Sometimes I get a reaction like this to my book:
Interesting story, but it doesn’t really apply to me. The author hurt his knees cycling, while my knee pain is due to nothing related to sports/no identifiable cause/insert something else here. Also, the author struggled with knee pain for about a year, while I’ve had problems for 2 years/5 years/insert some other length of time here. And the author’s symptoms were burning sensations around the kneecaps and difficulty sitting while mine are problems walking/swelling/insert some other symptoms here.
First, don’t misconstrue what I’m about to say as a marketing pitch (Step right up and buy this book! A panacea for all your knee woes, of any kind, of any severity!) Clearly my story isn’t relevant for certain types of knee problems (e.g., a torn ligament). It’s also not useful for a certain kind of person who mainly wants details on specific exercises to do or who seeks an “other” directed solution to his problems.
But for those suffering from that mysterious condition called patellofemoral pain syndrome, or who have been told they have chondromalacia, or who have chronic knee achiness, diffuse burning, pain of unclear origin -- and for those who believe they themselves must be very involved in fixing their problems -- I think it can be of great benefit. Here’s why:
(1) “All happy knees are alike; all unhappy knees are unhappy in their own way” isn’t quite true. (Apologies to Tolstoy.) Which is to say, I think there are a lot of similarities among knees afflicted with patellofemoral pain syndrome, chondromalacia or osteoarthritis.
For example, many problems will relate to damaged cartilage, and they’ll be frustrating to deal with, because cartilage has no nerve endings. This was a major frustration that I faced certainly.
The upshot: What unites us may be more significant than what separates us.
(2) Some good practices are just universal, regardless of your particular symptom set -- for example, the importance of movement or weight loss (or weight control at least, if you’re thin already).
It’s hard for me to imagine a chronic knee pain patient for whom these good practices aren’t relevant. In the book (and on this blog), I’ve supplied more context -- from medical studies, from my own experience, from examples drawing on common sense -- for why they matter so much.
(3) You need the right kind of optimism to succeed, if you’re going to triumph over knee pain.
More specifically, you need optimism grounded in reality. It’s not the optimism of the terminal cancer patient who, with a 1 in a million chance of a cure, stubbornly vows, “I’m going to get better.” It’s the optimism of a reasonable, intelligent person who thinks he or she can get better because there’s plenty of evidence supporting that belief.
The book is largely about providing the proper context for such optimism. You can get better because I did is part of the message. But you can get better because defects in bad knees can heal -- that’s a bigger, universal message worth shouting from the rooftops. And scientific evidence for that assertion is in the the book (and on this blog).
I believe my story does have a wider relevance than here’s-one-thing-that-worked-for-one-guy. My hope is that others will have their own success stories, following similar principles, and together we can force doctors and physical therapists to rethink how they treat chronic knee pain.