Conventional wisdom holds that osteoarthritis is an "old person's" disease, you know, something your grandmother might have. It is also widely regarded as an unavoidable part of the aging process. But what if you have OA and you are not yet old (relatively speaking, of course)?
I was diagnosed with OA of the knee exactly one week after my fortieth birthday. I've spent the last five years coping with chronic pain from cervical spondylosis, but my neck problems began after an injury, so even though I don't like it, at least I understand why it hurts. This knee pain really caught me off guard. I'm not overweight, and while I've always been active, I've never participated in a marathon, competitive gymnastics, or any other type of extreme sport that I imagine would prematurely wear out your joints. I just woke up one morning and my knee was stiff and swollen. X-rays revealed significant OA, which surprised me, as I had never had any symptoms, or any discomfort. Less than two months later, my knee completely locked-up and I couldn't walk. I was promptly scheduled for arthroscopic surgery, and because the damage was so extensive (I had very little cartilage left), the surgeon performed micro-fracture surgery which left me on crutches for almost three months. To add insult to injury - and I mean this literally - at my final surgical check-up with my physician, when I asked whether I should avoid certain activities, because, as I said "I don't want to make it worse", his curt reply was "Oh, it's definitely going to get worse. I didn't even work on the bad side of your knee".
Since being diagnosed with OA, I have spent many hours searching the internet - in vain, it seems - for, if not necessarily a cure, then at least some type of therapy that could slow the inevitable joint damage associated with this debilitating disease. The thing that struck me during my research is that the majority of information available on the web addresses arthritis care primarily as an aging issue. This makes sense, considering that arthritis is very common after age 65 and quite rare prior to age 40, but it's nonetheless frustrating. What about those of us who aren't quite old, don't need to lose weight, already eat well (most of the time!) and who are active and want to stay that way? Just tell me what to do and I'll do it!
This quest for better information was my main motivation for starting this blog. I know there are others out there like me who probably know a lot more than I do. My wish is to connect with and share ideas with my fellow active arthritis sufferers who want more than to merely cope: we want more details, more options, more opportunities.
Got some great tips for dealing with arthritis? I'd love to hear from you!