Monday, June 14, 2010

Saving My Knees: An Introduction

Welcome to my blog about beating chronic knee pain. I did, after a doctor told me flatly, "Your knees will never get better." It was a long ordeal: I wound up seeing four doctors, two physical therapists. At some point, as weeks turned into months and then into a full year, and their advice and treatment failed to help me, I gave up on them and they gave up on me.

I had constant burning, aching and soreness around both of my kneecaps. The diagnosis was patellofemoral pain syndrome or chondromalacia. I was a hard-luck case with very sensitive joints. At work I had to sit with my legs elevated and extended, my feet propped in a sling under my desk.

When the medical professionals abandoned me, my resolve only stiffened. I wasn't a doctor, but I wasn't dumb either. I had an Ivy League education and more than a decade's experience as a journalist. I began devouring everything related to bad knees and damaged cartilage I could lay my hands on -- scientific studies, blog posts, chapters in medical textbooks, threads on bulletin boards about injuries.

Gradually, I discovered the path to recovery. While doing so, I got very angry because it became clear that a lot of thinking about "patellofemoral pain syndrome" (also known as "runner's knee," among other names) is dangerously bad. I started this blog to tell my story -- of what I learned, of what I did to get better. I also wrote a book "Saving My Knees" that I'll supply more information about later.

I want to challenge what you think you know about healing bad knees. For example, if you have knee pain (or if you're treating someone who does), chances are you believe at least one of the following:
(1) A plan to heal bad knees should focus on strengthening the quadriceps muscles.
(2) Knee pain sufferers trying to recover should make stretching an important part of their daily exercise routine.
(3) Taking glucosamine tablets helps bad knees improve.
(4) Damaged knee cartilage doesn't heal; at best you can prevent it from getting worse.

I think those four statements are false: every single one of them. In future blog posts I'll show you why I think that (and I'll share with you scientific studies that make my points).