Tuesday: 60′ stationary bike

My knee continues to be mysterious and painful.  The joint has two modes of operation.  The first mode is entirely normal.  No pain, no weakness, nothing.  The second mode is extremely painful.  It limits the range of motion (I can’t fully extend it).  I have trouble bearing weight on my leg.  Going between the two modes is a bit erratic, but I am getting the hang of it.  The best way to transition from pain free to painful is to fully flex.  Adding in radial movement of my foot while flexed seems to encourage the transition.  Getting from painful to pain free is more hit and miss.  Sometimes, if I put steady pressure to extend it fully, my leg, which stops at about 10 degrees from fully extended, will slowly finishes extending and the pain will diminish.  Other times, if I get off my feet and put my leg up for 15 minutes it will get back into working order.  Last night it hurt when I went to sleep, and was fine when I woke this morning.

I had an appointment with the orthopedist today.  I was pain free walking in and thinking he might pat me on my head and send me on my way.  I was wrong.  He grabbed my leg, pushed to full flexion, he and I felt the click in the joint as it flexed and it hurt like hell when he extended the leg again.  He did some more manipulations of the joint to see which motions hurt and which did not.  Then he sent me for x-rays.

The x-rays confirmed the first part of his diagnosis.  Osteo-Arthritis.  There is the potential that there is additionally a tear in the meniscus cartilage.  That will be checked by getting an MRI this evening.

This same doctor treated me 5 years ago for arthritis in my left knee.  Back then, my knee was very sore and swollen.  He treated that knee with a cortisone injection and I decided to limit the amount of running I was doing.  I was running up to 5 times per week then and rowing much less.  The treated and training change worked completely… until recently.

This season, I started noticing problems with my right knee.  Generally the problems happened when I was doing something like putting my oars in the boat and getting into a deep crouch.  My knee would lock or I’d get a sharp pain.  But extending the leg would fix the problem, and I would go on with a normal rowing session.  Other times, in an erg session, I would notice my joint clicking during the first few strokes, but by either limiting the amount of compression at the catch, or just by warming up, it would go away.  This was not painful at all, just annoying and a little scary.  Then things seemed to get much worse after my pants removal incident on Thanksgiving.  Now the pain would not go away and was much more intense.

Anyway, the reason that I am writing this all down is because I am trying to process all of this.  Essentially, there is no doubt that I have Arthritis in the joint, but if there is a serious tear, getting it fixed will probably make my knee work a lot better.  But if the tear is minor, or there is not tear, then the prognosis is not very good.  I will likely have to figure out how to live with my knee giving out on a regular basis.  I have no idea what impact that will have on rowing and, frankly, that’s bumming me out.

I guess I just don’t think about that until I know more.

For training today, I was back on the stationary bike.  I just set it to resistance of 10 and did 2 x 30 minute intervals.  I tried to pedal hard enough to keep me right at the boundary between UT2 and UT1.

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No pain from biking.  Just a gathering gloom in my soul.

Tomorrow: 40 minutes on the bike plus strength training.

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