January 6, 2016

A Plan for a Healthier Knee

Last week I paid a visit to a new orthopedic doctor to have my knee evaluated. Since I was 17 years old, I have had my left knee poked and prodded so you could say it's almost routine. However, I haven't needed to seek care in nearly a decade. It took me a little while to swallow my pride and say "it's time" to see someone again. Like I mentioned previously, the pain is different this time and warranted some intervention.

Last Tuesday, I sat in the waiting room nervously. In my bag was a file folder about an inch thick that was filled with medical information, surgical photos, a letter from my surgeon to my college swim coach telling him I couldn't swim, and the like. This folder would ultimately stay in my bag, untouched throughout the appointment. Soon enough, I was called back to the room where I provided an abbreviated version of the history of my knee and explained why I was seeking help.

The doctor proved to be somewhat awkward in his interaction with me, not even introducing himself when he came into the room. Strange. He seemed confused when I described my symptoms as if something I was sharing was incongruent with normal diagnoses or something like that...I'm speculating here but the interaction we had seemed off to me. He manipulated my knee a bit, watched some motions, and then cautiously asked if the sneakers I was wearing are my running shoes and how I selected them. I immediately laughed and told him I had been fitted by a running store where a gait analysis had been completed. He seemed relieved but I couldn't shake the feeling that he was skeptical of me. I'm assuming that bedside manner isn't his strong suit. After 5 to 10 minutes or so, he prescribed an anti-inflammatory and 6 weeks at physical therapy. He told me that he wasn't sure of a diagnosis but mentioned patella-femoral pain syndrome and patella-femoral arthritis as potential diagnoses. He thought a physical therapist might have an easier time getting to the bottom of my pain.

I am still not quite sure if I should be frustrated by the lack of diagnosis or that he seemed to be passing the buck to another medical provider to determine the issue. I think deep down I was hoping for a true diagnosis. I've been down this road before several times with doctors. This feels eerily similar to the first plan I received when this whole ordeal started years ago. While not having a specific diagnosis is a bit frustrating, it doesn't really matter that much I suppose. The real goal here is to get the pain under control and develop a plan so this doesn't happen again. If that's physical therapy, ongoing strengthening and flexibility exercises, or surgery, I'll comply. Generally speaking, when it comes to the health of my knee joint, I'm a good patient!

This morning I'll be heading to physical therapy for my first appointment. I'm hopeful that it will be a positive experience. Wish me luck! Physical therapy...ever been? Love it or hate it? The last time I went I loved it so I'm hoping that's the case this time.

{Christine}

28 comments:

  1. Good luck! Alex had some serious knee issues (and still does, at times) and now he is dealing with patellar tendonosis. He went to PT for a little bit, but it didn't really help him. Strangely, after about 9 months of rest, he started running again, and that has helped the most! But he still can't jump on it or anything.

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    1. Thanks girl! I have a feeling rest is what I need. But that being said, I took a lot of time off after my marathon last fall and did the same this year after Marine Corps...and still have some issues. Hopefully PT will help!

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  2. That is so frustrating when you get a doctor (or any professional!) that you just don't connect with. The good news is that while it does sound like he was sort of passing you off to someone else to deal with, PT's do have the training to diagnose, not just treat (which is why I'm going to need to go to school for SOOOO long!).

    Hopefully you'll end up with a good PT that can help! And I may not be far behind you, I have a feeling a doctor's office and PT is where I'll be headed after Marathon Weekend!

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    1. That's exactly what I thought. I'm going to be very direct with the PT today and hopefully get some better feedback.

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  3. I think you'll get some answers from the PT more than the ortho. At least that has been my experience, working in healthcare. Have you thought about seeing a sports medicine doctor? Just my two cents.

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    1. Yes I'm hoping you're right. I had amazing PTs in the past so the bar is high. :) The practice I went to had sports med although it was hard to figure out if the doctor I saw was part of that group. It's a huge practice so I felt like it was a bit overwhelming to navigate and unfortunately that's the only ortho practice our insurance covers. Sigh...

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  4. So sorry the doctor wasn't much help! That's frustrating! I hope PT helps get it under control! Good luck!

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    1. Thanks Mindy. It was definitely a weird interaction and very different from others I have had.

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  5. Oh, how frustrating when you feel like a doctor is second guessing what your saying and then not giving you an answer. I'm having some serious knee pain myself and headed to round one of appointments on Tuesday. It's so frustrating when you want to run. I've had to take time off from running and its the pits! Hoping PT helps!!

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    1. Hope your appointment goes well. I think I had kind of an outlier experience with the doctor so fingers crossed you have a warmer experience. :)

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  6. I feel like doctors fall into one of two camps. Either they're not concerned at all and tell you it's normal and take aspirin, or they want to do a series of painful and stressful tests to rule out things that even they don't think it is. I have no advice, but I wish you the best of luck.

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    1. Haha yes I feel like there are definitely some spectrums, especially when there is a specialist involved.

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  7. How frustrating!! I hope some PT does the trick! Best wishes.

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    1. So far PT has been awesome so I'm hoping that pattern continues!

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  8. Hopefully PT will help you to find some relief. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to not have an actual diagnosis, but hopefully you'll find that you like your PT and that they can help you come up with a game plan to eventually get back at running pain free.

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    1. So far, I feel like PT has been helpful and my PT seems to "get" me so that helps a lot!

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  9. As someone who spends 80% of my awake time thinking about and talking to doctors, this infuriates me. It's clear he was not sure what to do and was being cautious not to do unnecessary tests, which I can appreciate, but still.

    Hoping you get back to pain free running soon!

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    1. Yes, definitely with you there. I can appreciate the approach to not do a million diagnostic tests and whatnot. I think most of all the bedside manner was just a little off.

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  10. I think you'll find the PT to be much more hands-on and engaging in his/her evaluation than the MD (who is likely most interested in conditions he can operate on) -- hope your appointment went well and that you were able to come up with an action plan!!

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    1. I have definitely found that. It's been really helpful so far

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  11. Not having an actual diagnosis is the worst! It's good that he doesn't think anything really bad is going on, but it's still nice to know for sure so you know you're not wasting your time. I hope PT helps a lot more than the awkward doc!

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    1. PT has been great so far and I can already tell I'm getting stronger, which is a nice feeling!

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  12. I know your frustration. I had the same problems when I went to the ortho for my knee. My recommendation is to get a second opinion, either from the PT or a sports med doc like suggested. Try to find someone who runs themselves, so they aren't immediately going to tell you running is horrible. And having worked in specialty, doctors' analysis for shoes (and orthotics) tends to be so limited compared to a true gait analysis. I mean, no one is standing barefoot while running, so why determine your shoe needs that way. Another thought is to have another gait analysis done if it's been awhile. I'm sharing so much because I know the frustration and want to help you find the right formula to get back out there!

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    1. Great advice, Katie! Thank you for sharing! I have felt so much better since I started with the PT and that's been a relief. I figure having my shoes checked again is another step once I get the go ahead to run again.

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  13. Hope it helps, it's so frustrating when you don't get an answer. It is one thing that always makes me wary of going to a doctor for certain things! Hoping and wishing you well, and that it all works out for the best!

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    1. Thanks, Maggie. So far PT has been great so I'm very happy it seems to be going well and the pain is under control.

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  14. man, everytime i come here, i love the new design more and more!! :) sincerely hoping PT helps. if you can, find a PT that specializes in athletes. i found one here in DC and it's made all the difference!

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    1. Aw thanks! That makes me so happy. I agonized over small details like font and color...I like the way it came up but then again it's a good thing when the people who visit to read it do too! ;) PT has been great so I'm crossing my fingers that this trend continues.

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