Saturday, February 21, 2009

All My Remedies

I can't imagine the days that I am free of knee pain. I have been living with it for so long. The pain level fluctuated over the years depending on how much I trained. I tried all kinds of magic potions and nothing seemed to work. This is like a curse. It's like "great flexibility comes with great pain."

My first knee pain was accompanied by a lower back pain in the middle of learning Erluquan. I went to a chiropractor. He said I was fucked. My built-for-child-bearing hips weren't straight and therefore screwed up my knees, spines and neck. I kept going to have my spines adjusted and popped for about 3 months with neither lower back or knee pains going away. So I stopped.

Then I went to an Orthopedist. He felt up my knees for about 2 seconds and pronounced my knees Chodromalacia and gave me a prescription for physical therapy for 3 months. So I went to a physical therapy for 3 months during which I hardly trained at all. The therapist ordered me not to do anything i.e. no walking on the beach, no wearing flipflops, no high-heel shoes, no swimming, no biking, no long walk, no running, and no kungfu. I listened to him 75% of the time. I exercised my knees and iced them half religiously.

After the 3 doing-nothing months, I went back to my orthopedist. The pain still didn't go away. He sent me to an MRI. The result showed that everything was fine except that I had huge inflammation under both kneecaps. So he injected Steroid into my knees. The pain went away completely for 3 days and came back when I went back to training.

I stopped going to that doctor.

Not all was lost however, I found out that my problem was the inflammation under the kneecaps. I just have to get rid of it. Patricia (Heng Zheng) told me about Arnica Gel - a homeopathic that helps reduce inflammation. I started using it religiously. It's great for bruises and other kinds of swell but not my knees. I also started using knee braces while training. They reduced impact on my knees a bit during jumping but they are very cumbersome for moves like Xiebu or Zhengtantui.

By this point, my knees are so swollen that I could not bend my knees totally. I grew up sitting with my legs folded and squatting. I could not do either of that anymore because it would hurt too much. I was losing my Asian squat...

I started taking Glucosamine with Chondroitin and MSM -- without any pain reducing result. I also got into a habit of taking Ibuprofen before training so that I could do certain knee-crunching moves with out too much pain.

Recently, Natalie told me about FlexNow - a supplement made from Shea Butter - that she took and had successful anti-inflammation result. So I started taking that too.

Shifu suggested that I stop using knee braces, stop jumping and do more stretching and kicking. So I did just that. In the past two weeks I only trained Level 1 classes and got out of the lines when other people jumped.

Currently, with all these supplements in my body and no jumping, I think my pain level went down a notch. The pain is still there especially when I walk down the stairs. I still can't totally fold my knees but my Xiebu becomes a little more comfortable. So I guess I'm heading toward the right path.

During my last 2 years combating this knee problem, the only time that I was totally pain free was toward the end of my India trip. I did not train at all for about 5 weeks. I had no problem running up and down steps. I hope it doesn't come to choosing between training and my knees. Hopefully, I will find a middle ground where the knees can make peace with Kungfu.


  1. Poor thing!

    Are you taking fish oil? That, and other things rich in omega-3 fatty acids, are good at reducing inflammation, and don't have the nasty side-effects (reduced muscle recovery, liver damage). They've worked for me.

    You may also have a muscle imbalance. I know I keep harping on it, but pretty much all of the striking martial arts tend to give you imbalances by strengthening mostly the muscles of your front side. This tends to pull your joints out of alignment, causing no end of problems.

  2. Oh! And maybe do the splits on your knees, instead of on your feet. Putting that much lateral pressure on your knees... well, they weren't designed for that.

  3. Aha! Fish oil! Why didn't I think of that? Yay! More supplement.

  4. Dude...sorry to hear about the knee problems. Have you tried Deep Tissue Massage, maybe some lineament oil and uber-hot baths?

    Kung Fu