This is quite a personal topic, so this post might be a bit longer than normal.
Ever since I was 20, I've suffered with tendon pain in multiple joints. It seems like every year I pick up pain in a new area. And the existing pain never seems to go away.
The result is that I've had to gradually adapt my activity levels to cope with pain, which is frustrating. But what's even worse is the lack of help I've received from medical professionals.
My Joint Pain Story
The pain started in both knees. I played a lot of football back then, and began doing some running in the off-season. This wasn't anything strenuous - just a 20 minute run every other day - and made sure to warm up and stretch.
What was interesting was that the pain started above both knees at the same time. Looking back, this was a sign that this was more than just overuse, as every pain I have had since has always appeared on both sides of the body.
At this stage, I just thought I had runners knee. I went to physio after physio, none of which could fix me. Eventually, I ended up seeing an orthopaedic surgeon, who recommended an exploratory arthroscopy.
This was eight years ago - so you can tell the surgery didn't do much to help. I'm still extremely angry about it now. Knowing what I do today, I would never let a surgeon just operate without any idea what was going on, but I was desperate to go back to playing the sports I loved.
Around six months after the knee surgery, I resigned myself to the fact that it hasn't worked. It was at this stage that I started travelling far and wide to physiotherapists with the best reputations. I had almost every type of treatment - steroid injections, custom orthotics, strengthening regimes (sometimes up to an hour a day), injections to harden the fat pad - and nothing helped.
I think what became clear to me during this time was that the medical industry is nowhere near as knowledgeable as they would like you to think.
When I went to a physio, I was given strengthening exercises and stretches. When I went to a surgeon, I was recommended surgery. When I went to a podiatrist, I was given custom orthotics.
At no stage did I receive a clear diagnosis, because no-one ever found a problem - even with MRIs and X-rays. Yet NONE had a problem prescribing expensive, sometimes dangerous treatments!
It's crazy that these professionals are so ensconced in their own specialities that they don't seem to actually look at the problem. Instead, they have a set of treatments which they use for everyone - whether it's applicable or not.
Unfortunately, that's not the end of the story. Shortly after my knee surgery, I began developing tendon pain in the adductor attachments in the hip. Again, it was both sides of the body - except this time I wasn't doing any sport to trigger it. And it started another set of treatments, with a timeline eerily similar to the knee pain.
But that's a story for the next post.