Do you find yourself groaning when you have to get up off the floor? Are your knees clicking when you walk down the stairs? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone!
I’ve been getting achy joints for a couple of years now. I first noticed my knees aching after I completed a longer run, say around 10k plus. They were just a little stiff when trying to climb the stairs. This pain gradually began to increase, I found myself grimacing my way through a spin class due to my knees rather than a sore foof ( if you spin you know exactly what I mean!) so I knew it was time to hang up my running shoes. I was never very good at it anyway, and really just gutted I never got my sub 60 10k.
A few weeks ago, following a particularly enjoyable leg session at the gym, I noticed increased swelling and stiffness in my right knee. It seemed to develop throughout the day, and got so bad, I struggled to walk on it. It was that big, that whilst I was dressing to go out with colleagues for dinner, I couldn’t get any jeans over the swollen knee. I had to wear my ripped jeans so my fat swollen knee could hang out of the open ripped knee. nothing like a white fat knee poking out of skinny ripped jeans to put you off your paprika roasted pork belly, I can tell you
This swelling and pain had persisted for a couple of weeks, so my doctor referred me to an Orthopaedic Surgeon for a review as she was certain I had torn the meniscus. This was devastating news as I’m off on a skiing holiday in April. The surgeon examined my knee and was sure that the Doctors prediction was right, and discussed all of the surgical options with me, stating he could fix it, but I would be in a brace for at least 6 weeks, and off work for months. My job as a District Nurse involves lots of kneeling so I can assess and dress legs, so I’d have to return on reduced work load. He then suggested I have an MRI to assess the damage.
I had the scan the following week and went back for the verdict. I had resigned myself to cancelling the skiing holiday, I could see the disappointment in Jon’s face. I found a replacement holiday at a luxury five star resort in Turkey with a private beach, butler service and no kids allowed. It wouldn’t replace the joy of skiing, but it would do I suppose!
I nervously sat opposite the surgeon who brought up my scan on his computer. Lots of black, white and grey images of my knee. He went on to say the structure of my knee was good, he was incredibly surprised to find the meniscus intact, and in fact looked healthy, however he’s found the culprit for my pain and swelling, Osteoarthritis. He showed my images of where the cartilage has worn down in my knee, and gave my options.
- Do nothing, and put up with it.
- Physiotherapy for the next couple of months, lose some weight and then he’ll review it.
- Arthroscopy surgery to see if he can tidy up inside the knee which my give me some relief.
Is it wrong that a flood of disappointment ran over me? I was really disappointed that it’s not a repairable injury, and there is no quick fix. I was also disappointed when he said to go on my skiing holiday and just take Naproxen, it may be painful but not going to cause more harm to my knee. The images of basking in the sun at my five star resort were fading rapidly and being replaced by the terror of getting off a chairlift, images of queuing for the gondola, and the discomfort of trying to walk gracefully in ski boots. Most of all, I was mortified to be diagnosed with a chronic condition associated with old age. I’m only 44 for God’s sake!
After leaving with an appointment to see the physio, remorse set in. I was remorseful for not looking after my body. For years of being overweight, for asking my body to do things like barbell squats, deadlifts with heavy weights and running a half marathon. The remorse lasted the night, then I woke up with my big girl pants on and made a plan of how I can beat this.
I’ve had a suspicion that a diet rich in carbohydrate isn’t great for me. Carbohydrates make feel sluggish, and cause me to suffer from palpitations, this in turn raises my resting heart rate. This indicates an inflammatory response to digesting them, so I’ve decided to adopt the ketogenic way of eating. I’ve previously followed this diet, and felt great on it, however I’m constantly being told I need carbs, so have never done it long-term, then always gain weight quickly when I reintroduce them. The Keto diet is great for reducing inflammation. This diet is a very low carbohydrate diet, with your carbs coming from the plenty of green vegetables you can eat. You consume moderate protein, eating plenty of oily fish and lean meats. Cured meats such as sausage, bacon and ham are kept to a minimum. Fat is the mainstay of this diet, and you’re encouraged to eat real full fat food, such as Greek yoghurt, Avocados, nuts, seeds, olive and coconut oils. Processed foods are a big no, no!
Below is a selection of my Keto friendly meals…
Dr Will Cole, Clinical Nutritionist claims “The ketogenic diet triggers a complex biochemical process that directly fights inflammation, reducing and calming the chronic inflammation related to just about every health problem we see today.”
There’s loads of supplements out there claiming to help Osteoarthritis, it can be totally confusing. Putting my healthcare professionals hat on, I studied the evidence base of a number of supplements and decided to include the following supplements into my diet.
Bromelain is an enzyme extracted from Pineapple. It’s been used for hundreds of years throughout Central and South America. Healthline.com states that clinical studies have found that Bromelain anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties make it particularly effective in treating Osteoarthritis of the knee and shoulder.
Starflower Oil is also known as Borage oil. I’m taking this not only for its anti-inflammatory properties, but it’s ability to balance hormones. The proof of this will be in the pudding, as it will have it’s work cut out. Jon is praying it will sort out my PMS!
Glucosamine which is the most well known supplement for joint health, hasn’t performed well in controlled trials with very little evidence that it works. It claims to slow down the deterioration of cartilage, therefore improving joint mobility. Various studies reviewed by Arthritis.org failed to support this claim, however, in true desperation, I’m taking it anyway!
Alongside this, I’m going to aim to lose around two stone in weight. The specialist told me that for every stone I lose, that’s eight stone of pressure off my knees. If I can do this before my girls trip to Ibiza in July it will be amazing, however, my ultimate goal is to get shifted by the end of this year.
So, that’s my first crash bang into middle aged – dom. It kind of hits you when you least expect it doesn’t it? Inside I feel like I’m still in my 20’s. Buying cool clothes from TopShop and listening to new music on Spotify, then bang…have some Osteoarthritis with a side of stress incontinence…not quite in need of Tena Ladies yet, however, I don’t think I would rush to go trampolining!
I’ll update you all on my progress in due course, Hopefully they’ll hold out on the slopes, thankfully the weather is warm in the Alps so the skiing is likely to be shit! In the meantime, I’m really interested in hearing from anyone who battling the same and has tips on what has worked for them.