If you are a serious runner, it is inevitable that you will either get injured or at least experience soreness from time to time. It happens to even the best of us. The most important thing you can do about injuries is do what you can to prevent them in the first place. Basically, don’t overdo it. Pain is your body’s way of telling you you are overdoing it. Also, strength-train your legs twice a week with ankle weights or resistance bands. Weak muscles may increase your risk of injury, besides preventing you from performing at your best.
The knees of a runner are especially vulnerable to injury. After running a marathon, many if not most of the runners experience at least some knee soreness, and a significant number will injure or re-injure their knees.
Injuries to the knee may involve the cartilage(meniscii), ligaments, or both. The meniscii in the knees serve as cushioning to absorb shocks and allow for smooth motion within the joint. Ligament is tissue that connects bone to bone. ACL(anterior cruciate ligament) injuries are notoriously common among football players, as well as runners.
Minor ACL injuries can sometimes heal without surgery if physical therapy is undertaken. All too many athletes unfortunately can’t return to sport even after reconstructive ACL surgery.
Serious injuries to knee cartilage often require surgery too. These types of injuries seldom heal at all or may heal very slowly, depending on the age of the athlete. This is because knee cartilage receives very little blood flow to help it heal.
Prolotherapy is sometimes suggested as an “alternative” to surgery for knee and other injuries. At its most basic, it involves injecting an inflammatory agent(often dextrose, which is just another way to say glucose) into the injured area to bring about an inflammatory healing response. So if you hate needles, it may not be for you.
When it comes to prolotherapy and ACL injury, it shows some promise. According to the Department of Biometry, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, U.S:
In patients with symptomatic anterior cruciate ligament laxity, intermittent dextrose injection resulted in clinically and statistically significant improvement in ACL laxity, pain, swelling, and knee range of motion.
When it comes to prolotherapy and osteoarthritis(which is similar to “runner’s knee”), the Bethany Medical Center, Kansas City, reports that:
Prolotherapy injection with 10% dextrose resulted in clinically and statistically significant improvements in knee osteoarthritis. Preliminary blinded radiographic readings (1-year films, with 3-year total follow-up period planned) demonstrated improvement in several measures of osteoarthritis severity. ACL laxity, when present in these osteoarthritic patients, improved.
Prolotherapy still isn’t very widely available and is still getting investigated. Insurance providers seldom if ever cover this procedure. It has been studied for use in treating injuries in other parts of the body, with mixed to mostly negative results.
I’ve injured my knees in the past, but luckily they were all minor.