First time posting here. Hoping someone can help me with some good advice for a problem that is beginning to really frustrate/discourage me. Sorry for the lengthy posting; trying to provide as much info as possible so folks know what is going on. Thanks in advance if you choose to read on.
Here’s the deal: From December-April, I was doing a ton of heavy squatting and deadlifting. I was definitely overtraining, which was stupid. One day in April, I spun around quickly and felt something in my knee pop. I didn’t take any time off from lifting, and quickly I had a massively swollen left knee that I couldn’t fully bend. Probably six weeks later, I finally ended up seeing a sports doc in Singapore, where I was based at the time, and he ordered an MRI.
The MRI showed no damage within the knee; the doc said the joint was “pristine” and that I was just suffering from a ton of inflammation and maybe a tweaked poplitea. In turn, I had just a bit of irritation under the kneecap, visible in the MRI, which the doc said was chondromalacia.
I did the whole rest, ice, ibuprofen routine, and saw an Australian osteopath who did a few adjustments that led to a massive reduction in swelling. All was looking better and I began slowly training again. I made the dumb mistake of doing some sled drags (forward and back) and hill sprints on one day, which made my knee a bit sore, and then I made the even dumber mistake of doing heavy back squats the next day for the first time in like two months.
My knee swelled right back up; the patellar tendon felt huge and inflamed. I was back in the States by then, and went to see a chiropractor (a former powerlifter who used to squat in the 800 pound range back in the day) who did a couple of adjustments and told me I was suffering from chondromalacia and a kneecap that isn’t tracking properly.
Since then, I’ve been really good about resting, not doing anything that would bother my knee, and trying to do hip stabilization stuff and some quad strengthening exercises my knee can handle, like leg extensions. The chiro told me my quads are weak in comparison to my glutes/hamstrings, my abs are weak in comparison to my erector spinae, and my right back/hip are overdeveloped and tight compared with my left side.
He thought my right leg might be slightly longer than the left due to some imbalance in the hip. I should note that, like 70 percent of the male population, I have anterior rotation in my pelvis, which I have been working to correct using exercises I’ve found in articles on this site.
At present, I seem to have hit a plateau. There are some days where my knee is pain free and not swollen, and feels 95 percent and I get the itch to squat (which I resist). There are other days when I wake up and the kneecap is sliding around all weird and clicking and hurting just from walking. I continue to work on exercises to stabilize the kneecap (single-leg quarter squats on a declined surface, at least on days my knee feels okay to handle it, leg extensions, some terminal knee extensions), exercises to stabilize the hips and correct anterior pelvic rotation, and exercises to strengthen the abdominals.
I just can’t seem to get past this issue, and I am particularly dismayed on days when the kneecap just seems out of control. What else can/should I do? Getting very discouraged.
For reference, I am in my mid-20s, have never had any real knee issues before (minor patellar tendinitis in the left knee when I was 17 and was running a lot), and I have been lifting seriously for a little over a year. If it’s relevant, I’m 5’9", 180lbs and lean. My 1-rep max back squat is double bodyweight, and my 1-rep max deadlift is 2.875 times bodyweight.
Thanks again to anyone who bothered to read this far. I would really appreciate any good advice you guys can give.