I have decided to write this article to highlight the importance of understanding the complications that can result from misdiagnosis and untreated injuries.
My story began back in 2001 when doing some free sparring at the gym I used to attend in Manchester, UK. Unfortunately the flooring was uneven and when I went to turn my opponent from a clinch position my right foot became lodged in part of the uneven floor and my body turned 180 agrees. I heard a pop and immediately my knee gave way. Thinking it was just a sprained muscle I just rubbed some Thai oil on it and tried to contain with the sparring session. However the knee went again and I decided to get changed and go home.
Upon returning home I felt like there was something stuck in my knee joint, which was causing this problem. I got my mother to pull my leg out straight in the hope that “something” would pop back into place. However it didn’t do the trick and I thought I would just give it some rest. Over the next few months I continued to have problems with my knee going, but I still contained to train because I was actively fighting at that time and didn’t want appear to be “soft” to my instructor.
I did visit the doctors a few more times after that. However they kept telling me it was just a pull muscle. The injury really came to a head one morning when my knee locked. That was one of the most painful things I have ever experienced in my life. We called an ambulance and I was taken to the local hospital where they were absolutely no help at all. Later that afternoon I discharged myself still unable to walk properly. Fortunately my knee unlocked itself later that day.
After the above happened I decided that I would go to a knee specialist to see exactly what was happening with my knee. We were well into 2002 now. After a 15 minute consultation at a cost of 150 I was diagnosed with a torn / snapped anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which would need reconstruction surgery. However the cost of the surgery was over 5000 and I didn’t have medical insurance to cover it, so I would have to go on the National Health Service (NHS).
After a few months I got to see a knee specialist on the NHS and underwent a MRI scan to see the extent of the damage. The results of the MRI scan were not good. I had actually snapped the ACL and had done a lot of cartilage damage. This could have been avoided if the doctors I initially saw didn’t tell me it was a pulled muscle, which made me play down the injury and keep training on it.
I was informed that they would be able to do the surgery to repair the ACL in 6 – 12 months. Having just finished my degree I decided that I would go travelling in south east asia. I brought an ACL brace which was damm expensive and off I went. 3 months later I returned to the UK and another 3 months passed and I was finally in hospital for the surgery. It was now 2003 by this time!
The surgery went smoothly. They took some hamstring tendons and strapped them across my knee and put a few screws in there to hold everything in place. Now it was time for the real hard work. 18 months of physiotherapy to build up the muscles! This was bloody hard work and I found in the winter months I would get a dull aching pain in my knee, which whilst not painful it was very uncomfortable.
I was told after the surgery that I would never train Muay Thai again. However a year after surgery and physiotherapy I did go back to train and teach, but I have never taken place in competitions since. It’s just not worth the risk.
You might be thinking what is the point of this story! Well what I would like people to take away from this is that when you get an injury don’t down play it. If you feel it’s not improving then get specialist advice. You know your body better than most people and you know when something is seriously wrong. This is something I didn’t take notice of and was brain washed by people that I was just been “soft”, which was compounded by misdiagnosis by general practitioners.
They took x-ray after x-ray and because they couldn’t see anything broke then they just assumed it was a pulled muscle. A MRI scan is the only way that I am aware of that will show tendon and ligament damage. However they are reluctant to do this on the NHS, because it costs them a lot of money.
In any sport you are at risk of injuries. However knowing how to treat and look after them could make the difference between recovery and surgery. In my case I would have needed surgery regardless. However I could have saved some of the cartilage in my knee and a lot of pain if I was diagnosis correctly and didn’t ignore what my body was telling me.
Now in 2012 I seldom think about the injury and it doesn’t cause me any problems. However during the time I had the injury and a few years later it did effect me physiologically, because I always had it in the back of my mind that if I do this then my knee might give way and it will cause me a lot of pain. I hope you found this post helpful and if you are suffering an injury that isn’t improve please get the proper advice.