MRI Results Leave Me Unhappy

I got my results today from my recent MRI. I used the word unhappy in the title of this post, but that really doesn’t quite capture it. Depressed, upset, want to cry. That might be more accurate. Although, I hasten to add, the results are not all that bad viewed objectively. Just more a pain in the posterior for awhile and needing to adjust my future exercise.

The first bad news dealt with the pain behind by the knee that had been suggested might be some sort of hamstring strain. Well, no.   Apparently, the pain is edema which is consistent with MRI findings that “are most compatible with trabecular bone injury/microfractures.” As I understand, likely a small fracture on the inside spongy part of the bone. Apparently, this usually happens with trauma or it could be more like a stress fracture and might have been associated with my greater walking which I started a few months ago.

Regardless of the cause, the orthopedic surgeon wants me to either use crutches or a walker for 4 weeks, putting no weight on that leg except occasionally for balance. This made me extremely unhappy. I quickly told him I preferred a walker, since I find crutches really uncomfortable and difficult since my upper body strength is not that good. I actually own a walker, from when I broke my ankle in 2008:


The thing is that I hate walkers as well. To use a walker non-weight bearing is not fun at all. When I broke my ankle in 2008 I used a walker for a brief while. I found it extremely difficult to use since you have to basically hop with your good leg while you use a walker non-weight bearing. I know it sounds ridiculous to state that this is a lot of exertion, but there is research on this. I found this study of normal, healthy women aged 60-80. They used a walker non-weight bearing for 3 minutes and had their heart rate measured. The average heart rate increase was to 83% of the age predicted maximum heart rate. The study suggested that an excessive amount of cardiac work may be demanded by individuals of that age during walker use.

Now, I quite frequently get my heart rate to 83% of my age predicted maximum heart rate when I’m walking in our neighborhood (especially on the hills). So, that doesn’t really bother me. But, for some reason, the walker strangely feels like much more exertion that that. Maybe it is because of the high impact of the hopping and the stress on the hands.  Not to mention the stress on the leg that you are hopping on.

I get about halfway from my office to my bedroom and want to just throw the walker away and walk in there. Especially, since I know I can walk, unlike when I had a broken ankle. When I had the ankle, I gave up on the walker after a couple of days and rented a wheelchair for the duration, particularly since I had a long walk from parking at my office to my actual office. Now, since I only work from home I don’t have to go that far so I may be able to tolerate the walker. I weigh about 30 pounds less than I weighed when I broke my ankle and I’m more fit (but not really all that great), so I’m hoping that will allow me to do better with the walker. The wheelchair is more pleasant, though. But, I really hope I can tolerate the walker.

I am unhappy with this 4 week thing because:

  1. I can’t walk for fitness and I will be extremely sedentary so my calorie burn will go way down. That will cause my weight loss to go down since I can’t cut my calories below what I’m eating now. Thankfully, he did say that I could use my Concept2 Rower as long as my knee doesn’t hurt so I will get some exercise.
  2. Using the walker non-weight bearing is exhausting. The pressing down on the handles hurts my hands and then the hopping is unpleasant. My “good” leg really gets tired since I have all my weight on it. I can already see that I won’t want to have to walk using it more than I have to. And, I don’t like just sitting for long periods of time.
  3. I won’t be going very many places for the next 4 weeks. There are just very few places that it is worth having to put up with the walker to go to. I do plan to go to WW tomorrow and maybe go out to eat. Truthfully, if I do that I’ll probably have my husband drop me at the entrance and I’ll just walk under my own power since it will only be a short walk. It isn’t like I can’t walk. The point here is just to take stress off the leg for a few weeks. But, obviously, I do want to stay off it as much as possible so that means I’ll mostly be staying home. And, that makes the next few weeks difficult for me and everyone else in the household. I mean I can’t even go get a glass of water and carry it to another room right now.

The second bad news dealt with the pain under my kneecap. When I had X-rays done at my last visit, the orthopedic surgeon didn’t see much evidence of knee arthritis. Things changed with the MRI unfortunately. Basically I found that I have Grade 4 chondromalacia patella. In short, I basically don’t have much cartilage under my kneecap. The phrase he used to describe it was “bone on bone.” He said that I do have knee arthritis. This wasn’t terribly surprising to me, but the extent of it was distressing. About 17 years ago, I had tibial transfer surgery to correct my knee tracking. I knew then that I didn’t have a lot of knee cartilage left as so much had been damaged before the surgery. And, I’ve been careful with my knees since then. At the time I was told not to run, but that walking was OK. I didn’t really do much fitness walking until this last year though.  Given my history with my knee surgery, it isn’t shocking to have arthritis in it, but upsetting to find out that kneecap is bone on bone.

The long story short is that he has told me walking is not an ideal fitness activity for me. Basically, he told me to swim (best), cycle, or use an elliptical. I didn’t ask him specifically about my Concept2 rower in this context but I hope it will be OK since he is letting me do it now. But, he might feel different for the long term, since it does involve a lot of knee bending even though there is no impact like in walking. I’ll have to ask when I go back in 4 weeks.  Also, he told me not to do any strength training exercises that bend my knees beyond 90 degrees such as deep knee squats or lunges.

While I like swimming for fun, we don’t have a pool at this house (we had one at our last 2 houses) and I don’t really love fitness swimming. Basically I like exercise where I can do something else while exercising such as watching TV, reading, or talking. Swimming doesn’t let you do that. And, since we don’t have a pool I would have to join a gym with a pool and I really prefer to work out at home. Actually, that isn’t entirely true. I like working out in a gym if I have a personal trainer and if I actually show up. And, I’m much less likely to show up at a gym than I am to hop on a treadmill or rower at home.

I used to own a recumbent exercise bike.   It was OK, but a little boring. The problem with exercise where you sit is that your posterior gets sore. I know that on my rower I usually don’t like to use it for more than 20 to 30 minutes at a time because by then my posterior needs a break even if the rest of me doesn’t.

I could get an elliptical I guess. I like the idea of having a non-sitting alternative to the rower. The elliptical has the negative of using both the hands and the legs. I realize that from an exercise standpoint that is good. But, from the standpoint of doing something else while you exercise, not so much. I can watch TV, of course, but not really read or use a notebook computer (both of which I can do on a treadmill).  I think there are some ellipticals that don’t have the arm motion part but I haven’t used those. I was so happy when I built my treadmill desk which allowed me to use the computer while walking at slow speeds. Now that is all just gone.

I could probably do a similar type desk for an exercise bike and that would be good. I could just do the rower I guess, but I like to have some variety which is why I have the treadmill and the rower. With an exercise bike I found it pretty boring and I find it hard to get my heart rate up unless I set the resistance high, which isn’t good with knee problems. The doctor said that using an exercise bike would still do some damage to my knees, but it would be minimal. It would be less than I do walking.

I sort of like the elliptical as an exercise more than I do the bike. It gives me a non-sitting alternative to the rower. I used one at the YMCA a few years ago when I was just getting starting with exercise. At that time, it was too strenuous for me and my heart rate got too high too fast. But, I’m in better shape now and I find it more interesting than the exercise bike so I may lean toward getting an elliptical.

Of course, I was really enjoying the walking both outside in our lovely, hilly neighborhood and on the treadmill, especially with the treadmill desk. I actually came close to crying when the doctor told me about not walking for exercise. I’ve been so focused on trying to get my steps up and now I don’t have that either. The sense of loss is great.

My husband says we can sell the treadmill and get either an exercise bike or an elliptical. And, I’m sure we’ll do one of them. I really hate getting rid of the treadmill since it is less than a year old and I spent so much time to research and find a good quality treadmill.

Thank goodness I have to weigh in tomorrow. I’m not a huge emotional eater, but this is definitely a day when I want to eat something to just cheer me up and make me feel better. But, my desire for a good weigh in outweighs those thoughts.

Now, I need to make it to the bedroom with the walker then hop on the rower for awhile.

Edit:  Back from rowing for 30 minutes.  It didn’t hurt so I’m hoping this will at least let me do something.  By the end of 30 minutes, though, my seat was sore and I was ready to stop.  I will probably do 2 sessions a day to make it easier.


  1. says

    Forgive me because I don’t know the whole story behind your injury but I wanted to give my two cents…

    I’ve had MANY injuries over the years (and surgeries). What helped me keep active (and sane) when I couldn’t do my normal fitness was weight lifting. When I have knee injury flare-ups I stop doing lower body exercises and just focus on upper body weight lifting. Hope you find something that works for you.

    • Kitty says

      Yes, I agree about doing some upper body work. I’ve been doing a little rowing also and I’m supposed to start doing some range of motion work on the leg so that should help a little.

  2. says

    Weight training could be the answer, I agree. You might find you like it better than you ever liked walking. Makes you feel a lot better about yourself.

    I’ve got a knee injury right now also. Your post convinced me to go get it looked at. Even if I don’t like what the diagnosis might be….

    Take care.
    Randy recently posted…Flat FeetMy Profile

  3. says

    So sorry to read about your orthopedic woes. I can relate. Last October I slipped on my basement stairs – carpeted no less – and ended up breaking my right foot and the toes on the foot. Was quite a few weeks before I could walk on that foot and then had to wear a boot until last month. Took forever for the fracture to heal. Orthopedic injuries are such a burden. We want to just get up and walk and to be told to be non-weightbearing is tough. Here’s sending you good wishes for a quick recovery.

  4. Kitty says

    I broke my ankle (both sides) several years ago and it was such a pain. This being on a walker now when I actually am able to walk is weird. But, I’ve gotten a bit more used to it.


  1. […] a good weight loss result this week since it may be last really good result this month. As I posted yesterday, I got my MRI results yesterday and I’m supposed to use a walker and not walk on my left leg at […]

  2. […] I was told that once the 4 weeks was over, I shouldn’t walk for fitness any more.  I was not happy about this.  This changes a lot of plans for ongoing fitness and activity for the long term.  […]

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