I have gardener's knee! Ouch...

stevation(z5a Utah)November 7, 2007

So, you've heard of tennis elbow, right? Well, a "sports medicine" specialist this week said my right knee has pretty much that same kind of repetitive stress injury and hasn't been able to heal properly. It's been stiff and sore all year since weeding on my knees a lot last April. Some days, I'm limping pretty badly. They even did an MRI, because they thought I may have torn a meniscus. But no, just a constantly irritated joint from bending and kneeling in the garden.

Anyway, this sports doctor just laughs when I tell him my injury is caused not by playing football and baseball with my friends but by gardening! He thinks I'm joking, and then he tells me I'll be back to playing ball in no time after a little painful physical therapy. I don't press the issue -- let him think I'll be playing football for Thanksgiving, when I'll really be baking apple pies and cooking the turkey. :-)

Anyone else out there sacrificing their body for the ol' gardening team?

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

ROFL I can just see your physical therapist going---yeah, sure! gardening, huh? At least my physical therapist (from when I broke my kneecap and injured my elbow--and eventually had the elbow surgery) was a gardener too, so he believed me when I told him that besides being able to go back to work, gardening was the next most important thing to me. But I just can't quit picturing all those sports types not believing you, and I'm still laughing about it!

Since the broken kneecap, I almost never do anything on my knees anymore, but I've always maintained my flexibility, and you probably wouldn't believe some of the contorted "sitting" positions I get into to garden. (And some of those well-practiced positions came in handy when I was "under the rock!")

I never considered PT much fun (luckily I had a fun therapist tho), so good luck with the therapy---and do what they tell you to do! It might prevent some even worse situation down the road---or---down the garden!

That'll be 30 reps please,

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 1:13AM
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catladysgarden(z5 CO)

I can't get down on my knees anymore. If I get down, I can't get back up. My knees have hurt for a few years now. Last Fall, I tore a medial meniscus, so I got to see an xray. They're bone on bone. Good old osteoarthritis! I suppose getting old beats the alternative, but it's not for sissys. I asked about knee replacement and the Dr. discouraged it. I work with people younger than I am who have had knee replacements and they're all glad they did it. I don't know what to believe. If I could take off 60 pounds, it would help I'm sure.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 4:40AM
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cnetter(z5 Co)

I have a ruptured disc in my lower back that I'm sure is from all the digging and lifting in the yard over the years. It's acting up now that I'm digging up the dahlias. Just looking at all of Digits dug dahlias makes my back ache. And both shoulders are so bad I can't braid my hair myself anymore. Shoveling manure aggravates my shoulders.

I can't get up from a kneeling position for other reasons (MS), so I got one of those sitting/kneeling contraptions from Gardener's Supply and really like it a lot. Even my spouse, who just has some stiffness likes it and uses it. I think somebody in this forum recommended it.

My neurologist always asks about my gardening. He told me to lose weight and not overdo it if I want my back not to hurt.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 9:27AM
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I got one of those sitting/kneeling contraptions as well, and I really like the concept, but the one I purchased through a local high-end garden shoppe is a piece-a-junk. I used the sitting function, and it bent. The other day I was using the kneeling function, and my knee unglued the foam. I think I will reinforce it with duct tape, a couple 2 x 4's, or just take the basic concept and wing it. Use an old pillow and a wooden bench.

Luckily, and a short pause to knock on wood here, this fall is the first time I don't have some nagging painful injury - last year was the 6 cords of firewood induced elbow-itis, the year before was the slide-off-the-river-bank-oh-my!-thats-a-hard-rock knee job, and so on.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 10:12AM
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aliceg8(CO 5)

I'm like you Skybird. I can only be kneeling for a few minutes... I always use one of those little pads. And if it's intensive weeding, I just plop my butt down.

I read an article just recently that gardening was great exercise for women, especially as they age. All that pulling and digging and toting are weight bearing exercises. Which is all great until we overdue it and end up with sore body parts! Mine is my right arm and wrist.

But despite all that I wouldn't give up anything. (Although I have been known to complain about my arm being too sore to vacuum - so Steve will do that for me!)

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 11:01AM
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Azura(z5 CO)

I don't know what my excuse is but I need knee replacement and I have shoulder impingement/bursitis and I turned 30 this year. In both cases physical therapists have told me that it is just the way that I am built, they have a fancy term for it, "biomechanical misalignment" Hrumph!
Physical therapy is hard but was awesome for me once I made myself do the exercises and stretches. I had terrible knee pain on a daily basis until I started doing the stretches I learned in PT augmented by a few I learned from a physical trainer at the gym. I figure the longer I can put off this knee replacement surgery, the better they will have the technology down.
Meanwhile I am going to keep sacrificing my body just like you, Steve. It just might look funny to my neighbors for a few minutes while I stretch first.
Now what is this fancy gardening-knee-saving-contraption that I need to add to my Christmas list? Does anyone have a link they could please post?

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 11:14AM
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cnetter(z5 Co)

I got mine here:
Garden Kneeler

The foam pad came off mine too, but I'm just going to use some E6000 on it and it'll probably never come off again.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 11:29AM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

I inherited that shoulder impingement thing too, but it hasn't flared up in a long time. Years ago, when I used to teach aerobics, it was so bad I could barely raise my arm, and had to have a cortizone injection. The only problem since then, was that year I decided to do a paper route for extra money ... never again!

Gardening doesn't seem to aggravate my shoulders, but if I have to kneel for a long time, my knees can get pretty stiff and painful. DH bought me some knee pads that strap on, but the velcro is pretty uncomfortable if you are wearing shorts, and they don't stay in place very well.

When we lived in Castle Rock, I worked as a personal trainer, and I am a firm believer that strength training, if done properly, can prevent injuries, whether they're from sports, or gardening. Of course, now that I have three kids, and live in a small town with no fitness center nearby, I don't exactly practice what I preached for years. Now gardening IS my exercise, which is okay, but not enough, especially in the winter months.


    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 12:17PM
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stevation(z5a Utah)

Wow, who knew so many of us were sacrificing our bodies so much for our favorite hobby?! We're really taking one for the old RMG team, aren't we? I feel exactly like the rest of you -- I don't EVER want to give up gardening; if it gets painful, I'll still do it and find ways to adapt.

I think we can all agree that gardening feeds the soul. It's good, for me at least, to know I'm creating something of beauty. I have to have that sense of physical creation, especially since I work in a knowledge industry (well, actually it's a lot about politics, so maybe the *knowledge* part is debatable!) and I don't get that physical creation need satisfied at work. I don't know what I'd feel like if I couldn't do it anymore.

I've been thinking this year how gardening has really overtaking what used to be my favorite hobby -- fishing. I even have 2FISHY as the license plate on my car. But I've only gone fishing maybe three times this year. I do something in the garden at least twice a week. It's so convenient because it's right at home, while going fishing takes me away from the family and takes more effort and time.

Anyway, I will be soon going to the physical therapist, who will do some painful massage that re-injures the messed up tendons to prompt a new, hopefully more complete, healing response. It's called ASTYM therapy. I just googled it and found the description linked below.

Here is a link that might be useful: ASTYM therapy

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 12:42PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Ohmygosh! I think this thread is mis-titled! I think it should have been another thread titled "Ye Olde Folks!" Im glad to at least know that there ARE some young folks around here too! But, Bonnie and Azura, and Alice-----you guys shouldnÂt need to be posting on the Olde Folks thread here! Ouch! IÂm glad I, at least, didnÂt really start getting too beat up until I really was olde!

I donÂt know if any of you guys use this or not, but I absolutely swear by it, and will NEVER quit taking it, no matter what any of the studies say. For probably 10 years now IÂve been taking glucosamine-condroitin twice a day. Back when I worked at PaulinoÂs, we moved, literally, hundreds and hundreds of perennial flats and gallon pots around every week, and my thumbs (especially) and shoulders were getting so painful I could hardly hold a brush or dryer to do my hair. Out of desperation I started the GC when I first heard about itÂand the brand I bought the first time had a money back guaranteeÂso I decided to see what, if anything, it would do. You need to take it for AT LEAST a month before you can expect any result, and I just kept taking it, and one day I realized that both my shoulders and thumbs were feeling better. It was so gradual I hadnÂt even really noticed it. And sometime after that I happened to notice that my TMJ problemÂwhich IÂve had all my lifeÂwas much improved tooÂnot gone, but way better. And I wonÂt ever stop taking it! In spite of the fact that I kept working at PaulinoÂs and doing the same thing for a couple more years, my thumbs have never started hurting again (moving all those gallon pots is a real killer), and my shoulder(s) didnÂt start bothering me again until after I had the elbow surgery about a year ago. I have PT exercises IÂm supposed to be doing here at home for my shoulder(s), and IÂm not real good about it, but I have been doing them, Âcause I really believe that keeping your muscles strong helps protect your joints. And while IÂm not carrying hundreds of flats and pots around anymore, I am now pushing 250 lb. carts "up and down hill" over and over and over! (And the wheels don't work right on half of them!) ThatÂs kinda hard on the shoulders too! The GC I use is the WalgreenÂs brand, Glucosamine 500mg. Condroitin 400mg. And it often goes on sale BOGO! ItÂs not cheap, but itÂs WAY worth it in my opinion.

ThatÂs interesting about the "damage it to fix it" therapy youÂre going to be getting, Steve, Âcause thatÂs the same kind of thing that fixed my elbow! The surgery I had is pretty new and itÂs called Topaz. They "drill" tiny holes in the tendon where itÂs attached to the elbow, and that stimulates the natural healing of the body. And it worked! IÂm actually still a little bit afraid to believe it, because none of the 3 cortisone shots ever lasted, but I have to believe this is going to last because the only other option is to have the "traditional" surgery, where they detatch the tendon from the bone, file the bone down (as I understand it), and reattach the tendon. Somehow that just doesnÂt sound like a whole lot of fun to me!!! AndÂwhat I had/have IS tennis elbow, without the tennis! ItÂs lateral epicondylitis, and it was caused by the impact when I fell and broke my kneecap and put out my hand to try to break the fall. ItÂs amazing to me how your life can be changed in a split second!

HereÂs a link to the Topaz site. ThereÂs actually a video of the procedureÂfor those of you that are into that sort of thing! It can be used on more than just elbows, and I thought it was kind of interesting.

Good luck with your therapy. I hope it works for you.


    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 2:26PM
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aliceg8(CO 5)

Dee - I'm going to try the GC. It's funny, but I have a doggie version of it for the pups - called Cosequin. I never thought of getting the equivalent for me. Maybe it's just denial on my part!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 2:53PM
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If I promise a future "uncovering" may I add a little somethin'? No, I'm not goin' to show you my back but maybe there'll be a photo.

Here's the long & short: when I turned 30 I didn't know if I'd make it too many more years. I had rheumatoid arthritis. But, as the years went by, the flair-ups became more and more infrequent until they stopped altogether. This was a very good thing since in my late 20s the flair-ups were just about every month.

Joint damage and concomitant nerve damage progressed apace, however. So, by my late-40's there was significant paralysis to the legs.

Gardening became not so much a feeding of the soul as it is one of the few things I can do - at my own speed. I see the "physical creation" as "being productive" and I work hard at figuring out how to do that without killing myself . . . so far.

There are 4 tools that help in the gardens - a long-handled spading fork, a 3-gallon bucket, a short-handled and a long-handled cultivator. I can walk about with the long-handled cultivator as a cane. It's light and, once in a while, I can actually do some work with it.

The 3-gallon bucket is light and useful for carrying stuff. It is also just right for me to turn upside-down and sit on. Once in this position, the short-handled cultivator can be put to good use.

The long-handled spading fork, and it needs to be LONG not one of those D-handled shorties, can loosen the soil and bring the dahlia roots to the surface of the bed easily. I'm not trying to lift anything - just pry them from the ground by stepping backwards and using that long handle as a lever.

I think many people are surprised that I can even cultivate a bed to the full 11-inches of the fork tines. But then, I'm something of a man of mystery.


Oh and Stevation, ask your MD or PT about methyl salicylate. It can take some of that pain awaaaay . . .

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 3:54PM
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I think I mentioned earlier that I got whacked with CIDP, which is MS except it hits the peripheral, not the central nervous system - so my legs below the knees, left hand, and face are paralyzed. Some of the facial nerves fused together, so when I salivate, I cry and this can be confusing to the wait staff in a restaurant when I start crying into the soup.... Anyway, do the same thing Steve does with a long handed cultivator - a 6 ft handle on a stirrup hoe. I also have a sawn off shovel handle that I tie to my waist with a rope for fishing - lean into it for the tripod effect.

I really like the garden kneeler, its light weight and easy to move around, and I can get up and down easily from the kneeling position - it just doesn't work on the slopes I have to deal with, where it is pretty difficult to get it level.

Today I started pruning fruit trees down to the level I can reach them, and I have discovered that getting a tripod fruit ladder is high on Santa's list. The standard, folding paint ladder is going to get me one of these days.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 6:24PM
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jaliranchr(z5 EC CO)

Love that handled kneeler and glucosamine chondroitin. And my cryo-cuff and boot to take down the swelling when I really overdo it.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 7:18PM
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David, I have a neighbor who has had Guillain-Barre.

I call him Mr. Right and he calls me Mr. Left. Our gaits are the same but mirror images of each other.

He's one tough hombre. I'm a whimp . . . He does a lot of traveling. For me, there's no place like ohm . . .


    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 11:19PM
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Its kind of geezer-gangsta - hand signs. "Dude!!! wid' dat limp, its gotta be Rheumatoid A, right?" - Yo!! And thats gotta be Guillan Barré"

:-> !

Exclamation point being long-handled cultivator

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 9:07AM
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stevation(z5a Utah)


You guys are great! Keep up the good humor!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 10:38AM
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tunnymowg(z6b Salt Lake)

oooh digits...my brother had Guillaume-Barre many years ago. That is one Thanksgiving I will never forget. He had been in the hospital for about 5 days having blood treatments but they gave him a pass to come home for dinner on Thanksgiving. It was a pretty scary time. He has always been very strong and athletic and so it was strange to see him so frail and thin. (He is ok now though, just a bit skinnier than he used to be.) Anyway, at the same time I was making a wedding cake for a close friend who was getting married on the Saturday after Thanksgiving a few hours away. So, slaving away and stressed out in the kitchen and worrying about my brother, I got the most horrendous migraine I've ever had. =\ Hope your neighbor is doing well!

My knees don't bother me (yet)...just my lower back once in a while since my discs have started to compress (need to get back to the chiropractor!). Not really gardening-related though. But is there such a thing as gardener's butt? :-O Mine was killing me after I put all my bulbs in a few weeks ago.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 2:49PM
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Guillian-Barré is officially known as AIDP, the "A" being 'Acute' CIDP is the chronic, multiple attack version. Famous poem I wrote at the time:

If your legs go all wobbly
And your feet get all floppity
you might have
Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy

Yet if a mosquito did dine
on your blood some time
it could just be Lyme.

Multiple years in wheelchair, walker, leg braces, and so on. Ah, the memories.....

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 3:24PM
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That should read "tick", not mosquito.

But you guys knew that :->!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 8:50AM
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cnetter(z5 Co)

Very cute poem. You don't happen to know one that rhymes with sclerosis do you?

Occasionally my spouse calls me a weeble, 'cause I wobble, except sometimes I do fall down.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 9:58AM
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Let me throw a few out there, run 'em up the flag pole so to speak....

"I sure wish my sclerosis
would turn out to be bogus
and if it isn't multiple
I could go plant this jonquil"

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 10:37AM
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