23 Feb A Physio’s Journey to Recovery from Knee Pain
A special blog by Deborah Thomas, Senior Physiotherapist at Halo Physio.
As a physio here at Halo, I see many people who experience a variety of problems, including knee pain. I too have knee problems, and wanted to share with you my personal journey to recovery.
My story is very much like the ones I here in clinic often. I’m a busy mum, wife and do my bit for school charities and so on.
I’ve had knee pain for years, no specific injury or trauma, I’m just hypermobile and so my knees have extra movement and I need to always work harder to control the joints.
From an exercise point of view, many of you will know, I’ve been practicing Pilates since 2004. I teach pilates classes four times a week, and I educate others on training courses. I also enjoy power Yoga, and power walking.
A couple of years ago, I decided to take up running, mainly to aim for a couple of 10k runs, to raise money for charity. Using the ‘C25K’ (Couch to 5k) app was really helpful from a training point of view, and even though my knee hurt during and after the practice sessions, I carried on, and proudly completed two 10k’s. However, my right knee was not happy, and I began taking medicines to alleviate the pain, and to carry on with my daily life.
Gradually, even though I didn’t continue running, I noticed my knee would catch, give way, and I was experiencing sharp pains while kneeling, squatting and using stairs. Admittedly, I thought I was doing enough exercise to keep strong and fit and things would just improve by themselves. So I ignored the symptoms….and they worsened. I struggled to go upstairs properly and was pulling up on the banister; I couldn’t demonstrate exercises properly in my classes.
Several months ago, I woke up one night to turn over in bed, and ‘POP’ my hip went! It wasn’t painful, but ‘didn’t feel right’. After that, both my hip and knee felt vulnerable, unstable and sleeping at night was disturbed by radiating pains down my leg. Things were clearly going in the wrong direction!
This was really bringing me down mentally – probably as I was experiencing lack of sleep, I was in pain and it was affecting my work. I expected myself to be able to manage this and ‘sort things out’ – after all I am a physio! As a health practitioner, it is also quite common to think of the worst, and I decided at some point to stop burying my head in the sand, and admit to myself I’m going to need a knee replacement, and probably a hip replacement as well – I was catastrophizing!
So I spoke to my colleagues here at Halo, and the response was very appropriate! I was asked: have you been doing your exercises, EVERY DAY, for 6-8 WEEKS? Have you had an ASSESSMENT & TREATMENT for this problem? Have you had an Xray? And of course, the answers were NO!
So we made up a plan. I sat down and made a list of all the things I CAN DO TO HELP MYSELF, and what DO I NEED HELP WITH.
I wanted to address the mind and the body.
A year or so ago, I participated in a Mindfulness course: MBCT: Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. This is a tool, which is well researched , and widely used now, which can help one deal with pain, anxiety, depression; improve clarity of mind & focus, to mention a few benefits.
I took this course locally:
So, every day, using the CD’s and tools from the course, as well as using the ‘Headspace’ app
This is a FREE 10 minutes guided mindfulness app used by millions around the world, and now, myself.
From a physical point of view I wanted to address, strength, soft tissue and joint issues.
I started monitoring my fluid intake and I am drinking lots more water now, and less tea & coffee.
I booked several sessions of Sports Massage with Andrea Ramus here at Halo, and it was astounding to realise how tight the whole of my back and limb muscles & soft issues had become.
Michelle, Principal Physiotherapist here at Halo, assessed me and treated me using acupuncture for pain relief, and other joint techniques, but mainly motivated me to DO MY EXERCISES EVERY DAY!!! By this point many muscle groups were weak, and others were over-firing.
To improve my strength and strengthen my commitment, I took up personal training sessions with Adam Preece, who we work closely with :
So, a holistic approach that addresses all aspects of mind-body has definitely helped me here, and so, I practice as I preach.
So far, I now sleep well at nights with no pain. I can squat, lunge and use the stairs for most of the time with no pain. I do my exercises every day and WRITE THEM DOWN. I am on day 71 of my mindfulness app. I prioritise myself, as much as I can –I have two primary school aged daughters to look after. I am more focused, positive and know the journey is on –going, and who knows – I may even be able to run again….. I’ll keep you posted!
Blog compiled by Deborah Thomas, Senior Physiotherapist at Halo Physio