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Running with minimal knee cartilage (Read 3898 times)

    I got some upsetting news this week. As some of you know, I started to have pain in my right knee around mile 23 in my first marathon. It wasn't awful, but for about a week after finishing I could barely lift my leg (like trying to pick it up to get in the car or going down stairs without excruciating pain. I figured some of it was just overuse, and most pain went away with rest, but any attempt to return to running or even walking brought the symptoms right back. After a few weeks of this I gave in and saw a sports orthopedist. Since I complained of knee pain under and along the inside of the kneecap, he thought it might be plica, so he sent me for an MRI. The MRI shows that I have very little cartilage left in my right knee. Basically a normal 25 year old should be at a level 0, where having no cartilage at all is a level 4. I’m currently at a level 3. It is probably genetic, as my dad has very little cartilage in between his spine, and his mom also has problems with no cartilage in her knees. The doctor described it as osteoarthritis, which is something that shouldn't be affecting someone my age. He says it wasn’t caused by running, but that probably didn't help since I may have always had low cartilage. The weird thing is that I never had any pain at all in my knee before, and I was running 25-30 mpw before starting marathon training and up to 45 mpw (2 20 milers) during the training without one hint of knee pain. The doctor gave me a cortisone shot last week under the kneecap, but that only helped for about a day. He also talked about doing a series of joint fluid shots in the future. I already take glucosamine chondroitin, fish oil, calcium, and a multivitamin daily. The doctor seems to think that I may not be able to run anymore without pain. Right now I am having trouble even with walking fast, and while I can tolerate run/walk intervals, running anything over a mile without a break causes intense pain in my knee that lasts for at least a day afterwards. He says there is nothing to do about this since cartilage cannot be replaced. The only hope is to deal with the pain by doing PT to strengthen my legs to try to help with the knee tracking. He says any activity that doesn't hurt is fine, but if it bothers me then I have to stop, which is why running may "never be a possibility". I did a search of the forums and saw a lot of discussions about people with torn cartilage, but I was wondering if anyone had experience with running without much cartilage. I just cannot accept not being able to run anymore, so I hope someone out there has some experience they can share. Thanks, Shaunna


    A Dance with Monkeys

      It will likely not cause substantial damage but will hurt. You will eventually get to stage 4 and need knee replacements. With the new knees, you will get around 10 years of function, and should be able to run relatively pain free. The steroids treat the pain and inflammation. I am sorry, this is sad news. Undecided
        Shaunna, I'm sorry to hear this. Genetics can be so unfair.

        Michelle



          I am sorry, this is sad news. Undecided
          ((((Shaunna))))


          Lazy idiot

            Crap. Sorry to hear this, Shaunna.

            Tick tock

            Tremont


              I don't know much about this and I really don't want to give false hope but lots of pro athletes these days have something called "microfracture surgery" when they've lost knee cartilage and at least some of them have returned to perform at a very high level. The surface of the bone is broken up somehow and new cartilage growth is stimulated. Again I know next to nothing about it but it's at least something to investigate. Anyone know more?


              The Greatest of All Time

                I am in agreement with Trent and I am also very sorry. There is no way to slow a degenerative knee condition while continuing to run. Even if you stopped running today, it won't stop. Right now the cortisone and the rest is just treating the symptoms and not the underlying cause because there really is no treatment for it unfortunately. And as you pointed out, torn cartilage is not the same as no cartilage. I personally don't know anyone that has had a total knee replacement and ran afterwards, although I am sure it's possible these days. Your orthopedist should be able to shed some light on that question for you.
                all you touch and all you see, is all your life will ever be

                Obesity is a disease. Yes, a disease where nothing tastes bad...except salads.


                Needs more cowbell!

                  Oh, Shaunna...I am so SO sorry to read this. I hope you find a solution that allows you to continue running and in relative comfort, too. (((Shaunna's knee)))

                  I shoot pretty things! ~

                  '14 Goals:

                  • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

                  • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

                    Sorry about the news. My buddy who is 38 just got the same new, but grade 2. He just got some Supartz joint fluid therapy injections and is back running and feeling good. www.managekneepain.com

                    Those who try, fail! Those who do what it takes to succeed, succeed!!

                    Mile Collector


                    Abs of Flabs

                      ((((( Shaunna )))))
                        I am sorry, this is sad news. Undecided
                        I know, and I haven't even gotten to run the Monkey yet!! Is the doctor right in saying that running didn't cause this, but may have had a hand in making it worse? If I continue running, will the deterioration progress faster?
                          Sorry about the news. My buddy who is 38 just got the same new, but grade 2. He just got some Supartz joint fluid therapy injections and is back running and feeling good. www.managekneepain.com
                          This is encouraging. The Supartz injections are the next step that my doctor is planning. He already gave me a bunch of literature to read about them.
                            I really appreciate all the support and hugs from everyone. I'm not ready to give up until I have tried everything, running is just such a big part of who I am. Tremont, thanks for that suggestion, it's worth asking about if nothing else works. I'm encouraged to hear about people who have been told they can never run again and yet they are. Even if it wasn't the exact same situation, it gives me some hope. I am curious now if this was part of the problem in my foot last year. I had 2 MRIs and nobody found anything wrong, despite pain that came and went. I know that there is cartilage in the foot, and no doctor ever commented on me having less, but maybe that had something to do with it. I am going to track down my MRI results from that and bring them to this doctor.
                              This is encouraging. The Supartz injections are the next step that my doctor is planning. He already gave me a bunch of literature to read about them.
                              Awesome. The other tip is try to find grass, dirt or chip trails. The softer running surfaces will save you big time. Leave the road running to races.

                              Those who try, fail! Those who do what it takes to succeed, succeed!!

                              Clarke30


                                Shaunna:

                                 

                                I notice that this link is two years old-but I happened to be searching online for info. related to running with no cartilage-and this is the first link that came up. You story is like looking in the mirror for me. I have been running for most of my life-it is passion and I am having a hard time replacing it with another sport-

                                I am 30 and as my doctor says-I have the knee of a 60 year old-osteoarthritis-probably genetic. I can no longer run without days of pain afterward-hence I have stopped completely to spare me being able to at least walk longer. I have been told by one of the best surgeons in Chicago that at this point knee replacement is my only option-but they will not perform this on  someone until they are at least 45 or older-he also said that I would not be able to run with a knee replacement. So-if anyone still reads this link-I wonder if anyone has advice for a fellow runner with no knee cartilage?

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