When Aleks Golde was in middle school, she was a three-season athlete playing volleyball, basketball and soccer. But when she grew more than 6 inches in one year and injured both of her knees, she was forced to the sidelines.
As a result of her dramatic growth spurt, Aleks developed fat pad impingement, which is when the fatty tissue below the kneecap gets inflamed or pinched. It was a low-grade but chronic aggravating pain. Most physicians recommend a conservative, nonsurgical approach to treatment, and recovery can take a long time. So while Aleks stepped back from her usual activities to give her knees a rest, she tried out a new, lower-impact sport: golf.
“Aleks was told she really couldn’t do anything, and being an athletic kid, that was really hard to adjust to,” said her mom, Evia. “So she picked up a golf club and started taking lessons for fun and realized she was actually pretty good.”
New sport, same persistent pain
She joined the golf team at her high school as a freshman and began playing tournament golf year-round as a sophomore. However, despite the fact that golf was somewhat easier on her body than her previous sports, Aleks was still plagued by pain in her knees. She came to S. Clifton Willimon, MD, at Children’s Physician Group–Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine for treatment and ultimately opted to undergo surgery.
“She wasn’t nervous at all leading up to the surgery—she just wanted it done. She was sick of trying to take this conservative approach and she just wanted to be better,” Evia said. “Dr. Willimon took really good care of her.”
The surgery was a success. After 6 weeks or so on crutches, Aleks began golf-specific physical therapy at Children’s to get a full range of motion and improve her swing. Three months post-surgery, Aleks was back on the golf course without any pain.