My body is feeling all this marathon training- mostly in a good way. I can run 15 miles and still have energy to keep going. My lungs are in awesome shape and I'm feeling really good. 20 miles is another story, the pressure and pounding on the concrete gets to my joints. After a run up that dreaded hill on 190th, my right knee was swollen and hurting, so I made an appointment with an orthopedic doctor. I was expecting him to tell me to ice it or stay off of it for a few days. I was not prepared for what he suggested.
After an X-ray and MRI he diagnosed: Chondromalacia.
Chondromalacia literally means "softening of the cartilage", and Patellae means "the knee-cap". So Chondromalacia patellae means "softening of the articular cartilage of the knee-cap." The articular cartilage is the cartilage lining under the knee-cap that articulates with the knee joint. Under normal circumstances, it is smooth and shiny, so that it glides smoothly along the articular groove of the femur as the knee bends. When it "softens", it may break down, causing irregularities along the undersurface of the patella. My cartilage is thin and degrading, and consequently my joints are rubbing together. Bone on bone contact is not fun.
What does that mean?
His medical advice was very straight forward. Because of the extent of damage he said, "If you want to be able to walk when you are 40, stop running."
Wow! The thought of not being able to run makes me a little teary-eyed. It may seem crazy but I've been running since I was 12. I started off on my 6th grade cross country team, jr. high & high school track team, and since I was 15, I have been running on a daily basis. Needless to say, this was a very emotional doctor's visit. I always thought I would be that frail little old lady who could run 'round and 'round the track. The possibility of not being able to do that, breaks my heart a little, but I'm stubborn an I probably will be that little old lady who runs around the track - maybe with a knee brace and a walker.
Once I stopped feeling sorry for myself I did a google search on Chondromalacia and came up with some information. Cartilage can't grow back so my best bet is to not to lose any more. Here are some treatment options for Runner's Knee aka Chrondromalacia.
Rest or Relative Rest: Run Less
Avoid exercises or activities that require your knees to be bent
Avoid running or walking downhill, downstairs or down inclines
Do posterior muscle stretches (hamstrings and calf muscles)
Do Straight Leg Lifts (Start with 3 sets of 10, work up to 10 sets of 10)
Check Your Feet and Shoes, overpronation often contributes to this problem
Consider More Stable Shoes (with better anti-pronation features)
Orthotics If Needed (OTC or Custom)
My running habits will have to change but I'm not going to stop running. I need to listen to my body better and ease up because I am definitely going to be doing this for many, many more years. :)
" We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves. "
- Sir Roger Bannister