cycling and arthritis

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lucylincoln
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Joined: 28 May 2011, 10:09am

cycling and arthritis

Postby lucylincoln » 28 May 2011, 7:49pm

Hello I'm a really keen cycle tourist and have just been diagnosed with Osteo arthritis in my knees. It's early days and I'm not in much pain but more discomfort with stiff awkward joints and muscle spasms. I just wondered about other cyclists experience of this, I'm only 37 and my intial reaction is to feel devastated but I'm sure I'm over reacting. The prognosis isn't great but I would really appreciate any advice or to hear of other peoples experiences. I love my bike and going on long distance cycle adventures. The arthritis is probably due to repeated dislocations when I was a teenager. All I want is my knees back as they were but that isn't going to happen.

Thank you for your time if you are able to reply.
cheers
Lucy :(

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Swallow
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Joined: 4 Feb 2010, 10:13am
Location: Cornwall

Re: cycling and arthritis

Postby Swallow » 28 May 2011, 8:39pm

Hello Lucy, not sure how much help I can be but I suffer from Psoriatic Arthritis which pretty much the same as Rheumatoid Arthritis. This can affect any and many joints. I haven't had a problem with my knees but my hips get painful but the biggest problem I get is with my hands and wrists. I was given a new treatment last October which involved injecting myself twice a month with a drug called Humira, each injection costs £500. For the first few months it was like a magic bullet and I got my life back but it effects are now wearing off. I think it's an example of the old adage use it or lose it, as long as cycling doesn't actually increase the pain in you knees then the movement should help keep them flexible. Obviously you should seek medical advice but you need to be careful as some medics have no understanding of what it means to have to give up something you love doing so try and find a sympathetic doctor. Advice has changed over the years, in the past you were told to rest and do little, this meant that you just seized up, now they actually encourage weight training to build muscle to help support the joints. I think at the end of the day you must listen to your body, take it easy, use low gears and if it hurts don't do it. Some people swear by supplements such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin, fish oils etc.
'Kernow bys Vyken'

lucylincoln
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Joined: 28 May 2011, 10:09am

Re: cycling and arthritis

Postby lucylincoln » 28 May 2011, 9:10pm

Thank you so much for your advice I really really appreciate it. Do you still manage to cycle regularly? I hope so.
Lucy :)

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Swallow
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Joined: 4 Feb 2010, 10:13am
Location: Cornwall

Re: cycling and arthritis

Postby Swallow » 28 May 2011, 10:05pm

When the medication kicked in I was like a big kid, i bought a new bike, already have three but Mum gave me some money so seemed like a good idea, in fact when I was first diagnosed I bought a new bike, an act of defiance I think.This year I entered the Dartmoor Classic with a clubmate. Short answer is yes I do still cycle, some days not able but recently did our club's 100km Audax, not a great time but I did it. Not able to ride the Dartmoor Classic but only because I'm going to France to cycle the Nante Brest canal with a good friend who now lives in France. With my illness I suffer from fatigue as well, not ideal for a cyclist but you learn what you can and can't do. mostly I can get out, I work part time now so I have more opportunity. When I'm out it feels so great like sticking two fingers up to the illness but just a sore wrist can stop me, when i say sore I mean pain that means that you can't lift the bike out of the garage much less cycle. God I sound like a whinger but on the whole i still cycle when i want to. I don't know if you are in a club but it can help to have some good friends around you. I'm fortunate in belonging to a great club that doesn't take it's self too seriously, no racing lots of social events. As regards to your knees, you may even find that cycling is less painful than walking. Best wishes :wink:
'Kernow bys Vyken'

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DaveP
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Location: W Mids

Re: cycling and arthritis

Postby DaveP » 28 May 2011, 10:42pm

I have early stage osteo arthritis. When my GP confirmed my suspicions his advice was essentially "Use it or lose it", it being the ability to move. He advised me to lose weight, offered me physiotherapy and agreed that cycling was a suitable form of exercise because it involves flexing of the affected joints but with lower contact pressures within the joints than running or even walking.
I have lost a little weight (How good that feels!) but never took up the physio appointment. I started to learn Tai Chi, which is helping me use my body more kindly, and carried on cycling.
I'm more mobile now than I was three years ago :D although I have some "less good" days. I do have difficulty in swinging my leg over the saddle, a problem which I have solved by tilting the bike more. The more regularly I cycle the better I feel.
Just make sure to use your gears to best advantage, ie spin not honk and avoid sudden large changes in daily mileage - do it by degrees - and you should be fine for a good while.
Trying to retain enough fitness to grow old disgracefully...

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beachcomber
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Joined: 17 Jan 2009, 10:49am
Location: North Yorks

Re: cycling and arthritis

Postby beachcomber » 28 May 2011, 10:49pm

Lucylincoln, I have arthritis in my left knee from repeated injuries. I am unable to run or play contact sport without pain or risk of further serious injury. This was part of the reason I took up cycling again. My knee can be painful at anytime but I've learned how to cope with it. I often take paracetemol or use a ibruprofen rub if it gets too bad whilst out. I tend to spin rather than push big gears as that suits my knee. I keep my knees covered unless it's pretty warm. Unfortunately I have also developed arthritis in my hands. I use foam padding on my bars and sometimes double bar tape. I do get numb hands but I am prepared to put up with that.
I find you just develope your own methods for coping. Try various things and use the ones that work for you. I don't bother with any drugs/ suppliments as I didn't find they helped my.
For the record I ride long distance audax.
Good luck with your cycling.

reohn2
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Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: cycling and arthritis

Postby reohn2 » 29 May 2011, 12:19am

lucylincoln
Most folks have Osteo Arthritis,I'm riddled with it,knees,hands,shoulder,hip and bumpsy daisy.
The best three bits of advise I was given was,cut down or cut out red meat,take Glucosamine Sulphate 1500mgs daily,and keep the joints warm and moving,Yoga for flexibility of the joints.You may want to look into diet and other dietry suppliments,Omega 3 fish oil not cod liver oil.
If you can afford it move to a dry arid climate.
-----------------------------------------------------------
I cycle therefore I am.

caer urfa
Posts: 139
Joined: 26 Jul 2007, 9:39pm

Re: cycling and arthritis

Postby caer urfa » 29 May 2011, 9:06am

Sorry to hear of the problems your experiencing - had some problems with aches and pains many years ago and some recently (always seem worse in cold wet weather conditions). I found this book - http://www.jandevrieshealth.co.uk/store ... 0&prod=335 - very useful at the time and have just taken it off the shelf to take a refresher course.

Take Care & All the Best

CU
Last edited by caer urfa on 29 May 2011, 5:39pm, edited 1 time in total.

caer urfa
Posts: 139
Joined: 26 Jul 2007, 9:39pm

Re: cycling and arthritis

Postby caer urfa » 29 May 2011, 11:46am

Oh, also I just remembered also got this one later in a library book sale:

http://www.jandevrieshealth.co.uk/store ... 0&prod=348

Cheers

CU
Last edited by caer urfa on 29 May 2011, 5:40pm, edited 1 time in total.

byegad
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Joined: 3 Sep 2007, 9:44am

Re: cycling and arthritis

Postby byegad » 29 May 2011, 3:55pm

I have early onset osteoarthritis, have had it for nearly 30 years. I take Fish Oil and Glucosomine and try not to over strain my joints when I get a flare up. Not sure about the type of arthritis you have but a sensible approach means I rarely lose riding time to the condition. But when I do patience is the key to a speedy recovery. If I push myself too hard the flare up lasts a lot longer.
"I thought of that while riding my bike." -Albert Einstein, on the Theory of Relativity

2007 ICE QNT
2008 Hase Kettwiesel AL27
2011 Catrike Trail
1951 engine

anthonypedals
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Joined: 22 Nov 2010, 3:42pm

Re: cycling and arthritis

Postby anthonypedals » 31 May 2011, 7:41pm

As a complete novice rider and as someone who has had minor knee problems (ie cartilage) I may not be best suited to offer any help but just in case:

Two things made my knees less painful after a ride. Firstly I always use an easier gear up hills, and try not to get out of the saddle. As has been mentioned above a faster spin seems to put less stress on the knee. Secondly I dumped my cleats and went back to ordinary pedals. I had spent ages trying to adjust them but felt they were making my knees more sore. Since I got rid of them my feet sit where they want to on the pedals and my knees are definitely better.

I have just done a 70 mile ride with virtually no probelms. I would repeat though that I am no expert, either medically or cyclically(!) so feel free to ignore this.

I do hope you can carry on as I have found cycling to be a bit of a lifesaver after years of trying to find a hobby which helped with my fitness and gave me a bit of excitement without breaking the bank. Good luck.

LollyKat
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Joined: 28 May 2011, 11:25pm
Location: Scotland

Re: cycling and arthritis

Postby LollyKat » 31 May 2011, 11:40pm

I don't know how tall you are but you should consider getting shorter cranks - the standard 170mm is too long for most women. Shorter cranks make it easier and less stressful to spin a lower gear, with less flexing of the knees. Once you get used to it you won't actually lose any speed.

lucylincoln
Posts: 3
Joined: 28 May 2011, 10:09am

Re: cycling and arthritis

Postby lucylincoln » 1 Jun 2011, 1:13pm

Dear Everyone,
Thank you for all your posts it has been really helpful and comforting. I must say that my first reaction to diagnosis was ' I need a new bike' and I may get a better adapted bike for commuting to work with shorter cranks (thanks for the advice).I think i was especially gutted because i had saved for two years to get a custom built Roberts Rough stuff tourer. My partner and I were determined to cycle round the world and with this arthritis I thought many of my dreams were over. After reading your posts I feel so much better, Iam still feeling frustrated and very upset at times but then I read this forum to remind myself to keep positive. I have bought the Jan de Vries book too.

I wondered if anyone had become a member of the Arthritic Association, they offer a 'managing arthritis naturally' approach which I'm going to try - with supplements, diet and physiotherapy (you can apply for a grant to help with costs.) It may be worth a go... also I've decided to do a 50 mile fundraising ride for the Arthritic Association too in October, if any one fancies joining me then let me know via a post and I could give you my email.

I think I know what the advice may be but does anyone still cycle tour with their camping gear? I'm guessing that even in low gears it may wear out the knees rapidly?? We have gone away every year for the last 6 years and if I have to stop it will be well... sad. I love travelling under my own steam with all my kit.

all the best
Lucy

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beachcomber
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Joined: 17 Jan 2009, 10:49am
Location: North Yorks

Re: cycling and arthritis

Postby beachcomber » 1 Jun 2011, 3:55pm

Lucylincoln, I've sent you a pm.