No broken bones, so for me that's an improvement
October 14, 2012 4:41 PM   Subscribe

YANMD filter - did something weird to my knee, but I don't know what. and 24 hours later it doesn't hurt - just feels "different." What, if any, first aid should I be doing?

The initial injury was: I was trying to squeeze past someone into a chair, and was twisting funny. I twisted my right knee just a bit too far and felt, but did NOT hear, a tiny "pop" sensation in the back of the knee and felt some pain for a few seconds. But - any pain was mild, and went away fairly fast. I kept seated and occasionally tested things by bending and wiggling my knee, and it stayed pain-free the rest of the day; when I got up, I was still pain-free and able to walk totally normally. I still iced it when I got home and took some Ibuprofen, to be safe, but walked around just fine.

Today, the back of that knee feels...stiff. No pain, no swelling, and I can walk around and pursue normal activity just fine (in fact, I had a very long walk today with another MeFite). It still feels like there's some weird stiffness in the back of my knee, as if I just needed to give it a really good stretch or something.

Poking it, it almost feels like that spot is "watery," like I've got a Baker's Cyst, but I don't see any swelling in the spot.

Right now, I've been just taking it easy when I can, but if there's anything else I should be doing? (Of course, if there is any pain, I'll call my doctor.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
That sounds like what happened when I got that general kind of cyst on my wrist, which was at no point a medical emergency or even worse than a minor annoyance. (It is also, however, basically not fixable without at least a minor procedure.) If I were you I'd keep an eye on it for a couple of days and if it still felt weird by the end of the week or so I'd drop by my GP, but then, I have insurance.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:30 PM on October 14, 2012

Possibly a partially torn meniscus? I did mine a few years ago—felt that little pop inside. It's not particularly painful but can cause some stiffness and swelling. And I see by your link that "Baker's cyst commonly occurs with: A tear in the meniscal cartilage of the knee."
posted by stargell at 6:18 PM on October 14, 2012

I checked out the torn meniscus, but what I read seemed to indicate that I shouldn't be able to walk normally -- and I can. In fact, today I walked more than I typically do with no ill results. (I mean, if I wake up tomorrow and my knee is the size of Sandusky I'll gladly admit I'm wrong, but...everything's functioning perfectly right now.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:44 PM on October 14, 2012

This sounds similar to what happened to my husband, though he was playing tennis when he twisted his knee. He continued walking on it for a couple weeks before realizing he needed to see a doctor. But he did have a torn meniscus and required surgery to fix it.
posted by yawper at 6:54 PM on October 14, 2012

Torn meniscus was my first thought as well. People walk on those often.

I've also heard that a torn or partially-torn MCL won't result in pain but more a feeling of "not there"ness in your knee- like your calf is sort of disconnected from your thigh.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 10:44 PM on October 14, 2012

NAD, but it might not be a torn meniscus, but there are something like four tendons that you can tear, including the meniscus.

IANAD, and I am most definitely not YD, but after I tore my bad knee up the second time, I had a real problem placing weight on the knee while turning.

I could do straight weight carrying, load bearing stuff all day long, but when I tried to turn going upstairs the pain was intense. It came to a conclusion last Christmas when I couldn't carry a load of laundry from my parents' basement up their turning staircase without wincing or stopping.

The thing is that as you get older, you rely on those joints less and less, as you should. Some of us idiots who like to think that we aren't 40 when we are and our precious knees are less tough than they should be can really injure ourselves when it's not necessary at all.

Take it easy. Lift with your legs. Your knees are great on a straight line, less so on an angle. Don't smoke cigarettes. Wear sunscreen. Wear a seat belt.
posted by Sphinx at 12:42 AM on October 15, 2012

I've also heard that a torn or partially-torn MCL won't result in pain but more a feeling of "not there"ness in your knee- like your calf is sort of disconnected from your thigh.

Oh dear. That's....more of an apt description than I'd like.

Okay, I'll contact my doctor. Thanks.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:22 AM on October 15, 2012

the MCL heals in about 21 days (i was told by a doctor many years ago), which is GREAT compared with other knee ligaments, so if that's what it was, you're in good shapes. it could also be meniscus tear as others have mentioned, or it could be something small and irrelevant that will stop bothering you in just a few days. if it were me (i've had five knee surgeries...) i would leave it alone for a week and see if it seemed to be getting better, and if so, forget about it, and if not, see a doctor. in the meantime it's never a bad idea to rest, apply ice, use some kind of compression (ace bandage or knee brace), elevate, and take ibuprofen during the first 24-48 hours after any kind of injury.
posted by nevers at 6:26 AM on October 15, 2012

And just to note, a partial meniscus tear doesn't necessarily mean surgery. Depending on the severity, you may do as well, or nearly as well, with physical therapy. My docs (these are surgeons and radiologists for pro sports teams) couldn't decide from the MRI whether I'd done my MCL or meniscus, but either way said that because it wasn't a serious tear I could regain as much function through PT to strengthen the muscles around the knee as through surgery. (This after the surgeon admitted, "I would LOVE to operate on your knee!") Five years later I still feel a little instability on occasion but otherwise the knee is fine and my activity isn't limited.
posted by stargell at 7:04 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Okay, this is the thing about me that drives my doctors nuts sometimes.

I just tried one of the tests that the Wiki page links to that doctors use to ascertain whether it's a torn meniscus (the Thessaly test). On the page about the test, it says that any pain when you do that activity is a sign it's a torn meniscus. Not only did I not feel any pain, it actually felt....really good. Like "oh, hey that finally stretched out that one muscle knot I've had all day" good.

I'm going to downshift back to rest and ice for a couple more days and see if there's any improvement before calling my doctor.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:07 AM on October 15, 2012

Try walking up stairs. Does that hurt? I had a partially torn MCL and that was the only time it hurt.
posted by srboisvert at 9:15 AM on October 15, 2012

Oh hey - this sounds exactly like what I felt when I tore my PCL.

A quick test (you need a friend) is the posterior drawer test. Lay on your back with your knees in the air and feet on the floor so that your knees are at a roughly 90 degree angle. Have your friend press in firmly just below the knee on both legs. If the hurt one moves noticeably more backward than the non-hurt one, it's probably your PCL.

If it is your PCL, most tears don't need surgery and mine got better with just some PT.
posted by zug at 9:59 AM on October 15, 2012

Try walking up stairs. Does that hurt?

Nope. I live on the 4th floor in a building with no elevator, so I've walked up four flights of stairs three times now since the incident; no pain.

I just walked around a little (ran out on my lunch break), and when I first started walking I felt a little stiffness in a spot above the back of my knee now (the back of my thigh). But walking around loosened it up, and movement actually felt like it helps things a little. I'm taking that as a positive sign and am going into "take it easy, watch and wait" territory again.

(This is starting to remind me of the time when I went to my doctor complaining of strep throat, and I actually HAD every symptom you get with strep throat, but - the throat culture came back negative 3 days later. My doctor actually literally said, "well, I'm stumped, but you're feeling better so let's just go with it".)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:14 AM on October 15, 2012

Epilogue -

One Aleve tablet, one evening at home with a leg up and knee on ice, and one night's sleep later, and I woke up yesterday with a totally normal-feeling knee. I even forgot until about mid-day that "oh, yeah, my knee, how's that feeling -- oh. Oh, it feels fine." My knee continues to feel totally normal.

So either I have the world's fastest-healing knee, or this is another case where I had all the symptoms of a given ailment except for actually having the ailment itself, and then everything went away after two days. Still, thank you all for the advice and things to consider.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:21 AM on October 17, 2012

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