Living with arthritis: How do you stay active?

Posted by Justin McClanahan @JustinMcClanahan, Mar 9, 2020

Let’s talk about trying to stay active while living with arthritis. More than 50 million Americans suffer from arthritis and it is the No. 1 cause of disability in the country. Arthritis can be painful and debilitating, preventing many who have it from being active or doing the things they once enjoyed. The changes in physical capabilities can also have an effect on mental health as well. If you have arthritis, what sort of activities have you had to give up and how has that affected you? Have you found ways to adapt your activities or found new ones?

Let’s start by introducing ourselves.

Sorry to read of your situation. There is no cure but many ways to help yourself. For me it has been surgery, weight loss, physical therapy exercise, and a good orthopedist. That has provided for me, short term, and hopefully long term relief. As I don't know your personal story, I can't offer any other suggestions. I do know, healing is a process and it takes time. Getting as much information as you can about your specific condition is a good start. Good luck.

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@michael6822

Hello- I am 64 years old, and have only been plagued with this for about a year, so I guess I should consider myself lucky. Having said that , is arthritis just something you have to endure? Is there no long term relief? I really wanted to say cure, but decided against it.

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Good afternoon @michael6822, Welcome to Connect. I am glad that you chose to post about the issues you currently are facing. To start this journey on Connect, I am going to ask that you spend about 19 minutes watching this video created at Mayo Clinic just a couple of weeks ago by Dr. John Davis.

It will update you on the changes in arthritis symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments.
I know that if we don't have some form of arthritis at this age, it will be coming our way soon. I would like to gather a couple of members who have taken a stab at controlling the pain and discomfort while you are watching the video. Check back in with any questions or what I call "wonderments".
https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-mnet-001&hsimp=yhs-001&hspart=mnet&p=mayo+clinic+arthritis#id=1&vid=13fb9a61890b045d5edfc9b0efe45759&action=click
May you be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.
Chris

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@trayus

Hello, I have end-stage arthritis at 27 on my knee from an old injury that slowly wore away the cartilage. By the time it was diagnosed, it was too late. I'm trying hard to stay active with anything I can….from jogging to yoga to weight lifting. I'm also hoping weight loss can lessen the pain. That said, surgery is looking more like a better option every day. Just not sure when I can work up the courage to do it.

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Good afternoon @trayus, At 27 you are very young to be considering knee surgery. You say that an injury wore away the cartilage. Would you please explain a bit more about the injury. How old were you? What tests were run? You say it was too late……too late to do what? I am struggling to wrap my arms around what you are trying to convey.

What kind of surgery are you considering……a (Total Knee Replacement TKR)? We have lots of feedback from members about that surgery. Why are you concerned about "courage"? You may want to ask your clinician how long you can wait and still get the best outcome from the recommended surgery.

And you know, the success of a TKR is a lot about good preparation and patient rehabilitation. Here is a discussion that was introduced a few weeks ago. Maybe you will find it helpful.
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/what-can-you-do-to-extend-the-life-of-your-tkr-and-mobility/
Be safe and protected from inner and outer harm.
Chris

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@trayus

Hello, I have end-stage arthritis at 27 on my knee from an old injury that slowly wore away the cartilage. By the time it was diagnosed, it was too late. I'm trying hard to stay active with anything I can….from jogging to yoga to weight lifting. I'm also hoping weight loss can lessen the pain. That said, surgery is looking more like a better option every day. Just not sure when I can work up the courage to do it.

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@trayus I understand your frustration. At 44 an sports injury blew out my knew and I had ACL/MCL replacement and reconstruction. At 50, after 10 years of pain and struggle, according to the ortho I had "the hips of an 85 year-old" and they were so severely locked I could not walk up stairs or lift a leg high enough to get onto a women's bike. We decided it was time to replace, and now at 69 I am on my second set of replacement hips. I will tell you that I was severely chastised by my doc and ortho for continuing to run and jump on already damaged joints (I was a lifelong runner and volleyball player), and told to find "kinder" methods of exercise. All that said, I am now active and have minimal hip pain – mostly bursitis, as well as arthritis in many parts of my body. I can walk, bike, dance and keep up with toddler grandsons.
My advice for you is seek a second opinion from an ortho that specializes in young, active patients. Then, if you decide to replace, commit yourself to one year of preparation and rehab every day – about an hour a day. That is what is needed for optimal recovery. Finally, treat the new knee kindly so it will last.
Sue

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@artscaping

Good afternoon @trayus, At 27 you are very young to be considering knee surgery. You say that an injury wore away the cartilage. Would you please explain a bit more about the injury. How old were you? What tests were run? You say it was too late……too late to do what? I am struggling to wrap my arms around what you are trying to convey.

What kind of surgery are you considering……a (Total Knee Replacement TKR)? We have lots of feedback from members about that surgery. Why are you concerned about "courage"? You may want to ask your clinician how long you can wait and still get the best outcome from the recommended surgery.

And you know, the success of a TKR is a lot about good preparation and patient rehabilitation. Here is a discussion that was introduced a few weeks ago. Maybe you will find it helpful.
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/what-can-you-do-to-extend-the-life-of-your-tkr-and-mobility/
Be safe and protected from inner and outer harm.
Chris

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I dislocated my kneecap at 15 and that damaged my cartilage. There was a short window after injury that I could have done surgery to have that cartilage repaired but I guess the physician at the time never brought it up to me or my parents. Now that cartilage has worn away completely. So my orthopedist gave me two options, partial knee replacement now which would last maybe 10 years or just tough it out until I’m old enough for it last the rest of my life.

I’ve had to do some digging on my own to find a couple “experimental procedures” like osteochondral allograft transplants which is a cartilage transplant but it’s somewhat unproven in treating arthritis because the procedure is so rare. That’s the surgery I’m working up the courage to do. It also supposedly lasts 10 years or so but it will be a much more natural knee so I would still be able to live out my prime years somewhat pain free but it is a risky procedure since failure rate is pretty high after the 10 year mark.

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@trayus

I dislocated my kneecap at 15 and that damaged my cartilage. There was a short window after injury that I could have done surgery to have that cartilage repaired but I guess the physician at the time never brought it up to me or my parents. Now that cartilage has worn away completely. So my orthopedist gave me two options, partial knee replacement now which would last maybe 10 years or just tough it out until I’m old enough for it last the rest of my life.

I’ve had to do some digging on my own to find a couple “experimental procedures” like osteochondral allograft transplants which is a cartilage transplant but it’s somewhat unproven in treating arthritis because the procedure is so rare. That’s the surgery I’m working up the courage to do. It also supposedly lasts 10 years or so but it will be a much more natural knee so I would still be able to live out my prime years somewhat pain free but it is a risky procedure since failure rate is pretty high after the 10 year mark.

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@trayus The allograft of my ligament was supposed to last 10-15 years. I am at 25 years and counting, so averages are really just that. My Mom had a thumb replaced in the 1980's when it was experimental and thought to last 10-15 years. It was still operational when she died 25 years later, even though she used it heavily for years. I believe the surgeon's skill, use of the best available technique, and thorough rehab are really the keys to successful joint repairs and replacements.

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@trayus

Hello, I have end-stage arthritis at 27 on my knee from an old injury that slowly wore away the cartilage. By the time it was diagnosed, it was too late. I'm trying hard to stay active with anything I can….from jogging to yoga to weight lifting. I'm also hoping weight loss can lessen the pain. That said, surgery is looking more like a better option every day. Just not sure when I can work up the courage to do it.

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@trayus I was scheduled for a knee replacement in 2013 but it had to be delayed due to a low platelet count. I was actually on the gurney with IV in my hand when the doctor came in and gave me the bad news.
I lost weight and exercised a lot to improve the supporting muscles around my knee. Those things helped so much that when I could finally have a knee replacement in the spring of 2017 I delayed it until the fall. I even considered not doing it but I knew it would eventually get worse again so I went ahead. It worked out well for me, I am very happy with that knee. I had a Conformis knee which is custom made for each patient. When the time comes that you need to proceed I would strongly recommend that you consider that knee and find a doctor who uses that one.
I understand having to work up the courage, especially considering your young age. Most people never get as much flex again as they had, generally the best you can hope for is about 135 and that is rare. Doctors are happy if you can get to 120 which is just about where I am at. I blame myself for it not being better, I probably should have exercised it more after the surgery. If you can lose weight and exercise to get to a good point as I did, I would put it off if I was you since you are so young. These knees all have a life expectancy so if you have one now you will eventually need to have a second one.
JK

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@artscaping

Good afternoon @trayus, At 27 you are very young to be considering knee surgery. You say that an injury wore away the cartilage. Would you please explain a bit more about the injury. How old were you? What tests were run? You say it was too late……too late to do what? I am struggling to wrap my arms around what you are trying to convey.

What kind of surgery are you considering……a (Total Knee Replacement TKR)? We have lots of feedback from members about that surgery. Why are you concerned about "courage"? You may want to ask your clinician how long you can wait and still get the best outcome from the recommended surgery.

And you know, the success of a TKR is a lot about good preparation and patient rehabilitation. Here is a discussion that was introduced a few weeks ago. Maybe you will find it helpful.
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/what-can-you-do-to-extend-the-life-of-your-tkr-and-mobility/
Be safe and protected from inner and outer harm.
Chris

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@artscaping

Chris, I think I know how to bookmark, but I'm not sure. Could you please tell me how to do it and where to find what I bookmark?

Thanks
Jim

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@jimhd

@artscaping

Chris, I think I know how to bookmark, but I'm not sure. Could you please tell me how to do it and where to find what I bookmark?

Thanks
Jim

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Sure @jimhd, I assume you want to bookmark within the Connect site….correct. You already know how to bookmark within your browser…..right?

So….look up at your post above. If you want to bookmark it just click on the flag to the right of the heart. The flag graphic will turn blue and stay that way.

Now, place your cursor on your picture and a drop down will open. The third option is "My Bookmarks". Click and you are good to go.

May you have a lovely sleep tonight.
Chris

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@artscaping

Sure @jimhd, I assume you want to bookmark within the Connect site….correct. You already know how to bookmark within your browser…..right?

So….look up at your post above. If you want to bookmark it just click on the flag to the right of the heart. The flag graphic will turn blue and stay that way.

Now, place your cursor on your picture and a drop down will open. The third option is "My Bookmarks". Click and you are good to go.

May you have a lovely sleep tonight.
Chris

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Thanks, Chris @artscaping I often click on the flag, intending to click on the heart. Got it.

Jim

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@trayus

I dislocated my kneecap at 15 and that damaged my cartilage. There was a short window after injury that I could have done surgery to have that cartilage repaired but I guess the physician at the time never brought it up to me or my parents. Now that cartilage has worn away completely. So my orthopedist gave me two options, partial knee replacement now which would last maybe 10 years or just tough it out until I’m old enough for it last the rest of my life.

I’ve had to do some digging on my own to find a couple “experimental procedures” like osteochondral allograft transplants which is a cartilage transplant but it’s somewhat unproven in treating arthritis because the procedure is so rare. That’s the surgery I’m working up the courage to do. It also supposedly lasts 10 years or so but it will be a much more natural knee so I would still be able to live out my prime years somewhat pain free but it is a risky procedure since failure rate is pretty high after the 10 year mark.

Jump to this post

@trayus, deciding on replacement at such a young age is such a huge decision. I had end-stage arthritis in my knee by the time I was 12. By the time I turned 19, my knee was so deformed and worn that the decision was made for me. Every morning I woke up, my knee was "locked" in a bent position so tightly that I had to use my arms to "snap" it loose, something that took me up to 15 minutes to build the courage to do so. I finally woke up one morning and decided I couldn't do it anymore. I had a full replacement in 2006. In 2016, I had my 10-year checkup and my surgeon said the knee looked the same as it did the day after the replacement, meaning after 10 years of use, it was still in great shape.

What I learned is that "toughing it out" during your younger years to wait until you are older and potentially less active can have both a physical and mental health affect. I was miserable. The replacement and recovery were hard, but they improved my life drastically.

@trayus, while you consider your options, have you considered altering your activities to those that are less impact? Perhaps running could be replaced by cycling or swimming? When I started lifting weights, I made sure to not do any jumping or high-impact workouts on my lower body – primarily sticking to leg presses and static extensions (sitting position, leg extended and setting a weight on it and holding – no bending involved).

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@JustinMcClanahan

@trayus, deciding on replacement at such a young age is such a huge decision. I had end-stage arthritis in my knee by the time I was 12. By the time I turned 19, my knee was so deformed and worn that the decision was made for me. Every morning I woke up, my knee was "locked" in a bent position so tightly that I had to use my arms to "snap" it loose, something that took me up to 15 minutes to build the courage to do so. I finally woke up one morning and decided I couldn't do it anymore. I had a full replacement in 2006. In 2016, I had my 10-year checkup and my surgeon said the knee looked the same as it did the day after the replacement, meaning after 10 years of use, it was still in great shape.

What I learned is that "toughing it out" during your younger years to wait until you are older and potentially less active can have both a physical and mental health affect. I was miserable. The replacement and recovery were hard, but they improved my life drastically.

@trayus, while you consider your options, have you considered altering your activities to those that are less impact? Perhaps running could be replaced by cycling or swimming? When I started lifting weights, I made sure to not do any jumping or high-impact workouts on my lower body – primarily sticking to leg presses and static extensions (sitting position, leg extended and setting a weight on it and holding – no bending involved).

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I have altered those activities but what really gets me down is the sense of dread I get when I see stairs or when I drop something as I'm walking. The dread that comes from knowing I'll have to bend down on my knee and putting up with that sharp pain. Or when I'm playing ping pong with coworkers, knowing that I can't make sharp dives for the ball that I want to like everyone else…knowing that I won't get any better at the game because my knee can't take it. As unrealistic and as childish as it sounds, I want that feeling gone.

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