Osteoarthritis and Me: Off-season Conundrum

Following up on my June update, here is the latest news on the left knee that refuses to stay young and carefree.

You will remember that I had decided on a treatment of the following 3 things, plus red berries, which I have not been very consistent on because they’re so hard to find. The treatment is:

  1. Not heroine, but viscosupplementation
  2. Glucosamine
  3. Fish oil

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I’ve been very good about taking the pills and the last time I had the needle was around this time last year, I think – in preparation for the up-coming season. Oh, and of course I have been putting a lot of time into perfecting my riding position.

All these things have resulted in a season that was virtually pain free, at least when compared to before (I can nearly always feel ‘something’ in the knee). I attribute this success to…well, I don’t know, really. I suppose it could be the fish oil and glucosamine, since those are the two new things I’ve tried this year. However, I’ve also strengthened the muscles surrounding the knee a bit this year, with the heavier training, plus I’ve lost a few more kilograms in the process. Also, there is some talk of the viscosupplementation treatments becoming more effective the more you do them (although there is equal talk of it doing the opposite).

All this uncertainty leaves me with a decision to make. Should I get the shots again this winter? 

Other than the cost involved, plus the knowledge that my ageing doctor’s hands can only get shakier each year, I need to essentially take 3 weeks off the bike. The thing is, my knee, for the moment, feels as good as it did in the middle of the summer, so I’m wondering if I should wait till it deteriorates or throw in a preemptive attack of needles before it does.

I’m listening, advice givers.

Whatever the outcome, this is a positive blog post because there is hope for a healthy knee, at least in the medium term, which is something I never imagined only two short years ago.

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12 thoughts on “Osteoarthritis and Me: Off-season Conundrum

  1. That’s a tough one. If it were me, I’d probably err on the side of caution and get the shot. I would do it early in the season, when I could afford the time off the bike. If you wait, that pain could come back and you’d have to take time off training when you need it most. But you know your body.

  2. Could you perhaps get the shot, then substitute cycle training with swimming for three weeks?… No idea if this would be medically acceptable, or wise from a cycling perspective – just an idea.

    • The doc wants me to not exercise it at all, but I’ve read that waiting only 3 or 4 days after each shot is sufficient, too, so if I want to be a rebel I can get in a few training days a week.

  3. Joints are a tricky thing for sure. I agree with Aaron when he says to be proactive, however the less invasive the treatment the better, just saying. I’ve never had a problem with my joints and I don’t know if it’s the result of good generics, or my diet and long term joint supplements I’ve been taking daily for years. I’ve researched this topic for years and there isn’t any definitive science that supports or denies my supplementation routine for being the reason I’ve avoided this common problem, even though I’ve run the equivalent of 2.5 times around the planet and cycled from earth to over ¾ the distance to the moon in my lifetime. I’m a fan of receiving all my nutrition through a healthy diet with no supplements, except for joints. So I’ve been taking a joint supplement called “Instaflex”. It contains a synergistic combination of Glucosamine Sulfate Potassium Chloride (Crab and Shrimp Exoskeleton), Hyaluronic Acid, White Willow, Ginger Extract, Boswellia and Curcumin. I also take an Omega-3 supplement which has a synergistic effect with Glucosamine. I wrote a blog on this topic that you may have read a while ago that may be helpful: http://www.nofinishlineblog.com/2011/11/4-ways-.html

    • Hyaluronic acid is what viscosupplementation is, and I’ve seen it on plenty of sites and products for joints. Makes me wonder if I could forgo the shots altogether and just get a pill that included it, like yours. I’d love to be able to go that route, so I’ll do some searching around to see if anyone has an opinion on them both. Thanks.

  4. Hey Gerry, I’m totally with Coach Rob on this one, for two reasons, first I am completely lame when it comes to needles, but secondly, short term fixes sometimes mask the problem sufficiently enough to do more long term damage than good. It is interesting that as your leg muscles have developed you feel the knee is taking longer to become an issue, there may be something in that discovery! May I suggest a physio or a medicinal masseuse to see if a excercise program can be developed to assist with muscle development? From there a dietary program may help continue the development at a slower but more thorough rate?
    Also the pool idea is good! I’ve had two arthroscopic jobs done on my knees and both times for recovery, walking in a pool was recommended due to the constant resistance exercise to help strengthen my knee muscles and joints.
    I hope though which ever way you need to go it gives you a long term benefit and many more years on the bike!

  5. Thanks everyone for your great advice, and I have even taken some of it! I’m going in tomorrow to ‘Dr. Shaky’ for my first of 3 shots. I’ve time it so at least part of my forced rest will be over the holidays. I think I’ll just take 3 days off after each shot, like last year. That seemed to do the trick. So, the training won’t suffer too terribly.

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