Jogger's Log

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February 2014

19:07 16/02/2014 Sunday evening...

A short two mile walk for no reason. Two miles is long enough. I mean more is better but it does get my heart and lungs and circulation going. I warm up within two miles.

An interesting development is that I had an MRI scan in January and got to meet up with a doctor to discuss it this week. The scan revealed that the anterior(?) cruciate ligament in my right knee is not there. It's gone. Presumed lost in action many years ago. This explains a lot. My guess is that it tore in half in 2006, when I had a swollen knee after an intense weekend dance workshop. I didn't feel any painful 'tearing' event at the time and didn't hear anything going 'pop', but the knee was swollen for some time. Reading up on these things, the swelling could have been blood from the torn ligament filling the knee joint.

In any case the ligament is gone and isn't coming back. It is possible to do reconstructive surgery on ligaments like this but that is not 100% successful and it's not an easy op. But there are also some bits of loose cartilage in there which presumably what is causing the knee to lock periodically when I've been kneeling down. What they can do fairly soon is to clean up the loose bits of cartilage, and that should help. I will have that done and see how it goes. Maybe I don't need that ligament and can get along without it, but my concern is that I might get further cartilage damage as a result of it being missing.

I really recommend to people not to damage their knees. I think I damaged mine by becoming superficially fit (2006) in a short space of time after having been rather unfit for a while, which meant that my muscles were strong but the tendons,etc. that were having to deal with that power were not. Tendons, cartilage, ligaments, etc. take longer to grow or repair than muscle or bone apparently. So, if you're in the second half of your life and decide to get fit, do it gradually, over a period of years, not months. I joined a gym in January 2006 and got into working out regularly on those machines. It kind of made sense at the time and I'd had some major abdominal surgery which I wanted to recover from as quickly as possible, so joining the gym felt like a good idea, but perhaps I overdid it.

...or perhaps that ligament got damaged much earlier in my life and it was only cartilage (meniscus) that was damaged in 2006 on that dance workshop. Maybe I have lived perfectly well without that ligament for decades and will live perfectly well without it in the future. I don't know.

Hmmm... Not so sure now. Been reading about ACL tears on the interweb, and the acute symptoms I had in 2006 don't really fit with a sudden and complete ACL tear. Also been reading my diary from 2006 and it turns out I slightly mis-remembered events. It turns out that the trouble started a week after that dance workshop, after another few dance classes. (I was overdoing it for sure!) No, I don't think I tore the ligament at that workshop, or at any workshop. I think I damaged the cartilage (meniscus) at that time. Also at that time I got a case of cellulitis in that right leg which caused inflamation and swelling and needed antibiotics to sort out. But there was no sudden ligament-tearing incident.

If that is the case then it may well be that tidying up the cartilage (meniscus tears) will put me back in roughly the same position as I was before the knee started clicking in September 2006. It may well be that my knee has been quite useable and not too unstable for many years, and if I look after it and don't treat it too violently, I won't suffer a significant degree of cartilage damage or knee problems in the future. (Amazing how useful it is to go back and actually LOOK at what happened all those years ago, rather than relying on my memory!)

So, get the small operation I have been offered done for sure, and don't worry about the missing ligament for now. And look at what I can do to help the knee from now on. One thing is to keep the muscles around the knee strong, so that means plenty of activity like running, walking, swimming, cycling. Another thing is simply to lose some weight. Put less pressure on it. I'm 15 stone. Lose 20%. Lose 3 stone. Then do stuff designed to improve balance and proprioception. Dance, for example. Also, eat well. Eat lots of cartilage (chicken soup) and lots of other good stuff.

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