Osteoarthritis: Blitzkrieging my Knee

I learned a valuable lesson last year when I bought my Bianchi: it is possible to fix a problem by throwing money at it (in this case my ‘problem’ was lack of speed). Therefore, sticking to my new philosophy, I am embarking on an ambitious and (relatively) expensive attack on my osteoarthritis, whose return this off-season, I need to admit, has been a real bummer.

Following are the units I’ll be employing in my attack (simultaneously of course, or what kind of blitzkrieg would it be!):

1. Viscosupplementation. I’ve blogged about this treatment before. It was the ‘miracle’ that allowed me to race this year. I’ve just finished another 3 weeks of long needles and my knee feels better, but not 100%. Yes, I’m worried. Therefore…

2. Glucosamine and Omega-3. I got this combination from Coach Rob’s article on healthy joints a few weeks back, but I’d already been seeing plenty of results for both of these things through Google. They’re in the mail as I type this.

Also thanks to Rob I got the point that I need to get myself some frozen berries, which have anthocyanins and flavonoids – strengtheners of the immune system, as well as other potential good stuff, like anti-inflammatory properties. Finding berries turned out to be more difficult than I had imagined. The biggest supermarket in town didn’t have them, so I was ready to give up. Then John told me about a ‘frozen supermarket’ (do you have these things…? I never knew they existed) that was sure to have them. Yep, they did, but at around €10 per kilo they don’t come cheap. But since money is no object, my freezer is now piled high with fruits rouges.

3. Sophie, a chiropractor from New Zealand, commented on my last article on this issue and, after checking out her site, I decided to give her treatment of massage and strengthening exercises a shot, too.

Grok - Mark's alter ego

4. I’m not sure how I re-discovered this guy (I chatted with him a few years ago about my flat feet), but I ended up on Mark Sisson’s site last week and figured I’d do a search for osteoarthritis and see if anything came up. Lo and behold, Mark, a former elite triathlete, had his career ended by the thing. What he had to say about it all came down to diet, (most things do with him). He is a proponent of a paleo diet of low carbs and plenty of veggies, fruits, berries, nuts and animal protein (including gnawing on bones!). His website and blog are great fun and filled with information, by the way, and well worth a read to get an alternative view on diet. He, like Rob, thinks that it wouldn’t hurt to try glucosamine and fish oil (omega-3), so this was a nice confirmation.

5. Finally, as I laid down to read a chapter of my latest cycling book, “Off To The Races”, I read about multiple World Champion Marion Clignet, who, apart from having epilepsy since she was 22, suffered from a debilitating form of arthritis in the late ’90s. The article went on to say that she heard about this guy in England who sold supplements that might help her. Within a year she had come back stronger than ever, winning 3 more World Championships and a Silver Medal in the Sydney Olympics. Not a bad testimonial.

I emailed her this morning and she was kind enough to get back to me and give her stamp of approval on that stuff. At £30 a month I’m undecided on it still, but my credit card sits beside the keyboard, ready for action.

I think Rob and were talking about this the other day; what a tool the internet is! Imagine making this journey, hopefully towards pain-free cycling, before the ‘inter webs’ existed. It would have taken months to gather all this information and these references, if it would have been possible at all. It does make me sit on my ass a lot though, so I’ll end here and get out for a ride.

25 thoughts on “Osteoarthritis: Blitzkrieging my Knee

  1. So Mark comes down to diet. My nurse wife says the same. Why does living always exclude things like carrot cake?

    Well, I’m pulling for you. I want this knee thing to quit giving you trouble.

  2. So.. a diet start when….before Johnny cake and after how many Christmas cakes … that I hear only 1 is left…..is it # 1, 2 3,,, or D…..a little birdy told us…on another note Merry Christmas Shoko…..no one talks about u ….miss you

  3. We’re growing carrots – a good recipe would be good! What about orange marmalade?

    I +1 paleo diet (which sadly excludes scotch and Coke). No bread/sugar/processed food = happy body

  4. Once again the word “diet” rears its ugly head in my life. As I read about elite and world class athletes who are in phenomenal shape but still manage to get cancer and other debilitating ailments, it is becoming more obvious to me that physical prowess does not negate the need to eat properly. A very sobering thought for me. Best of luck to you. If you stick to the plan with anything near the discipline you exhibit on the bike, you’ll succeed beyond your wildest dreams!

    • Steve, it’s haunting me as well. Your point about athletes and poor diet is good timing, since I’m finally (maybe) coming around to the realization that some changes have to take place. Here’s what Mark had to say on his days as a top triathlete and how he changed things around.

      “I don’t think it’s wear-and-tear causing most of the osteoarthritis out there. I ran a ton, but I also ate a ton of inflammatory foods, like grains, ice cream, O6 fats (not that I sought them out, I just didn’t really distinguish between fats), and sugar. The running wasn’t helping, but something had to make my joints susceptible. These things are built to last, and we’ve always been an active, physical species. We haven’t always had cars and escalators to whisk us around the environment. Once I ditched the bad stuff and began eating Primally, everything clicked (except for my knees). And it’s not like I stopped exerting myself. On the contrary, I moved onto heavy weightlifting and sprints, all of which exert considerable amounts of stress on one’s joints. My joint integrity was simply no longer being undermined by poor dietary and lifestyle choices.”

      Thanks for the words of encouragement, too. I must show my wife how much discipline my blog buddies think I have. She’ll have a good chuckle 😉

  5. Good luck with the treatment regime. I’m doing my best to steer Chris in a healthy diet direction with mixed success!
    I feel guilty about calling him a pillock now for falling off his bike in my comment on your recent blog post. He chipped his hip!

    • A chipped hip sounds painful. Hope Chris is back in the saddle soon. My diet was never very bad, but I’m going to take a closer look this coming year and see if I can make it work for me and the knee. Thanks for the luck – I might need a bit of that, too.

  6. Since you so politley emphasised that you are a cycling blog writer and are promoting Viscosupplementation as part of your cure-all here is an FYI
    Viscosupplementation Do you know what exactly is going in your knee…http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/medeff/bulletin/carn-bcei_v20n3-eng.php

    Specifically…As of Mar. 15, 2010, over 30 temporary dermal fillers containing HA were licensed for sale in Canada. As of that date, Health Canada had received 32 reports of adverse incidents suspected of being associated with those particular HA dermal fillers. HA dermal fillers mentioned in the case reports were Elevess, Juvéderm, Juvéderm Ultra with Lidocaine, Juvéderm Ultra Plus with Lidocaine, Juvéderm Ultra Plus, Perlane, Restylane, Revanesse, Revanesse Ultra and Teosyal. The reports included adverse incidents such as pain, swelling or edema, nodules, abscesses, presence of pus or infection, skin discoloration or hyperpigmentation, lip necrosis, difficulty talking, swallowing or breathing, and partial loss of vision. The patients were 30 to 75 years old (median 50 years). Fifteen patients were reported to have had the injection of HA dermal filler for the first time. In 7 of the 32 cases, botulinum toxin type A for cosmetic use was also reported to have been used.

    Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a temporary dermal filler.2 It is produced naturally by the body and is a major component of the extracellular matrix of the dermis.2,4 HA contributes to tissue hydrodynamics by creating space for the movement of cells.4 It binds with water to fill out the skin.2 HA dermal fillers are generally used for the correction of moderate to severe facial wrinkles and folds by injection into the mid- to deep layers of the dermis.

    Do you know what you are putting into your body ……

    • Hey Dr Gary – Nice “cut and paste” from some medical journal you found on Google.
      Knowing Gerry, I’m sure he knows exactly what he’s putting in his body. He also knows that this is only a temporary fix that’s been well documented for decades to relive the immediate discomfort; hence his further investigation into dietary solutions and there profound impact on degenerative diseases, such as arthritis. I have no doubt in a year from now, Gerry will have found the right combination of non-drug adjustments and this issue will be a distant memory. Gerry – Good luck finding the right combo.

      • Dear Coach, before you go putting you foot where it shouldn’t be maybe you should check my investigation and my source of cut and paste….. if you had taken the time it is the Health CANADA website, a branch of the Government of Canada, where they posted a newsletter entitled and not “some medical journal I found”
        “Canadian Adverse Reaction Newsletter, Volume 20 – Issue 3 – July 2010. ”
        So maybe further research is necessary by both patient and his “doctor” good luck with the non drug approach.

    • Thanks for your concern, Gary, but may I point out a couple of things?

      1. I am not promoting anything. I am simply laying out what I am doing to try to relieve pain in my knees which, I think you’ll agree, is directly related to cycling.

      2. Your article is interesting and probably should give cause for concern, but lucky for me I AM NOT INJECTING HYALURONIC ACID INTO MY LIPS OR FACE, which the article addresses. They are talking about ‘dermal fillers’, e.g. to fill in wrinkles or puff up lips. I’m not that old yet. All the side effects were related to this usage of HA, NOT as a treatment on joints. Completely different, I’m afraid.

      And since we’re on the subject, I can assure you that I’ve done a little homework on the subject, or at least as much as I can find using Google. I think if you look around you will see that the overwhelming consensus on this treatment is that is has few, if any side effects.

      • Gerry – don’t jump to conclusions, maybe Dr Gary was just warning you and your readers the dangers of injecting Hyaluronic Acid into our faces. As far as the two Orthopaedic Surgeons, one Chiropractor and a Nurse Practitioner I spoke with, this procedure only offers temporary relief and has virtually no short or long term negative side effects. Good luck and hope the pain subsides and you’re back riding at 100%.

      • Wait a minute – injected HA into your face may be harmful? Damnit, what I am going to do with my Home Use HA Kit that I just bought on eBay?! Yet another great Christmas gift idea down the drain…

  7. Hello Gerry,

    I am having similar knee issues and am wondering which viscosupplement you used? While I do not have any serious degeneration I am suffering from serious chondormalacia patella. I am hoping a little joint gel will help the healing process and get me back on the bike.

    • If you mean the brand, I really don’t know, sorry. Do you think there is much of a difference between them? I do know that this year’s treatment is not working quite as well as last year’s and I’m not sure why. Last time around I had no pain at all after a month. I’d say go for it. It’s really the only thing that has worked for me so far.

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