The incident occurred during the COVID-19 lockdown when Kirkwood was out on her bike near Slough, Berkshire. As a self-confessed avid cyclist, the incident turned Carol’s life upside down and she struggled to get back on a bike for some time. “I won’t ever forget that accident, it was horrific,” Kirkwood said at the time, whilst chatting to colleagues Louise Minchin and Annie Emmerson. “My knee was absolutely battered and there were nerves hanging out of it! It was down to my knee cap!”
When asked how badly she was injured following the incident, Kirkwood said that her injuries were described by her boss as “it looked like I’d been attacked by a shark,” with mostly her left knee affected.
“I was wearing a helmet, fortunately, so I only bruised my nose because my helmet had a peak at the front, otherwise I would have face-planted. So I was lucky,” she added.
Not only was Kirkwood left physically injured, the accident also left her mentally shaken, and unable to keep up with her fitness routine, which has meant she put on unwanted weight during lockdown.
She continued to say: “I’m permanently scarred. I’ve also lost some of the feeling in my knee in places, and I have permanent damage to my thumb joint and scarring to my elbow.
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“I try to be careful about my weight. I know people say don’t weigh yourself every day, but I do.
“And I put on about 10lbs during lockdown, as somebody very kindly pointed out to me. But I had had an accident, so I was immobile. I’m determined to lose the weight.
“My confidence cycling on the road has gone to pot. I don’t do that now. I’m fearful now of cycling on the road.
“It was such a shock. I had dreams about it and I still do. Sometimes, I still get upset talking about it. It’s not on my mind all the time, but I dream about being hit.”
In order to try and overcome her injuries, Kirkwood started to do her own therapy and exercise, including speed walking instead of running.
The Mayo Clinic explains that knee pain is a common complaint that often results after injury such as a ruptured ligament or torn cartilage. Pre-diagnosed medical conditions — including arthritis, gout and infections can also cause knee pain.
Although symptoms of knee pain depend on the cause of the problem, the signs and symptoms that accompany pain include:
Swelling and stiffness
Redness and warmth to the touch
Weakness or instability
Popping or crunching noises
Inability to fully straighten the knee.
For more traumatic knee injuries, which the NHS describe as an injury due to a twist or fall, symptoms can also include sharp pain, achiness, restriction of bending the knee.
A symptom such as knee numbness can extend either down or up the leg and can have many potential causes. Sometimes, outside forces pressing on the leg and knee can lead to numbness. Whereas injuries to the kneecap and behind the knee can also cause numbness.
If you or someone you know experiences persistent pain or discomfort in the knee it is important to seek medical advice, especially if individuals start to develop a fever or can see obvious deformities.
In Kirkwood’s case, an injury has left her with permanent nerve damage, also known as peripheral neuropathy. Although Kirkwood has never been diagnosed with the condition it is estimated that almost one in 10 people over the age of 55 in the UK suffer from it.
One of the main causes of peripheral neuropathy is both type 1 and 2 diabetes, as nerve damage is associated with high blood sugar levels. However it is possible that physical injury to the nerves can also trigger the condition.
The main symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, which can either be constant or may come and go include:
- Numbness and tingling in the feet or hands
- Burning, stabbing or shooting pain in affected areas
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Muscle weakness, especially in the feet.
For some individuals the underlying causes of neuropathy cannot be treated. But for others, nerve pain is usually treated with antibiotics, also known as neuropathic pain agents, or through the use of physiotherapy and walking aids.
Physiotherapy helps to restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness or disability. With the help of a physiotherapist and tailored exercise advice, individuals should be able to treat the underlying cause of peripheral neuropathy.
If the underlying cause of peripheral neuropathy is not treated, you may be at risk of developing potentially serious complications, such as a foot ulcer that becomes infected. Although only in severe cases, this can lead to gangrene if untreated, and possibly foot amputation.