Prepateller Bursitis a.k.a. An $820 Knock on the Knee

Injuries suck. I guess that is a statement of the obvious, but for me, they are probably the most frustrating aspect of adventure racing. Not so much for the pain they cause, but the time lost during recovery which could be spent running and riding around in the bush. Over the past few years, I’ve had my share of injuries. Two of these have required visits to the emergency ward. Once for a gash in my forearm sustained from a fall in rocky terrain in a rogaine requiring a total of six stitches (one for every hour I had to wait in the emergency ward watching the steady parade of drunks on a Saturday night) and another visit for an X-ray on my hand hurt during a fall training at night.

In Greek mythology, Thetis dipped her newborn son Achilles into the River Styx, thereby rendering him immortal. I often wonder though, if the story would be more appropriate if she had held him not by his heel, but by his knees. Surely, by their very nature, knees are poorly designed things. My issue with knee problems began with a medial meniscus tear resulting from a fall (sense a theme here) in a basketball game at the age of 17. This tear was eventually cut out 5 years later. Since then I’ve dealt with the usual issue of ITB syndrome which I now finally feel like I’ve got a handle of thanks to an appropriate physiotherapy strengthening program. But after the XPD World Champs down in Tasmania, I have another insult to add to the list: prepatellar bursitis, or as I like to think of it, a very expensive bump on the knee.

On the second day of XPD, we had a 60km trek starting at Leven Canyon which would carry us through some truly spectacular county passing through Leven Gorge itself, up to Black Bluff and sub-alpine areas, down past Reynolds falls and finishing with a pool swim and 6km of rock hoping. I’d rate it as the best trekking leg I’ve ever done in an adventure race. Early in this trek we had to punch a check point located at the back of a small cave. In my infinite wisdom, I thought a pair of sunglasses would be more appropriate equipment than headlamp, not realising that the cave actually required quite a tight squeeze to get through on our bellies. Working off the head lamp of my team mate in front, I managed to smash my left (normally good) knee against a rock. Other than a bit of pain and blood, I didn’t think any more of it at the time. Anyway, long story short, the top of my kneecap began to swell up over the next 24 hours to the point where it was giving me a lot of trouble throughout the next 6 days racing. Turns out the knock had resulted in the inflammation of a bursa (fluid filled sack required for lubrication during normal joint function) which resulted in general aggravation of the joint during movement.

One of the most frustrating aspects of this injury has been the monetary cost one stupid whack to the knee has totalled. After the race and subsequent recovery, the swollen bump on my knee just wouldn’t go away. Two physio visits ($70 each), a massage appointment ($88), a referral to a sports doctor ($150), an MRI scan ($267) and finally an ultrasound guided drainage of the fluid in the bump ($175) has seen the problem pretty much resolved, albeit a very expensive exercise. $820 to be exact. I guess the fortunate part of this injury is that I didn’t miss any racing, and it hasn’t had me out of action for too long. As I said, knees must just be poorly designed by nature. So, anyone up for a paddle?

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