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Hello all, I haven't been near the forum for a while but am returned so double hello.

I received a mail about knees as I have a rather faulty one. I thought that it might make a good topic as they do go wrong ...

My knee problem is from a teenage motorcycle accident. The knee was ripped open when I took my motorcycle over the top of a car (door handle of a Pontiac - of all the cars to bump into in England) and put back together again. It always has been a problem. For me it is sideways movement that causes it to fail. The brace I use, a McDavid, has hinges on either side which ensures that the knee tracks and doesn't slip sideways. I find it really useful and still wear it if I overdo things.

It worked very well on my pilgrimage but caused other problems. I found that as there was almost no sideways movement I had difficulties on really rough terrain as I couldn't sway sideways. This caused me to stumble a number of times. Twice I twisted my ankle. The first time not too badly but the second time it was really bad. I kept my boot on, tightened up, as I knew I wouldn't get it on again if I took it off. I was miles from the nearest refuge. After a couple of hours rest I found that I could walk if I went slowly - the trick is to walk normally, if you limp you've had it as it gets worse. Anyway, you can't hop wearing a backpack (I bet you try it to see).

Strangely enough, although I get problems with my knee and still need to wear the brace at times, it feels better. As it isn't better I think that it is just that I now feel more confident about it or perhaps more accepting of pain? Not too sure.
I don't know if any of this helps... one problem is the inflammation of course and I found that an Ibuprofen gel was a wonderful pain killer to rub in to the area as it is the only painkiller to also be anti-inflammatory, so it actually heals as well. In the UK the tubes on display are 5% active ingredient but a pharmacist will sell you a 10% tube if you ask.

I think the trick to all this knee, lower limbs thing, is to not be fixed on daily distances and to have a couple of spare days 'tucked up your sleeve' to use as rest days if you need it. This will allow you to walk to the signals from your body rather than to a fixed calendar.

If you don't speak Spanish (I don't) it may be useful to have a full explanation of your problem and what you usually do to help it translated into Spanish before you go. This could then be flashed out at pharmacists/doctors if you need to get medicine/help for it.

That is the situation with my knee, and there are many different types of problems of course. A misaligned back, causing the hips to be slanted, can cause knee problems, as can too much weight of course.

Does anyone out there have any tips?
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Br. David, not much an expert on them but I know they are complex when things go wrong.

For instance returning from León by train last May as I ran up the steps at the gare d'Austerlitz metro station in Paris, (I only had half hour to cross) I went flying and landed on my knee. Very undignified and it gave me quite a bit of pain for 3 weeks. Then a month later if swelled like a ballon and I had it X-rayed and now have to wear a support bandage and not walk too far! Still wearing it now! People are amazed that I did all that walking and the only injury was falling over in Paris!
Br. David said:
I think the trick to all this knee, lower limbs thing, is to not be fixed on daily distances and to have a couple of spare days 'tucked up your sleeve' to use as rest days if you need it. This will allow you to walk to the signals from your body rather than to a fixed calendar.

Yep, great point - having extra time helped save my Camino. I brought too much stuff and my boot weren't right, so I had to get rid of excess gear and get lighter boots. But the best thing not having to rush (I had two months off) did for me was 1) enabling me to slow down for awhile to a 10 -12K a day pace, and 2) allowing me to take break days along the way to rest and heal. If I would've had to rush, I either would have failed, or else had to take a bus/train for part of the way. As it was, I took 40 days to get from St. Jean to Santiago.

As for knees: I had an ACL recon on my left knee back in 1998, and I injured my right knee back in the late 80s. I was worried about them, but it turned out that my flat feet were the biggest pain-generators (had some pain in my hips as well). I used some stocking-type supports I got at a pharmacia, and they (along with the lighter boots, ibuprofen tables/gel, maxipads, anti-friction stick, Compeed, and two layers of socks) seemed to help. But a month after finishing, my feet and lower limbs are still giving me some trouble.
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
may I add ankles into this debate?!

Several years ago I had ligament reconstruction on my ankle following a fall where I ruptured all the external ligaments. I have a brace to wear when walking if needed but have been contemplating not taking because of weight issues and because I haven't needed it for some time. However I reckon this is a daft idea so into my rucksack it'll go. I'm planning on taking 6 -7 weeks (September-October 2008) and want to do St J to Finisterre. I'm factoring in several rest days because of the ankle and was pleased to see vinotinto say 40 days had sufficed.
JaneB said:
may I add ankles into this debate?!

Heh - why not? Pilgrims experienced many different areas of pain on the Camino. The physical ones were the most obvious - one pilgrim would be wearing ankle supports, another knee braces, a third with a cane, and so on. So, I wouldn't be afraid to take your brace - you can always mail it home if it doesn't work out.

The most intriguing areas of difficulty, however, were the mental/emotional ones. One man from Hungary had no physical pains, but was stressed out by having to sleep with a bunch of people in the same room. Others had trouble with the food, the bathrooms, and even other pilgrims.

Bottom line, the Camino is a force of nature, like the sea. It has a way of revealing our weak spots and forcing us to deal with them. Indeed, if it were easy, it wouldn't be worth doing. It's good that you have plenty of time, because the Way should be savored, and not rushed thru. As I was reminded many times along the Way, the journey is the actual destination. That's the part to truly relish in.

Finisterre is an interesting issue. I remember a German woman with ankle issues who made it there just fine. I had planned on doing it as well, but once I entered Santiago I knew I'd had enough walking for the time being. Some folks simply took the bus to Finisterre and spent a couple days there relaxing on the beach.

Someday I'd like to return and walk from Santiago to Finisterre, and then take the Muxia loop back to Santiago. It's always nice to have something to look foward to. Anyway, enough windage from me - Buen Camino :)

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