I have just been diagnosed with osteoarthritis and need advice

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I am almost 51 female that was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my lower back and to take a pain pill and xanax well needless to say the meds aren't working and I am not much of a prescription taker and prefer natural thereapy. I have pain in my lower back that radiates around to my lower abonimal area and feels like cramps and then runs down the side, front, and back of my legs which feels like a burning pain. I have gone through the change so shouldn't be cramping any longer other than hot flashes with menepause. Are there any of you having the same symptoms and what have you done to help with the pain? I live in the U.S. and thought I would ask you what you do. Please advisesmile Pain is incredible!

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  • Posted

    Hi Suzie, I can completely sympathise and understand how you are feeling. I am 51 and have been suffering with osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease since I was 43 which has now become widespread. The past few days I have been laid up with my lumbar spine pain which is affecting me in exactly the same way as with you. I have problems with my lumbar facet joint which seems to be causing my pain. It could also be pressing on my sciatic nerve. I am on pregabalin for nerve pain and duloxetine plus cocodamol but it is not helping my pain so my gp gave me a few diazepam which just seem to help me sleep. It doesn't help when the weather gets damp and cold. Gentle stretching will help but you need to ask for and MRI scan to make sure you do not have a slipped disc. I wish you well. Paula x
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    • Posted

      Thanks Paula, I did have an MRI and that is how they found it. There has to be something out there to help us we just need to find out what that magic pill issmile Thank you for your imput and we will keep trying to figure it out!
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  • Posted

    As you seem to be associating the type of pain with period pain I would have thought a very likely culprit might be the psoas.

    The psoas is a big muscle that attaches all down the mid/bottom part of your spine and runs down to the top of the femur (thigh bone). It's a hip flexor and big stabilizer muscle. It's renowned for causing low back pain. When it gets cranky and tight it causes cramps that feel very much like period pain. It also pulls on the spine (kind of putting your pelvis into anterior tilt) and can cause actual back pain and joint wear. When the psoas freaks out a whole bunch of other muscles tend to follow suit and they too can add to the pain. Google for psoas and back pain and see what you find - does it fit? Also Google for trigger point therapy - simple bits of massage that you can do yourself. It probably won't resolve the problem but if it eases the pain it proves that the pain is coming from the muscles and not the joints in the spine.

    A possibility for the burning pain running down your legs *might* be nerve involvement. **IF** the psoas is pulling your pelvis out of alignment that could put pressure on the sciatic nerve in a number of places which can lead to nerve irritation and buring pain - normally a kind of numbness/loss of sensation on the skin too (does it feel 'strange' when you run your finger nails down the outside of your calf?).

    Your diagnosis of osteoarthritis in your lower back - what exactly did they say and do to come to this conclusion? If it's the case that you went to the doc with back pain, they took an x-ray, found degenerative changes and diagnosed OA (which seems to the the norm) then take it with a pinch of salt. At age 51 I expect most people would be found to have degenerative changes in the spine if they were x-rayed yet most would have zero symptoms (me for example - I had degenerative changes in my spine at age 42 - now aged 51 -  but never had a twinge of back pain - I do crazy training too - weight lifting, running etc). It's a normal part of aging that isn't usually associated with pain and symptoms. The medical profession see fit to diganose pain alongside degenerative changes as incurable OA and don't bother to look for the real (treatable) causes that in many cases will be the real culprits.

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    • Posted

      I agree with your comments about trigger point exercises.  My local swimming pool run sessions for this and it has really helped some of my pain issues.  The exercises are gentle and not difficult although sometimes a little uncomfortable when putting pressure on points that have been the cause of previous pain but the relief is tangible.  I have diagnosed serious progressive OA in one ankle due to a major accident which destroyed all the cartilege in the joint and I've also developed arthritis of some form in both thumb joints, intensely painful and very debilitating.  I was told only to take NSAIDs over the counter and they firstly don't really hit the pain at its worst and secondly cause me massive stomach upsets, so I ditched them.  I also suffer from the type of backache you describe above but have not really bothered to get it diagnosed in any way and just put it down to age as you state above (I'm 59) and am relatively fit in most other ways.  I will certainly google psoas and see what it says.  Not sure where you and Susan are located, I'm in the UK and we unfortunately don't get offered the whole range of exploratory examinations that are available in the US for example.  Our family doctors listen for three minutes flat and either tell us to buy over the counter pain relief or prescribe some gut destroying painkiller where the cure is worse than the disease if you get my drift.
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    • Posted

      Loxie - UK too!!!

      I'm not knocking the health service as for many things they are great. But I get so angry at the apathetic approach to pain and disability that gets lumped under the 'incurable OA' umberella. Honestly, I wouldn't mind them saying "Sorry - we don't know, it hasn't been researched enough and the NHS don't have budget for it." But they don't. They basically just make things up and speak with great authority about things there just isn't the research and training to make such bold statements about. They make people give up without a fight by making them believe nothing can be done.

      When I managed to figure out for myself what was causing my problems (all the experts INSISTED it was incurable OA and had I followed their advice I would be crippled now instead of more active than the typical 20 year old!) I tried to let the long string of experts know. If they were wrong about my case (which they said was a classic case) they were no doubt wrong about others. They didn't want to know. Just weren't interested. I even tried some of the OA research places (which also make bold claims about OA being irreversable). A couple of physios got back to me to apathetically explain that there just wasn't the training, that most patients were too lazy, blah, blah... (Yet despite this lack of training they previously saw fit to assure me there was no doubt, accuse me of being in denial and insisting that I would never get back to an active life).

      There is no mechanism for recording the cases where people do recover from 'incurable OA'. Only the cases that go downhill are tracked - the success stories get on with life and there improvement isn't recorded anywhere. The medical profession claim categorically that OA is not curable based upon a few weak studies based upon the old and infirm from what I can tell.

      So don't anyone give up hope based upon what you're told by the medical profession. I'm proof that it can and does get better and from interactions with others online I know I'm not the only one.

      Honestly, I'm flabbergasted by the ignorant, stupid, BS that some GP's (and even specialists) have tried to fob me off with. Very many of them a zillion years behind the times even with their understanding of the accepted research. We're led to believe they are experts on these matters - "go see your GP they say" - honestly though - in very many cases you'd be better off consulting with the plumber about your stiff hip (I'm deadly serious too!). There are some self-educated individuals but most are clueless. They aren't adequately trained to deal with these matters themselves (THEY have told me this) - they're script monkeys working from a flawed script. All they have to refer to is a surgeon (that knows nothing about soft tissue problems) or a physio (who according to one of my physios a) isn't trained properly in these matters, and b) in the NHS only ever gets to work with hopeless case old people with OA that you can't do a thing with....so no relevant experience.

      I think the problem is that there's no cheap treatment with a high success rate so the most cost effective thing is to get people on pain killers until the time comes to replace the joint. But for us as individuals there ARE alternatives to try that have success in some cases. Just don't count on finding them via the NHS!

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    • Posted

      Hi Loxie: I'm from the United States and our Doctors here hurry us through the office too. I feel like a lab animal that they just give drugs too and they all make me sick so now I have drugs that I can't take and still hurt. I am going to try trigger point therepy today and keep watching for advise on line. Something has to give as you all know It Hurts! Do any of you use herbs or spices for therapy as well? I read not to eat night shade plants and tomatoes is a staple in our house as I do a lot of canning.
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    • Posted

      Hi Suzie, I also heard that tomatoes and red peppers too were thought to aggravate arthritis but I since read that they don't affect osteo arthritis, so maybe only the rheumatoid type.  I am mostly vegetarian, so tomatoes and peppers feature heavily in my diet.  I tried excluding them and there was no effect, so I determined that they had too much good stuff in them and continue to have them in my diet.  Ginger and turmeric have known anti inflammatory properties, I use both of them a lot as we eat a lot of spicy food as there are plenty of good recipes for vegetables from india etc.  It's long been known that some kinds of fat are detrimental for arthritis sufferers, mainly saturated (particularly from meat) and trans fats.  To be honest, trans fats are bad for everyone so they should be avoided at all costs.  Also refined carbs, which produce a state of inflammation in the body, causing increases in cytokines and other pro-inflammatory compounds, which makes arthritis worse.  Hidden refined carbs are to be found in manufactured candy and sugary products.  Common sense I guess really, eat wholefoods and avoid crap. Olive oil contains a natural compound called oleocanthal which may help prevent arthritis-related inflammation. This compound blocks the same inflammatory pathways as ibuprofen and aspirin, medications commonly used to fight arthritis pain.  Long been known that the mediterranean diet is good for health, so not surprisingly their diet contains a lot of the above.  When on holiday in Spain, many of the locals didn't even understand the concept of arthritis, I don't think they even had a word for it in their vocabulary.

      Susan, you could be reading from my script in your comments above!  I am 100% in agreement with what you've said.  OA is not a 'glamorous' disease and at a certain age, it's just easier for GP's to diagnose it and get shot of you out of their hair by prescribing cheap painkillers - one more box ticked and one less whining patient to deal with.  I also REFUSE to be written off and am flabbergasted that they consider 'its my age' when really in today's world, 59 is still young, particularly as I am otherwise able bodied and don't have contributory factors such as being overweight or high blood pressure, blood sugar, etc.  I have gone back to taking glucosamine with chondroitin and MSM and I have to say the pain in my thumbs is vastly reduced - it's still there and I still have issues with grip etc., but I no longer wake up almost screaming in pain.  I noticed in the health food store that supplements containing egg membrane were being marketed strongly, I quickly looked it up and it's apparently being recommended for joint health as its said to contain all the same substances found in human connective tissue, ie glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen and hyaluronic acid, etc.  I'm past the point of jumping on every new bandwagon in the desperate search for relief, so I'll read up a lot more on it before I rush out and buy the first bottle I find.

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    • Posted

      I have started using more ginger, turmeric, green tea and we also eat very spicy food which we love. Thank you for saying you tried taking them out and it didn't make a difference. The mediterranean diet is something I haven't thought of doing so will give that a try. I just added glucosamine sulfate 500 mg 3 times a day for joint health. I am just ready to do anything to keep from hurting. We are all to young to give up and cry all the time as I have been doing which isn't healthy. Take care and have a wonderful eveningsmile
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    • Posted

      I typed a reply and included a web link, which didn't post, so I think it has been removed by moderators.  In brief google methionine (an essential amino acid).  I've been taking amino acid supplements to counterract abnormal hair loss which I suffered due to an allergic reaction to citalopram (I no longer take the cit). The cartilage in the joints requires sulphur for its production. If there is not enough sulphur available in the body people who suffer from arthritis can experience negative effects such as a prolonged healing process for the damaged tissue, if there is a sulphur deficiency at the beginning of the illness.  Studies apparently have shown that the cartilage from healthy people contains approximately three times more suphur than in arthritis patients.  The problem is that it is not possible to take sulphur in tablet form or dietary supplement. It is stated that a supply of methionine can indirectly prove beneficial as in combination with the B vitamins, several sulphur-containing connections can be produced.  Methionine is therefore meaningful in three ways: it has anti-inflammatory properties, is a pain-reliever and stimulates the formation of cartilage tissue. So...maybe the amino acid supplements I've been taking for hair loss have had a beneficial effect on my arthritis pain also.
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    • Posted

      Hi Suzie.  Sorry I don't use facebook and haven't a clue how to send links that way.  If you just type methionine in the search line and look for the one with aminoacid-studies dot com you'll find an article that isn't just a commercial sales based promotion.  It makes interesting reading.  
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    • Posted

      Hi all.  Still reading up on this and a friend sent me a link to another interesting article.  I've cut and pasted the text below:

      Natural Tips for Pain Relief and Cartilage Loss

      Cartilage loss in your knees, one of the hallmarks of osteoarthritis, is associated with low levels of vitamin D. So if you’re struggling with joint pain due to osteoarthritis, get your vitamin D levels tested, then optimize them using safe sun exposure or indoor tanning on a safe tanning bed. If neither of these options are available, supplementation with vitamin D3 can be considered.

      In addition, when exposed to sunshine your skin produces two types of sulfur: cholesterol sulfate, and vitamin D3 sulfate. Sulfur plays a vital role in the structure and biological activity of both proteins and enzymes. If you don’t have sufficient amounts of sulfur in your body this deficiency can cascade into a number of health problems, including impacting your joints and connective tissues.

      In addition to making sure you’re getting high amounts of sulfur-rich foods in your diet, such as high-quality (organic and/or grass-fed/pastured) beef and poultry, Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior scientist at MIT, recommends soaking your body in magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) baths to compensate and counteract sulfur deficiency. She uses about 1/4 cup in a tub of water, twice a week. It’s particularly useful if you have joint problems or arthritis.

      As for supplements, methylsulfonylmethane, commonly known by its acronym, MSM, is also an option. MSM is an organic form of sulfur and a potent antioxidant, naturally found in many plants.

      For dealing with joint pain, I suggest you avoid anti-inflammatory drugs like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and analgesics, like Tylenol, which are often recommended to osteoarthritis patients. Chronic use of these types of medications is associated with significant, and very serious side effects such as kidney and/or liver damage.

      Safer, and very effective, options to help relieve joint pain include:

      Eggshell membrane: The eggshell membrane is the unique protective barrier between the egg white and the mineralized eggshell. The membrane contains elastin, a protein that supports cartilage health, and collagen, a fibrous protein that supports cartilage and connective tissue strength and elasticity.It also contains transforming growth factor-b, a protein that supports tissue rejuvenation, along with other amino acids and structural components that support the stability and flexibility of your joints by providing them with the building blocks needed to build cartilage.

      Hyaluronic acid (HA): Hyaluronic acid is a key component of your cartilage, responsible for moving nutrients into your cells and moving waste out. One of its most important biological functions is the retention of water… second only to providing nutrients and removing waste from cells that lack a direct blood supply, such as cartilage cells.Unfortunately, the process of normal aging reduces the amount of HA synthesized by your body. Oral hyaluronic acid supplementation may effectively help most people cushion their joints after just 2 to 4 months.

      Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this Indian herb is one treatment I’ve found to be particularly useful against arthritic inflammation and associated pain. With sustained use, boswellia may help maintain steady blood flow to your joints, supporting your joint tissues’ ability to boost flexibility and strength.

      Turmeric / curcumin: A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that taking turmeric extracts each day for six weeks was just as effective as ibuprofen for relieving knee osteoarthritis pain. This is most likely related to the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin – the pigment that gives the turmeric spice its yellow-orange color.

      Animal-based omega-3 fats: These are excellent for arthritis because omega-3s are well known to help reduce inflammation. Look for a high-quality, animal-based source such as krill oil.

      Astaxanthin: An anti-inflammatory antioxidant that affects a wide range of inflammation mediators, but in a gentler, less concentrated manner and without the negative side effects associated with steroidal and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. And it works for a high percentage of people. In one study, more than 80 percent of arthritis sufferers improved with astaxanthin.

      Hope this helps.

      Franki x

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    • Posted

      Hi Susan,

      I have a diagnosis of osteoarthritis in my neck, by MRI scan, my neck is very crunchy indeed whenever I move. I am interested in your experience of finding other causes and any treatment as nothing is available other than pain killers. I am 50.

      I did used to go to an osteopath which helped but I had to stop after he put something out during an overenthusiastic manipulation and left me with another problem which was actually why I was having an MRI scan anyway, so no more neck manuipulation or massage for me as it tends to put it out again.

      I am staying as active as possible, walking, cycling, stretching, other than that I have no real clue where to start finding help.

      Thank you

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    • Posted

      Four around 8 years I couldn't turn my neck enough to drive! I couldn't look behind me at all. I didn't have pain in my neck - provided I didn't try and move it!!

      Like most things that were wrong with me it was all down to the twist in my pelvis. Or perhaps more accurately, I had a corskrew twist up and down my spine. With this twist none of the muscles in my body could work as they were supposed to and everything tended to tighten up to try and keep me safe and stable. I had trigger points everywhere. My neck and upper back made all sorts of crunching noises if I moved it. Although only slight movement was possible as it really was siezed up tight.

      Most people of our age have signs of degenerative changes in our neck so if that's all they're basing the OA diagnosis on I wouldn't rule out the possibility of it being something similar to me.

      My list of problems then was:

      A tight, sore right hip (diagnosed as OA).

      Stiff, sore neck.

      Shoulder impingement in both shoulders (hardly able to move them at all).

      Plantar fascitis.


      Achillies tendonitis

      Painful elbows

      Sciatic type pain - possibly SI joint/piriformis related. (Extreme, uncontrollable pain for a few months)

      ALL of this is either cleared up completely or very nearly cleared up. All was due to the twist down my spine.

      The bad news is that it took me years to get everything working (although there has been gradual improvement over those years). There wasn't a simple solution and no expert help (Expert hinderance in fact!).

      It was a case of using a variety of methods to try and identify tight and weak muscles, strengthen the weak muscles, use massage/trigger point therapy to ease the tight sore muscles and, when it felt appropriate to do so, gently stretch out the tight bits. Bit by bit things started to get back to normal. But most of the time it felt like a hopeless case (mainly because all the experts told me it was hopeless!).

      Definitely stay active - don't go into retreat. Make it your goal to try and claim back movement and functionality. Even if it's just a tiny bit at a time. Use pain and function over the long term to establish whether what you're doing is making your better or worse. Don't let a bit of a negative short term reaction to exercise put you off. If over the long term you're feeling OK then stay with it. BUILD on your capacity to be active - you want more with each passing year and not less. Exercise is VITAL!

      Do your homework on trigger point therapy. Search for a book called the Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. I'm certain that will be worth buying for you - it's bound to at least help.

      Pilates might be helpful - if you  can find a GOOD teacher. He/she might well spot some of the imbalances in your body and help you to correct them. And it's a safe form of exercise that can only do you good.

      I think you just need to hang in and try and find what works, what helps and so on. It'll be a long term thing but if things get better over the years it's better than getting worse, right? And if you fix it completely (believe that is a possibility no matter what anyone tells you) then that's a bonus.

      Be wary of paying a lot of money for others to help you. As I said, a good pilates teacher is probably worth paying for. If you hear of a good personal trainer or similar with expertise in addressing dysfunction then that might be worth a one off try to see if they really can help you. But don't get conned into long term treatment plans. I wasted thousands on this kind of thing and it never helped. They're taking advantage of your desparation for a cure.

      Keep reading, researching, keep trying things. Have faith that improvement or even complete reversal is possible and try and enjoy the process of exercising and learning how to heal yourself.

      For pain relief I think trigger point therapy is the most promising. I know you're wary of any kind of massage, but this you do yourself. Just gentle massage to trigger points. Look it up and see what you think.

      One final point - the root of the problem is very rarely where you feel the pain or where you have the tightness. It seems to hold true that the symptomatic parts of your body are recacting to a problem often very distant to where you're feeling the pain.

      If you're on facebook look up NeuroKinetic Therapy and follow them. They put up regular informative posts that will over time help you to get an idea of what *might* be going wrong in your body.

      Good luck!

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    • Posted

      Dear Susan,

      That is extremely useful! Thank you for taking the time to write all that.

      I have some of those other problems too and am aware that the degree of pain experienced seems to have no relation to the amount of damage on the MRI. Despite the crunching noises. Doctors admit this.

      I found that hobbies that involved using upper body strength helped my neck noticably, for example boulder climbing, but my bunions put paid to that.

      I'm seriously thinking of taking up pole dancing, don't laugh, simply because it involves a lot of upper body strength excercise and you only use your own body weight. 

      I will looking into Trigger point therapy, I have heard of it, and pilates.

      Thank you very much.

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    • Posted

      I agree with a lot of the comments given above, particularly trigger point exercises which I found of great benefit (my local swimming pool run them and they weren't at all expensive to attend).  However, if you have cervical spondylosis as a diagnosis, this is generally very specific and a clinical diagnosis can be quite precise.  The main issue will be as it is with my ankle arthritis, the formation of bone spurs as the body tries to stabilise itself by growing further bone tissue.  It in fact has the opposite effect and causes pain, discomfort and loss of flexibility and movement.  I have had to undergo several exostectomy minor surgeries to remove the excess spur bone to restore dorsiflexion of the foot and you may find as time progresses you will need some form of bone spur removal too.  This type of surgery is not major and really does provide instantaneous relief.  Along with any other research you do, have a look at seeking out naturopathic remedies to aid carilage regeneration.  Vitamin A helps form and maintain healthy tissue throughout your body- animal sources include halibut or cod fish oil, organ meats such as liver and kidneys, and dairy products. Cheese, milk, cream and eggs supply rich amounts of vitamin A, Plant-based sources of this vitamin include brightly colored fruits and vegetables, such as sweet peppers, cantaloupe, tomatoes, broccoli, apricots, sweet potatoes, pink grapefruit, carrots, pumpkin and leafy greens. Vitamin D3 is excellent for relieving joint pain and is particularly considered beneficial for rheumatoid or inflammatory arthritis (which category spondylosis falls into - both ankylosing (lower back) and cervical (upper back/neck).  Be cautious about the type of exercise you do; exercise of the right type can be extremely beneficial but overdoing it or doing the wrong sort will cause further joint inflammation and increase damage (and therefore pain) rather than help.  Take guidance from your osteo consultant on this aspect.  The best relief I get from either existing pain or progessive cartilage disease is to give my body the best nutrition for its needs - a healthy balanced diet with the right vitamins is a MILLION times better than any pharmaceutical pain killers.
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    • Posted


      For me it's been what would be considered extreme training that's got the best results. Pullups, gymnastic rings and yup - I've got a pole dancing pole in my home gym too!

      I've attached some photos. I'm now 51. At age 42 I was told to give up all activity. At about age 48 I was told I should move things around at home so I didn't need to reach above my head - i'd never have shoulders that could stand normal use. Well, to give you hope here's some photos showing where I am now.

      For the upper body stuff it wasn't just about building strength. When you try to do this extreme strength stuff the imbalances become apparent. So you need to address them to move forwards.

      So no - I WON'T laugh. It's the best way forwards. I have a couple of pole dancing facebook friends who help me loads (online) with that. One of them is a teacher. If you're on fb we can hook up and I'll put you in touch with them. Both lovely, helpeful ladies.

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    • Posted

      I also do olympic lifting, deadlifts, squats etc (120kg deadlift best lift to date, but moving on in leaps and bounds recently)  - these (often considered extreme) exercises were the ones that worked for me. The silly little exercises that physios suggested either did nothing or aggrevated things. My guess is that in order to do these big exercies you had to learn to use your body correctly.

      For the bunions. I'm guessing hit hurt to put weight on youre toes when they were bent back during bouldering? In my case the root cause was the fact that my right glutes weren't firing and that and the twist down my spine caused me to use a push-off from my toes. That, and the fact that the twist in my spine caused a torque through my feet as a I walked caused a kind of over-use problem. Specifically, the tendons that act on the toes got tight and painful pulling the big toe out of position.

      Cure = correct the entire imbalance in the body>

      Symptomactic relief = massage of the tendons at the base of foot, top of foot and between toes. Then when that eases the pain stretch the toes back and appart. Dig in deep with your fingers into those tendons. The pain that you think you feel in the big toe joint way well be referring from those tendons. Loosen them off and gradually the toe will start to line up properly and the pain goes. (Assuming your case is similar to mine).


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    • Posted

      Wow Susan that is amazing! I am envious and more inspired than ever to follow this path.

      I do feel that, by modern standards, more extreme, ie probably normal, excercise for the environment in which we as humans evolved, is a good thing and you have really encouarged me.

      I found walking long distance helped my feet.

      I will try the massage but my feet are probably a lost cause. They aren't that painful if I can find wide enough shoes but they are a long, long way off the bell curve structurally as were my mothers' and grandmothers'.

      I'm not on Facebook at the moment but I will sign up for the pole dance begginners class in my area and look into it.

      Also I'm majorly impressed you managed to get a Pole into your house.

      It seems to me once a week classes are pretty pointless if you can't practise and now I'm trying to figure how to fit the thing into my tiny place. It looks like there is a way!

      Thank you.

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    • Posted

      It is just osteoarthritis so I hope no spur removal will be required.

      I have taken Vitamin A in the past and found it helpful for other matters so will try restarting it.

      I  don't have an osteo consultant, I'm in the UK, but I have found that excercise really does help the pain.

      Thank you very much for all your help.

      Best wishes

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    • Posted

      Google x-pole sport. That's what I have. These were recommended as being the safest and best poles. It's portable - it just expands between floor and a ceiling joist and that's what holds it in place. Suitable for pretty much any house and does no damage.

      Good luck and have fun!

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