Case History: Knee Trouble

This is my own story: riding along on a cycle tour in Brittany, France, we stopped for a moment to eat some of the wonderful croissants and pain-au-chocolat. I sat on a step for about 10 minutes, but when I attempted to get up it was impossible, the pain in my right knee was excruciating.

It was our last day of the trip and eventually I struggled to my bicycle where I quickly found my leg would not co-operate with any kind of pedaling. It was as if my mind had switched off that possibility. Eventually I was able to cycle using just my left leg, while the right dangled.

The puzzling thing to me was I felt that such a quick onset should lead to an equally quick recovery, but it did not. It was over four years before I finally found I could use my leg again as if nothing had happened to it.

After the pain had persisted for a couple of years I finally was referred by my doctor for an x-ray; the result came back as 'calcification of the patello tendon, with no erosive changes seen.' My doctor said that this was the precursor to osteo-arthritis and that there was no way of preventing the progression of the disease. She said that I had 90% chance of being confined to a wheelchair by the time I was 30 - in just 6 years time.

Something in me switched at that point. I refused to accept that the condition was incurably progressive, and simply resolved to find out all I could, through all channels I could find, about alternative solutions. This is now over 20 years ago and I can count on one hand the number of times I've had to use the conventional approach to health since - and only for diagnosis, never treatment!

In the course of my journey to heal, my sister kindly gave me three Alexander lessons as a present for my birthday. Within just the first lesson I knew it was releasing a lot of tension - not just in my knee but held throughout the body. I had no idea how to do it myself, but persistence slowly brought me back to my senses, so that I could tell when I was creating unnecessary tension and how to let it go.

The AT was instrumental in helping me learn how to use my whole Self well. The knee naturally was a part of that wholeness, and with support from the release in the rest of me, was able in its own time to heal completely.

I'm quite an expert on knees now, especially as in 2008 I came off my bicycle and shattered the other kneecap! It's all functioning again and doctors have expressed great surprise that I appear to have 100% mobility back in that knee joint. My physiotherapist regularly expressed surprise at how fast the flexibility was returning, saying I must be really working hard at the exercises. But I wasn't - I did them sometimes, but most of the time I went back to my Alexander Technique training, and made sure I was using myself as best I could in every moment.

To be honest, I really didn't like the physio exercises!

Next case history: Headaches