As most of my friends and acquaintances know I have been unable to play squash for well over a year due to knee issues, degeneration of the cartilage being the main culprit. I have been working with the wonderful Dr Steven Bernstein (Summit Orthopedics and AussieNick) during this time, however an arthroscopy in January 2007 showed that little could be done barring a knee replacement. ‘Fine’ I said ‘ let’s do it.’
‘Not fine,’ said Steven, at least not for several years.
I have played squash for 30 years on average 3- 4 times per week and coached up to 7 hours per day – no wonder my joints were starting to complain. What do you do when your doctor tells you that you can’t participate in something that has made up a major part of your life – socially, physically, psychologically – determining who you are – your job, sense of self and place in the community. There are two ways to go – one was to yell, scream, rant and shout about how unfair life is the other is to take it philosophically ‘well 30 years is a pretty good innings, I can go and explore other activities etc’. Ok so I went the latter route much to the amazement of my close friends. The process was aided by my job which now sees me in more of managerial capacity overseeing programming for Sport & Health squash and racquetball at a dozen clubs.
So I hit the elliptical and swam and aren’t those two activities a hoot! OK so they aren’t that bad, they are just not for me – the main reason being that I can’t socialize while doing them. I asked Steven again about the knee replacement, however he wouldn’t budge.
Patricia, a friend and fellow squash player mentioned that her knee had greatly improved since a few sessions with prolotherapy…..prolo what? I found out that it is an injection (well lots actually) of fluid (with sugar or other substances) into the problem area seewww.prolotherapy.com At the same time, David who spends his life on the net, sent me the same link, ‘why not try this’ he said.
I met with Dr Gheen and asked for a referral. The referral was to a Racquetball pro who had similar issues to me. She had played for 3 decades, experienced success in National and International tourneys then experienced knee issues. She stated that her knee had improved 75% over the 4 or so sessions she had received. ‘No way,’ I thought, I’d be delighted if I could get 30% better meaning I would not have to wear my brace when coaching after this amount of sessions. I checked with Steven who said ‘It won’t hurt you.’
Off I went to Rockville for my first session, the first 21 injections (tiny nip like things) didn’t hurt (they were the numbing injections) however the real 21 injections that followed were ‘interesting’ – an unusual sort of pain that goes right through the bone (a little like the pain I experienced with a cortisone shot). ‘Yes,’ agreed Dr Gheen, it is a funny pain.’ Actually funny was not the word that came to mind and it was a little painful but all over in a couple of minutes and then painkillers (Tylenol) needed for the next 36 hrs.
So did it work?
I’m surprised to say that it did, I have improved 30% after the first session. I was able to get on the elliptical for 30 minutes without my brace and also to walk 1 mile without my knee feeling substantial pain. (I have not been able to do this since last year). My goal for the series of 3 or 4 sessions was to have been able to coach without a brace, well I’ve already done that. Time to refine this to a fairly ambitious goal – to play Div 3 standard.
Aug 20 – 2nd session. Much less painful injections. More to follow later in the week
Connie Barnes 20-August-2007