FEELING GREAT: Finding out what’s wrong with knees

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Didn’t see this one coming from one of my email subscribers who this week asked:

“Paul, if you’ve damaged ligaments in your knee, how long does it take to heal? I went to the doctors more than six weeks ago and he said it would take about a month. The same pain is still there and I still can’t go for a run.

It’s now beginning to worry me that something is seriously wrong. Any thoughts?”

Dominic, 42,

Bishop Cuthbert.

This kind of thing gets asked a lot. And the concern usually springs when people elapse the initial period of recovery that was given out. Which is why I’ve always believed that one of the most important skills that l should ever carry in my “tool box” is the ability to accurately diagnose. The ability to give a confident prognosis being a close second.

Because that’s the Holy Grail, right?

When you’re in pain or something’s wrong, you first want to know what it is? (that’s the diagnosis). Next, you want to know how long it’s going to take to get better? (that’s the prognosis).

But here’s where this Dominic’s situation has gone wrong.

I dug a little deeper. Few emails back and forth and I got to realise that this wasn’t a problem with knee ligaments at all.

See, it’s virtually impossible to damage knee ligaments from running or walking in a straight line. Unless you’ve fallen awkwardly, twisted sharply or stumbled suddenly, it’s very unlikely. What’s much more likely is a simple case of “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

Let me explain:

Your knees have surfaces that rub against each other every time you run or walk. In your 20s and 30s you get very few issues. Over time, just like adding “straws to a camels back”, the surface wears away. And if your feet roll in (flat feet) there’s a good chance that your knee surface will one day “crack” under the constant wear from the pounding it gets and give you pain. And it’ll nearly always happen when you didn’t expect it. It also nearly always happens to be on the inside of the knee – right near the ligaments.

And sometimes, the ligament is damaged as a result.

But it’s not the real problem because most of the time ligaments of the knee will heal in six weeks.

But what takes often double that, is for the discomfort and the problem caused by the damage to the surface of the knee to settle.

My tip: if this is happening to you, you need a long course of anti-inflammatories prescribed only by a GP and you’ll benefit from using lots of ice on your knee too. And then, armed with both of those, you need to strengthen the big thigh muscles that you’ve got with an exercise programme aimed at winning back the control and support of those muscles. It should be progressive and take about six-eight weeks at least before the knee joint begins to settle and you consider running.

Get more advice like this here: www.paulgoughphysio.com/health-tips