Friday, August 13, 2010


When I had my bike crash back in March, by a week later I was mostly recovered from the scrapes and cuts, but my left knee was still very sore and stiff. My knee had a sort of "bubble" of loose-feeling skin which would "wobble" a bit, and this bubble was uneven and had striations in it. The skin felt kind of numb there. And the whole area was terribly sensitive and got stiff easily.

My primary care physician said that what I had there was a sort of a blood bubble, a pocket where internal bleeding had accumulated, and that while she could drain it it would probably fill back in. She recommended hot compresses, rather than the ice I'd been using for the swelling, to help the blood get reabsorbed. And she said it could take as long as a month or more for it to be reabsorbed and everything to be back to normal.

Four months later, nothing much had changed. Hot compresses seemed to give me some temporary relief from the stiffness, but the bubble was as big as ever, felt as lumpy and numb as ever, and my knee was as prone to getting stiff as it had been three weeks after the injury. So I asked my doctor about it again and got a referral to an orthopedist. It took another month to get in, then an hour in the waiting room for about three minutes of his time, which led to another referral, but at least I have a diagnosis now.

Bursitis. About which I knew little more than, in movies, old people complain about it in their joints. But having read some summaries about it, I can see how it matches everything. And how hot compresses were the wrong treatment all this time. (I'm not sure if a more timely diagnosis might have helped treatment be more effective, but it would at least have made it more timely.)

While it's likely that my knee will never be "good as new" it seems likely that with some physical therapy it will be able to get a lot better than it is, to almost as good as it was before. Maybe when I'm older, the onset of chronic bursitis there will be earlier and stronger, but at least for now, this acute bursitis should be able to be minimized.

The only problem of course is that I have zero spare minutes in my day, particularly at work, so where am I going to fit in two physical therapy sessions a week plus whatever "homework" they assign?

So a lot of bad news: it won't be good as it was, I have to go through lots of stuff I don't have time for, and I don't know how cross I should be at my PCP. But I have to look at the silver lining: I will soon be on the way to where I don't have this stiffness, soreness, and sensitivity.

1 comment:

Siobhan said...

I dunno how cross to be, either. Her idea seemed reasonable on the face of it back when she suggested it...

I'll take on what I can to relieve your time at home, though.