though-- my knee felt fantastic for a while-- a two week period where I had no problems at all because I was resting all of the time and going for long walk on flat ground in sunshine. It was perfect.
I overestimated myself though, I took a bike ride that was 18 miles, soon after the ride my knee problems came back, with all the same symptoms, slowly getting worse up to now and with pain at times. Usually when I was walking I'd feel a pain, usually if I stepped in a funny way or if I quick pop extended my knee-- I'd say that when I'd move my leg forward, I actually lunged forward a slight bit and would feel immediate pain around the knee. I also noticed that the right knee kicked up with the same symptoms, sometimes worse.

I also noticed more discomfort with my knee when sitting-- if I sit and squeeze my quads or muscles, I can feel a grinding feeling along my patellae tendon and my patellae itself. I don't know what to do with all of this, I've been to the doctors, have tried stretching my IT band with a foam roller and more but things aren't getting better. I could go back to physical therapy but the strange thing is that I had my good period in July when I didn't have knee pain when I wasn't doing any physical therapy at all.

I'd like a good idea of what might be going on, seeing as I've had no diagnosis, and if there is any info I could provide more. I'm sick of dealing with this-- it is a feeling that I'm annoyed by consistently. After learning a new method of running, the pose method (as well as with walking) I don't feel pain nearly as often, but I'd like all of these symptoms to resolve so that I feel better.

P.S. Also with my left knee, when I do a quad set and try pushing the knee a little down towards the ground with my muscles to straighten, there is a palpable click.

I don't get the loud pops often anymore, it's more just palpable clicks and pops and grinds. I do ice regularly, take ibuprofen now and then and I have a runner's knee strap for my right knee which works most of the time, just not for actual pain.

Offline BadKneeDay

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Re: The knee problems that never go away
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2010, 02:23:39 PM »
First I'll say that I am not an expert, as others have said, I'm just an expert at my own issues...

If you were diagnosed with arthritis at 16, then the doctors should not be telling you that nothing is wrong, arthritis won't magically disappear!  That would be a condition that you still have.  I completely understand how frustrating it can be to have knee problems so young, mine started when I was 20, and now I am 25 looking toward my 3rd surgery.  ( I won't say that I'm looking forward to it! )

I can tell you that being young with a knee issue complicates things, many doctors don't believe that young people are likely to have a serious knee issue, unless you are a professional athlete.  The key to treatment and diagnosis is tenacity... you have to be your own best advocate!  It took me two and a half years from the time of injury to have my ACL tear diagnosed and have the surgery.  I have been 16 months from surgery and have just now received a treatment plan and diagnosis for the scar tissue that my ACL surgery left me with.  The doctor who did my surgery didn't want to consider complications from surgery because I am young.  You have to keep fighting, not just as a young person, but anyone who has orthopedic issues... we all know our bodies best, and we know when something is wrong.  If something feels wrong with your knee then you should keep investigating, keep searching for the doctor who will take you seriously and is concerned about helping you!

Now to the good stuff... I believe that your arthritis may have advanced, and perhaps you have some scar tissue in the joint.  Sounds similar to my symptoms in some ways, and I am waiting for approval from the insurance company to go ahead with surgery to remove that scar tissue!  I am positive that someone else on this board will have more insight for you, someone else is sure to know what you’re going through precisely. 

Just keep searching the boards and this site, there is a ton of information available.  I would also suggest that you try to see a different ortho, one that specializes in knee injuries.  The doctor who wouldn’t listen to me was a general orthopedic, and after my MRI last September he told me that nothing was wrong.  I continued to search, got an appointment with a knee specialist, and he used the same MRI to diagnose my scar tissue problem.  It was obvious to him!  That just proves that in many cases diagnosis is due to the personality of the doctor and his area of specialty! 

Anyway, good luck and don’t give up!  If you believe that something is wrong don’t let someone else convince you otherwise, you have to look out for yourself because no one else will.  My injury occurred in July 2006 and I am still dealing with it… sometimes it’s a long drawn out process, but if you keep at it you’ll get the diagnosis and treatment that you need! 

Offline crankerchick

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Re: The knee problems that never go away
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2010, 07:51:26 PM »
Sounds like you need a better doctor. The popping and cracking is usually dismissed by doctors as long as it doesn't cause any pain, but your pain smells of patello-femoral syndrome which is just geek speak for pain in the knee from your kneecap moving around and/or not being lined up good. PFS isn't really a diagnosis, and neither is the "arthritis" that your doctor mentioned. Which, while I'm on that, did they say whether it was a loss of cartilage behind the kneecap or a loss of the meniscus?

You should find yourself a competent OS that specializes in knees, specifically in patella problems. A year of physio is a long time to go to therapy without much relief. It's time to have a competent doc have a look and help you move on past this.

What you needs is:
1. Lateral x-ray with leg bent to 30 degrees of flexion
2. AP x-ray of the leg to show joint spacing
3. Standing leg length x-ray to reveal any bowing of the leg or knock knees
4. sunrise or merchant x-ray to show your patella tracking through various degrees of flexion
5. possibly a CT scan

Like BadKneeDay says, the patient really has to be their own advocate. You have to hunt around for the right doctor and damn near have to diagnose your own problem sometimes in order to find the right doctor to treat you. You need good opinions from competent doctors combined with an educated patient and competent physiotherapy too. If you do really have arthritis, best to get it taken care of now. If it is being caused by a tracking problem, it's important to get to the root reason for the tracking issue and have it corrected before more damage is done.

Are you in the US?
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Oct '09 - femoral + tibial derotational osteotomy & TTT
Aug '10 - hardware removal
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Offline theycallmej

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Re: The knee problems that never go away
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2010, 01:04:28 AM »
Thanks for your replies so far! :)

I have my doubts in all honesty that I have arthritis-- to me, it sounds more like chondromalacia or something of that aspect. I fully realize that it isn't a diagnosis to either of them, there has to be something underneath of that to explain why I have either problem.
The cartilage problem they identified as being behind the kneecap-- they said that it was, in their words, "hardened."

A huge problem I am facing is that I no longer have my insurance as of January-- I should have pursued this earlier and now I have to deal with these issues. Would it be possible to still get the results from my MRI or x-ray now that I've moved? I'd like to have a copy of it to post to you guys so that you could tell me what you think.

Offline BadKneeDay

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Re: The knee problems that never go away
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2010, 02:11:20 PM »
Yes, you should be able to get a copy of your x-rays and MRI reports, just call the office, explain that you moved and you need the information so that you can find a new doctor.  They may tell you that they need a consent for from you to release it, or they may tell you there is a charge for getting a copy of your file, but most doctors offices understand that you need the info and have no problem sending it to you.















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