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Help Identifying Knee Injury

Ok so I’m at my wits end with my knee. Rewind about a year, I just got off a 10 hour shift at work of standing and walking around. I go home and decide to knock out my leg day which at the time was 5/3/1 with squats. I’m on my max out set, and what I attribute to stuff legs and a crap warmup, I get a pop in my left leg while descending with about 400lbs on my back. Nothing happened besides a pop. No pain, no wobble, no lose of strength, nothing. I finished another rep and racked the weight. I’ve had my knees pop before from squats so I thought nothing of it. Until later in the day it started to hurt and get really tense.

It swelled up a bit over the next few days and felt kinda weak. I went and saw a doctor, and he checked me out. He said since I’m not experiencing any notable lose of strength or stability then nothing is torn. He tells me to do the usual heat, rest, ibuprofen.

I do this for awhile, but fully resting is not really an option as I’m always on my feet not to mention I’m a martial artist. I did stop all leg work and kicking and knees.

Now fast forward. It’s been about 10 months and it still hurts but only when I’m on my feet for a really long time then it just feels a little sore. I’ve experimented around with squatting again and I still have all my strength and stability. But now there is a slight grinding feeling in my knee when I move it certain ways. And I’ve since lost my insurance so I can’t afford to go back to the doctor and get an MRI or anything.

The pain is all on the outer side of my knee like right in the spot where it bends. And the grinding is never accompanied with pain. I’m so paranoid that I have some severe damage to my knee and I really wanna get back to leg work and being able to compete in martial arts again. If anyone can help me figure out what’s wrong and a way to fix it I would be so grateful. The doctor suggested it’s just an mcl sprain or something along those lines but it’s still not healed and the grinding feeling that started a few weeks ago is really disheartening.

Well the MCL or medial collateral ligament is on the inside of your knee, the LCL is on the outside. Anyway, is this also the location of the grinding, or is it more towards the front near the patellar tendon? Can you feel it when it happens? Any prior injury or surgery to that knee? Has your knee ever locked up or given out since then? Anything specific make it hurt (stairs up/down, hills, sitting for long periods of time?

Lastly, I would suggest stop using heat if there is swelling (I’m assuming there is since you’re using an NSAID). Heat increases circulation in the area, more circulation can cause more swelling/pain. If the heat helps with the pain, by all means use it but find another drug other than an anti-inflammatory because of the increased risk of ulcers from extended use.

Trying to get a more specific history, anything you can think of might help.

[quote]rlBanda wrote:
Well the MCL or medial collateral ligament is on the inside of your knee, the LCL is on the outside. Anyway, is this also the location of the grinding, or is it more towards the front near the patellar tendon? Can you feel it when it happens? Any prior injury or surgery to that knee? Has your knee ever locked up or given out since then? Anything specific make it hurt (stairs up/down, hills, sitting for long periods of time?

Lastly, I would suggest stop using heat if there is swelling (I’m assuming there is since you’re using an NSAID). Heat increases circulation in the area, more circulation can cause more swelling/pain. If the heat helps with the pain, by all means use it but find another drug other than an anti-inflammatory because of the increased risk of ulcers from extended use.

Trying to get a more specific history, anything you can think of might help.[/quote]

It’s definitely the lcl. I don’t know why I was thinking mcl.

It hurts a little on the side of my knee when I take my finger and push on the spot. It gets a little sore from certain activities, and sometimes it’s a little worse than others. Running/Sprints seems to be what aggravate it the most. Also if I lock my knee out hard and really flex into it then I can feel a fair amount of soreness around the lateral side.

I’ve never had a prior knee injury. No pain or anything ever. It’s never locked on me. The only time I lost stability was when this injury very first happened and that only lasted a few days. As for the grinding, it’s extremely hard for me to explain. I’m not really good with medical terminology and what not. It just feels like a very faint grinding. If I’m sitting with my feet on the floor, and take my injured leg and slowly extend it straight, I can feel a slight shift/grind about midway through the motion, and it feels more towards the front kneecap area.

I did stop taking the anti inflammatory a few months ago. I was never really sure to ice or heat it. The doctor said use moist heat on it, but icing it makes more sense.

The initial pop you felt could have been the LCL, that could have been a complete tear but I think that would be pretty painful and the laxity would be easy to see with a varus stress test. If the doc missed all that he sucks. If its just a Grade 1 strain, the ligament was stretched but not torn, so you should just RICE it and maybe use a hinge brace (hinge on the outside) to help out but it seems like your ADL’s are fine.

OR you could have injured a smaller muscle in the back of the knee called the popliteus… It assists in flexing the knee and medically rotating it at full extension, in other words it locks the knee when you straighten it out. I say it could be the popliteus because the tendon wraps around the outside of the knee from the femur to the back of the tib.

You won’t really know anything for sure without a full eval and possibly an MRI but like you said that’s not in the cards right now.

As for the grinding feeling… I have no idea. It could be swelling inside the knee or maybe a bursae sac… Either way it doesn’t hurt so I wouldn’t worry. Both of my shoulders, left ankle and left wrist all grind very audibly (i suspect from sports, lifting and military service) but they never hurt so I just make the noise to gross out my GF.

Good luck. Hope this helps.