Hi, I’m Amanda (2nd from the right), a 26-year old Marriage and Family Therapist in Sycamore, Illinois. I grew up in Marion, Iowa and moved to Illinois for graduate school where I fell in love with exercise and fitness (because grad school is stressful!).
Unfortunately, I had a love-hate relationship with exercise due to a knee injury.
Back in high school, I injured my knee cheerleading, so I’ve struggled with my knee for eight years. During those years, I saw three different physical therapists–one in high school, one in college, and one after graduate school. They all were somewhat helpful and informative, but none of them were able to get rid of my knee pain.
Not only did my knee injury hurt, but it also had profound effects on my life. From not being able to exercise to my full potential, to waking up throughout the night unable to sleep because of the pain, to my friends and family constantly listening to my complaints about my knee pain.
Life was awful.
I did the math one day and realized that I spent an average of ten hours each week stretching, foam-rolling, strengthening and icing at home. That’s a part time job!
I was on vacation with my family in the Ozarks in September 2015, and we had so many fun, active plans for our trip. But one day, I woke up and my knee was so swollen that I couldn’t walk down the stairs. I was frustrated; I finally told myself to call and get another opinion on my knee when I got home. This time, though, I wanted to see a specialist, so I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Van Thiel.
Even though I was planning to see a specialist, I still thought no one would figure out exactly what was wrong with my knee. It popped and snapped so hard every time I bent it. I could not only see it snap, but I could hear it!
Research led to dead ends. I just assumed I had a rare problem no one would ever be able to pinpoint, and I would be forced to live in pain the rest of my life.
Dr. Van Thiel was honest with me when we first met. He told me he wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong with my knee either. After my appointment, I emailed him and told him I was afraid that surgery wouldn’t reveal the problem. He assured me that it was common not to know exactly the cause of a problem prior to surgery, which helped alleviate my fears.
I scheduled arthroscopic knee surgery with Dr. Van Thiel, and he found that my IT band had thickened over my knee, causing it to snap against my kneecap every time I bent it. My injury was rare and most likely would not have been discovered without surgery. During surgery, he shaved down my IT band until he could bend my knee without it snapping.
The results of surgery were unbelievable! I felt like a kid with a new toy. Everything that held me back before was on my list of to-dos (like squats), and I could do them without any problems!
I expected surgery to help my injury, but I never thought it would completely heal it.
That said–I’m still trying to take things slow. I feel great, but I don’t want to be foolish, so I haven’t started running yet. I am lifting weights and using the elliptical, and I plan to run a race in the near future. I just don’t want to overdo it! I did have a bad knee for eight years, remember?