I was sitting in a restaurant when the pain hit me. I simply stood up and walked to the door, and my body didn’t want to move. It began at the hips. If you have ever experienced a numb foot because of cold weather, then you’ll understand what it’s like to walk on stilts – bending the legs naturally is impossible, and focused hip walking takes over.
I’m not the greatest at going to the doctor so it took a year of getting out of bed and walking like a stick for 15 minutes, having difficulty rising from a seated position without pain, and generally putting up with feeling grotty, before I decided to seek a diagnosis.
When you see a doctor for something like this they have to rule out other causes, and so I had an X-ray and an MRI which showed worn out cartilage and displacement of some of my joints. Even though I did not have the obvious joint swelling, I had a blood test to rule out Rheumatoid Arthritis. My eventual diagnosis – osteoarthritis due to getting older.
It was easy to say “no thank you, I’ll be okay,” but that wasn’t really true. Eventually I went back and discussed possible treatment.
1. Doctor told me to try over the counter anti inflammatory medication which I am doing. I take two Ibuprofen twice a day which relieves the majority of the pain.
2. I have joined a ladies gym and workout with weight bearing exercises three times a week. This keeps the muscles in between my joints working and healthy, and unlikely to go into atrophy.
3. It is vital that I lose weight. If I lose 25 pounds, it will make it easier for my body to function.
4. I received help with range of motion exercises from a physical therapist.
It is extremely important to continue moving so please don’t give up because of pain, our body can almost seize up if we stop. If you are exercising and a joint begins to hurt, then yes, give it a rest maybe you have overdone it, but go back to it when you feel better. See what your range of motion is and if it’s not that good try a little further each day. Make sure you see a therapist so that you know the correct way to do this.
Having a comfortable bed and pillow is not often mentioned as a helpful treatment for osteoarthritis, however it is. I have recently purchased a special medical pillow and mattress which assist me when I turn over by moulding to my body – this does seem to help.
Many people have cortisone injections – I may try this if my pain gets any worse.
Good luck with treatment – we can do it.