Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"After running over 300 miles this summer, what has happened to my knee?"
I am 17 and am training for cross country season. I ran over 300 miles this summer, and now my left knee hurts whenever I twist it. It does not hurt when I walk straight, or even when I jump, but when I twist my knee it feels like my leg might buckle out from under me. I can feel that my left knee is tighter than my right knee, and it appears slightly swollen also.
Joint injuries resulting from athletic activity are best evaluated by an orthopedic specialist. He or she can take a history to find out exactly what kind of activities bring on the pain or instability. Certain imaging tests (including x-rays or MRI scans) can also be helpful in diagnosing orthopedic injuries. Overall, running can be a very good activity for cardiovascular health, but it does place any athlete at risk for joint injuries because of the biomechanical forces generated by running. For this reason, it is always a good idea to make strenuous changes in a training plan only with the supervision of a coach or athletic trainer with a background in the activity. The knee is stabilized by several different ligaments and tendons, any of which can be strained or injured by overuse. Instability with twisting motion can suggest a problem with either lateral ligaments or even the ACL. Swelling in the area can also indicate an effusion, or collection of fluid, that builds up around the joint. Notably, this can happen with a ligament injury. Until you can be properly evaluated by an orthopedic specialist, it is best to refrain from strenuous physical activity, including running. With proper treatment athletic injuries can heal, but pushing through an injury can exacerbate the underlying problem and substantially delay return to regular activity.
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