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Unknown Knee Pain (2 years...)

I am in my mid-twenties and have been having knee pain for nearly 2 years now and have been to quite a few doctors, physical therapy for several months, had an MRI on my knee, 2 blood tests, a chest xray, and bought custom orthotic shoes, but nobody can find anything abnormal so they can’t tell me how to fix it. I have had my fair share of athletic injuries before (never my knees) so I know what it’s like to be hurt. This is not the highest intensity pain, but it can be rough and it is incredibly persistent. I am not a hypochondriac by any stretch and never go to the doctor, but this thing is killing me. I HAVE to figure out how to deal with this because I feel like my life has been on hold for two years and I am going insane. I seriously appreciate any thoughts and apologize for the post length, but if you want a summary just jump to the last paragraph.

There was no injury or change in activity I can link to it, I was and am in good shape (obviously better before), have never been overweight, eat healthy, exercise almost daily (before the injury- bike, swim, hike, rock climb), don’t smoke, am not stressed out, etc. I just noticed my right knee felt odd one day and figured I tweaked it somehow and it would go away. It just got worse though, and my left knee followed it a month or so later. To add to that, my wrists and hands started hurting similarly about six months after the knees, and then six months later my abs/stomach/sides joined the club. The knees are by far the worst and are by far my number one priority. Before you jump to rheumatoid arthritis, remember I have been checked for that twice with a negative result.

I never lost range of motion and don’t feel stiff. I don’t see any swelling, but the skin over my knees does turn very red sometimes, though it isn’t necessarily correlated with the pain. The pain moves around some, varies in intensity a lot, and changes in type. When it first stated it was a burning sensation right over the knee and below, occasionally above and to the inside. Now it is almost always a scratchy feeling right on the joint and a bit above/below. This is coupled with skin sensitivity to the point that wearing pants (especially jeans) is incredibly irritating, like rubbing sandpaper on my knees all day. Sometimes my calf muscle will feel super tight for no reason, but that is more rare.

It hurts 24/7, I have trouble sleeping, sitting at work, driving, standing, walking around the grocery store, everything.. For a while I tried resting them, propping them up, and icing them, but I have found that if I am totally sediment, they seem worse than if I do a little walking or really light biking. If I accidently push it a little too far (which doesn’t take much) it can set me back for weeks though.

Originally the doctor thought the pain stemmed from inflexibility, which I understood because I was pathetically un-flexible. However I have been stretching 1-2 times a day EVERY day for nearly 2 years and am now considerably more flexible than the average joe, but am still in pain. I did physical therapy for months with no benefits, but I have continued to exercise at home and try to increase the workout intensity as I can. I do wall sits, light biking (stationary), and walking exercises with elastic bands. I don’t mind doing the exercises and stretching but all it is doing is maintaining, I am not seeing any real improvement.

I took heavy Aleve doses twice a day for a month and saw no difference. I used to ice (responsibly-with medical packs) after exercise/stretch sessions and it seemed to help a bit, but I think it was just numbing it a little since it wasn’t a lasting improvement. I stopped taking pills/icing because they didn’t seem to be doing much. I have a daily “diary” where I note how it feels and what I do, but I haven’t found any consistent results and I have been doing it for months. It is not affected by weather, length of time I sleep, what I eat, etc. I have spent hours and hours trolling the internet looking for similar descriptions and have found nothing. If you cannot tell, getting healthy has been the focus of my life but I am running out of ideas and patience.

In summary- I am young and healthy, had no injury and suddenly developed persistent knee pain in both legs. It is a scratchy, burning discomfort mixed with extreme skin sensitivity (like sandpaper scratching not a bruise or cut). I’ve tried every medical route I can think of with no results, no visible damage to the joint, and no disease/disorder. I have been stretching and doing PT exercises for over a year without any results. Anti-inflammatories/ice do not help. I am not able to partake in any of my favorite activities, I am uncomfortable all day, every day at work, I have trouble sleeping, and I am out of ideas.. Thank you for any help!

1 Responses
Avatar universal
I had similar problem .. Doc took XRay and said nothing.. One day we went to Gran Canyon ... When we started our journer I applied BenGAY cream ...kept the leg in rest for 3 hours .. As we had snow in grand canyon I kept my knee in ice for about 1 min.. I did like 10 times that day.. I went off slowly after one week....Not sure because of the above it went  or any other reason..
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