Osteoarthritis in knee

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I was diagnoised a few days ago with severe osteoarthritis of the knee. I am in complete shock! I awoke in the early hours friday morning unable to bend my knee. Initially i thought it was cramp but the pain was that intense on trying to walk i reaised it was abit more serious. The pain was making me feel sick. My husband took me to hospital where i had an xray and given painkillers and told to come back monday for an appointment in the fracture clinic. By saturday evening i could straighten my leg but needed to walk with crutches as the pain was so intense. I was told on monday the xray showed severe arthritus of the knee and the doctor could not believe i hadnt expericed any pain previous to this. Which i hadnt ...a few creaks here and there but not one bit of pain. I was told i would be looking at a knee replacement in the future. He had no idea when. I have been signed off work for 3 weeks which has really upset as i love my job . I am now more mobile with the use of a brace and the pain has eased alot. Does anyone else have experience of this. To just wake up with it seems unreal. I am used to being very active and have lost 6 stone int the past year so why now???? I have more weight to lose and am determined to do so but without exercise i am abit worried. Is this just an 'episode' that will pass and re occur every so often? Am devestated this has happened so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance :-))

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25 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Juju, so sorry to hear you've had such discomfort.  OA is a degeneration of the cartilage, sometimes due to wear and tear and sometimes as a result of disease of the cartilage.  It often is gradual and builds up as a hidden horror but usually some pain will give you hints its happening.  Quite unusual as in your case that it only flares up suddenly.  OA isnt curable and won't just go away but often the pain does die down for long periods of time and is greatly helped by losing weight, so you're doing the right thing there.  Exercise is good, you just have to be careful not to do high impact stuff that could put additional wear and tear on the joint.  Swimming and cycling are both brilliant.  You'll need to look into foods/supplements/activities etc that are anti-inflammatory as the pain with OA is purely down to inflammation.  As the cartilage degrades the bones rub on each other often causing spurs etc., anything that aids cartilage health and reduces the wear is very helpful.  Painkillers prescribe range from NSAIDs (eg ibuprofen, naproxen etc.,) all of which can cause stomach issues so be sure to take a stomach protector medication such as omeprazole or similar alongside them.  Codeine is an effective pain reducer but can cause constipation issues.  Finally there are the opiates, such as Tramadol.  Very effective painkillers but some are highly addictive and others can cause disorientation or a feeling of being tranquilised. It varies from person to person what side effects are felt.  There are lots of arthritis forums and many people have discovered various ways of reducing pain and discomfort and regaining mobility.  Resting until you're in less pain is good but long term not being active is not a good idea, gentle exercise helps joint and cartilage health.  Lots of local authorities run exercise classes specifically designed for those with arthritis and other mobility issues, you may like to look them up.  Whilst waiting for a joint replacement, the best advice is lessen the load on the joint by reducing weight, non impact exercise and eating foodstuffs with known anti-inflammatory properties.  Taking a supplement such as glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM or hyaluronic acid may also help.

    Hope the above gives some ideas, I've lived with OA for years and manage to keep the pain at bearable levels as long as I dont abuse the problem. good luck xx

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    • Posted

      Thank you so much for your reply Loxie. You have given me faith that i can handle this ! I am now about to google like crazy and find appropriate excercise  classes and the correct food to be eating and supplements. Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel ! Thanks again..xx
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    • Posted

      I can appreciate you're in shock right now, big nasty surprise I guess.  It most certainly isn't the end of life as we know it.  My arthritis was caused by me having a serious accident which destroyed my ankle joint cartilage.  It's gone for good so I unfortunately don't have the chance to investigate things that repair cartilage - there are some out there.  It has reduced my mobility but a slight limp and a painful joint to me are better than having my foot amputated, which was considered at the time.  Pain is tiring, it can make you very depressed particularly if its constant, so the way to feel better is to find things that keep the pain at bay and the view is, if the pain isnt just masked by an opiate or similar, then less pain means healthier joint, so it's all good news.  I really hope you find something that suits you personally and you'll find that having OA is hopefully just a minor inconvenience.   One last thing, the human body is fantastic at coping with stuff - I'm in continual pain but at low level I don't even notice it anymore, my brain has adjusted to cope with it so now I only have to keep the high grade pain at bay and I'm happy. 
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    • Posted

      You have such a postive outlook Loxie...i will try to take a leaf out of your book! There have been lots of tears...i really thought life as i knew it was over. I now have a better undstanding and like you said if treated corrected with the right diet and excerise i am hoping to control it. The pain has certainly eased alot i am just terrified of it returning to the extent it was over the weekend. I have been attempting to do some of the recommended exercises but very nervous in case i put myself in severe pain again. It is so tempting to just rest it but restful i am not. I am constantly on the go usually. I am really worried its going to effect my work but if like you i can control the pain that would be wonderful. I must keep thinking positve. Early days yet. Thank you. Good luck  :-)
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    • Posted

      Do try to find out if there is still adequate cartilage in the joint to look at repairing its health or alternatively if the joint has disintegrated at all.  How it's managed is very dependent on exactly what is going on inside, from finding stuff that actively repairs the tissue health to just managing the damage and the pain until it's replaced.  OA ranges from a sore finger right up to total disability and all points in between. If your initial flare up of pain is subsiding a little, hopefully it'll ease off and you'll be able to find things to keep it comfortable, which will let you carry on life relatively as normal.  Fear not, there are loads of things to help and loads of people on here with great ideas smile
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  • Posted

    Hi Juju

    I'm sorry you are in such pain.

    I have OA in hips, lower spine, ankle and neck and its right you can cope with it and ease the pain.

    I had my 2nd hip replacement in Jan and was doing one of the NHS exercises and there was a crack,.,,,,,,a fracture inb the greater trochanter bone....I want to stress this was nothing to do with the hip replacement......it was because I have {at then undiagnosed} osteoporosis that it fractured so easily. So i have OA in my lower spine, ankle and neck and then this fracture to contend with.

    I've managed to get a referral from my GP to a Healthy Life class in our leisure centre.I go once a week, they tell me what exercises I should be doing to help and what might hinder.....I'm on the recumbant bicycle to start with, then the tread mill then a semi recumbant bicycle before doing stretches.....my biggest problem there is what do do with the crutches as I go round each machinecheesygrin

    I go to seated zumba once a week {Arthritis Care} and I go to yoga once a week as well. So its doablewink  I forgot to mention that I will be on crutches for the rest of my life so I might as well get on with itwink

    Good Luck

    Love

    Eileen   UK

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  • Posted

    There is no correlation between degenerative changes shown on x-ray and symptoms.

    You didn't develop severe degenerative changes in your knee overnight. That's been there for a long time - and you've been symptom free. So, why shouldn't you get back to that pain-free state?

    Lots of things result in very severe knee pain. It does't need to be anything serious - just little trigger points and muscle spasms can be increadibly painful and imobilizing.

    So, sure - it might be the case that your knee joint has got into such a bad state that overnight you became crippled with pain.

    But isn't equally or more likely that something else is causing the pain?

    This is the problem with OA and doctors. The criteria for diagnosing OA is pain along with x-ray evidence of degenerative changes. A zillion and one things cause joint pain (100% curable things). You are living proof that it's possible to have severely degenerated joints and no pain. The ONLY sensible thing to do is systematically rule out all the treatable causes of joint pain first.

    Never assume the crippling, untreatable cause if there's a good chance it's something that can be resolved completely with the right treatment.

    For what it's worth, I was diagnosed with hip OA 10 years ago - like you, mine was a sudden onset (although mine wasn't severe - yet my symptoms were). I'm pretty close to 100% fine now. In my case the symptoms were down to a muscle imbalance and the degenerative changes were incidental.

     

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    • Posted

      Oh Susan ! You have no idea how much hope you have just given me. Thank you. I just took it for granted the doctor knew what he was talking about. But now you have made me question it. I saw an osteopath the day after this happened ( for a seperate problem regarding my back due to weight loss...long story !) and he examined my knee. He was shocked when i called him after my consultation with the doctor and said he treats a large amount of clients with severe arthritus and mine is no where near as bad as theirs!! All very bizzare. I am now going to look into other possible explanations. Thank you for giving me hope :-)
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    • Posted

      Take a look at the thread I started on here "OA can be cured in some cases" (or something like that). You might get a few ideas from that.

      But based upon my own experience and my own research over the past decade I'd say if you've already found someone that's said they treat worse cases than yours I'd give them a go - see what they have to say. Honestly, there is every chance that he's got far more relevant knowledge than your doctor.

      I have a friend who was a distance runner. He had a fall, got an xray and like you was found to have OA. He was told not to run - his was supposedly pretty advanced. He stopped running, spent a year cylcing instead but wasn't happy. So gave running a try again and was amazed to discover it was fine. He's in his fifties and 3 or 4 years on from the diagnosis is taking part in ultra-distance races, marathons, hill races (so running at high speed up and down the Scottish mountains). Never a twinge.

      Look into trigger point therapy. That's a common cause of extreme pain that you can treat yourself. You'll learn some useful stuff from it if nothing else. Plenty of info online.

      Good luck smile

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    • Posted

      I have spent most of the day on and off reading information about OA. My brain is a little frazzled! The best advice and help is from the people that have lived it like yourself. I am booked in to see a fab osteopath over the christmas period. ( he lives away so not back locally until then) I have every faith in him...more so than the 'specialist ' i saw on monday! I am finding it so hard to let myself sleep at night , not due the pain, as its now only a dull ache unless i put weight on it....but the fact i may wake with the same excruciating as friday morning. I am trying to relax about it all but its very hard. Thank you so much susan for all of your advice :-)
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    • Posted

      Hi Juju

      when you get onto that site if you scroll down a bit it says discuss it on forums.......go onto that.....all people with arthritis of differnt kids....I found that invaluable.

      If you want the website addy pm me or trhe helpline number

      Lovwe

      Eileen  UK

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  • Posted

    I too experienced what seemed to be sudden onset oa of the knee, it was as if it came on overnight, the pain ,is incredible, espescially at night, like you the doctors could not comprehend that I had had no previous symptoms. I am seeing a surgeon this week as I have been put on the waiting list for knee replacement, till then I am using a brace but it is very rough on the skin, how are you coping with yours? there is some very good advice on the knee forum which might help you. best wishes
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    • Posted

      Hope you don`t mind me asking, but my sister is in your situation, like others on here.  Her sugeon says at 50 she is too young for a knee replacement.  I would be interested to know what your surgeon says.  My sister has been in agony with a totally stiff knee for a year, and has only been given steroid injections.  This has now made her depressed, because of beong house bound, and struggling with stairs........The drug Hydroxychlorine, which they gave her for 6 months did nothing.  she has given up the two jobs, and an active life, but there dosen`t seem to be any answers!  Hope you have better luck!
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    • Posted

      Hi Linda,   The majority of surgeons in the UK seem to say "you're too young" if you are under 60eek

      I think quality of life ismore important.........while you can enjoy it

      Love

      Eileen   UK

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    • Posted

      I hear that often Linda, I guess the problem is that a replacement joint has a finite lifespan and additionally there is a limit to how many times it can be replaced.  I heard anecdotally that it's around 10 yrs, so I'm assuming they like to wait as long as poss for the first one so that there doesn't come a time when they cannot replace it anymore and the patient is then left without any more options.  I was in hospital alongside a lady who had 'run out' of replacements and they had to fuse her leg as they couldnt put another artificial joint in.  This meant she was immobilised and very restricted - she was in her early 70's, still 'young at heart' and otherwise fit, not nice I guess.  Although as Eileen says, doctors often just follow a script and every case is different, it's always worth pushing them to be more flexible in their approach.
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    • Posted

      Absolutely I agree.  When my sister had an emergency appointment at the hospital on xmas eve, I went with her, and when they said she was possibly too young for a knee op, I asked them, where does it leave her for the next ten years??...no answer...I`m sure it`s all about money!  but don`t get me started on that one!......thank you for your replies.....
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    • Posted

      Hi I am 58 so am a bit older than your sister, I have had one op already in october due to a meniscus rip. I am worse now than before this op so maybe the surgeon feels a bit responsible! I was told I should wait till I  am 60 for TKR but argued back that my quality of life is intolerable and that he is the only person who can help improve this, this seems to have done the trick, do not give up. Best wishes
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    • Posted

      Hi, I have a booklet from hospital about TKR, you are right that the new joint has a finite lifespan but, the info I have been given suggests 20 to 30 years is now the norm,  looks like things are improving all the time, best wishes
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    • Posted

      I was going on something I'd heard some years back so no doubt the design of these replacements is improving all the time. Good to hear they last longer.  At 20 to 30 years there's no reason why someone of age 50 cant be given surgery, at age 80 however I guess major surgery is far more dangerous but we need the mobility now not when we're too old to appreciate it.
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    • Posted

      Thank you everyone, I will pass all this info onto my sister.  She is having another MRi in two weeks to see if there are any changes since the last one, 4 months  ago.  Hopefully we will see the Rheumy again (useless!) and challenge her.  When we asked to see orthopeadic again, they don`t want to know!
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