in Running

Knee Saga Update: Mystery Solved?

In case you missed it, I’ve been having knee pain on my right leg from running since the 2005 Portland Marathon. Essentially what seemed to be chronic IT Band Syndrome, made worse by rest or running or really anything.

I also get hip pain on the right side also from running, biking, and most especially walking.

I’ve seen as many as five physical therapists throughout the years, whose basic “treatment” was to do clamshells and run slower, neither of which did anything. And despite me telling the next one that these exercises did nothing, they still gave them to me.

Last year I saw an orthopedic surgeon who said my knee wasn’t tracking “perfectly” and if I wanted to run any sort of distance again, I would need surgery. Right.

He sent me to a PT who gave me a few more exercises along with the clamshells, and who had a running specialist watch me run. She said I ran crooked (leaning over to one side) and swung one of my arms more then the other. Treatment? Stop doing that. Right.

Fast forward through a season of triathlon. Still in pain. Took three weeks off during the summer after it got to the point of having excruciating pain 4 miles into a run. But the pain returned after the rest, as it always did. My coach’s coach told me to go see a team mate who happens to be a podiatrist, who apparently could pretty much tell what’s wrong with you after seeing you for about 4 seconds. I should get custom orthotics, they are the silver bullet for various knee things. Right.

Last week I went in. He watched me walk up and down the hallway and in under a minute he says “hm your shoulders are sloped,” measured my legs, and said, “you have a leg length discrepancy, your right leg is a centimeter shorter then your left.”

I told him about the running specialist saying I run crooked. He looked confused. “Why didn’t she measure your legs?” Uh…

Great fucking question.

So he put a $2 heel lift in my shoe, cast some very pricey custom orthotics which I will get next week, and sent me on my way.

I have since done 3 runs and many rides. And guess what?

Almost no knee pain. Zero hip pain.

I’m cautiously optimistic about this; after 11 years of pain I can’t get too excited about it just yet. But honestly? If a $2 heel lift is the answer to everything, I’m mostly really fucking mad. Why didn’t the other 7 or 8 medical professionals measure my goddam legs?

Just goes to show, get a second, third, fourth, apparently ninth opinion. If you can afford it, anyway.