I apologize for the fact that I keep using this board for medical advice, but as I wrote in my last thread about my leg pain, I don’t know where else to turn.
I’ll give a summary so you don’t have to go read that previous thread.
In July, I blew a large sum of money on a bike that I had lusted after for a year. One of those heavy, slow, Dutch bikes. I had also been doing strength training at the gym for years. And I had been riding a cruiser bike to work, 2 1/2 miles each way.
First week riding the new bike to work, everything went great. Second week, I ended up doing too many squats at the gym and my legs got sore. I stopped the gym for a while but continued to bike. I started noticing that my legs were hurting after riding, and started to panic, thinking, “Oh no, this bike is too heavy for me, and after I spent all that money on it.” So in an effort to “prove” that I could handle the bike, I decided to work through the pain. It got to the point where my legs were hurting even when I wasn’t riding. I made sure that the seat was at the proper height, and even raised it more, just to be sure. It didn’t help.
It wasn’t until later that I remembered having done too many squats at the gym. To this day, I don’t know what caused the problem - whether the bike was indeed too heavy, or that I simply hurt my legs at the gym and then compounded it by not taking a break from riding. I had terrible pain in my quads, as well as the area right above both knees, which got worse the longer I stood.
I stopped all physical activity for 2 weeks and was still hurting. I went to see an orthopedic doctor, who had some x-rays done, which showed nothing. He told me it was simple muscle soreness, and I should go back to riding. I waited a few more days, and then did so. It was like pedaling through glue - I could barely move them. I again stopped all physical activity. From then on, I was in near-constant pain, thus the title of my previous thread. I could barely stand or walk.
I called up the orthopedic doctor and asked if I could get physical therapy, so he wrote a prescription. Around this time I noticed that I seemed to have a lump (or swelling) in a 2-inch area above my left knee. I mentioned this to the PT. Without even looking at it, he said, “Muscles on opposite sides of the body can be different sizes. It’s nothing.” At my third PT appointment, he massaged my knees, and later that day I noticed the swelling was much worse. I showed my husband and he could immediately see how swollen it was.
So I went to my primary care physician. She agreed that it seemed to be severe muscle soreness, although unlike the orthopedic, she advised staying off my feet as much as possible. She said sometimes muscle soreness can take months to heal. A few weeks later I went to see her again because the pain got worse for a while (I don’t remember why). She advised me to see another orthopedic doctor, and recommended a nearby practice. After getting the appointment and speaking with the doctor, he refused to treat me because I had already seen that other orthopedic doctor and “we don’t do second opinions.”
By this point, my quads were feeling much better, but I still had pain and some swelling in that area above my left knee. So I went back to the original orthopedic doctor. He didn’t see any problem with my left knee (the swelling had gone down somewhat, but the pain hadn’t). He ordered an MRI, which showed nothing. He again felt my knee, and made some condescending remark, “I still don’t see this swelling that you say is in your knee.” He then recommended that I look for a second opinion elsewhere if I was unsatisfied.
And that’s where I left off on the previous thread.
So, back to my primary care physician. She recommended another doctor. (Her listed specialization is “physical medicine.”) This new doctor seemed more interested in helping me get to the root of the problem. She wondered if it might be a nerve issue, so she gave me an EMG test. Again it showed nothing. She ordered some blood work, and said that we should consider trying PT again, but a different person/practice. The blood work showed nothing, and I have an other appointment with her in a few weeks.
So right now, as long as I keep walking to a minimum, my life is normal. I am generally in no pain, as long as my only walking is to/from my car, or the minimal amount of standing I need to do to cook dinner or take a shower. However, this life is far from “normal” for me. Exercise was a huge part of my life. I live in a very walkable area, and was used to walking/biking for almost everything. It kills me to have to take my car for every little trip, as now I’ve become one of those lazy car-centric people I used to deride. I haven’t biked to work in months, despite the wonderfully mild weather we’ve been having. I haven’t worked out at the gym, and every time I’m at work I dread running into someone from the gym, who will cheerfully say, “Hey, we miss you at the gym! When are you coming back?” and I have to keep saying, “Not yet, not yet.” (I tried just working my upper body but still ended up with sore legs - I was probably tensing my whole body as I worked out, so I gave up.)
Today I had a day off of work and did some errands. I went to the library to return some things, and then had to stop at Walgreen’s. Normally I would have done all this by bike, and was annoyed at having to drive. So when I got to the library I thought, “I’ll leave my car here and walk to Walgreen’s and back.” Well, by the time I got back to my car I was sore. I had a bit of burning in my quads, which was to be expected, as it was the most exercise I had done in a while, but then that spot above my left knee was hurting again, badly. I spent the rest of the day sitting down, or hopping on one foot when I had to get around. I looked up the distance and I had walked 1 mile roundtrip. Before this whole incident, one mile would have been nothing. But now, thinking about how I can’t even walk for a simple errand, I want to cry.
The thing is, we still don’t know what the problem is. All the tests show nothing. I’m starting to think that this will never get better, and that I will simply have to adjust to a life without physical activity, and then I want to cry all over again. These past 4 months of sedentary life have been miserable - I don’t want to be like this for the rest of my life. How will I ever manage going for a walk in the park, or going to an amusement park, or any kind of social activity that involves a lot of standing? Not to mention, it’s hard to keep explaining to people why I have to keep sitting down a lot or avoiding walking. Saying it’s because “my leg hurts” just sounds ridiculous - I almost wish I had a broken leg instead because then I’d have a valid “excuse” for this sedentary life.
And it’s easy enough to say, “You just need to avoid physical activity until you get better.” But when will that be? And how will I know when it happens? I thought I was better today, and then going for a walk ruined it all. I am tempted to stop going to all these doctor appointments because everything keeps coming up negative and I keep spending money to find out nothing.
Does anyone have anything to suggest? Another possible test, a different type of doctor, anything? At this point, I have no pain in my quads, and the entire issue is just that 2-inch spot above my left knee. Right now it’s a sharp, yet throbbing pain. Occasionally it feels numb, almost like there’s a foreign object under the skin. It only hurts after standing or walking for more than a few minutes. Warm soaks in the tub make it worse.