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Knee ACL Injury? Meniscus Tear? Stress Fracture? MRI Diagnosis

by @ 9:28 pm
Filed under: health,running-hiking — Tags: , , ,

I have been a runner for a major part of my life. Not champion material, not elite, not even great, just average. My marathon times are in the 4:10-ish area, but I do run consistently and over the decades it has become an inexorable part of my life.

Problem is that running and aging don't coexist very well. Sure you see news articles about octogenarians, nonagenarians, and centenarians running marathons but that's why these folks make the news. They are a rare breed. When is the last time an average 20 year-old made the news for running an average time marathon?

I am certainly not immune to the ravages of aging. There have been back issues, herniated discs, sprained ankles, joint pain, muscle tension and breathing and stamina problems. So far I have been lucky that many of the symptoms have healed or at least improved allowing me to resume running after some period of rest.

The latest challenge was severe knee pain that ended up sidelining me for three months. It all started simple and small enough. A few months ago I started noticing a bit of pain in my right knee after long runs. I have had some knee pain for years arising from knee cap scraping but it has been tolerable. This pain was noticeably different but it would subside after a day and so I continued with my normal running schedule.

Turns out that I should have listened to my body and reduced the level of activity because a few weeks later I was hobbling, almost unable to walk, let alone run. There was considerable pain in the lateral side (the crotch side) of the right knee and it wasn't healing. Pain medication, icing, sports gels, and knee braces weren't helping. I suddenly became sedentary and had to use a stick to walk even a short distance. Even sleeping was difficult as I couldn't fully extend and straighten my right leg without feeling excruciating knee pain.

I searched for my symptoms online and talked with coworkers who might have had sports injuries themselves or had children with sports injuries. The most mentioned diagnoses were ACL injury and meniscus tear. I was able to eliminate ACL injuries or tears rather quickly. As I was explained, an ACL tear would have led to an inability to even stand up. That wasn't quite my issue. I could stand or even walk, albeit with much pain.

A meniscus tear seemed like a much more likely candidate. My symptoms were very similar to those mentioned online and others with meniscus tear experience. There was pain on the side of the knee (lateral side), I couldn't straighten my leg, and the location of the pain was tender to the touch.

And so as I finally visited my orthopedic doctor, I resigned myself to the fact that I had a meniscus tear, possibly requiring surgery. My doctor seemed to be in agreement but of course needed more evidence and so an MRI was ordered.

A couple of weeks later with the MRI results online, I pored over the images comparing them to online images of torn meniscus but my untrained eye couldn't determine if there was a tear or not. Here is one of the images.

A few days later, at the orthopedic office, my doctor, handed me the MRI report, telling me that there was no tear. Say what? The circled area is the meniscus. Lots of white around that area indicating fluid and bone bruising, but as it turned out, no tears. This was in the report conclusion:

MRI findings suggestive of a subchondral nondisplaced fracture centered at the mid aspect of the medial femoral condyle

No discrete meniscal or ligament tear seen

In other words, and as my doctor explained, this was one or more small stress fractures with some amount of fluid surrounding it. His orders were to stay off running for 3 months, take pain killers and ice as necessary.

Over the next few weeks I took short walks, painful at first, and less painful as time passed. As the pain slowly subsided, I took longer walks, discarded the tree branch I was using as a walking stick. Eventually my knee became pain-free.

A couple of weeks ago I finally had my first small jog, and today I had an 8-mile run, slow, gentle, but pain-free.

My grandfather used to say, pain arrives in an instant and takes a long time to leave. This one didn't exactly arrive in an instant but it sure took a long time to leave, dropping me a few lessons during its unwelcome stay. Listen to your body, pain is telling you to slow down or stop. Ignore the pain and you will pay the price. It's ok to pause a habitual activity such as running while recovering. Walking isn't the same but it's a good low impact substitute. And finally, Internet searches and anecdotal accounts are interesting and educational but no substitute for a professional diagnosis.

Peru Hikes - Marcahuasi, Machu Picchu

by @ 4:12 pm
Filed under: running-hiking — Tags: , ,

On a recent trip to Peru with a friend we did 2 hikes, one near Lima and the other near Cusco.

Near Lima, Marcahuasi is one of those open secrets that you hope it'll never become too popular. It's a stone forest filled with rocks that resemble human, animal, and alien faces and shapes. Some believe that it was laid out and constructed by aliens or unknown races, maybe even the Incas. I think it's all the work of nature, but no matter what, it is a mystical place that one can't forget. It certainly deserves more than a one-night stay but that's all we had time for.

Near Cusco is of course the famed Machu Picchu city/fortress but getting to it via a multi-day trek was most of the fun. We chose the Salkantay trek because the Inca trail was at capacity with only 500 allowed per day. In return we were treated to more nature than history/culture and less crowds. Salkantay offers majestic mountains with glaciers, green rolling fields, innumerable waterfalls, and pristine scenery that is hard to beat.

The final trekking day ended in the town of Aguas Calientes with its hot springs and finally Machu Picchu which doesn't need a description of its beauty. The hike to the top of the Machu Picchu mountain and the views from its peak left us breathless.

Here I'd like to take the opportunity to thank our local guides by sharing their web sites. We actually picked them at random and they both turned out to be outstanding. I assume most licensed guides in Peru are of high caliber, reasonably priced, and they can facilitate things greatly, so having them is definitely advised.

Marcahuasi - www.huancayaperu.com

Machu Picchu - www.salkantaycuscotrek.com

* This is unsolicited and I receive nothing in return for mentioning them.

Red Rock and Lake Mead

by @ 8:10 pm
Filed under: environment,running-hiking — Tags: , ,

When I travel for business I try to mix in some pleasure. In most cases that means taking the weekend at the end of the trip to explore new places around the area.

This was the case with my recent trip to Las Vegas. I ended up exploring the Red Rock Canyon and Lake Mead. Beautiful places with plenty of hiking and swimming.

Calico Tanks

Calico Tanks in Red Rock Canyon. Moderate hike.

Turtlehead Peak

View from Turtlehead Peak at Red Rock Canyon. Las Vegas strip visible in the distance. Strenuous hike.

Red Rock Canyon from my hotel room, bathing in the morning sunlight.

Red Rock Canyon from my hotel room, bathing in the morning sunlight.

Lake mead from an overlook. Clearly low water levels, indicated from the light/dark contrast on the island. Swimming is still allowed from the Boulder beach.

Lake mead from an overlook. Clearly low water levels, indicated from the light/dark contrast on the islands. Swimming is still allowed from the Boulder beach.

Shot from the top of Hoover dam. Clearly visible bathtub ring  indicates historic low water levels.

Shot from the top of Hoover dam. Clearly visible bathtub ring indicates historic low water levels.

2013 NYC Marathon

by @ 2:35 pm
Filed under: running-hiking — Tags:

The New York City marathon is everything they say and much more. I have been to a few races in my time and to New York city as a visitor (including one new year's eve) but nothing like this.

The city was alive, electric, vibrant, and loud, and so was I as a runner. I didn't even feel tired from all the energy I was drawing from the crowd. This city knows how to throw a party and it was unforgettable.

On a sad note, here's a story of the oldest female runner who died the day after completing the race. Kudos to her. This is exactly how I'd like to leave this world. One kick ass run and then a swift trip to the other side. A true inspiration, may she rest in peace.

Joy Johnson, New York marathon's oldest woman dies next day

2013 NYC Marathon Road Closures

by @ 10:13 am
Filed under: running-hiking,Uncategorized — Tags:

2013 nyc marathonTook me some time on Google to find out about the road closures during the 2013 New York City marathon. Head on over to Gridlock Sam for that info. Figured another entry for this post in the Google index maybe helpful to those searching for this info. Good luck to the runners.

Hot Humid Running

by @ 5:04 pm
Filed under: running-hiking

A dome of heat and humidity has covered the northeast for some time now and doesn't seem ready to move on. Running in such condition isn't fun, but some of us endorphin junkies don’t have a choice. Conditions be damned, the run must go on.

Read an interesting and humorous article on this and some of the points make perfect sense to me, in particular, the dislike of waking up at dawn to beat the heat, and the dread of going to the gym.

Eventually the cold and short days will be here forcing me back into the gym on weekdays. For now, I just wipe, wring out, and shake off the sweat, happy to have avoided the gym for one more day.

Boston

by @ 9:36 am
Filed under: running-hiking — Tags: ,

Big sympathy for Boston, the marathon runners, and those affected in the senseless act of violence.

Hope for a swift and severe justice to whoever did this to one of my favorite cities and one of my favorite activities.

Miami Marathon 2013

by @ 9:56 am
Filed under: health,running-hiking — Tags: ,

The Miami Marathon was held on Sunday, Jan. 27 and I was happy to be a part of it. I have been travelling to Miami during the same dates for the past several years and always wanted to run in this event. This year I decided to fly in a couple of days early and take part.

I'm not a big fan of races. To me running is a way to relax, unwind and be with my own thoughts. Races are anything but. They're loud, crowded, with rigid start times, course clocks, pre-determined mileages, etc., not exactly relaxing. I don't train for races either. they take too much time and discipline. I just go about my own runs and then just go for the race. Not exactly a winning strategy as I have been unable to break 4 hours, but I have no plans to address that with training.

Some observations on the Miami Marathon:

  • Runners were required to pick up their numbers from the convention center 1 or 2 days prior to the show. I understand that they want people to attend the expo, but that creates a bit of inconvenience for people who must travel to the event.
  • The race started at 6 am with shuttle pickups at 4 am. That's way too early for me but it's probably done to get in front of the heat. Upper 70's was forecast later on the race day.
  • One thing I didn't like about the event was that the half and full marathoners shared the same course for the entire half. That did create a bit of traffic jam with the 25,000 runners in some areas where the streets were narrower. Other marathons separate full and half marathoners in a mile or two after the start and that helps spread out the crowd making the courses less dense.

Overall the event was well organized with a decent number of aid stations and entertainment zones, and the course was interesting with good crowd support, and a nice finisher medal to top it off. I even got a banana from a woman handing them out from her own property. Thanks, whoever you were, it was at the perfect time. And if one was inclined, the ocean was near enough for a quick post-race dip. Who can beat that in mid-winter?

Electric Cars To Make Noise

by @ 5:08 pm
Filed under: running-hiking,technology — Tags:

I don't like government regulation much but there are areas that concern health and safety where government regulation may not be a bad thing.

Making electric cars a bit noisier is one of those areas (Electric Cars Must Make Noises Can Hear Under U.S. Rule). As a runner and walker I have been startled by the noiseless cars a few times. No close calls for me and all my senses including hearing are unencumbered by modern gadgets. Yet I can see how the battery powered cars could pose a danger to people not hearing them or believing they are shut off and parked just before they dart out.

If this saves one life, and I'm sure it will save more, then the cost would absolutely be worth it.

 

Dying to Run

by @ 10:54 am
Filed under: running-hiking — Tags:

Last weekend brought the sad news of a young woman dying just short of the finish line of the London marathon. She was running for a good cause - suicide prevention - at had collected about $700 then, now standing at over $1 million with the outpouring of support from people.

There are some who have criticized her for exerting herself to that point and many label marathons as a dangerous sport. Yes, marathons could be dangerous and in some cases deadly, so what? Life is dangerous and eventually deadly.

As a fellow runner I admire this woman's conviction and her compassion to tie her love of running to a charitable cause. She died doing what she loved and supporting a cause she cared about. That deserves a ton of respect.

On one occasion I was overcome with heat just after a run and passed out. When I came to, I thought that this is how I would like to die, doing what I love, not battling advanced age or illness on my death bed. Nothing wrong with the latter, it's just not my preference. I'll be in the upcoming NYC marathon this year, and if anything, this young woman has given me more motivation to keep on running.

 

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