Knee pain when I walk/run downhill - any suggestions as to what it may be?
July 17, 2007 2:31 PM   Subscribe

What is wrong with my knee?

A couple of months ago I was running down a hill and somehow tweaked my knee. The pain wasn't immediate, but after I got back home and rested a while I felt some knee pain in my left knee. The pain started to be annoying at first, but after walking it over the next couple days it got significantly worse. It went away, but now it comes back whenever I walk or job down steep hills.

I haven't been to the doctor yet simply because I do not have insurance. I noticed that when I bend my knee there is a weird, very faint popping noise that happens. I think it may have to do with some cartilage that may be out of place - does this make sense? When my knee is in pain it doesn't swell or anything and sometimes if I hold the soft spot on the left side of my knee-cap (where the pain is) and extend my leg, the faint popping will not happen.

Any ideas?

Thanks in advance for any comments. I am hoping this isn't too big of a deal.
posted by misled to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Might it be runner's knee? (a.k.a. patellofemoral pain)
posted by AV at 3:37 PM on July 17, 2007

On the no-insurance front, you might try asking local colleges if they have a sports-medicine program, and have a free/low-cost clinic of some sort.
posted by nomisxid at 3:56 PM on July 17, 2007

Self-diagnosis of knee injuries are difficult (short of a full ligament blowout). I've had two meniscus surgeries in twelve months and later thought I'd torn something else. My surgeon said I had pinched the joint lining. Now, who the hell ever heard of a joint lining and that it could get pinched?

If you're dealing with torn meniscus it will not heal on it's own. An orthopedic surgeon will have a better idea, though. Don't ask a GP, go to the experts. A single office visit will take some cash but save a lot of worrying and wondering.
posted by trinity8-director at 4:28 PM on July 17, 2007

I'll 2nd the see a doctor answer. I'm sure that USC or UCLA med schools have a free or charity clinic in their Orthopedics Dept. that can see you.

On the other hand, be thankful it's does not seem like an ACL tear -- it would hurt A LOT worse. And, I'd say heed some of the runner's knee advice.

If you want to be conservative, do some light strengthening, lay off it for at least 2-3 wk. and see if the pain decreases.
posted by skepticallypleased at 5:25 PM on July 17, 2007

I agree with AV that it sounds like Chondromalacia (which is something of a catch-all term) or possibly a small meniscal tear. I also agree with trinity on the difficulty of diagnosing knees without an MRI. But small meniscal tears can heal or become asymptomatic on their own, if they are in an area that gets enough blood flow.

Crunchy knees are pretty common among my circle of aging athletes, and not something I worry about too much unless it is getting perceptibly worse or reaches the point where I am willing to get it scoped (surgery). I don't run down hills or on concrete, and I pay attention to the orientation of my knees.

Physical therapy is a good idea, and is the only useful thing I got out of a round of doctor visits many years ago (MRI's weren't common those days). The book: Treat Your Own Knees can be helpful in self-diagnosis and corrective action. Resistance training (particularly leg extensions) and exercise bike training are helpful for chondromalacia, at least in the early stage.
posted by Manjusri at 7:00 PM on July 17, 2007

I just started reading this book Pain Free by Egoscue. My father, who has had knee surgery after running miles and miles for years and years swears by it, as do a few other family members who he has passed it along to. I have yet to be able to recommend it myself, but its worth a look. I am enthusiastically starting the exercises.
posted by iurodivii at 1:02 PM on July 18, 2007

But small meniscal tears can heal or become asymptomatic on their own, if they are in an area that gets enough blood flow.

True enough. I tend to forget about the little 'uns.

BTW, one of the best rehab exercises for my knees came from the Spousal Unit's PT for her back. Basically it entails balancing on one leg while forming a 'T' shape with the upper body (bending at the waist, arms extended) and free leg.
posted by trinity8-director at 2:59 PM on July 18, 2007

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