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Oh, My Poor Old Knees!

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Friday, April 05, 2013

Over a year ago now, I went to the doctors about the continual problems I was having with my knees. Especially the left one, where I’d been limping for a couple of months. I’d rolled over in bed at Christmas time, and pulled something and it just was not healing. He sent me for X-rays of both knees and also my hips. I was quite dismissive of this, since I felt the problems were not in my joints, but with the connective tissue allied with them.

The doctor diagnosed severe arthritis in both knees, and my right hip! He explained that the wear in my joints was putting a strain on the connective tissue, and that was causing the trouble I was having. I was to rest, ‘lose weight’ (of course! If I had an ingrowing toenail he’d tell me to lose weight), and to expect to have to have joint replacements within the next couple of years!

I was very upset, I cried down the phone to both my daughters, I was barely 60. Although lots of replacements are very successful, I had personal knowledge of two that certainly hadn’t been, and I didn’t want any! I had also just restarted karate, and was struggling to do any of the moves that needed strength in my knees or suppleness in my hips, (there were jokes about me only kicking peoples' kneecaps) and I couldn’t bear to think that that was the best that it was going to get!

I have a great belief in synchronicity, and at the same time I happened to catch a TV program about controlling pain by exercise. Their premise was that a lot of the pain people experience when walking etc, is their brain trying to make them stop BEFORE it really hurts. One of the guinea pigs involved was an elderly gent who walked with sticks, who couldn’t manage more than a few yards because of the severe arthritis in both knees! Ringing any bells is it?

AND THEY SENT HIM TO THE GYM!!!!!

For six weeks, and they tracked his progress. They started him exercising gently, on machines where he didn’t have to cope with his body weight. He used the recumbent bicycle, on easy resistance, just his legs going round, and they were especially keen to get him using a leg press, with a low weight but lots of reps. He complained it hurt, but they had medical supervision and reassured him that he wasn’t damaging himself, and he kept going.

After six weeks of gradually increasing weight bearing exercises, he was walking further than he had for years, and he had given up both sticks!

Also at about this time (synchronicity again!), I had started tai chi, and that gave me access to a gym! So I put my neoprene knee strengtheners on, and went and started exactly the same machines as he had used. I had also not swum for some time, as the flicking movement when you kick in breaststroke, was leaving me with a burning sensation in my knees, and I was afraid of hurting myself. I started swimming after the gym session. Just one length then a rest, but I managed ten lengths.

It hurt! I was out of breath! I was shattered. The next day I rested, then the day after, teeth gritted, I did it again.

My girls said, “You’re doing too much, you’re supposed to be resting it” my son said, “Good for you” (it was his MIL that had a badly failed knee replacement), and he gave me a really hard karate session! (Bless him)

Over the weeks my knees improved. I stopped using my knee protectors at the gym and started swimming thirty lengths minimum. My son encouraged me to start the spinning class he was going to, and he uttered those fatal words, “I’m not sure you could keep up” Red rag to a bull! So I started doing that class too, and LOVED it! I don’t know who was more amazed, me or the instructor. My sons answer was to meet me at the gym first, and exercise with me. He got me on the treadmill and on the cross trainer.

I had also started walking at the weekends with my sparkfriend Chicchantal. Five miles killed me to start with, but I was getting fitter, and although I still used my knee protectors, they were ‘in case’ not because I needed them.

My hip was still very stiff though. I found a yoga session at the same gym and started going. It was run by a lady of my age, and was like no yoga session I’d ever attended before! No poses, she concentrated on working small muscle groups I didn’t know I possessed. I felt like I’d been on the rack afterwards! When I told her about my knees and my hip, she gave me exercises to do for exactly those bits!

So fast forward to now, and I’ve joined a second karate group. They’re much more physically intense than the other group. (My son uttered those fatal words again, and yes, he goes too) For the first time in years, more than I care to remember, but at least ten, this week at karate I managed to kneel, and sit back on my heels. My knees hurt and I didn’t do it for long, but I did it. I also managed the squats.

And that’s what motivated me to write this blog. If you have arthritis, don’t accept that you can’t exercise. I don't know your individual circumstances, but maybe you can, just chose your exercises carefully. Things may improve considerably. I can’t do the high kicks yet, but my hip is improving with the yoga, it may yet come.

AND MY KNEES ARE FINE!!! No joint replacements for me in the immediate future at least.




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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

1SALMON1 5/10/2013 11:06PM

    Hello! I just found your blog & when I saw the name Stonecot I wondered... Chichantal's hiking friend? Yes! Hooray! Thank you for encouraging me about knees. Mine have been problematic since childhood - frequent dislocations. And at 54 or so the left knee was replaced - which lets me walk, but it still gets stiff and hurts. Trying to keep the right one au natural. Both have been sore this week & I skipped a couple days exercise to give them a rest. Your blogs are fun to read, and this one is very encouraging for me. Thank you!

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EFFRAYECHILDE 5/1/2013 8:10AM

    emoticon

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FIRECOM 4/28/2013 2:41PM

    I had a similar experience. I knew that my overall strength was greatly diminished and that my balance was seriously compromised. I went to a PT that is a specialist in teaching the body how to balance and made serious strides in improvement. Then, this past week I had to have a pacemaker installed and I will not be able to resume this balance improvement for probably 8 weeks. I have to be careful not to pull the pacer leads from the heart or I will have to do it all over again.

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LISBETHSALANDER 4/23/2013 11:50AM

    My restorative yoga teacher says that all knee problems begin in the hips. Great to hear that your strategy is working and I know you will continue to get stronger, too. Best wishes.

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L1ZB3TH354 4/20/2013 8:33PM

    Awesome blog! Keep kicking that arthritis in the butt!

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CING56 4/20/2013 8:31PM

    Wow! Good on you!

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KD7IEM 4/17/2013 2:24PM

  That is cool

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PANIK257 4/16/2013 4:40AM

    emoticon

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WHITNEYTEACHER 4/15/2013 8:58PM

    I have arthritis is a lot of places, including my knees, and have the same philosophy. Unless I'm in so much pain I literally can't function I push through and do as much walking and other exercise as I can manage. I always believed the saying, "If you don't use it, you lose it" and if I can help it I have no intention of losing mobility.

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LIFETIMER54 4/15/2013 11:50AM

  Always remember your not alone.... emoticon

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SATCHMO99 4/14/2013 10:44PM

    Use it or lose it. Mind, body, heart, faith, it applies to them all!

Well done, and thank goodness for your son's perceptiveness.

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PSHARMA4 4/14/2013 2:20PM

  Great blog!very encouraging.




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FALLNTENN 4/13/2013 10:33AM

    Thanks for the encouragement.

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BOPPY_ 4/12/2013 4:03PM

    emoticon

Lee emoticon

Comment edited on: 4/13/2013 12:41:22 AM

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RENATA144 4/12/2013 12:08PM

  Well done !!! emoticon emoticon

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KAB7801 4/11/2013 6:59PM

    Walking always helps me

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ADAMSMOB 4/11/2013 3:42PM

    Thank you, Thank you!!! For this wonderful information. I have been having knee pain for some time now, and I just would stop exercising because I thought I was doing the wrong thing, but you have just confirmed exactly what one of the physician I talk at my work told me. It's funny I work in Orthopaedic Surgery and I would not let them stick me with a needle or even suggest surgery to me, but one Doc explained that I should use the elliptical machine and walks on the treadmill. Thank again!!! emoticon

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ROCKNP90X 4/10/2013 4:30PM

    emoticon . I have read time and time again that for most of our physical ailments, exercise and diet are key to recovery!! You don't move you rot!

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GRAMPIAN 4/10/2013 4:27PM

  An inspiring blog. emoticon

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MARTY728 4/10/2013 10:55AM

    emoticon emoticon

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EATVEGAN 4/10/2013 2:12AM

    Thanks for sharing your great experience. My knees used to go scritch, scritch every time I bent them. This went on for years, so I figured the cartilage was shot. But I never stopped. Recently I had x-rays of my knees and they mentioned minimal to moderate narrowing. Which says to me they are improving. So many of us want a quick fix that I think doctors jump to surgery when there could be other options if we're ready to grit our teeth and find them. Good for you. emoticon emoticon

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SCUBAGAL07 4/9/2013 8:20PM

    WTG!! emoticon emoticon

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KAB7801 4/9/2013 7:35PM

    emoticon

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PINKANGEL73 4/9/2013 9:19AM

    Haha! Your son really has you sussed doesn't he? emoticon Good for him and for you too. You really are literally going from strength to strength.

As I think I have mentioned to you before, I have arthritis too in many joints and the only thing I have found to help is exercise especially stretching. I have been to see the physiotherapist at my local hospital and told him I wanted to be able to walk and do more with no or at least less pain. He has begun by giving me some exercises to do before I even get out of bed to help loosen everything up quicker and it definitely helps.

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BERRY4 4/9/2013 2:01AM

    I have to say that on the days I feel the most stiff and "out of sorts" are the days I need to head out the door for at least a 15 min walk to get the joints lubricated with nature's fluids (as it is intended!). I always feel better afterwards.
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Glad you have taken steps to change your situation! What a great testimony to the value of MOVEMENT!
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SPSPSP1 4/8/2013 12:41AM

    Fascinating! Thanks for sharing and so nice to see what a good relationship you have with your son. I don't know any who exercise with their mom.

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BKNOCK 4/7/2013 8:44PM

    emoticon emoticon

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CLAYARTIST 4/7/2013 8:14PM

  emoticon mm emoticon

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1BEACHWALKER 4/7/2013 3:57PM

    I was diagnosed with Osteoarthritis in the knees 4 years ago and my one knee is almost bone on bone. I also have it developing in my mid back and have known that for longer! You have read my blogs (thank you) about my biking now and that really is better for the knees, wish I had started it sooner! But, the walking has helped me get stronger in order to endure it, I think. My Dr. told me to lose weight too, but not to rest...he said you can't be hurt by exercise, especially walking or biking. But, no knee lunges or jumping jacks! But, look at you...Wow-proving your Dr.'s wrong!!! emoticon
If we don't exercise the body, it will not help the muscles that help the bones! So those of us with arthritis have to keep moving or we won't be for long. I may need replacement knees too in the future, but I am putting it off as long as possible, that is why I push myself everyday!!
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TIPPY211 4/7/2013 12:08PM

    emoticon emoticon Your situation is similar to mine. The doctor wanted to replace my left knee but I refused and just kept exercising and strength training. I still have my own knee and it is no worse than when I went to see the doctor

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BLUEJEAN99 4/7/2013 8:05AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CHICCHANTAL 4/7/2013 4:18AM

    I've got this sore foot . . .

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MEDDYPEDDY 4/7/2013 1:09AM

    Wow, a very inspiring blog, thanks a lot! I think it is so hard to know if my pain will get better if I move more or if it would be better to go gentle. Your experience is really valuable, I am out for a walk!

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ILIKETOZUMBA 4/7/2013 12:01AM

    Hooray!!!!! Good for you, for toughing it out (carefully!) and giving the method a chance and being a total badass! I'm glad it worked out for you! :)

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JAMER123 4/6/2013 10:54PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
There are articles on exercise for people with arthritis and they say the same thing you wrote about. Fantastic news for you!!!
Thanks for a great blog!!

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SUNNYBEACHGIRL 4/6/2013 10:48PM

    Wonderful blog

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MARYJEANSL 4/6/2013 10:44PM

  This is very interesting. I have pretty bad arthritis in one hip, and it does hurt, very much, when I walk too much (not really that much in an absolute sense). The pain is killer when I even attempt to run. I would love to find exercise that I could do that might help my hip. My doctor is recommending steroid injections, but I don't know...

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IDICEM 4/6/2013 9:19PM

  Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It's a tribute to your persistence and determination. And what a wonderful son you have!
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HEARTS116 4/6/2013 9:14PM

    emoticon emoticon

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PITTER6 4/6/2013 8:23PM

    You are an inspiration to me. I have to have gel shots in both knees, every 6 months. I do not drive, so getting to a gym is not possible, but maybe, just maybe I can start moving and get better. emoticon

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MYSTERIOUS-LADY 4/6/2013 8:19PM

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REGILIEH 4/6/2013 6:31PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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HEYMOE012 4/6/2013 5:59PM

  You are quite inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story. Exercise seems so difficult to add in, and yet it makes a host of ills go away.

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DIANNEMT 4/6/2013 5:50PM

    Hooray for you!

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SJKENT1 4/6/2013 5:16PM

    say to any naysayers... "TAKE THAT!" karate kick!

Thanks for the encouragement to not give up but to push through

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ALIDOSHA 4/6/2013 4:37PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BLPRETTYGIRL1 4/6/2013 4:13PM

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CORNERKICK 4/6/2013 4:10PM

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BRENNA84 4/6/2013 4:05PM

    awesome and so true. for me I can NOT heal with0ut exercise. love your story as I have knee pain also.

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SUSIEMT 4/6/2013 3:47PM

    Great blog! Keep up the good work! I am so proud of you for being so stubborn! What a wonderful son you have. He knows how to motivate his momma! LOL

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