Doctor Doctor give me the NEWS
20 Sep 2017
It’s been 5+ weeks since I came off of the AT. At first, I thought my knee, feet and leg pains would eventually subside, but they haven’t. The feet are still numb, especially the left big toe. The knees still are painful, especially going up and down stairs.
After a few weeks of rest, I made the necessary doctor appointments to find out what’s really going on. From the knee xrays, it appears PFPS (Patellafemoral Pain Syndrom) is the primary culprit…in addition to bone spurs in both knees. According to the doc, I have good joint spacing, but the right patella is seemingly more out of alignment which causes MORE pain…good to know. And those bone spurs…not too bad, yet!
After today’s consult with my orthopedic surgeon, the way ahead (at this point) is…
- Stop all big impact exercises…that means running OUT, but walking (AKA hiking) is still G2G (good to go)
- Whatever causes pain, Stop It!
- Continue RICE
- Wear some braces for activities
As for now, NO knee surgery required
However, we are scheduling an MRI on the more painful Right knee to eliminate any other issues. No need in an MRI on the Left, since we already know about the torn meniscus over there. Also, to help with pain issues, I had my orthotics appointment today as well.
The best news is…it’s not THAT bad. Thank God for That! While the knees still hurt and buckle going up and down stairs, I am Happy 😁 the diagnosis is what it is. Right now, it’s just going to be some braces to realign my knee caps.
After educating myself on WebMD about knee bone spurs and PFPS, I’ll take the less evasive approach to knee pain. I’ve had too many surgeries already in my 51 years of life and as I get more aged — I like to say refined — I find the idea of going under the knife as less appealling nowadays.
So what does this all mean? Well, it means I can hike as long as I can deal with the pain. Since 5 weeks of little to no activity has helped resolve some pain, I think I’ll continue this plan for a WHILE longer. No need in rushing back on trail to only have more pain related issues arise. BUT…this does mean I can return to hiking my AT Hike at some time in the future. That’s great news, because I have unfinished business out there. I have (no, I need) to finish my AT Hike, even if it’s not a thru hike.
I’d hoped that the foot/shoe orthotics would help align my legs and maybe get rid of all the pain (feet, leg, back), but that may not be the complete fix. With foot issues to be corrected as well as a knee realignment with braces, I should be walking straight as an arrow after putting on all of this hardware.
My only thought right now is… “Do I add these items to my base weight when I get back to hiking?”
When the foot doctor was making my foot molds, he asked about an irregularity in my left foot. In particular, he made note that my left foot turned inward and it must have been that way since I was young. After a little more discussion about my many ankle sprains, it turns out my anterior ankle ligament may need some work.
Turning those ankles
As my blog readers know, I turned my left ankle many, way too many, times on my hike. While my ankles have been an issue (easily sprained) for 25+ years, NO doctor had diagnosed it like Dr Rick Grayson, DPM. I’ve had a previous doc talk about it being an ankle dislocation, about it being drop foot and a few other ideas, but NONE of them took action so I’ve lived with some very unstable ankles. According to Dr Rick, it’s only a matter of time before one of these ankle sprains tears my ligament completely OR it breaks my ankle. Good thing that didn’t happen on a mountain top!
Dr Rick thinks if I don’t get this fixed, it will only get worse. I’m not sure how it could get any worse, but… He said as a previous foot surgeon, he would do a Brostrom Ankle Ligament Reconstruction. After talking about the surgery and recovery, it looks like a trip back to my primary doctor and another consult with podiatry is in order with a much needed and overdue surgery!
So what I had hoped was a “let’s just get some hardware” may easily turn into more surgeries. While the left ankle is really bad, it’s a bilateral issue…so maybe two ankle surgeries! We’ll just wait and see…
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.