August 7, 2008

Understanding Athlete Pain

So in my rec-league softball playoff game this week, I was involved in a pretty nasty collision at third base with the third base"woman." (the "woman" is in quotes because if you saw her, you'd doubt that she actually possesses two x-chromosomes. plus, she played collegiate softball, so she doesn't count as a typical rec-league placefiller female). For somebody as experienced in the game, you'd think she'd know not to stand right in the baseline trying to make a tag. Well she did. I slide, our legs get tangled, bottom line is I stand up to run home when the ball gets by her (way to take one for the team, Jeremy!), and the knee gives out.

Well bottom line is that I have the dubious honor of having given myself a mild sprain of the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). I've never had a knee injury in my life. I've biked the 170 miles of the C&O Canal Towpath over three days on top of crushed gravel. I've played a good amount of sports. Never a knee injury.

Where am I going with this? Well I think for us average Joes out there, we get used to reading NFL injury reports (or more importantly fantasy reports) and seeing injuries that we kind of shrug off. A strain here... a partial tear there... a pull here... a twisted this or that. We care about how long the player is going to be out and when they're going to suit back up.

Fortunately my knee didn't look like this.

According to (not quite a medical treatise admittedly), a mild sprain of the PCL may result in "no lost time up to a couple weeks off." A review of the NFL injury reports from the past few years shows that the average player who suffered a mild sprain of their PCL, like mine, was out the week after the injury, but dressed and practicing by the following week, often times playing in a limited role.

Let's talk about the symptoms of a PCL sprain... when you go down stairs, you feel like your knee is going to collapse underneath you. It isn't easy to stand up out of a chair or sit down in a chair. Your kneecap just kind of throbs. You have to sleep on your back with your leg propped up on a pillow which clearly makes for great sleep.

I'm not here to bitch about my problems. But I will say that from here on out, I think I'll think long and hard before silentely cursing a player in my mind for missing a game or two extra when they have a "minor" knee injury. Because God knows, the furthest thing from my mind that I could possibly do right now is to throw on pads, make cuts to try to deke out defenders, and know that I have 300 pound guys who want nothing more than to pull me towards the Earth without very much regard at all for my wellbeing.

5 Responses:

"ben" said...

Does this mean the ECB finally respects Tiger Woods?

Tiger bashers!

J-Red said...

All knee injuries are different. Tiger gets no love from this incident.

When I was in Toronto for a summer for law school "abroad" I hurt my knee playing basketball in someone's driveway. There was the typical pop and the knee instantly swelled up. It didn't hurt that bad, but it gave out a lot and definitely felt mechanically broken. The doctor in Toronto told me ACL tear for sure and immobilized the knee until I could get back to the states.

Here I was told I probably popped a little piece of cartilage off. No intervention required. That being said, my left knee still feels weak going down stairs or if I have to do a squat motion a lot. It limits my leg press to 350 pounds.

"ben" said...

Is this a comment on universal healthcare in some way?

J-Red said...

No, the doctors in Toronto told me the truth. Everything was consistent with an ACL tear, but there was no way to know without an MRI. Since my Dad is an orthopedic NP, I told them I'd get it done in the States. They said some people just have looser knees that feel like an ACL tear doing the manipulation tests.

I did have to wait forever, but I went to an ER with a nowhere near life-threatening injury.

Nic said...

Double ahh...

I did something to my knee when I was 11 and playing in a basketball league. I got tripped by a chick twice my size (I think she was 13), sprained my ankle and my knee popped out of joint, the coach knocked it back in, and I still had to play because we only had 5 players, otherwise we woulda had to forfiet.

We won, moved on into the finals. Came up 3rd place in the end.

Anyhow, my baller career pretty much ended after that...

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