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My knee cartilage has been deteriorating over time, and recently my doctor strongly advised me to take up biking and stop running. I've already signed up, and received a bid, for a half-marathon in October and I am curious if anyone has had any luck walking a half marathon with my type of knee problems.
Of course I don't want to cause permanent damage, but I just can't seem to get the idea of this final race out of my mind.
Any advice is appreciated.
I don't want to pretend I have a best answer for you, but I have some experience that MAY help. I believe I am going through the same thing in my knee. I have an appt to see sports guy on Wednesday. I DO have deteriorating cartilage in my left shoulder. It started with a torn labrum (the equivalent of a meniscus in the knee). I chose not to have surgery about two years ago because both specialists I saw said that further activity that doesn't hurt isn't going to make it worse. Went back for f/u visit several months ago because it was bothering me. The same specialist I saw last time said it was a good thing we hadn't done surgery because I have bad arthritis (read, deteriorating cartilage) and that surgery may have made things worse if we had done it.
I now have the same grinding in my left knee with the occasional catch. I suspect it is exactly the same thing. I suspect I will go through the same process of "if it doesn't hurt, go ahead and do it." I, too, am half way into the training cycle for a marathon. I'm pretty sure the marathon is a wash. BUT, if it doesn't hurt, go ahead and do it may mean I can do a half. I'm not sure yet.
Back to your question. Can you walk through large portions of the half that you've trained for? My opinion is yes. If it doesn't hurt, you should be able to do it without causing further injury. It's also unclear from a research point of view, whether running makes cartilage loss worse or not. Once again, I'm going to err on the side of saying, if it doesn't hurt, you should be able to do it. Are you going to slow the deterioration of the cartilage by not running? That is a question to put to your doctor. If the answer is, "it doesn't matter whether you run or not, the cartilage is going to go anyways," then what do you have to lose by running/walking to stay fit. And, for sure, if and when you need that knee replacement, they'll and you'll have a much easier time of it if you're in shape.
I hope this helps more than it confuses, but I'm getting ready to start to ask the same exact questions you're asking, I think, and this is my approach to it given my past history and my medical background. The most important question to ask your doc is can he or she honestly say that continuing to run is going to lead you to a knee replacement sooner. If there's no data that says you're making things progress faster by running, the answer is to run until you can't run anymore, then get the knee replacement, you would've gotten it anyways. Boy, it sounds a little morbid when I put it that way . Good luck.
Neither am I an expert, and I'm not sure how "deteriorating cartilage" relates to arthritis. Studies have shown that running does not worsen arthritis. You may want to investigate this before giving up running or walking for exercise.
Good catch... I should have known someone would call me on that one. Technically, arthritis is swelling, pain, redness and warmth of a joint. It is caused by an inflammatory reaction in the joint, usually as a response to infection or systemic disease. We really are not talking about true arthritis in this thread.
What we're really talking about is degenerative joint disease, the age related gradual hardening and subsequent deterioration of the cartilage in a joint with concomitant and subsequent bone degeneration leaving rough bony surfaces and bone spurs and often causing pain, sometimes debilitating. I often refer to DJD as arthritis because arthritis is a term that most people use loosely and can at least relate to even if it is technically inaccurate. Studies also suggest that running (or other forms of exercise, including weight lifting) does not contribute to the progression of DJD (or arthritis), but may contribute to the pain associated with the degeneration.
Either way, I am gradually coming to the opinion that, for many of us, exercising on a joint that is "getting old" won't make it worse. Hence, my opinion of, "if it doesn't hurt, you're probably not making anything worse." This has significant ramifications for me as I have multiple documented degenerating joints and if I truly believed that exercise will lead me to joint replacements faster, I would be unable to do any of my prefered exercises.
I hope I haven't been too misleading in my prior description.
I have no personal experience with this issue - but I know doctors when unsure will err on the side of safety and advise you don`t run - I would ask for more detail as to WHY he thinks running is bad and if he can not provide a solid medical reason seek a second opinion. My friend recently had a broken wrist pinned and was told not to run - when she pressed the doctor for he reason he confessed he had never had a patient run so soon after surgery and he didn`t know what the effect might be
NYC Marathon Nov 1 2009 - 4:03:13 ( 9:17 mm )
NYC Half Marathon Aug 16 2009 - 1:55:38 ( 8:49 mm )
1 mile - 7:07 10K - 52:58 ( 8:32 mm)
4 mile - 31:35 ( 7:53 mm) 8K - 42:28 ( 8:32 mm)
15K - 1:22:02 ( 8:49 mm)
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Thank you for all of the replies! I've been doing some of my own research (based on the one sheet they gave me about my MRI results) and learned that the tear in my LCL seems to be more of a threat to my half marathon than the deterioration of my cartilage. Right now I am focusing on resting/treating the tear to ensure that the half marathon isn't ruled out just yet.
No question, when a ligament is torn, it means time off!!! Didn't know you had ligament damage! Good luck with your rehab. I fully expect you'll be back to running!