People have four large muscles in their thigh. (This I know mostly because a doctor said so yesterday, and another one backed it up today.) Middle Child's special place in the shallow end of the gene pool involves one of those muscles being underdeveloped compared to the other three. She happens to be in the thrall of those fabulous teen years characterized by rapid growth as evidenced in an x-ray showing her growth plates to be open and a physical exam that showed a range of movement that allows for wobbly knees. All of this good stuff came together a day or so ago in a knee injury that is causing MC substantial pain just as track season kicks into gear.
She was seen yesterday in an orthopedic practice (where they already know us both on sight). The specialist pretty much informed her that she should start physical therapy in hopes of stimulating the muscle electrically and with specific strengthening exercises toward a goal of trying to correct the inequity. She should expect to be in pain, have an ongoing regimen of NSAIDs and icing the knees. Or... she may need to reconsider running.
Holy [fill in the blank].The kid runs. It's what she does. Delivery of the news that she may not be able to do it could have been handled with a little more delicacy. Or a lot more. Top that off with her stoicism during the exam followed by her exclamations of severe pain as soon as we got back in the car, and the visit was hardly satisfactory. Last night, Katie was in so much pain that she was in tears. This morning she felt better after a night of rest, elevation, and ice on the knee. I juggled to get her scheduled with a physical therapist starting next week, again requested that the track coach keep her out of athletics, and dropped her off at the curb for school this morning.
Except she was in pain again. After almost reaching the Children's Shelter where I was scheduled for a morning shift, I turned around to head back to the middle school to pick Middle Child up for the second appointment in as many days. This time we were seeking a second opinion from our pediatrician. His estimation was that there's probably another year or two of rapid growth to go, and then Middle Child's stride should stabilize. He feels that a simple neoprene stabilization sheath for the knees + ice + NSAIDs for one week only + reduced activity should help with the pain that is caused by a sprain.
Our regular doctor also noted the muscular inequity that could lead to future knee injuries, probably contributed to this one, and thinks physical therapy is a great idea. Katie felt much better after hearing that she is not necessarily done running, but that she is more prone to injury caused by the muscular inequity coupled with the awkwardness of the early teens. She's definitely feeling more hopeful after hearing the expanded explanation, and I am much more comfortable with short-term medication and long-term therapy while we wait to see what only time will tell.