Sports Injuries: Are You Looking For The Wrong Thing In The Wrong Place?


Hi folks,

Whilst staying in a motel on the Interstate recently, I was awoken at 2:00 am by a cyclic buzzing sound, which I immediately assumed was an alarm clock in the adjacent room. You know what they say about, ‘ASSUME.’ Makes and ass out of you and an ass out of me. I just could not get back to sleep, so off I went in search of the offending noise, with the assistance of the night clerk (a nice Indian man, whose name I cannot recall). He listened to the sound, and agreed with the diagnosis – alarm clock in nearby room. We searched in several adjacent, empty rooms, both behind and above the headboard of my bed. The clerk was extremely patient, I might add. He then suggested that I turn on the fan in the bathroom to drown the noise, which I did and woke up Deb and Nick. Deb said, “that noise sounds like a phone off the hook.” Then Nick said, “Oh! Yeah!” and he replaces the phone on its cradle, which his arm had displaced during his sleep. They then immediately went back to sleep, I thanked the manager, and lay there wide awake for about two hours. The wrong diagnosis led to a wild goose chase and lost sleep.

I wrote about a similar problem with my right knee in a previous blog post in relation to an injury sustained on a motorcycle about 40 years previously that led to my interest in Feldenkrais.

Ileo-tibial (IT) band, showing region of inflammation on lateral side of knee. From:

A more common problem, in which there is a tendency to think the knee is in trouble, is ileo-tibial (IT) band syndrome. I found this figure in an excellent article on IT band syndrome at the Strength Running website, which I plan to explore and is now available here under the useful links tab. The author of this site recommends a number of approaches, including the use of a foam roller and the stick. You might also consider a kit supplied by Trigger Point Therapy, which fits nicely in my truck on long trips to races.

If you know nothing about running, or IT band syndrome, and you start to run and your knee hurts due to this issue, and then go to a doctor who also knows nothing about it (which is the general rather than the specific case, in my experience), you might find yourself having useless cortisone injections into your knee, or an adjacent tendon or bursa. If you have a problem it is critical to (1) study the issue and learn, (2) find the right advice from the right professional, (3) follow the chosen treatment, which by the way, you are responsible for electing to carry out, and (4) don’t run until the problem is fixed. There are always alternatives, such as water running, cross training or core work, that you can use to fill in the training gap.

Trick number one. Don’t be like yours truly and the ‘alarm clock.’ Make sure of your diagnosis before chasing a Will o’ the Wisp.

May your injuries be rare and reparable.

-k Your Medical Mind


  1. Ah, diagnosis, that is an art.
    I had a persistent groin pain.
    Over an eleven year period it was put down to half a dozen things and I was prescribed a whole varieth of pills and potions.
    A new Doctor in the local practice got it right in the end. The pain derived from a crushed nerve some distance from the perceived pain.
    A bit of physio and the nuisance was gone.
    However the criticism of “Assume” might be questioned. Without assumptions no economic theory could ever be postulated. However on second thoughts looking at the state of many economies it could be economists have done more damage than good in recent years…

    • Hi Trevor,
      Another saying is “It ain’t what you don’t know that will hurt you, but what you know that ain’t so.” Glad you fixed that nerve, anyway. Yep! An art, indeed.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.