“My life has completely changed”

25 year old, Dáire was immobile following a sudden knee injury, which left him battling constant pain and a need to use crutches for even the shortest of distances. Following surgery with no relief, he found Apex Clinic, Belfast. Here, Dáire reveals how the Clinic cured his pain for good with specialist physiotherapy treatment, completely changing his life in the process.

Dáire, tell us the history behind your knee pain.

The problem with my knee began in 2007. I was walking up the street when all of a sudden my knee locked. The only way I can describe it is that it felt like it needed to click back into place. With that sensation came the onset of sharp pain. It was like nothing I had ever felt before. The pain was so severe that I couldn’t walk at all without the support of crutches. I had an MRI scan and was sent for physio, which was little to no help. I was living in constant pain. Fast forward three years to 2010 and the situation was still dire. I had another MRI scan, which showed stage three to four condromalacia patella, or ‘runner’s knee’, which is a condition where the cartilage on the undersurface of the patella (kneecap) deteriorates and softens. I was finally glad to get a diagnosis for my problem and felt like it was the beginning of my road to recovery. Following the diagnosis, I met with a consultant who advised that I needed surgery, which would be carried out in five months time.

Five months is an immensely long time when you are living with constant, severe pain and so I was prescribed steroid injections. These have been known to relieve pain for up to five years, I was told, but they didn’t even keep my pain at ease for five weeks. In seeing this, the consultant said there was no other option but surgery.

In January 2011, an operation took place to clean out my knee cap and smooth the cartilage. However, following this, the pain didn’t subside. I was at my wit’s end. At the time I was attending physio in Dundalk and during an appointment I experienced incredible nerve pain. It was at this point that the physio realised that there might be an alternative source for my pain. He recommended Rebecca Nelson at Apex Clinic, Belfast following treatment there himself.

How did the pain affect your life?

As a university student, my life was ruined. Even the simplest of tasks became impossible. I was constantly on crutches as I couldn’t bear any weight on my knee. Walking around the university campus just wasn’t possible and my mum actually had to pick me up and drive me to my classes. I also didn’t have much of a social life. I worried about going out with friends and about how far I’d have to walk or if there would be a seat for me. I couldn’t manage stairs or hills and pain killers didn’t work.

What led you to booking your consultation with Apex Clinic?

Following the recommendation from the physio in Dundalk, I knew I had nothing to lose. It really was my last chance. I phoned the clinic immediately and set up an appointment with Rebecca.

Describe your treatment at Apex Clinic

For the first two months, I attended a session twice weekly, and travelling from Dundalk, that was quite a commitment but I still had a little hope left in finding a cure. Rebecca took a lengthy history and following a thorough assessment, my pain was diagnosed as stemming from my back. I couldn’t believe it. I admit I was a bit skeptical at first as I didn’t have any back pain, but hoped that she knew what she was talking about! Following light manual work on my lower back to loosen the tight segments of my spine I quickly started to feel relief after the second session. I was outside one evening and had to run after our dog when I began to realise that the treatment was definitely working. As the pain began to reduce, the frequency of my appointments were spaced out, until I felt no pain at all.

How is your pain now?

I now attend the clinic for a check up once every six months and I am delighted to say that I am still pain free.

What difference has the treatment had on your quality of life?

The difference is tremendous! When I think back to how I was then compared to how I am now, I feel like a completely different person. I am doing things I could never even imagine. I have taken part in triathlons, sprints and a half ironman. I even completed the Dublin Marathon, and I’m currently training for a full ironman event. The change is unbelievable!

What advice would you give anyone considering seeking help at Apex Clinic?

Just go for it! I am proof that the correct diagnosis can quite literally change your life. No one else was able to help me but Apex Clinic, so put your trust in the team!

If pain is affecting you, seek the help of our experienced team of specialist physiotherapists to clear your pain. To book an appointment at Apex Clinic, call 028 9048 4153.