The severity of my right knee pain during and after last weekend’s marathon attempt, coupled with the stubborn continuation of the knee pain ever since the Portland Marathon on Oct 1 prompted me to get a real medical opinion on the situation. And it has proven most instructive.
Just after 12 noon on Monday, I had a break at work and called my regular doctor’s office for an appointment. He’s an internist, not a sports med guy, yet in our insurance system, he is also the gatekeeper to further help. Amazingly, he had an opening at 1pm and so I skeedaddled across town to see him.
At a physical about a month or so ago, he was very complementary of my blood pressure/resting heart rate combo. When I presented on Monday with knee pain, however, he was a little less certain. He plopped me on the exam table, yanked, poked, pushed and twisted. He seemed to think I didn’t have a major injury but then asked “Would you like to see a sports med doc?” Yeah, I would. So, he wrote up a referral. Then he asked “How old are you?” Fifty-three. He looked a little patronizingly at me and said “Well, you know, as one ages, one can’t always do the things one wants to do physically.” Oh my. Anyway, I had my referral.
The sports doc had a slot open for me on Wednesday, which I took. What a difference. He’s an orthopedist and is well connected with Purdue and local High School athletics. On the wall of his practice were photos of all sorts of sports teams and track/cross country runners. I took my running logs and the last two pairs of shoes I’ve used. When he came into the room, he immediately realized I liked to run and wanted to continue to run. He asked about my weekly mileage. He did the same poking and prodding and then sent me down the hallway for an x-ray of my right knee. He got the films, brought them into the room and walked through the anatomy of my knee with me, treating me as an intelligent person.
His diagnosis was clear. No damage at all to the knee. The pain was clearly an ITB inflammation. The path ahead?? Some physical therapy with a therapist who specializes in runners, a couple weeks of rest, perhaps an orthotic to shift the angle of how my knee aligns at foot strike. I asked about my shoes, since I switched to the adidas Supernova a couple weeks after Portland. He examined my old Brooks Adrenalines, then the adidas, and said “Hey, the Brooks were working…you should go back to them.” Which was what I was thinking anyway.
He then shook my hand, looked me in the eye and said “Keep running. Don’t stop. You are not hurting yourself. Stay with it.”
Doctors have an amazing task. The human body is so complex and the study of medicine so vast that no single physician can know everything about everything. My doc is darn good at internal medicine and I’ll trust him with my blood work and stomach pain. But it sure was good to connect with a doc who could relate to my interests in running.
I’m encouraged. And persevering.