Friday, January 28, 2011

Here Are My "Radical" Beliefs About Healing Bad Knees

I had a funny little moment of awareness this morning.

I was thinking about "Saving My Knees," my story of how I did what my doctors said I couldn't: heal my bad knees. I was thinking about how finding a big, mainstream publisher for the book turned into a hopeless quest.

Because, well, I lack a medical degree and my ideas about how to fix bad knees are presumably too "radical," too far outside what's accepted and what makes sense.

That's when I had that funny little pop of an epiphany. Basically, I said to myself: Am I really the radical here? Am I the one whose ideas about healing bad knees fail to meet the common sense test? Just how wild and outlandish are the things I believe in?

So I decided to do a compare-and-contrast exercise. The list below spells out, in simple form, what I believe in. It will show you what allowed me to save my knees and encouraged me to write a book about my experience of discovery and recovery. To counterbalance my "radical" perspective, I also include the received wisdom of traditional physical therapy and doctors.

Me: Focus on directly fixing the problem (bad knees).
Traditional Physical Therapy and Doctor's Advice: Focus on fixing something adjacent to the problem (the muscles that lie around the joint, which you are told to strengthen).

Me: Taking a pill (glucosamine) every day won't help your knees (especially when two separate medical studies have shown that pill is torn apart by the liver and the contents never reach your joints in meaningful amounts).
Traditional Physical Therapy and Doctor's Advice: Glucosamine can help your body mend bad knee cartilage (two of my doctors prescribed it).

Me: Lengthening muscles around your knees (stretching) may briefly make you feel good, but won't have a significant long-term effect on healing your bad joints.
Traditional Physical Therapy and Doctor's Advice: If you have bad knees, you should stretch various leg muscles.

Me: Trying to stretch a tendon (iliotibial band) that has the tensile strength of soft steel is most likely a complete waste of time.
Traditional Physical Therapy and Doctor's Advice: You should stretch the iliotibial band.

Me: Healing bad knees will probably take a year or two -- if you're lucky.
Traditional Physical Therapy and Doctor's Advice: Healing bad knees should take a few months (note: this is implied -- if you believe stronger quads are the key to escaping knee pain -- see point number one on the list -- this follows, as muscles can be strengthened in a matter of weeks or months at most.)

Me: Bad knees are not usually caused by a mistracking patella, especially if you're say 40 years old and this "mistracking patella" never bothered you much in the 39 preceding years after you learned how to walk.
Traditional Physical Therapy and Doctor's Advice: Bad knees are usually caused by a mistracking patella.

Me: Cartilage has a very good capacity to heal under the right conditions. A cut in your skin heals, a broken bone heals. Would humans really be created with a substance in their knee joint that must take continual pounding and abuse and has either no or very little capacity to heal?
Traditional Physical Therapy and Doctor's Advice: Cartilage can't heal (or has a very limited capacity to).

Scan that list. Think about it. And ask yourself: Who's the "radical" here?

No comments:

Post a Comment