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Author Topic: Mysterious Chronic bilateral knee pain  (Read 1476 times)

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Offline Kalooski

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Mysterious Chronic bilateral knee pain
« on: March 25, 2014, 10:12:01 PM »
Hey everybodyI'm sort of at my wits end and here I am now. Simply put, I have a mysterious chronic bilateral knee pain and I'll try to provide as much detail as I can. Any help would be awesome!

My Description of the Pain: So i know this description is going to be very vague, because that's exactly what this pain seems to be. Basically after standing, or doing activity for an extended period of time I get a dull pain throughout the knee-cap region, on both tendons on either side of the back of the knee, and sometime where the very top of the calf connects with the knee joint. The pain is not acute in any way and it is most always spread out across most areas of my knee. Triggers for it definitely seem to be standing for long periods of time and activity (running, jumping, etc.). But, a very interesting note that no doctor has seemed to truly understand is that while doing activity, the pain does not necessarily appear during the activity, the pain only occurs post-activity say 15 minutes or so. Pain pills don't necessarily seem to help much, and my best description would be that when the pain is occurring post-activity, my knee simply feels extremely weak as though it may collapse at any time. The pain also seems to come and go in phases. For example, I can remember about a year ago where I didn't feel the pain at all for several months, while nowadays the pain is almost constant all-day.

My History with the Pain: I've always been a very active kid from the time I was very young, and I'm a 5'10" 130lbs 18 year-old male (just for some background). I first remember the pain when I was 13 years old playing football (american) in middle school. Same pain as I'm feeling nowadays although possibly less severe. This forced me to sit out for most of the season until the end when I decided I would just play through the pain in order to enjoy the last moments of real football that I would ever get to play.

The aftermath of that decision was having to sit out playing basketball in the winter that year, and come Freshmen year of high school, I tried to try-out for the school basketball team, but had to quit 2 days into tryouts due to my knee pain. This was the end of organized sports for me. Now at this time I went to a local sports medicine doctor, had several MRIs and X-Rays taken and everything came back completely normal. The doctor didn't see any exact problem with my knee that was causing the pain. I was rather determined to try to tryout for the basketball team my following year of highschool, and during most of my freshmen year, my mother tried various cares including acupuncture and a couple different chiropractors. These treatments may have helped in the short-term pain management, but obviously did not help in the long term cure.

Come my sophomore year of high school, my knees were not feeling any better and I didn't even try to tryout for the basketball team and I simply learned to live with the pain and manage by knowing my limits and what would cause the pain. That summer after my sophomore year, I was unable to even get a simple busboy job because I could hardly stand up for more than an hour at a time without feeling excruciating pain. My junior year was more of the same story. I didn't necessarily feel the pain because I had learned what I couldn't do because of my knees. I did feel weakness/pain in my knees every once in a while but that was only because I had stood for too long or done a lot of activity the day before or something similar to that.
Now nearing the end of my senior year of highschool, the pain was seemingly staying away even as I have begun upping my activity load. I've recently started playing ultimate frisbee (which i absolutely love playing and would really love to continue playing in college), and just about two months ago I suffered a rather serious left knee sprain. I ended up visiting a orthopedic that I had seen earlier in the year for my chronic knee pain who told me that it was simply a sprain and it would be nothing to worry about, but that I should just rest it. While I was there he actually remembered me and my chronic knee pain and suggested i should try some physical therapy once my knee sprain had completely healed.

So now currently I'm one month from beginning the suggested physical therapy, and if anything my chronic knee pain in both of my knees feels worse that before I started the therapy. The therapist said that I had Patellofemoral syndrome (generalized knee pain essentially) and has me doing several exercises to strengthen and stretch my glutes, hips, and quads. I recently just went to another doctor and he immediately diagnosed me with Osgood Schlatters and that I'd simply have to outgrow the pain.

So that's where I am today and honestly I'm not totally sure where to look for pain relief. I'm a teenage guy about to go off to college and I'd love to not be hindered by knee pain, especially when I'm so young. If anyone has any questions, suggestions, cures (please), or anecdotal stories that could help I'm all ears!

Thanks in advance!

Offline wturri78

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Re: Mysterious Chronic bilateral knee pain
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2014, 12:41:50 PM »
I'm sorry to hear about your condition, but I share your frustration. I can't offer any medical advice but I can sympathize with the depressing nature of being in pain, and not being able to find any answers. I'd always had slightly sore knees after running (like, more than 5 miles) but it was always enough just to rest for a day or two between runs, or switch to biking for a while. Then one day, about one year ago, I was feeling especially good, so I did three 5 mile runs in a row. And the night after the third one, I suddenly felt a stabbing pain in my right knee going down some stairs.

"Get some rest" was the advice at the time. A doc and a chiro suspected it was the patellar tendon, and did some massage and "active release" therapy on it (essentially rubbing the tendon and surrounding areas with a metal tool that really worked down deep). It felt good (well, it hurt like hell, but felt good afterwards  :o) and seemed to help. After about 8 weeks I gradually resumed running, and worked hard on changing my form. It actually improved greatly. I even did some really good fall races. After the last race in November, I was aching pretty bad, so I figured it was time to cool it for a while. I took two weeks of solid rest, then started doing some light cycling and elliptical work.

What really sucks is that after just a little while, even those activities left me hurting.

EXACTLY LIKE YOU, it never hurts while exercising. It hurts later. Sometimes 1 hour, sometimes 4 or 5 hours.

It started as only my right knee. The more I rested the worse BOTH knees seemed to become.

I tried some PT exercises. Every doc has a different set of exercises he prescribes. I can't tell whether they help or hurt. Focusing on glutes and hips *seems* to have helped. But is it  the exercise helping? Just the passage of time? I can't tell.

Multiple people told me to try cortisone injections. I'm a bit hesitant because it's well established that too much of that stuff can weaken the soft tissues. My December MRI of both knees showed that my patellar cartilage is already damaged ("Grade 2/3 chondromalacia") so softening it further seems like a bad idea. One doc suggested I try a "homeopathic solution" first, something called Traumeel. It's a mixture of flower and herb extracts. I figured he'd gone all hippie on me, but what the heck, I tried that in both knees (and surprisingly the injections hurt far less than I'd feared).

I can say there was a definite improvement after those shots. It peaked about a week afterwards, and in the two weeks since that peak, things remain pretty good. I can do 40 minute light cycling or elliptical and I'm not in great pain later, just sore. I think I will try another round of Traumeel. I might not help but it doesn't seem like it can hurt. It doesn't carry the risks of cortisone, but of course it isn't as powerful either.

I'm also looking into prolotherapy, which of course is a whole can of worms unto itself. So too are PRP and other treatments. Most of this stuff has very little formal research to back it up because it's so recent. You get anecdotal evidence, mostly. Some swear it cured them. Some (on this forum, too) post before and after x-rays and MRI results showing improvement in cartilage. Others say they lost a lot of money on these treatments and ended up with nothing to show but a big bill that insurance won't cover.

I just turned 36. I've been surprised since this happened, to learn how many people younger than me (like you  :'() have similar problems. It doesn't seem necessarily age-related. I find teenagers who have bad cases of knee pain like ours, and I know guys in their freakin' 70's who are still running 3 marathons a year without even a twinge of discomfort in their knees.

Bottom line: it sucks.

Oh, one other thing I've found. In talking to two ortho surgeons, both recommended....guess what!...surgery. PT hasn't worked, they dismiss all the prolotherapy, Traumeel, etc. as just bogus bunk and "junk science," and want to go in and "clean up my knee." The answer to "Will it help?" is "Yeah, probably. But maybe not."

How's that for confidence?  :-\

For now I'll stick to injecting hippie flower juice into my knees. At least that isn't irreversible.