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A Flat Tire, Knee Injury, and Lessons Learned

On Sunday January 22nd (9 days ago) the kids and I had the pleasure of experiencing a flat tire on the way to a friend's house.

Gratefully (no sarcasm this time!) we also have the pleasure of knowing some very kind friends who were willing to lend us a helping hand!

If you have never had to change a tire before, the process of taking the lug nuts off of the flat tire can be quite a challenge! The nuts are on very tight!

In an attempt to gain as much leverage as possible on one particular nut, I put myself in an extremely compromised position. When the nut finally gave way, my body fell to the ground and I twisted my right knee quite severely in the process. I heard a pop, felt immediate pain in my knee, and was hardly able to put any weight on my right leg.

There were some reassuring signs from the beginning: I had no swelling and had good range of motion of the knee. I could contract all of my leg muscles without pain.

Still, being unable to bear any weight on my leg the next day with increased pain, I decided to go to an urgent care MD just to get an X ray and make sure my bones were okay. Below is my knee X ray.

My knee X ray is completely normal: no issues whatsoever.

Over the next several days I showed rapid improvement, and went from not being able to bear any weight on the leg to being able to take full weight and walk normally without crutches in about 2 days time.

Yesterday morning I did a full leg workout, including weighted lunges and single leg squats, with no pain or strength loss.

I almost certainly experienced a ‘bone bruise’ – the ends of the thigh and shin bones were rammed together when I twisted my knee, without incurring any structural compromise (that is, the bones did not break).

At least two lessons can be learned from my recent injury (both of which are confirmed by research and clinical experience):

- Severe pain does not equal severe injury. I most certainly had severe pain for the first 48 hours when I put weight on my knee, but I most certainly did not have a severe injury. Pain is very complex. Much more can be said, but it is sufficient for now to repeat: severe pain does not equal severe injury.

- Knowledge is power. Because of my knowledge and training as a physical therapist, I knew a few things to look for to help determine what I might have injured. I knew that hearing or feeling a ‘pop’ in the knee was no guarantee of a torn ligament or tendon. Furthermore, the absence of swelling, the ability to move through a full range of motion, and the ability to contract all my leg muscles without pain gave me great assurance that I had not torn any major ligaments or tendons in my knee. Finally, knowing that bones (the likely source of my pain) are terrific healers was likewise very reassuring.

There are of course numerous other lessons learned, including the lesson that changing a flat tire is never worth sacrificing your health!

In the end, I am extremely grateful to have averted any major injury to my knee (despite my foolish action), and to be back exercising again. I hope the above 2 lessons are useful to you in some way.

I have learned quite a bit over the years through personal injury experience, and I hope to narrate more such lessons learned in a future post (or series of posts).

Questions? Post them on our Facebook page and you will certainly receive a response!

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