View Full Version : Bad Knees

Former Admin
09-03-2002, 20:21
I know some us don't have the greatest knees, but we still continue to hike.

Comments, concerns, issues, experiences, etc .........

09-05-2002, 19:28
I just recently injured my left knee on a hike with thirteen others, i was trying to go a bit faster than my pace and its caused quite a bit of pain. its deffinently a good idea to take it at your own pace. i had to fasion myself two walking sticks midhike just to keep up. im deffinently going to invest in a quality pair.

09-07-2002, 16:08
I put my left knee cap around to the back side of my leg while in the Army. Due to bad writing and communication, they left me in a hard cast for 8 weeks instead of 3. My leg was left pretty much crippled, the docs told me I would be lucky to walk with a limp and that i'de never be able to run or jump again. I nodded in understanding, then never went back to them for physical therapy or a second opinion for my knee.
Since that ill fated diagnosis I have been lucky enough to walk 700 miles of the Applachina Trail, as well as several hundred miles in the mountains of Mexico. My left leg is several inches less in musculature than the right, the knee aches and on occasion swells, but I have never experienced debilitating pain. I only use one stick/staff when hiking, am not an ultra-lighter (I carry between 35 and 50lbs) and was putting in 20-25 mile days in Maine while on the AT. Did the Mahoosuc Notch <sp> in a strong rain and the Saddleback Range in 6 hours.
I strongly believe that 'mind set and terrain' have everyting to do with how a person will deal with previous injuries. One more than the other... it's up to the hiker which one.

The Weasel
09-07-2002, 18:02

As a triple-bypass patient in '99 who did 500+ of the AT in '00 (and didn't stop because of it!), I am with you!

But if you do that well with 1 pole and 35-50, think how great you'd do with 2 poles and 25#! Join us in the ultralight forum here...I carry about 20-25 FSO (from skin out, incl worn clothing and averaged food/water) use 2 poles, and lack for no comfort or fun.

Keep it up, man!

The Weasel

SGT Rock
09-07-2002, 18:06
No bad knees, just a set of knees that ocassionally suffers from over use.

Poles! Right on target. Down hill especially.

Go light like Weasel said. I just got off the 4C trail inTexas and had a pack weight of just 15 pounds. You can hardley feel that little bit of weight. Even if you only get you pack weight under 30 pounds, it is still a great weight to get to.

Hammock Hanger
09-10-2002, 06:45
Both my knees have arthritis, my right being worse. I blew out the right one on a number of occasions but never enought to have surgery. I hiked in the south with 2 knees braces. By Virginia I had lost the left one and seemed to be okay. Through some of the more level areas i would hike without the right one but found any type of steady decent w/o the brace was painful. Eventually I just kept the right one on all the time. It kept the knee from getting sore an inflamed. Funny thing when the ascents are easier then the decents. HH

09-10-2002, 16:01
yeah the decents are really the killers on the knees. i had to hobble down a couple steep inclines a few times and boy did that hurt. i think i ended up traveling about .4 to .5 miles an hour whenever it was a downgrade or even less at times. but that was only durring the worst of it.

10-02-2002, 05:00
I had hiked since age 13 and around 2 years ago I began experience debilitating pain in the left knee but still kept hiking...began dating a young lady who loved the AT and wanted sections so we started hiking more and more....after 5 or 6 miles with some steep stuff the knee would flare up...on the Mount Rogers section I had to take 2 Toradol 10mg to keep going and after that hike entered the medical system (funny since I work in a large hospital as a pharmacist), MRI should no damage, x-ray showed no arthritis, the orthopods best guess and official diagnosis was chondromalecea-a missalignment of the knee. Taping was suggested-the McConnel technique-never tried it thinking to much trouble, ignored the physical therapy suggestions because I was already doing all that they suggested in my normal physical regime-swim/bike/resistance...finally resting at my moms on a visite I noticed her medicine tray (typical blue hair taking 1000 vitamins a day) and saw the glucosamine/chondroitin...researched it a bit and decided to give it the scientific method...6 weeks of it and suddenly I was hiking like I was 16....did Springer to Neals one week off and the next Newfound to Davenport---no problems at all, minor pain but expected and no tears down the face like at Mt. Rogers...then went off the meds for 2 weeks. The pain upon going up and down stairs returned....now getting ready for Clingmans to Fontana I have returned to the regimen of glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM and in three days the pain on stairs is almost completely gone.
For me is is the option because the surgeons say I am not a surgical candidate. It works for me.

10-02-2002, 10:12
How many glucosamine tablets per day are best??? What is MSM ???

10-21-2002, 14:17
WOW, WACOCELT! That's a really impressive story! Mine's not nearly as good, but anyway...

I've been hiking on a completely torn ACL and 2 torn and uprooted pieces of cartilage for about 3-4 years without knowing it and nearly every hike's last day was a tearful one. So, in preparation for my 2003 thruhike I went to the doctor, got diagnosed and I am now recovering from surgery. Every day I suffer through my extremely painful exercises repeating to myself, "AT AT AT AT AT AT!!" Hopefully I'll see yall out there!

10-21-2002, 17:33
Thanks SS.

The beginning of fall this year is treating my knee rather unkindly. It's rather stiff and a bit swollen, perhaps arthritis is setting in. I'm doing simple extention and limbering excercises, but fear I may end up wearing a brace, probably on both knees on this future Thru...

Do you folks think that knee braces will be beneficial or end up doing more harm than good in the long run?

12-02-2002, 14:25
Bump. Any opinions or suggestions are welcome. My gear budget is beginning to run thin, so I need to decide whether to brace or not, and if so which ones to go with.

12-02-2002, 15:22
I tore my ACL twice, same knee. I'm missing a dime size amount of cartalige in the bottom of my miniscus due damage done while tearing my ACL. Had surgery both times. The advice that I got from my 2nd doc is that unless you need to restrict the movement of the knee for a limited time, a brace does very little as far as preventing damage. The first doc doc actually gave me this funky brace with metal on the sides that let me bend the leg a little at a time. It was terrible to wear and I had it on for 3 months. The 2nd doc (who was much better - He did all the ortho surgery for the Gator football Team) had me in the complete immobilizer for 3 full days, after which I was walking and only wearing the brace at night. That was a bit fast recovery...

Anyway, from what I understand, the neoprene braces (which is most of the braces you see out there) can help the swelling and pain from arthitis by keeping it warmer, but other than that do nothing at all. But maybe that's enough.

My actually advice is to go with whatever you feel is right (pyschology is amazingly important), and if it isn't working, change it on trail. There are plenty of places to buy knee braces... You'll definitely adapt as you go.

hope that helps some...

Gravity man

PS My knee never felt better than it did on trail. The best thing for arthitis is exercise. I had also broken both my ankles climbing the year before. I was really worried about them, as they still weren't up to snuff, but once on trail they never bothered me once!

Lone Wolf
12-02-2002, 15:47
22 years ago I hyperextended my knee while playing football in the Marine Corps. I tore my ACL, PCL, MCL and cartilage. I guess I have a bad knee. Had major surgery done, was in rehab for months. Long story short I don't use any braces or hiking poles. A doc told me by building the muscles around the ligaments strengthens the knee. Ater thousands of miles hiking I guess it's true.

12-12-2002, 02:16
What Dachonkin said about Glucosamine/Condroitan is right on the money. I had knee problems with one of my knees. A friend told me to start taking Glucosamine. I thought it was a joke. But then I took it and the pain completely went away. It was amazing. It took a couple of weeks to kick in and I took it for about 4 months and stopped and haven't taken any for about 2 years and still no pain! Try it!! Get the good stuff in the health food store though, not at the grocery store. Too many additives. If you have knee problems you should at least try it b/c I know 2 other people it has done the same thing for.

06-04-2003, 15:07
My first section hike in May, Hot Springs to Erwin, I was hiking pretty ultralight... 21 pounds with 6 days of food. It just didn't make me tired at all..

So I hiked 18 miles the first day in 12 hours and then 22 miles in 14 hours the second day... Knee started hurting somewhere just before HogBack shelter. Really hurt going downhill the next day.

A knee brace I got from another hiker was tried but did not seem to help.

I found I could go down hill by taking little skipping steps and it was a lot faster than taking slow big steps.

I started Glucosamine/Chondrotin on the return home.. 3 grams of Glucosamine a day. Next section hike is in VA next week, a month after the first. I will limit myself to 15 mile days and see how it goes... but my knees feel back to normal right now. How much of that is due to rest and how much to the Glucosamine I do not know.

Real test will be the first half day, hiking up out of US 60 to Cow Camp Shelter. 2000 feet up, 1000 feet down in 4 miles.


06-05-2003, 06:43
After as many knee scopes as I have run marathons, I stopped running and tried something a little more low impact.

LoneWolf hit it right when he stated that strengthening the collateral musculature is the best start. Poles do help but braces only prolong a weak knee from getting stronger unless prescribed by an M.D. for specific types of injuries and long term use.

There are many great easy exercises out there, ask any Doc or PT for a handout sheet of them or find them on the web some place. Undiagnosed pain or discomfort that persists of any kind should be examined by a professional to determine the best course of action.

I do the exersises and it allows me to keep up with my son and a dozen boy scouts in whatever they decide to do.

I am not a doctor on TV, I play a medical professional in real life.:-?

08-07-2003, 12:46
Two section hikes of the the AT later... on glucosamine... What an improvement!

To be fair, I did three things:
- decreased milage to less than 18 miles a day
- used two trekking poles all the time
- took glucosamine:
-- 2 grams a day at home
-- 4 grams a day on the trail

I enjoyed Haystack, Mt Lincoln, Mt Laffette, Mt Washinton, etc. What a difference!

flyfisher aka Risk

08-18-2003, 09:46
Originally posted by flyfisher
- took glucosamine:
-- 2 grams a day at home
-- 4 grams a day on the trailWhat brand of glucosamine are you using?
:banana :banana :banana
I bet these guys have strong knees after dancing like this all day.

08-23-2003, 22:31
Sam's Club...
number SAM50960B06

08-24-2003, 09:18
Some kinds of minor knee pain -- not arthritis or torn ACLs, for example, can be alleviated by changing your foot supports to prevent walking in a way that torgues your knee. My knee pain has gone away after using a pair of Superfeet insoles.

11-15-2003, 12:44
Hello. My husband (Dion) just started the AT 5 days ago. Actually right now he is starting from Flagg Mtn AL and hiking to Springer Mtn and then will start the AT. He just called me today and told me he is suffering from some knee pain all of a sudden after hiking for 5 days. He sees slight discloration on his knee as if there is a bruise there but he has not hit his knee on anything. The knee is swollen in the same spot as the discoloration and tender to the touch. It's less painful to keep his leg straight than bend his knee. It makes him limp when he walks. The day before he got the pain, he was hiking uphill all day (steady grade the entire way).

He is resting right now but he was wondering if anyone else has experienced this before and if they have any advice (ie should he rest it until it goes away, can he continue to lightly hike etc).


11-20-2003, 14:08
Further note: 2 more sections and the knees are still doing well on glucosamine. And I finally got to that 2000 foot climb and 1000 feet down to Cow Camp shelter. No problem. It was a nice November day.


Two section hikes of the the AT later... on glucosamine... What an improvement!

To be fair, I did three things:
- decreased milage to less than 18 miles a day
- used two trekking poles all the time
- took glucosamine:
-- 2 grams a day at home
-- 4 grams a day on the trail

I enjoyed Haystack, Mt Lincoln, Mt Laffette, Mt Washinton, etc. What a difference!

flyfisher aka Risk

02-20-2004, 21:14
Last November I was injured at work after wrestling with a big ladder, the ladder won. I have a Tibia Plateau fracture, which is a vertical split, on my left leg. My recovery has been doing well, I'm now in therapy and walking OK without my immobilizer or crutches. I was planning my thru-hike for '05, but moved it to '06. I'll be attemping some short hikes later this year and possibly a 2 weeker on the Long Trail in June or July. My question is; has anyone else experienced such a break and how was the longterm recovery in reference in hiking? I already use poles, glucosimine and custom shoe supports. Any words, good or bad, will help; my Doc will not predict any possibillities.
Thanks, Rancid

randy moore
03-20-2004, 20:59
I have all of you people beat. I have had to have both my knees totally replaced with tittanium steel ones, this was done approx 1 and a half years ago. I now walk as much as I want go packing and plan to hike the Georgia section of the AT in Sept. My problem was the big A arthristis, I had tried everything else for years but they kept on getting worse until the doc told me it was either a wheechair or operations. I have never felt better in the last 10- years or so. If the different vitamins etc help great, just remember to have you knees checked from time to time and take good care of them I was 60 when I had the opers done. Hopefully I will be able to thru hike in 2006. take care of yourselves pawpaw :bse

03-21-2004, 12:03
On my first attempt, to do a thru-hike, I got as far as Fontana Dam. My knees were hurting so bad that I couldn't continue. I left the trail and went home for some medical advise, hopeing to return in a week or so.
I had some x-rays and a MRI and found out that I had a bad stress fracture and arthritis in both knees. I was 65 years old. I gave it up for that year and started again the next spring. I finished the AT the next Oct.
My doc. advised me to take glucosamine/ condroitan, I continue takeing it today.. I also did a series of excercises to strenthan the muscles that support the knee. This along with using trecking poles, limiting my daily miles until I was in trail shape were what helped me to have a sucessfull thru-hike. :)

03-21-2004, 14:20
I also did a series of excercises to strenthan the muscles that support the knee.

What type of excercises did you do? Please describe.