Living with Osteoarthritis

You don’t need to let osteoarthritis prevent you from leading an active life. In fact, getting out and exercising can help you manage this disease. There are number of important considerations for living with osteoarthritis. Treatment involves exercise, rest, maintaining an ideal body weight, the application of heat or cold, certain medications and surgery.

The support of friends and family members is vital for minimizing the effect of osteoarthritis upon your well-being and your ability to perform daily activities. You need to be realistic about your limitations, while remaining committed and optimistic about the ability to manage your osteoarthritis through lifestyle changes, medical, surgical or rehabilitative care.

You can also look after you joints by choosing a good cane, walker or walking aid. You should also take steps for avoiding falls.

The following is a story of someone living with osteoarthritis.

"I am a 39 year old woman, married, mother of two. I have been living with osteoarthritis since my late teens. It all began with a knee injury at the age of 9 that led to the discovery of a congenital malalignment in my knee.  As a result of the injury, I suffered loss of muscle strength and further malalignment of the knee joint. The combination of muscle loss, congenital patellar malalignment and the continuation of many years of sport activity, led to my current diagnosis of severe degenerative osteoarthritis of my right knee.

I have endured 6 knee surgeries to date. Some to help with realignment and many to simply remove pieces of cartilage and bone that continue to find their way into my joint cavity as my knee cartilage and bone slowly degrade. 

I live with pain daily, but have learned what I can do to avoid severe pain and swelling and how to better control my symptoms without the use of medication. My doctors advised me early on to avoid weight gain especially with pregnancy. I have fortunately been able to maintain a healthy weight but can attest that even the smallest amount of weight gain significantly worsens my symptoms. 

I am an avid skier and love physical challenges of all types. I have struggled to maintain my ability to participate on a level which I would like as any decrease in physical training and exercise significantly affects my ability to enjoy these activities. I faithfully follow a regime of icing and elevating after any strenuous activity. This practice significantly reduces any incidence of swelling, which would lead to worsening symptoms.

When my oldest daughter was just 6 years old, she was diagnosed with a congenital knee problem that may affect her the same way my problem has affected me. It upsets me to know that she (sport loving as well) may face the same challenges as I did, but at an even younger age. I find comfort in knowing that I can help her by teaching her about exercise and maintaining a healthy weight to ensure that she has the best chance possible to avoid the daily discomfort and lifestyle altering effects of osteoarthritis."