Got that lovely vision down? Congratulations, you just imagined yourself as me. And what you've just imagined is the bilateral patellar subluxation that I live with every day.
Surprised? Considering that I am a runner? If you were to speak to my orthopedic surgeon who first diagnosed me nearly 10 years ago, he'd be surprised too. In fact, when he first diagnosed me, he told me the following: "Running is probably the worst thing you could do."
So what exactly is patellar subluxation? In the most general terms, it means that my kneecaps don't sit where they're supposed to. It means that the tendons running along the outer part of my leg are so tight that they're pulling my kneecaps toward the outside of my knee. This creates tremendous pressure in the now-tiny space between the edge of the patella and the femur. In fact, a common co-morbid disorder associated with patellar subluxation is patellofemoral pain syndrome, the aforementioned grinding of the patella against the femur.
PTPS is also commonly referred to as "runner's knee."
Are my orthopedic surgeon's comments starting to make sense? At the time of my diagnosis, I was already overweight (not yet obese) and fairly sedentary. I would often experience runner's knee pain just by bending down, say, getting something out of the backseat of my car. Sitting for long periods of time was agony. Standing for long periods of time wasn't much better.
There are some treatment options for patellar subluxation, including physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, weight loss (of course) and an extremely invasive surgery called "lateral release" which involves cutting ligaments to allow the patella freedom to move into its proper place. This surgery, as you might imagine from the description, also involves a very long, painful recovery. Not to mention it involves cutting ligaments. Ew. I feel like those would probably be important. Also, gross.
Now looking back, I often find it interesting that my orthopedic surgeon said that running would be the worst possible thing for me. Since running and losing all the weight that I have, my knees have felt better than ever. I used to experience pain just by standing still. Now, even while steadily increasing my mileage (28 miles last week) my knees have never been healthier. The subluxation can't be cured, but the fact that since losing weight I have felt nearly none of the knee pain that used to nearly cripple me when I was obese is really saying something. Of all the running injuries I've experienced in the past year of running, my knees have never been injured. Sore? Sure. But no more sore than any other body parts during a long run. I've hurt my hamstrings, hips, ankles, shins, and calves, but never my knees.
Running is the worst thing I could do? Au contraire. It ended up being the best thing I could do for my knees.