My knees have always been plagued with problems. During most of my childhood, I was clumsy and whenever I fell, the first thing to hit the ground would be my knees. It seemed like every other week I had a large band-aid on my knee cap. There were times where there would be a lot of blood, but other times I got lucky and it barely bled. While falling on my knees was painful, it's not even close to the most painful thing that my knees have felt.
From scrapes and cuts, growing pains were next to plague my knees. The pain got even worse during the height of my growth spurt, to the point where it was mind-numbing. I would wake up in the middle of the night, sobbing and crying out for my parents. Almost every night, my parents would routinely rush into my room, with a glass of water in one hand and pain medication in the other. Eventually, I grew out of my growing pains, just like my doctor said. I thought that growing pains would be the end of my knee pains, but I was wrong.
Before I go any further, I should point out that there was a point where my knees were healthy. Once I grew out of my growing pains, I was about to enter high school. During this time, I was super active and played two sports in school in addition to doing taekwondo year-round. It seemed like the injury bug skipped me and decided to plague my teammates.
Around this time last year, I just finished my last and most successful year of high school swim. I was going through a normal postseason winter, going back to taekwondo full time. Nothing really changed about my exercise routine or any part of my daily routine for winter, so the pain I started to feel in my knees took me by surprise. I decided to brush off the pain but with each passing week, I grew more and more concerned. This pain was different, it seemed to wrap around my kneecap, and not get any better. My go-to remedy of ice and pain killers weren't doing much and it eventually started to impact my daily life. Walking upstairs and hills became excruciating and there have been times where walking seemed like an impossible task.
I went to go see a chiropractor first. He did an amazing job, cracking and correcting parts of my body that I didn't even know had problems, but there was little result in helping my knees. Next, I went to a physical therapist and she found that my leg muscles were disproportioned to each other. I followed a routine that she gave me to help correct the areas that were weak, but I was instructed to stop if I felt pain during the routine. Of course, it was painful for me and did little to help the pain. My frustration grew to the point where I wasn't sure if I was crying because of my pain or frustration.
After four months of trying to find solutions on my own, I was getting no clear answer to my problems. I went to the doctor, hoping that he would find something big like a tear, almost as if it would validate the pain that I had been feeling up to this point. He found nothing, at least nothing that was an immediate worry. He found that both of my ACLs and MCLs were at varying stages of potentially being torn by the time I'm middle aged and that there's little that I can do to help ease my pain besides pain meds and physical therapy.
I left the doctors that day feeling defeated and with the official diagnosis of chronic knee pain. For a while, I didn't really know what to do with this diagnosis and about a year later, I still don't. I've had to make changes in my life as a result. My competitive swim career has been put on the shelf and I've kissed going on long hike's goodbye. The good part about this is that my pain tolerance has gotten better, and the pain is mostly just a numb throbbing feeling, so I guess there has been progressing throughout this past year. I'm confident that I'm going to continue to find solutions to my chronic knee pain and to learn to live the rest of my life with chronic knee pain.
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