Runner in training: A real pain in the … knee

It’s a non-issue. That’s what I keep telling myself.

There is no pain. There is no pain.

Most of the time, there isn’t. But on occasion, it strikes. Just a little pang here and there, right beneath the left kneecap. Always the left. Never the right.

It’s a pain that has pushed me to the sideline before. In college, I went for a long run one night and eventually found myself in unbearable agony as I limped toward my apartment complex 5 miles away. Luckily, a friend answered my distress call via Twitter and picked me up with his truck.

More recently, before I started this marathon training, I found myself struggling to reach the newsroom on the third floor of the Post-Crescent office building. (That’s two flights of stairs). For about a week, I placed most my weight on the right side, and  when I absolutely needed to walk, I shuffled around like an injured gazelle about to become lion lunch. My chair was a lifeboat. Sitting down meant no pain.

So what’s my deal? Why must I occasionally suffer while other runners never break their training stride?

Upon closer examination of my left knee, you’ll see something unusual. A bump. A big protrusion that looks a little out of place. And that’s because it is. A doctor has told me that the bump is a result of Osgood Schlatter’s disease. But don’t let the name fool you. It’s not really a “disease” per say. I wasn’t infected by an outside organism.

Ever since that doctor advised me to limit my mileage (of course I didn’t listen), I’ve poured over online literature that sheds light on this common “disease.”

It usually develops in young athletes – pre-teens and teens – while their bodies are growing. Basically, a combination of physical activity and body growth allows extra bone to form in an area where the shin bone and some cartilage have been pulled apart.

All my legit online sources (MayoClinic.com and WebMD) suggest the pain is supposed to subside once the body stops growing. At the age of 23, I think it’s fair to say I’ve reached my growing limit. And that really sucks, because sometimes being 5’7’’ is a real drag – especially when my girlfriend of the same height wears her high heels.

But obviously, the pain has not stopped. It comes and goes. Some days, I can run 12 miles and feel fine. On rare occasions, 3 miles is enough to put me out of the game permanently.

So why as a full grown adult do I still have pain?

The only possible answer I can find online comes from several “non-experts” in chat rooms. These are sufferers like me. Some are in their 40s, describing a miserable life of pain, which is truly discouraging.

But many of them – from discussions with their doctors – say that the aggravation is caused from the tendon being stretched by the bump on the knee. That seems to make sense. I’ve even read about people who’ve underwent surgery to remove the bump. Some say it was a success. Others have had less fortunate results.

I don’t think surgery is the right route for me to take, especially when the pain comes and goes.

My solution right now is a knee brace that I bought from a sporting goods store. I wear it almost every time I run. It’s been a real lifesaver during my training. I’m pretty much pain free whenever I have it.

I’m interested to know if any other runners out there are OS sufferers or if you’ve experienced a similar type of knee pain. What have you tried to lessen the aggrevation?  

Kyle Daly: 920-993-1000, ext. 430 or kdaly@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @kyledaly2

 

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