At 16 yrs. old my daughter is experiencing frequent knee pain, actually has for quite some time now. I'm wondering what others have done to help alleviate the pain and reduce further stress considering her age. Sprenger and other brands offer several different types of stirrups but at $200+ I would like feedback from others to see if they actually helped anyone. We did buy a basic jointed pair a couple years ago but obviously those have not helped. Or do we just go the knee brace route? And what knee braces do you use?
Personally, I found knee braces while riding to be a bit more of a distraction or hindrance than a helpful piece of equipment. But that was my own experience and others may feel differently.
What did help my knee pain the most was getting the MDC Ultimate stirrups. They are jointed, but for me I think the most important feature for my knees was the ability to offset the eye so that the stirrups hang a bit differently. If I don't have them adjusted that way when I ride, my knees tell me they noticed!
Teenage girls are very commonly plagued by patellar pain from insufficient strength in part of the quadriceps. This is VERY easily remedied by simple exercises. I'd get a diagnosis first before looking for gadgets or tricks to avoid the problem. Ask her doctor if she might have chondromalacia patellae or some other problem with the knee, then get a physical therapist who will pay attention to the demands of her sport and give her a focused program to make things better.
Absolutely agree with Deltawave! She needs a diagnosis ASAP. Take her to a GOOD orthopedic specialist. You might also get a rhumatologist to run a comprehensive blood panel. I know one young lady who went undiagnosed for RA for years as a teen with knee pain. Her damage is irreversible and she just turned 22.
Knee pain at this age is nothing to fool around with. It may be a simple problem with a simple cure. But even a simple problem left unresolved may cause serious damage to her knee joints. Even serious problems caught at her age are much more likely to be resolved than when she gets older.
Chronic knee pain is awful. Your intervention now can make a huge difference! Please take it seriously and push her regular doctor if he doesn't. Insist he help you get to the bottom of it. You will be glad you did.
Good Luck to you and your daughter!
The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.
I agree with getting her checked out by a doc. I had similar issues as a kid. I didn't have pain while riding, but it was doing other things. Turned out I had some cartilage damage (most likely from a fall I had where I landed on my knees). I did some physical therapy, and for me, the key is keeping my quads strong, and watching how long I keep my knees hyperflexed for (as in squatting down, etc.). At that age, it could be simple growing pains, or something much worse. I would not mess around with it.
At 18 I was checked for RA due to knee pain. I didn't have it. They evaluated my quad strength and found it to be very good, and took xrays. Diagnosis was patello-femural dysfunction (I may be spelling it wrong) but essentially I guess it just means my kneecap and femur rub together. I don't use knee braces basically ever. Maybe once or twice a year if it's cold and damp, I use it. More because the compression seems to make it feel better, rather than a need for actual support.
I do use 6 way flex stirrups and those DO make a big difference. I rode in a friends saddle one day with regular irons and my knees *really* hurt afterwards. That was when I really knew the flexible stirrups were making a difference. I also am more comfortable in saddles with knee rolls/support in that area.
I have had knee pain since I was 13 years old, it became progressively worse until I was around 18, then it eventually faded away for the most part.
Then last October (at 21) I had a severe tibial Plateau fracture and was told to expect to be in a great deal of pain when I started riding again. The first time I tried to ride I didn't even last 10 minutes walking because it hurt so bad. A friend told me about Royal Rider flexible stirrups. At first I didn't want to try them because I had Herm Sprenger stirrups previously and hated them. I thought they flexed too much and caused more pain. Well I broke down and bought a pair of Royal Riders to try. I LOVE them! I won't ride in anything else now! Zero pain with the Royal Riders. I tried to ride in my dressage saddle today, for the first time, with my regular stirrups and had to stop in the middle of my ride to switch back to my Royal Riders because of the pain.
Yes they are expensive, but even as a poor college student, I feel like they are well worth the money. I'm even saving up to buy a second pair so that I don't have to switch them between saddles.
About 5 years ago, my 62 pound German Shepard was spinning around and slammed into the side of my knee. Instead of getting it checked out, I waited 4 months before I went to an Orthopedic Doc. The x-rays showed a hairline fracture. I had waited so long that a bone spur had developed. The Doc had to do surgery to repair the damage.
About a year ago, another large dog was spinning around near me and hit the same place on my leg. Since then, every once in a while my knee will bother me. I use the MDC stirrups, a Back on Track knee brace and do the Quad strenghtening exercises that the Physical Trainer gave me after the knee surgery.
If everything checks out fine with the Ortho Doc, then I would highly recommend the MDC Ultimate stirrups and a Back on Track knee brace. My BoT brace fits under my breeches. I have worn it at an event with no problems.
I'm 41yo and had knee pain as a 15yo when riding..... did nothing about it. Now I have a history of knee, hip and foot pain... and a history of Dr apts and physical therapy. I'd also advise a trip to the right Dr. and a good PT plan if appropriate. I also use the HS jointed stirrups, but also I am no longer able to ride in a jump saddle....even very looong jump length stirrups kill my knees after @10 min ride. dressage for me I guess..
I have terribly constructed knees and began feeling the effects around the same age as your daughter. I rode for a while with knee braces and threw back Celebrex regularly. Obviously this is not an efficient long-term solution. A well-fitting saddle makes a big difference, and I find that the Sprenger stirrups absorb the shock while riding which kept me from getting sore later. The best long-term fix (for me) is regular physical therapy exercises to strengthen the appropriate muscles. The problem is I'm too stubborn (read: lazy) to keep them up.
Thank you everyone. I've mentioned this to her Pediatrician in the past and all I got was "I see this a lot with young riders".......so I will push it further.
This is going to sound a bit strange, because everyone thinks of it as a skin disease, but - if there is a family history of psoriasis (even someone who has a really mild form of it) then that is Relevant Information, because psoriasis is actually an autoimmune disorder and the same inflammation that you get that causes the skin spots can also turn up in the soft tissue in the joints as a type of arthritis. (Psoriatic arthritis, surprisingly enough. )
Anyway, the 'typical' presentation is to have skin involvement in addition to the arthritis, but it is entirely possible to have the arthritis with no skin involvement at all, or have the arthritis first with skin involvement developing later.
Plus, a fairly typical time for psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis to turn up is in the teens - theory being something about the hormones going crazy 'triggers' the inflammatory response - so she's in the right age group for it (and other autoimmune conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis) to develop.
(Note, for your purposes: "Oh, yeah, grandma had that weird skin thing that'd turn up every winter..." counts as potential psoriasis. If it's mild it's frequently not diagnosed at all, particularly going back a generation or two. I have psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, and my grandmother? Got one spot of psoriasis behind one ear. Only. Every winter, like clockwork. Yay for me.)
At any rate, I agree with the others - push a bit harder for a proper diagnosis to find out exactly what's going on. Even if it isn't something systemic, knees are a horrible joint to damage.
One of my friends is an OUTSTANDING dressage rider, spent a year as a working student with a VBNT, but somehow completely trashed one of her knees and has had to have surgery and injections and it really limits how far she can go as a rider, because it simply will only take so much strain and stress before she might need more surgery or another injection, or... It's just better to avoid that road entirely.
Even if it IS simply from stress due to the way she's riding, a good sports PT should be able to help identify the weakness causing the joint to be over stressed, and prescribe exercises to specifically strengthen/stretch/loosen/whatever the necessary areas. With all that we know now from sports medicine, "I see this a lot in young riders" with no follow up is a ridiculous response.
My knee pain goes away when I am properly adjusted by a competent chiropracter. Its like horses, sometimes the joint is the symptom not the actual problem. My knee kills me when my pelvis is out of alinement. This has happened since I was a teen.
Please go to www.mdccorporation.us and read the testimonial section. You will read comments after comments on knee pain relief like the following.
FROM: SUSAN WALKER [SEWALKER@SAN.RR.COM]
SENT: MONDAY, JUNE 26, 2006 10:04 AM
I WOULD LIKE TO SAY THANK YOU FOR THE BRILLIANT DESIGN OF YOUR STIRRUPS.
I AM 16 YEARS OLD AND HAVE SUFFERED FROM CHRONIC KNEE PAIN SINCE I WAS 14. AT ONE POINT, IT WAS SO BAD THAT I WAS LOOKING AT TAKING TIME OFF OF RIDING TO RECOVER, BECAUSE WHEN I DID RIDE, I HAD TO RIDE WITHOUT STIRRUPS AND I COULDN'T COMPETE WITHOUT THEM. THIS WAS UNFORTUNATELY RIGHT BEFORE THE 2004 USEF JUNIOR DRESSAGE TEAM
CHAMPIONSHIPS (RECOGNIZED BY THE USOC AS A JUNIOR OLYMPIC EQUESTRIAN EVENT) WHICH I HAD QUALIFIED FOR.
MY TRAINER (JENNIFER HOFFMANN) RECOMMENDED THAT I TRY YOUR STIRRUPS, AND IT MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD!! I WAS FINALLY ABLE TO RIDE VIRTUALLY PAIN-FREE, AND I WAS ABLE TO COMPETE IN THE CHAMPIONSHIPS, WHERE I WON THE TEAM GOLD MEDAL AND FINISHED THIRD INDIVIDUALLY. SINCE THEN, I HAVE PUT YOUR STIRRUPS ON ALL OF MY SADDLES, AND I WON'T RIDE IN ANYTHING ELSE.
YOUR STIRRUPS SAVED MY RIDING CAREER!
There is no other stirrup in the world that has a three position top, flex or non flex sides, narrow or wide tread to address your pain. MDC guarantees your purchase or gives your purchase price back. You need to try this product for your daughter.
I am 50, but recently started having pain in my knees and back so I tried the jointed stirrups. And I am cheap, so we're talking the ones that cost less tha $50 ! I can't remember the name, but you do NOT have to spend $200 on them ! They have helped me a LOT - always ride in them now and these are the ones that only flex one way, so I can't speak for the multiple flexions, but figured the fewer moving parts the better if they helped me.
I'm 18 and have been suffering from knee pain since I was 14. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic tendonitis (in one of my knees). I got a pair of jointed stirrups for Christmas, and they have made riding a lot more enjoyable. When I am done riding I no longer feel the tension in my knees and especially over the winter, my knee was less "creaky" while riding.
I second (no 'real' word for eighteenth) the medical/ortho workup.
I have fibromyalgia, a history of tendonitis in my knee, etc, and am now 40. My knees don't bother me unless I ride for a long time, but since I ride on a cattle ranch I have had some 8 -hours- in -the -saddle days, and those can really make the knees hurt.
I ride in a western saddle and have added offset, closed-cell-foam padded stirrups, which do a LOT of cushioning. The stirrups that are made for endurance riding (I know, for a teenager they might look too hokey or something) have the same wide foot platform and foam padding. Some models fit a western saddle, there are other models made specifically for an english stirrup leather.
After your daughter has a good medical diagnosis, PT followup, etc...assuming of course that she is cleared to ride...that she tries several models of 'ergo' stirrups. You could either borrow stirrups from generous barn-mates, or order returnable stirrups on a credit card, and see what really works for her.