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Supacase's avatar

My knee hurts (details inside) - is it worth going to the doctor?

Asked by Supacase (14528points) May 31st, 2012

I’ve recently started training to run. I know this is why my knee hurts. (I went to the specialty store and got fitted for the right shoes, have a very experienced runner working with me, etc. so I’m not going into this blindly and just asking for trouble.)

At first the pain would subside within a day or two. (Going down stairs is the worst!) This time I am still feeling it from Saturday (5 days ago) but felt about 85% better this morning. So, stupidly, I went walking this morning and I’m almost to the point of tears.

I kept hearing “this is normal, you’re going to hurt at first” but this feels a bit over the top.

This is a two week issue, not a long-term or ongoing problem. I feel like the doctor will say ice it, elevate it, take ibuprofen and don’t run until it stops hurting. All things I already know. Is there any other point in seeing him?

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18 Answers

Facade's avatar

This may be an unpopular opinion, but running isn’t good for you in the long term Try brisk walking!, and it’s because of issues like this. You should see an osteopath who specializes in sports medicine. They can check your whole frame and your gate to see why your knee is a weak point when running. Most other doctors will just treat your symptoms. You should definitely rest your knee until it’s not painful anymore. And don’t listen to those misguided people who tell you your pain is normal.

Jeruba's avatar

How recently?

I had a sore and swollen foot that I put up with for a month before I saw a doctor. Going early could have saved me the past year and a half of lameness, pain, casts, and lots of appointments. I am having a painful, swollen flare-up right now, after no extraordinary exertion, just when I’d been thinking I had become good at managing it.

If it hadn’t been for the cast on my foot and the crutches, I wouldn’t have taken a fall on some stairs and broken my arm. All this has really messed with my life.

But when it was first hurting, I had to be tough and say I’d get past it.

The first thing the doctor asked me was, “Have you recently started an exercise program?”

Bingo. Four months of yoga classes, and then a little bone snapped. Stress fracture in my foot. It doesn’t take much of a crack in an unimportant-looking little bone to cause a lot of trouble.

When you start a new program, such as athletic training, your bone mass will build up, he said. But before that it decreases. If you get an injury in that little valley when it has decreased but not yet built up, you can experience a fracture from the activity. And that’ll bring your exercise to a quick conclusion, as well as introducing untold other hassles into your life.

Knees are tricky things. Don’t be an expert. Let the doctor make the call. Go.

Supacase's avatar

@Facade I actually agree with you about running. I’m doing this because running a 5K is on my bucket list. Just something I want to experience, I guess. Obviously, I may need to replace it with something else – at least it would be a justifiable switch.

Supacase's avatar

@Jeruba Thanks. That is very sound and reasonable advice.

gailcalled's avatar

I have been coping with very sore knees and tender soft tissue in the thighs, calves, hamstrings and ankles for several months.

At first we thought I had Lyme disease so I took a three-week course of antibiotics. No change. Blood work ruled out lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and polymyalgia. Then I dutifully saw a Physical Therapist six weeks ago.

I have been scrupulous about doing the stretches and strengthening exercises. Yesterday after a follow-up with doc, I had x-rays taken of both knees and lower back. Will inform you all of results.

For the moment, I take Ibuprofen, ration the number of squats I do daily, and have cut my treadmill program to ½ time and 75% of speed. So far, so only okay.

wildpotato's avatar

I agree that you should go to a physiatrist who is a DO (osteopath) – I use to work for one, and people came in quite often with injuries such as you describe. A bit of PT would probably do you well. Here is a helpful guide to running without injury.

Jeruba's avatar

Correction: past two and a half years. I spent all of 2010 with a soft cast on my leg and began 2011 with a hard one. Right now I am awaiting Xrays and a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and dreading the outcome.

My best and healthiest wishes to you, @Supacase, and to you, @gailcalled, and to anyone else who is experiencing physical impairments and intimations of mortality. Oh, that this too, too fragile flesh would shape up.

gailcalled's avatar

@Jeruba: Plus the fickle finger of fate. At my appointment yesterday, my internist, whom I really like, gave me a thorough exam, excellent counsel, and then cleared his throat and looked embarrassed.

He is closing his practice on July 31 in order to move to Columbus, Ohio to be near his wife’s ailing mother and to take a wonderful position at Ohio State U.Medical Center where he will see patients and also have the opportunity to do research.

He and his staff have 3000 patients who are now starting to scramble. Due to his endorsement and my sister and mother’s connections with another local practice, I was able to winkle my way in, however seeing a doctor who comes recommended but whom I have never met.


Let us know about the results of your appointment.—

Meanwhile, that penguin is on her way to Paris, apparently ready for all kinds of knees-up.

wundayatta's avatar

Are you hesitating because you don’t have insurance? Don’t like doctors?

In general, it seems to me that it is bad to wait to see a doctor. I don’t care if you find out that things are fine the next day. I usually wait until things get bad, and then, of course, when I go see the doctor, everything is better the next day, just because I waited too long. If it’s a flu, then I guess there’s nothing that could have been done. Otherwise, sometimes it really is something a doctor can help with.

I just called my dentist on a toothache. I didn’t know if I should go see them since I am seeing my root canal guy next Wed to finish the root canal I had done last week or so. Decided to ask the endodontist instead of scheduling a separate appt with the dentist. That’s because I also have PT for my shoulder on Monday and there is only so much doctor visiting I can stand. And I have good insurance. The root canal was free of out of pocket costs. The endo charged $1400 or so, and is being paid $819. A few months ago, a good portion of that would have been my cost, since he wouldn’t have been in my network.

Oh well. Life after 50.

marinelife's avatar

Ongoing pain is not normal. You should see an orthopedist to find out if your knees are in shape for running.

2davidc8's avatar

What kind of surface are you running on? I go out running 4 or 5 times a week. I used to always run on asphalt or concrete, and I started to get this pain in my hips. Then I switched to running on dirt paths. Fortunately, here we have several that are right beside the paved paths. This surface is much softer. You won’t believe the difference it makes. I’ve not had any problems with hips, knees or ankles since.

After you start feeling better, I recommend that you look for dirt paths that are reasonably level and wide, free of rocks, branches and other debris.

rooeytoo's avatar

I won’t tell you what to do but I will tell you what I do. I have been running for about, it must be over 45 years, I didn’t start until I was in my 20’s. Anyhow, I have aches and pains all over. Bad knees from a serious fall off of a horse when I was a kid and a flyer off a motorcycle when I was older and the running has either strengthened them or is wrecking them, who knows. But I keep doing it because I think the benefits outweigh anything else. My knees often ache, I sometimes use one of those Iliotibial bands, ice and an advil. Some ultramarathoner said learn to run with pain and you will never run alone! By the way I just had blood work done because high cholesterol was in my family, every re

ading was in the low normal and it had actually gone down since my last check in 2009. The doctor kept saying what meds are you on, I said nothing. He must have asked me 3 times. So I would say keep running, go to the doc if you want, but keep running. Just be more judicious with your training. This is a photo I took day before yesterday while running, another reason to get out there and just do it. Oh yeah and download the free app runkeeper onto your smartphone, it will help you pace yourself, another smart training aid. Use your head and you will be able to run for a long time.

Supacase's avatar

@wildpotato My doctor happens to be a DO, so that works out well!

@2davidc8 we are running on concrete. I found the one day I ran on asphalt made the pain considerably worse. We have a good system of green ways here so finding paths should be fairly easy. I believe I also have an over-pronated stride, which can apparently cause its own problems as well.

@wundayatta I don’t want to waste time for either of us or look like a hypochondriac, I guess.

@rooeytoo Thank you for telling me about your experience. I would like to keep it up. Thanks for mentioning that app

Supacase's avatar

@gailcalled I hope tomorrow’s test results are what you are hoping for. Please let us know how it turns out. I’m sorry you have to change doctors after finding someone you like and trust.

dabbler's avatar

It is Not normal to have bad pain in your knee from running. And despite the fact that you got ‘fitted’ for your running shoes I’d suspect them.
I’ve been a runner for a few decades and the only times I had knee troubles were in shoes of a certain brand which is famous for its special orthopaedic features for pronating or anti-pronating. I didn’t need that ‘help’ and as soon as I switched back to other brands that pain went away. On the rare occasion I put those shoes back on I get the sharp pain in my knees again. I should throw them out.

Also it’s possible your shoes have too much traction on the concrete and asphalt, not allowing your footfall to twist just a bit as you land and apply your weight. Shoes with harder rubber outsoles or milder pattern might give your legs a bit more leeway.

josie's avatar

On the one hand, pain is good because it reminds you that you are still alive.
On the other hand, pain means that something is damaged.
If it heals up in a week to 10 days, you are probably within the body’s ability to adapt.
If it hangs on longer than that, there will be a price to pay of one sort or another.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think you will be wasting the doc’s time, nor do I think you are being a hypochondriac. If you have doubts, call the doctor’s office and ask them if they think you should be seen.

Jeruba's avatar

@gailcalled, for once it was good news, as far as it goes: apparently this is just a flare-up, a little setback on the long road to healing. It can happen. I was worried that the doctor was going to say this is it, no alternative but surgery now. Instead he said stay off it and keep icing it, and take Ibuprofen for pain if you need it (I don’t). and it should just get better, back to where it was, anyway.

I think it improved as soon as he said that.

So—I’m limping with my old cane and swearing a little, and yesterday on the sofa I started a long, thick book, but I’m not feeling scared about it. That was worse than the pain.

And finding that out was more than worth the visit.

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