I am absolutely amazed at the responses I got regarding my knee injury! THANK YOU everyone for taking the time to reply. I can see that this is a subject that too many endurance riders are familiar with - what a shame. I thought I would give a summary of all the different suggestions and ideas I received: (btw - every day this week my mailbox has been full of replies!)
1. Riding Style. A lot of people suggested that riding posture could have a lot to do with it. Riding out of balance, with more weight on one side than another, with stirrups too high, too low, a saddle that throws you out of balance - all these were suggested to cause knee problems.
2. Flex-Ride Stirrups. An overwhelming majority of riders suggested either Flex-Ride stirrups or other brands of flexible type stirrups with a large foot support area.
3. Getting off during a ride to walk and jog. A lot of riders get off several times to walk and stretch out - or jog alongside their horses. This goes a long way in stretching things out and making the legs/knees/ankles more comfortable when back in the saddle.
4. Wearing a knee brace or support. Several people offered that the cheap neoprene type knee braces work just as well as the much more expensive Sports Medicine type. Also, wrapping the knee with vet-wrap, ace bandage, etc. was suggested, and a few people use linament on their leg the night before a ride.
5. Supplements. Taking Chrondoitin Sulfates and MSM was suggested by a few people. Chrondoitin Sulfates are what is in Flex-Free, Cosequin, etc.
6. Cortisone shots. This is where the most controversey arises. Talk about peole having completely different experiences with cortisone! Many responses from people saying absolutely "DON`T" do it, that the shots themselves hurt like h@#l, and that afterwards anywhere from two hours to a week they are excruciatingly painful, that it only masks the problem and doesn`t actually heal the injury and that the shots don`t last very long. Then there were responses from many who had great success with the shots. They suffered no pain, the shots lasted long enough for their injury to heal and they were pain-free and able to finish out the season.
7. Surgery. Many of you have had surgery. Most people said that it was a simple one day outpatient surgery and they were up and moving around anywhere from one to two weeks (shortest) to six to nine months (longest) recovery time, depending on the extent of the original injury. A lot of you have had a lot of cartilage removed. Several new treatments and options were mentioned.
8. Magnets. Most of you were not in support of magnetic therapy. The reasoning is that a knee injury with torn cartilage will not heal itself - and that increasing the blood flow will not help as there is no blood flow in the cartilage itself.
9. A lot of you take Motrin, Aleve or Ibuprofin during rides. There is an article in the current issue of Outside Magazine that deals with the different pain relievers and what they do and are best for. I have tried "Orutus" - it is fairly new and was mentioned in the article as being particularly good on `joint` pain.
To update on my knee. I`ll start at the top with #1 - Riding Style. I have invested more money in riding lessons that I have in both horses AND tack combined - tho I would hardly claim to be a good rider, and I do know that arena riding and showing are completely different than riding for hours down a trail. However, due to the circumstances of my knee injury I am pretty sure it was caused by an accident of some sort and not because of my riding abilities (or inabilities!). #2 - Flex Ride Stirrups - I use them and LOVE them! #3 - I always used to get off and walk and jog and until three-four weeks ago I never had any problems with my knee - after whatever I did to injure it I could not bear weight on the leg or even walk without tears in my eyes or gritting my teeth. #4 I tried wearing a knee brace and it didn`t help at all, neither did vet wrap. #5 - I am taking MSM (took it from the dog!), and my husbands Cartilage Concentrate pills from Springtime Feed (Chrondoitin Sulfates). I can`t tell if it is helping or not. The MSM helps the dog. #6 - Cortisone shot - well guess what - I did go ahead and get one! I`m so happy that I did - I was expecting it to be really painful and it wasn`t! It wasn`t as bad as a bee sting! The nurses said he is a good doctor and that helps a lot where the shots are concerned. It has been over one full day since the shot and no swelling and NO PAIN - all the pain is completely gone! I went ahead and got the shot because I was already in so much pain that I didn`t think it could hurt any worse. Now I have to hope that I have an injury that will heal before the cortisone wears off and I`ll be as good as new! That is where I am now, the things I have tried. I am still taking it easy and not moving around a lot. I will be careful not to overdo it and cause further injury, just because I feel no pain - I know that there is an injury there and will be extra careful.
Thanks again everybody for all the information. This list is the greatest thing - where else could I go look up "sports related injuried caused from endurance riding" and learn so much!! I was able to go to the orthopedist with a lot of questions that I wouldn`t have had otherwise - you all helped me so much! *:)
Karen in Gardnerville