Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Plica for Your Thoughts

"Floor hockey has betrayed me," I wrote in my last blog.  Upon further inspection, this is not the case.  Apparently, this whole time, my right knee has been a ticking time bomb waiting to go off for some 29 years.  Who constructed this bomb you might ask?  Who could be so devious as to want the inside of my knee to swell up leaving me frustrated, face itchy, and holding my breath?  

It was me.  

But not the me of today.  Not the me of yesterday or even the me of five years ago.  The answer lies in the womb.  Let me explain.

This morning, I went through the motions of an arm/ab session at the gym.  And while drifting from machine to machine, taking time to stroke the beard of my discontent between sets, I did some dynamic running stretches to test the waters.  Everything appeared to be ok, save for the normal morning stiffness that I'll just chalk up to "getting old."  

However, when I get stressed, it pools in my stomach as an acidic, nausea-inducing puddle of bile.  I imagine it to be a mustardy-brown cesspool with gloppy bubbles inflating and popping on the surface and....I digress.  Let's just say, I was nervous about my upcoming doctor's appointment. 

Finally, the hour of reckoning was upon me.  I swung my legs back and forth on the table while waiting for the doctor.  My eyes darted around those pristine white walls at the various framed accolades and athlete signatures.  Anything to calm my nerves and try not to feel as ridiculous as, well, I felt in the oversized shorts they made me slide on.

The doctor entered.  We shook hands and did the quick chit-chat that I'm sure they've heard a thousand times a day: "Haven't see you since May...but I guess that's a good thing, right?"
"I hoped it would be longer," I said back.  Yuck yuck yuck.

Down to business.  He listened to my plight.  Knew to ask how the summer training went, when Boston was in April exactly.  Then the manipulation.  "If I press here, if I turn it this way, push down, pull up..." and so on.

My favorite exchange came while I was lying on my back, right leg bent at 90 degrees.  "Ok, now straighten that leg...straighten that...I said straighten your leg."
"I am straightening it...that's as far as it goes."
*loud exhale*
"You've got some tight hamstrings, my friend."

And after much poking and prodding, after the realization nothing he could do hurt, the verdict came down: I have plica knee syndrome.  

He explained it as the thickening of the joint fluid, which causes inflammation, which irritates other areas of the knee, which means back off of running, ice, and anti-inflammatories.

The all important question came next: "When can I run again?"
"Take a couple more days and get after it on Sunday or Monday."  

It's as if he pulled the plug on my cesspool.  Relief washed over.  No meniscus tear, no ligament damage, no structural damage.  Only orders were to incorporate some quad and hamstring weights into my routine to strengthen the areas around my knee to hopefully prevent this type of flare up.  

But, we of course live in the age of information, and wikipedia, and WebMD.  I had to look up more info on plica knee syndrome.  Here's the sabotage part: 

Often called "synovial plica syndrome," this is a condition that is the result of a remnant of fetal tissue in the knee. The synovial plica are membranes that separate the knee into compartments during fetal development. These plica normally diminish in size during the second trimester of fetal development. 

My fetal development has failed me.  I am as yet undeveloped and am forced to now deal with these sacs that are prone to inflammation.  Curse you, fetus!

But, barring the discovery of the flux capacitor and any other form of time travel, it sounds avoidable with a little preventative exercise, some strength training, and some iburprofen.  

My running partner and I were e-mailing today about this and he summed it up best saying, "It makes sense.  We're at a level now where we need to get stronger to maintain this."  Amen.

In the meantime, I'm getting the shaving cream lathered up for Sunday.

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