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Aargh -- Aggravated A Knee Problem


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#1 eleep

 
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Posted 15 August 2006 - 10:31 AM

Well, I was hoping to go on my first solo hike fairly soon, but I was having weird, wonky slight pain in my knee the other day and I'm pretty sure I shouldn't go out there alone if it's likely to get worse.

I originally developed this on a hike in the Adirondacks when I was going down a mountain with no walking stick of any kind and a 32 pound pack on my back -- it's never been a huge deal other than that -- I think I just torqued it a little bit. However, I don't want it to develop into something worse.

For the last few years since then, I've been doing a careful free-weight routine with lunges to build up the muscular protection around my knee. I also went to a physical therapist who gave me some pilates-based core stuff to do on the exercise ball. The combination really stopped any knee complaints I ever had while hiking -- and I also started jogging as well with no problems.

However, since February I've had to slack off on working out (except for yoga) because I've been healing and trying to get my weight up -- I think I may need to spend some more time getting my muscles back to where they were before, but I also don't want to aggravate this knee problem.

Does anyone know how long I should wait and baby my knee? There's no swelling and the weird feeling is gone today (although it felt weird yesterday after a run the day before). I hesitate to call this an injury, exactly -- although it could be an injury waiting to happen if I'm not careful!

eleep
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Erica

Inconclusive blood test results
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gluten-free since 2/10/06

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#2 Jinscoe

 
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Posted 16 August 2006 - 04:29 AM

Have you considered physical therapy? The problem may be slight but some minor adjustments and working through could well do the trick to bring you back to full strength.

Do you still hike with a heavy pack? Is there anything you don't need to take with you that you can lose to lighten the load?
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#3 tarnalberry

 
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Posted 16 August 2006 - 07:02 AM

2 things:
1. Have an ortho check it out - it's worth it to make sure you don't have "a little wonky thing" that'll turn into a "big wonky thing. The ortho'll probably send you on to PT after verifying it's not going to turn into a "big wonky thing", but that's probably where you want to end up anyway, after verifying what the issue is.
2. Get trekking poles and use them on your hikes, pack or no pack. Yes, they can get pricey (though you don't have to get $140 shock absorbtion ones), they are *very* helpful for taking weight and pressure off the knees, especially on downhills. Learn to use them properly and always use them. Pretend they're American Express - don't leave home without 'em. :P
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Tiffany aka "Have I Mentioned Chocolate Lately?"
Inconclusive Blood Tests, Positive Dietary Results, No Endoscopy
G.F. - September 2003; C.F. - July 2004
Hiker, Yoga Teacher, Engineer, Painter, Be-er of Me
Bellevue, WA

#4 eleep

 
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Posted 16 August 2006 - 07:16 AM

I could have guessed you'd bring up the trekking poles, Tiffany! I've actually been relying on my hobbit-esque walking stick -- picked up on the same trip after I'd injured my knee. There's quite a story there about my boyfriend taking my half of the food out of my pack and hauling it around a lake taking pictures for me while I scrambled my way along a boulder-strewn trail completely oblivious to what was around me. I still look at those pictures and can't actually remember having been there!

Yes, it's probably time for the poles.
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Erica

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#5 CarlaB

 
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Posted 16 August 2006 - 07:21 AM

I have knee/joint problems and I find taking msm, glucosamine, and chondriotin really helps. I think my joint problems relate back to the gluten problem, so it could be part of the trouble for you, too. But, take Tiffany's advice ... you two are the resident experts on hiking!!

Funny walking stick story ... we were in "The Walking Store" and my son who was about 10 picked up a walking stick and started pretending he needed it ... he said, "I'm really old," then walked like an old man. The sales clerk looked at him like he was a total jerk for making fun of old people, then my son continued on, "I'm Yoda." We all cracked up, including the sales clerk! :lol:
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#6 eleep

 
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Posted 16 August 2006 - 07:23 AM

Adventure! hmph! Excitement! hmph! A jedi craves not these things!



Someone should put me down....
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Erica

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gluten-free since 2/10/06

#7 CarlaB

 
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Posted 16 August 2006 - 08:01 AM

Adventure! hmph! Excitement! hmph! A jedi craves not these things!
Someone should put me down....

Na, I'm sensing you're using any excuse to avoid writing! :D
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#8 tarnalberry

 
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Posted 16 August 2006 - 08:14 AM

I could have guessed you'd bring up the trekking poles, Tiffany! I've actually been relying on my hobbit-esque walking stick -- picked up on the same trip after I'd injured my knee. There's quite a story there about my boyfriend taking my half of the food out of my pack and hauling it around a lake taking pictures for me while I scrambled my way along a boulder-strewn trail completely oblivious to what was around me. I still look at those pictures and can't actually remember having been there!

Yes, it's probably time for the poles.


Yeah, I found a fabulous walking stick in hawaii. It's beautifully carved, and a lovely example of wood in its own right. But we're bipeds! :P

The only reason I suggest seeing a doctor first is this:
While the knee *primarily* bends only as a hinge joint (one axis), it does have *some* motion in other directions - twisting directions. It's supposed to. It's a good thing. But it's a very weak joint in those directions. Rock slipping away under your heel, roots jutting up where you hadn't seen them to the side, and logs tipping as you cross a river can stress those weak directions. If you're already weak there (due to a strain in a tendon, a weak muscle, a meniscal tear, etc.), well... you're goin' down, and I don't mean the mountain. (I know you know all this - I'm just serving as a friendly reminder, so you can't wheedle out of what you know. :P We're all tempted sometimes... The call of the wild is strong!)

My knee problem (chondromalacia patella) came and went in severity, but when it got bad, it got really bad. Properly taken care of, hiking's not a problem, but it was important to see a doctor to rule out a meniscal tear which is a very different sort of problem, but can sometimes also come and go with respect to pain in a similar fashion, but requires different treatment.

At least joints are relatively easy to see into. They're a primarily mechanical process (not chemical, like our guts), so it's easier to generally figure out what's going on.

Good luck! You'll be back hiking in no time!
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Tiffany aka "Have I Mentioned Chocolate Lately?"
Inconclusive Blood Tests, Positive Dietary Results, No Endoscopy
G.F. - September 2003; C.F. - July 2004
Hiker, Yoga Teacher, Engineer, Painter, Be-er of Me
Bellevue, WA

#9 eleep

 
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Posted 16 August 2006 - 08:23 AM

Na, I'm sensing you're using any excuse to avoid writing! :D



Oh, I can never seem to find friends who won't see through to my true motives in no time!

Yes, I'm procrastinating. However, I was supposed to be on vacation and travelling this week anyway, and that whole plan got squashed by a number of problems that have since been solved. I'm spending the week trying to gain weight, working for the union, getting my muscles back in shape and generally enjoying myself.

I'm only spending about three hours a day on the prospectus/exams, and right now I'm trying to take my advisor's advice that the best way to deal with it is to avoid treating that stuff as though it's life or death -- her recommendation was that I should treat perfecting a pie crust as life or death and treat the writing process as something I do for fun.

Did I mention that I quit smoking last week as well? That was the last unhealthy relic leftover from my days as a theatre geek in college. I've quit about seven times before (sometimes for as long as two years), but it's never been so easy as it has been after going gluten-free.

Defensive, defensive......
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Erica

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#10 utdan

 
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Posted 16 August 2006 - 08:34 AM

The only reason I suggest seeing a doctor first is this:
While the knee *primarily* bends only as a hinge joint (one axis), it does have *some* motion in other directions - twisting directions. It's supposed to. It's a good thing. But it's a very weak joint in those directions. Rock slipping away under your heel, roots jutting up where you hadn't seen them to the side, and logs tipping as you cross a river can stress those weak directions. If you're already weak there (due to a strain in a tendon, a weak muscle, a meniscal tear, etc.), well... you're goin' down, and I don't mean the mountain. (I know you know all this - I'm just serving as a friendly reminder, so you can't wheedle out of what you know. :P We're all tempted sometimes... The call of the wild is strong!)

My knee problem (chondromalacia patella) came and went in severity, but when it got bad, it got really bad. Properly taken care of, hiking's not a problem, but it was important to see a doctor to rule out a meniscal tear which is a very different sort of problem, but can sometimes also come and go with respect to pain in a similar fashion, but requires different treatment.


My doctor told me to exercise the outer and inner thigh muscles, not just the normal front and back (forgot the sophisticated names). Not my favorite exercise in the gym! That helped me out tons when I needed it though.

Even more important actually, certain non-gluten foods will cause my knees to act up, (casein mostly). Are allergic to something you're eating?
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Dan


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#11 tarnalberry

 
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Posted 16 August 2006 - 08:42 AM

I forgot to add - on the pole front - they're a bit more expensive, but the collapsing poles (particularly three segment, twist lock variety) are very convenient if you have a pack that has any sort of location you can strap them to. Then, you can store them there when you get to your destination if you're taking a long lunch, or put them away if there's a spot where you need your hands more than the poles (not an often occurance). You can just use ski poles, of course, but I've been happy to have the storage capability of the collapsing ones. Do give them a try out at the store, though... I almost got the cheaper REI ones over the Leki ones... That would have been a bad decision.

(And ditto on utdan's comments - my issue was stregthening the portions of the quad that were on the inside of the thigh so that the kneecap would track properly - it is easily pulled off track. It's not just the adductors, or extensors, but also the different portions of the major muscle groups as well. Another reason that some significant time with the PT is useful. As well as listening to your own body. Normally, for chondromalacia patella, biking is a good thing - turns out, for me, it's too much repetetive bending. Never mind it's not weight bearing at low resistance, it's too frequent.)
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Tiffany aka "Have I Mentioned Chocolate Lately?"
Inconclusive Blood Tests, Positive Dietary Results, No Endoscopy
G.F. - September 2003; C.F. - July 2004
Hiker, Yoga Teacher, Engineer, Painter, Be-er of Me
Bellevue, WA

#12 CarlaB

 
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Posted 16 August 2006 - 08:45 AM

Aren't they the abductor and adductor exercises?

Erica, CONGRATULATIONS on quitting smoking. You'll be glad you did!!
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#13 eleep

 
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Posted 16 August 2006 - 09:05 AM

Actually those muscles are the ones I've been skipping exercises for over these past few months! Ha -- I will make an appointment to get the knee looked at as soon as the infirmary re-opens.

Tiffany -- I've got a Kelty coyote pack -- so there are a plethora of things to hang some collapsing poles from. That's good advice.

I'm going to head out to get some moderate, knee-careful exercise -- I think I might be starting to get kind of whiny from lack of activity!
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Erica

Inconclusive blood test results
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Positive dietary results
gluten-free since 2/10/06

#14 utdan

 
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Posted 16 August 2006 - 03:49 PM

Aren't they the abductor and adductor exercises?


Yes, I remember that is what they were called.


Just remembered that I quoted Tarnalberry (as the brain fog momentarily parts). In my teens my chiropractor (my dad) did a little adjustment that helped out that essential give in the knee's twisting motions. It did help a some. Your PT might be able to do it. I don't know that I would go to a Chiropractor specifically for that but you might ask yours the next time you are in (if you see one). Keep in mind not all chiropractors go get the extra training in joint and visceral adjustments.
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Dan


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