Hit Knee into Handlebar Injury
Me: 20 years old, competitive XC/endurance racer. I have been professionally fit on my bikes.
On March 17th during a mountain bike race my knee smacked my handle bars after I came unclipped on a steep climb. The impact hurt pretty bad - there was pain throughout my leg. It didn't feel like a typical smack of the knee, maybe something similar to hitting your funny bone. The week after the impact the knee felt fine while off the bike, but after some hard intervals it would flare up and I would have difficulty pedaling and getting out of the saddle. I pushed through the pain (which was a mistake) and may have made it worse. I spent the next 2 weeks on and off the bike, doing easy 1 hour rides. On these rides the knee would begin to feel tender/painful by the end of the rides. While off the bike I can feel some knee pain but only after riding, it doesn't restrict my movement or feel like it will give way. I iced plenty, took ibuprofen, and saw 2 physical therapists. They just told me it was a bruised knee, did some astym and electric stim. I figured that my knee needed a longer period of time off, so I took the next 10 days off the bike.
I got back on the bike a week ago and the knee felt ok, but on the next ride the pain returned (I did smack it in the middle of night on a chair ). The pain is on the inside of the knee right next to the knee cap and hurts on the downstroke. No pain to the touch though. Heat seems to help with the pain after riding. After sitting still and moving the knee I can feel it. On Monday I went to a great orthopedic sports doc and he checked it out. X-ray looked pretty normal, but he said my kneecap was on a slight angle (uneven cartilage or something) but not bad. I kinda wanted an MRI but didn't push for one. He said since there is no swelling, fluid, or tears that the MRI isn't necessary and we can re evaluate in 6 weeks.
Anyone have any thoughts or experience something like this?
I'm an athletic trainer (sports med guy, not strength & conditioning/personal trainer)...
If you simply just whacked your knee cap and or top of the tibia on the handlebars, you most likely irritated a bursa. I see that one happen quite often when my athletes fall onto a bent knee. Sometimes they balloon up, sometimes they don't.
What you're describing sounds like the bursa - once you're moving around it feels relatively good, when it's cold it gets stiff and sore.
I've found the best remedy with them is rest. The more you do, especially with constant repetitive movement like running and biking, the more you aggravate the bursa. Heating before activity and icing afterward helps with these, as they're pretty close to the skin. Ibuprofen or aleve also help. But easily the best thing you can do is not over do it.
A bursa is a small sack full of fluid, typically found where tendons would rub against bones. They most often get irritated by overuse and/or getting hit directly. Runner's knee is probably the most common form of bursitis - the IT Band tendon prevents the tendon from rubbing directly against the femur. Ever see someone land directly on the tip of their elbow and have it balloon up? That's the bursa getting crushed and swelling up.
What you're describing is pretty common with bursitis. I'm not a physician and I haven't seen and touched your knee to say for certain that's what it is. If you don't have instability and don't have a fracture, I'd bet it's the bursa. They typically heal pretty well on their own if you give them time to heal. Unfortunately, they take a good few weeks to heal up to the point where they won't get irritated again and go back to square one.
Just some thoughts.
Knee to handlebar here. Happened to a knee that was recovering from an injury that was just healing 90%. Immediate swelling. Continued riding. Walking limp on steep inclines. Got home after ride and iced immediately. Learned from previous hematoma to not sleep on the ice method- it really works. Continue stretching the knee to gain loss of mobility. Hope to be healed in a week's time. Ride every day !!!