Thursday, October 28, 2010

Knee Update: Two Paths, Two Men, Two Days

After weeks and months of babying my knee, not walking, sticking to the fake bike I finally went back to my doctor. It hurt to walk, it was painful to do the fake bike and the only relief I really had was swimming and I was miserable and irritated. What followed were two visits over two days, with two different men and two vastly different experiences.

My first was with a doctor at a facility we'll call "Keyser Medical" my doctor is a pretty decent guy, and so I figured the knee 'expert' would be also as nice. I was wrong. I walked in, he had me lie down, did a cursory exam of my legs, asked me where the pain was. (This is so infuriating, because the pain was inside the knee, and he kept asking me to point to it - uh unless you have a needle and xray vision I'm not going to be able to do this buddy!) He then sat me up, took a quick glance at old x-rays from months ago, and read over the notes that my other doctor and PT had put in. I told him how running had helped me lose weight, was great exercise, how I hadn't run before this and had pretty fresh knees since I wasn't a guy that ran in high school or anything. He nodded and kept reading the story, then proceeded to tell me "the sooner you accept the fact that you can't run again, the better off you will be" I was so stunned I didn't say anything at first. I'm a polite guy, but when someone offends me I usually have some sort of retort available. I think I stammered out an "excuse me, I've been running for only two years, how the heck are you telling me my running stint is over?!"
He then went on about cartilage damage, how damaging running is how maybe if I babied my knees I'd be able to run short distances, but not the longer distances of a half or full marathon. I was shocked, then incredulous and finally, furious.

This Hatebreed song = my feelings after seeing the Dr. "Burn their lies! Their words of ignorance!"

I asked him for an MRI and he dismissed my request outright, going so far as to say "You can go to a store to buy bread, and pick and choose, but not here. The MRI is for us, and I don't need it." He seemed skeptical when I told him I had stayed off my knees, and when I asked him if he was a runner he told me "I used to be, I was so fast, oh I could have left you in the dust! I used to wear weights because my friends couldn't catch up" I can't make this stuff up! I was flipping out - one minute I wanted to laugh in his face, the other I wanted to throw him into a fiery put, the other I was ready to weep. Thankfully the urge to seek out a molten fissure in the earth passed, and sanity returned. I thanked him for his time and respectfully asked for a 2nd opinion/referral.

The Mrs. convinced me to go see the folks at Kinections. They came highly recommended from multiple runners I respect and even some I barely know! I had nothing to lose and was despondent. Kinections aren't doctors, they are sports therapists and their facility in downtown Sacramento is spartan but welcoming. Exercise machines fill the middle of the room, and the western wall has stations separated by curtains. If you aren't into hearing your neighbor's conversations, this might be something to consider. If you are like me and don't care, no big. Lino lay me down and had me move my legs around, asked me what I was doing, when, how long etc. He asked me what sort of running I did, trail or road, and if I did anything to exacerbate my knee. I told him the banging into the wall during rock climbing story and he moved to the foot of the table. He had me turn my toes inward and noted that I didn't have as much range of motion on the right then nodded. (This is where things get weird/awesome)

He told me to relax, fished around under my knee, behind my knee, poked his fingers up into that area. I felt  pain for a hot second andI tried not to whimper too much since people were right next to me on both sides.
He then shoved an ice pack underneath the back of my knee and told me to wait a few minutes. I listened to the conversations around me. The couple to the right of me were training with Fleet Feet for CIM and the husband was amped on his long run that weekend. The wife was wary but excited to see progress.  When he returned he told me "get up and walk!" and I did..and the pain, while not 100% gone, was DRASTICALLY improved! It was like going from an 8 to a 2 in minutes. Was this totally psychosomatic? Was I feeling better because he told me I would? "What did you do?" I asked "I moved some cartilage around, should be ok now" I was incredulous for the 2nd time in as many days, "Well now what?" "ice behind your knee, it won't pass through the bone very well, hmm ibuprofen if you want, but really you should be ok to run - just heal up 100% now that everythings where it should be" I thanked him, paid him and walked around a block just to see if he was right, and he was.

So where does this leave me now? If I spend time on the foam roller, stretch and swim, I feel awesome. I still have a referral to see that other doctor and a chance to get more X-rays. Part of what I hate of all of this is the unknown and having to deal with people who allegedly know more about this than we do. I know there are good doctors - and my rage isn't with the medical profession in general, just in particular. It's just disheartening to hear the same story repeated over and over by fellow runners. I can trot around the backyard with the kids at least, so that is a huge plus! I can also walk without pain - this is giant. I highly recommend Lino and the staff at Kinections. Hope your runs are awesome this weekend, and thanks for reading!


  1. I think what you did was awesome. I saw Dr. Lau at Elite Spinal & Sports Care one week before my marathon...because I'd gone a month with pain in my knee. He did 'something' and it worked. I'd highly recommend him as well.

  2. Kelly, I'm adding you to the growing list of runners I respect (actually I respect most runners! but I digress) who recommend Dr. Lau. I met a runner at the Cowtown who recommended both Lau and Lino to me. I'm going to try and strengthen some more before I start running again. I'm so mad at myself for waiting so long!

  3. That's a turn in the right direction!! Good to hear, and good to see recommendations regarding sports experts in the area. Jacob is still concerned about his knees so we are keeping notes on who/where to go if it becomes an issue. =)

  4. You definitely need to complain to "Keyser Medical." Check him out here: just to get a little background for yourself (see where went to school, if he's ever been on probation, etc.). Then call "Keyser" and just say you want to make a complaint about a doctor. The fact that he looked at old x-rays shows poor medical judgment, and then he was unprofessional by belittling you, laughing at you, and comparing you to a grocery store shopper.

    Think of it as doing a service to other patients. That doctor is not only being paid a whole lot of money, but he's likely handing out lots of other similar diagnoses to people who won't think of questioning him.

    All that said, I'm glad to hear you're not giving up. And I'll be interested to hear how your knee likes this new experiment!