I have just read this inspiring story in the New Zealand Herald about a lady called Belinda who has started exercising with osteoarthritis.
She obviously used to be very active but then she was struck down with osteoarthritis and gave up on life for a while. Her 11 year old daughter started running and joined the Bay Cougars athletics club (a very good local club) and this inspired Belinda to start overcome her condition and to begin exercising with osteoarthritis. It has ended with the whole family joining in and they are competing side by side.
You can read the whole story here and it is worth taking time to be inspired.
Exercising With Osteoarthritis – could Belinda do more?
Please don’t get me wrong. Belinda is a lady after my own heart and I admire her greatly for what she is achieving. However, living in New Zealand, I know how the system works here and I doubt she is getting all the right advice. Doctors here are quick with the pills and the injections but VERY slow to refer to physiotherapy and they really dislike chiropractors.
She reports she is getting physio for the bursitis which is great but why no physio for the osteoarthritis in her toes? If she learnt to use heat and cold properly, maybe got tested to see if she needed orthotics for inside her shoe and maybe used some supplements? Most importantly she needs an individually designed targeted program of stretching and strengthening of the muscles and tendons. That way she would get less pain and maybe at least reduce the amount of the “good pain relief medications”..
You might say she is going to the physio for her bursitis surely they will look at that to? Unfortunately I very much doubt it here as the physio will only treat the bits they are being paid to treat and reading the article she isn’t getting it for her osteoarthritis.
Medications When Exercising With Osteoarthritis
This is an article from Triathlete Europe but it applies to any sports and is also good everyday advice. In it they discuss the use of over the counter (OTC) medications when exercising with osteoarthritis or with injuries/conditions and how they affect you.
This is what they say about NSAIDs
Also known as: Arthrofen, Anadin, Ibugel These all fall into the category of NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
In high enough doses, NSAID medicines can cause ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney damage.
Keys to safer use: NSAIDs stop your blood from clotting, so if you strain a muscle, for example, taking Advil within 48 hours will make it harder for your body to heal. Instead, think RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation). Don’t use NSAIDs to mask pain. If it hurts badly enough to change your swim, bike or run move- ment pattern, get the injury checked out. Don’t load up on NSAIDs before a long run or race—high-dose use has been linked to kidney damage during endurance events due to its constriction of blood vessels. Finally, never take NSAIDs on an empty stomach.
This is great advice for people who are exercising with osteoarthritis. Your muscles are already permanently strained and inflamed due to the joint dysfunction caused by the degeneration so you are making matters worse by taking NSAIDs. (Please note they include osteogels as well which is what Belinda uses).
They talk about painkillers as well saying
Also known as: Panadol, Paracetamol
Safer than NSAIDs in terms of causing bleeding, these medicines are most widely used for reducing fever. Since they don’t have a specific anti-inflammatory function, they are less popular than the NSAID group. The risk here is liver damage: Acetamenophin causes three times more liver damage than all other medicines combined. Stick to the recommended dose.
Agree again. But they will help take at least some of the pain away so use them when ice has failed.
So if you want to take a leaf out of Belinda’s book sign up for my free 3 day program and start exercising with osteoarthritis. To quote Belinda “”It is a mind-over-matter thing!”
P.S. I know the feeling about being beaten by kids- my 12 year old daughter regularly beats me when we compete on our horses! I never know whether to be proud or put out!