Knees are interesting joints – and they can have a whole sort of issues associated with them. A Web site I highly recommend, which goes through everything you need to know about knees is http://www.medicinenet.com/knee_pain/article.htm
Knowing about knee pain and knowing what is causing your knee pain are two totally different things. Many runners run through knee pain as much of our knee pain is caused by some inflammatory issue – arthritis, wear and tear, and other degenerative issues which cause pain but which don’t hinder training and performance.
Sometimes, however, we can run through some pains that may need medical treatment. A several years ago, I was moving out of an apartment in NYC when I felt something rip in my knee as I took a step down a flight of stairs. I had been going up and down this flight of stairs hundreds of times moving boxes and carrying heavy loads. I just took that one step too many and felt my knee give.
As the months went by my knee would bother me only when I run and after about 6 months I went to the doctor with what I would describe as a nagging but persistent pain in the outer part of my knee. The diagnosis? I had ripped the meniscus on my right knee. Almost 8 months after the tear I was on the slab getting orthoscopic surgery. Once I woke up, I was told to get up and walk out. There was no, awe poor baby, you had a knee surgery. It was more like, get out and don’t forget to go to rehab! (so I did)
When to Stop and Seek Medical Advice
When a knee pain becomes persistent, meaning you are taking anti-inflammatory medications such as Tylenol or ibuprofen to reduce pain after running and especially if you need pain relief at times other than when running or that when you run there is a stabbing pain or other sharp pain in the knee or the ligaments around the knee, it’s time for a medical evaluation.
Knee pain which feel like a stabbing pain in the side of the knee – which sometimes are not related to the actual knee itself but the ligaments around and supporting the knee – should always be evaluated by a orthopedist – especially one that specializes in working with athletes. There are knee pains that are in the back of the knee and others that are right under the knee cap itself. Some knee pains cause soreness while others are excruciating during exercise. The level of knee pain any runner feels is almost always gradual. A slight acute or casual pain can lead to chronic or more persistent pain.
Acute Pain – Why You Must Pay Attention To It
Acute pain means that pain is happening only some of the time – not all the time. If you experience pain only when running hills, your pain is acute pain. When you experience pain after running a few miles or when speeding up or doing anything to cause pain which dissipates after you stop running, you have an acute pain which means, unfortunately, that you have an acute injury of some sort. The severity of that injury can only be determined by a orthopedist.
If ignored, acute stabbing pains can become more chronic and can ultimately lead to an episode like when you literally have to stop dead in your tracks because the pain is so bad. Or, you stop running and the knee pain persists when you are not running. Occasionally, a runner will get to the point where he/she cannot run at all because the pain is so bad. When you have reached this point, you are going to experience a set back – meaning all training has to stop and you need to take care of your injury or you may lose the gift of running altogether by doing some long-term damage.
When Is It Time to Go To The Doctor?
I have a rule – if pain joins you on your run for more than a month – get to a doctor for an evaluation. What I mean by pain, is an acute stabbing pain of any kind. So many people tear their meniscus without even knowing it. Others have tumors, microtears in the ligaments, or other historical injuries or episodes that can cause the structure of the knee to weaken over time.
Other more complex issues include knee injuries caused by over use – and these can run the gamut from sever arthritis to severe tears in and around the knee. In some cases, injury to one knee can lead to injury in the other knee or to others parts of our anatomy as we favor the bad leg. Running on a bad leg puts a lot of pressure on the good one, and pretty soon we have two bad legs with two injuries.
Get your RICE!
Rest, ice, compression and elevation are the key factors to healing any injury – but using RICE can be helpful in preventing injury as well. Like anything else, prevention is key – if your knees are feeling tight or you are feeling fatigued, don’t schedule a workout that will further exhaust you. When we are tired we make mistakes – and even something like bending down the wrong way can cause an injury – so don’t just think about the fact that you may be over training. Think of the activities in your daily life as well.