In February this year I wrote a blog about my running – or should I say a lack of! Late last year, the GP had sent me to the hospital for X-rays as I’d been complaining of very sore knee caps and pain, particulary when walking up and down stairs (and when you live in a 3 storey townhouse, that’s a lot of stairs). Once the X-Rays had been sent back to the GP I had a phone consultation and he deduced that I had mild osteoarthritis and should stop running, take pain killers and get on with it. I was devastated, but I resigned myself to the situation and I haven’t run since.
About a month ago my knees started to swell up, particularly my right knee – in fact my knees were at their worst in April just after I’d stood all day watching the Virgin London Marathon (my partner was taking part for the first time). It took several days for the swelling to subside and at times the pain was more than I could cope with. I even had to crawl up and down the stairs like a baby for several days, moaning and groaning, as the pain was so bad.
I started to question the diagnosis from the GP and decided that at only 50 years of age, I couldn’t (and shouldn’t have to) put up with the pain anymore. I could barely walk at times and I have gained a few pounds over the last few months too due to the lack of exercise.
In May, I made an appointment with my surgery and saw my own GP, as the previous GP was one I’d not seen before. My own GP felt I needed to be referred to the Muscular & Skeletal Clinic at the hospital, and so she put the wheels in motion. On Monday I had a phone call form the Clinic and was offered a cancellation for yesterday, which I took.
So yesterday morning I went along to the North Hampshire Hospital for my appointment and saw a very nice Consultant Physiotherapist called Andy. He had examined my X-Rays in detail, and then gave me a very thorough examination, whilst firing loads of questions at me. We covered a lot of ground and I felt he had a really good understanding of my knee health, or lack of!
The diagnosis …. I have Hoffa’s Syndrome, also known as Fat Pad Impingement Syndrome! Hoffa’s Syndrome is named after Dr Albert Hoffa, a German surgeon, orthopedist and physiotherapist born in 1859. So what is Hoffa’s Syndrome / Fat Pad Impingement Syndrome?
A fat pad is a perfectly normal part of our knees. Fat pads are yellow fat that sit below the patella (knee cap) and just behind the patella tendon (a tendon under the knee cap which joins the knee cap to the shin). It’s function is to act as a buffer to shocks to the knee. What I didn’t realise until I started my research, is that Hoffa’s Syndrome is actually extremely common.
Hoffa’s Syndrome is often caused by a trauma to the knee, eg being kicked during a rugby or football match or repeatedly standing / leaning on one leg for long periods of time. And, it would seem, it can be common in runners. When I think back to when my knee troubles really started, I’d run the Bristol Half Marathon in the September of 2014, and two weeks later I ran the Basingstoke Half Marathon. Whilst the run in Bristol was OK, my Basingstoke run was the worst I’d ever experienced. In fact I had to see the St John’s Ambulance medics immediately after the race as my blood pressure was low and my hands and feet were very swollen and I felt faint. Andy at the hospital thinks this is when the trauma to my knees could have happened, and by continuing to run until December of last year, I probably made things much worse without realising.
But the BEST NEWS OF ALL is that it’s treatable AND I WILL BE ABLE TO RUN AGAIN!!!! I can’t tell you how happy I am to think that in 4-6 weeks I could be running, albeit slowly and with extreme caution.
So, I have a set of exercises to do 3 times a day, and I am awaiting a referral for physiotherapy. I will let you know how I get on over the coming weeks.