What happened to my knee, and how can I exercise around it?
May 22, 2008 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Should I seek additional physical therapy for my mysteriously injured knee, and how can I continue to work out in spite of it?

Last year, around September or October, I injured my knee. I was playing a lot of racquetball at the time, but I don't remember any specific incident causing it (like coming down on it funny or twisting it). It swelled up a little and for a few weeks it was painful to squat down, or go up or down stairs. I went to the school physical trainer and she said something about leg muscles firing out of order because of the injury, gave me some light physical therapy to do and told me to ice it a lot which I did. It has slowly, slowly gotten better since then, but bending the knee past ~20 degrees with any weight on it still hurts a bit. Walking normally is fine, stairs are almost ok but I can still fell it. I asked my doctor about it a few weeks ago and he didn't seem concerned, but we were covering a lot of stuff (initial visit with a new doc). So part (a): what happened to my knee, and should I seek additional physical therapy or just give it more time?

Interestingly, I discovered that running is not hindered by, and does not aggravate, the injury. So I've been running 3-4 miles at a time, with no ill effects, but I feel like I'm getting to the point where I need to be doing some lower-body weights to improve my stamina and speed. I've been going to the gym regularly and just doing upper body stuff, but when I try to do squats or leg extensions my knee hurts a lot and I have to stop. Is there any way to improve my leg strength with my hurt knee?
posted by Who_Am_I to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
I'm just grasping at straws, but is it possible you somehow hyperextended your knee? If you landed on it awkwardly during your racquetball sessions I could see that happening. I did that last year in a softball game and it took months (4-6 months?) to really feel like it was any kind of stable. For some reason running on it never really bothered me, but stairs/squatting and weight-bearing activities caused me to feel like it was just ... not right. It did totally swell up, and even when I initially hurt it I was still able to run on it (stupid, yes). The best I could describe it as was that it felt funny. Every now and then (8 months or more later) it acts up but is mostly okay. I just took it easy.
posted by impactorange at 7:41 AM on May 22, 2008

Best answer: bending the knee past ~20 degrees with any weight on it still hurts a bit

I think you should see a doctor and get a prescription for physical terrorism therapy.
posted by caddis at 7:45 AM on May 22, 2008

Best answer: Sorry - totally didn't answer the rest of your questions. You really need to rest it and I'd take caddis' advice and see a doc and continue physical therapy. The ability to do exercise now on a hurt knee isn't worth messing it up so much that it takes you longer to heal, to a point where you can't exercise for longer because of it.
posted by impactorange at 8:01 AM on May 22, 2008

Best answer: If you saw a trainer, what you got was not physical therapy. They gave you exercises that they thought might help, but a personal trainer is a personal trainer if they call themselves a personal trainer. A physical therapist has to be licensed, attend graduate school at a master's or doctorate level, and pass an exhaustive board examination. (Having just gone through all that myself, I can get peeved when a personal trainer says they're performing physical therapy.)

That said, you should absolutely go to an MD and get a prescription for physical therapy. You might have something going on that's more complex than muscles firing out of order. Muscles firing out of order alone wouldn't cause swelling like you describe, and it wouldn't cause the level and duration of pain you describe. A PT should have the diagnostic skills to figure out what's actually going on with your knee.
posted by jennyjenny at 3:12 PM on May 22, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks guys. Looks like it's back to the doctor for me then.
posted by Who_Am_I at 5:29 AM on May 23, 2008

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