Hi, I'm Dr. Molly with Your Goals Physical therapy. Recently, my family invested in bikes. My son is six and I was able, up until very recently, to run next to him while he was riding his bike, to make sure he's safe, but he can now bike faster and for longer distances than I'm able to run to keep up with him. So we have decided to buy bikes so now everybody in the family has them. My daughter is a little young, so she now rides on the back, but this opened up a whole other world that I had almost forgotten about because I'm such an avid runner. Bike riding is a lot of fun, especially when you have green space around your house. So you don't have to deal with traffic and your six year old.
This new adventure reminded me of a patient I had about two years ago named Nicole. Nicole was 47. Nicole had three boys that were in high school and their favorite thing on the weekend was to go for bike rides, probably along the same kind of green green spaces that are behind my neighborhood as well. She called very frustrated that she wasn't able to bike without her knee popping and clicking. It was kind of freaking her out because sometimes it would swell up afterwards. Just thinking about all that popping and clicking was taking the joy out of spending time with her family. She was telling me that she just wants to find out what the problem is. And her doctor told her “there was nothing wrong with her ligaments, there was nothing wrong with the muscles. They just couldn't find anything on the x-ray, it's probably just arthritis.”
She let this go on for a couple months thinking, “Well, I guess I'm just waiting for a knee replacement.” But that click was just so prominent while she was riding that she couldn't enjoy that time anymore. She was getting beyond frustrated. She's like I'm 47.
They're not going to give me a knee replacement anytime soon, because they're saying that the arthritis in there isn't bad enough, but I need to enjoy this time with my family.
This is just taking so much for me. I said, “Well, there's a lot that can go on with that”, so she came in for the evaluation, just so that we could see what we were working with. And as I'm talking to her, I find out that this is not the only time that her knee bothers her.
She tells me stories about two or three years before this visit, that her knee would randomly swell while she was sitting down and it would take her two or three steps before she could walk normally. She used to run, but her knee was such a problem that she just gave that up. But that was something she did by herself, not with her family. So she was like, eh, you know, I just don't get to run anymore. I'm in my forties, people don't run in their forties. She was having problems going up and down the stairs. And her knee was popping and clicking every time she stood up from whatever random seat she was in. The commute to her work was becoming more aggravating. Her knee would be swollen and irritated through most of the day. And I was like, you didn't lead with that. That seems pretty major to me. She's like, whatever. I can work through all that, right. They already told me I had arthritis. This is all just part of it. But I cannot give up spending time with my family. This is limited. My kids are getting older. They're going to move out. We're just not going to have this time anymore. I cannot give this time up. So whatever you need to do, let's just do it so that I can get back to riding with my family. After we do the assessment, I find out, just through watching her move and, and how everything is working together, that she has patellofemoral syndrome.
Patellofemoral syndrome sounds really horrible, but basically your kneecap is supposed to run up and down along a track. It has its own groove on your femur that is supposed to slide up and down on. For her and for a lot of other people, what happens is that kneecap is actually getting pulled out to the side and as it's being pulled out and pushed back in, it makes a popping sound just like your knuckle would pop.
But it means that there is a muscle imbalance and that the knee joint isn't stable which is causing irritation or rubbing. The rubbing makes things swell, which unfortunately makes the whole problem worse because when you swell, then everything gets more unstable and it doesn't feel good, it causes a lot of pain and other dysfunction. So that's what she was dealing with when she would go on these bike rides.
She was willing to deal with a lot of discomfort while she was riding her bike so that she could be with her family, but it was causing so much irritation that over time it was just compounding on itself.
It spread from just being an annoyance to her everyday life, to taking away the most important activities of her life.
And so she was not able to just wait for the total knee replacement, which is basically what her doctor told her she was doing.
After working with me for a few weeks, she realized that a lot of that pain was going away. She could stand up from chairs and her knee didn't pop. It didn't click. She wasn't randomly swelling throughout the day. At the end of her sessions, she was actually able to keep up and almost beat some of her kids. So to say that she was excited is a little bit of an understatement.
And she was like, that's all it was. I was thinking that my joints were completely deteriorated. I'm just old and everything's going to come to a screeching halt in a few years. I was like, no, no, no, no, no, we're still young in your forties, fifties, sixties. Our joints are made to last into our 100s. As long as we're taking care of ourselves and doing the right things, learning how to maintain balance, your joints are going to last a long time. Nicole is somewhere off biking with her family. And now I get to try to learn how to do the same thing. I see how much fun it is to watch my son get super excited when he can make it over a curb and not fall off his bike.
If you are also dealing with knee pain while you're biking and you are interested in this type of care, I will leave a link below so that you can call and ask about availability.
But if you're still a little bit skeptical on whether or not your knee would possibly be able to benefit from this type of service. I save one or two discovery visits every week on my schedule to help make sure that we are a good fit. If you call, we'll schedule that time for you to be able to come in. We'll do a short little assessment just to see if I can help you.
If we can, we'll move forward. And if not, I will help you find the next best place for you to go so that you can fully get back to the lifestyle that you're looking to get back to. I hope you're having a great day. Bye.
If you're looking for more information check out these:
Will A Brace Stop Patellofemoral Syndrome?
Knee Pain While Sitting
Were You Just Told Your Joint Pain Is Arthritis, Prescribed Anti-Inflammatories Then Told To Stop Doing Your Favorite Activities?
WE HELP ACTIVE ADULTS OVERCOME THEIR ACHES AND PAINS TO GET THEM BACK TO THEIR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES WITHOUT MEDICATION, INJECTIONS OR SURGERIES.
Dr. Molly McDonald