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Forum Name: Rheumatology Topics

Question: Sports injuries or arthritis?


 Sarita - Wed Jun 22, 2005 10:38 am

SOrry this will be long, but I can't figure out how to condense it. For the past year, I have been trying to come to an understanding of problems I have been having. The background is this: I am a runner and a pianist, and went to see my doctor about a variety of aches and pains I had been having in my knees, feet, hips, back, wrists, and fingers. The thing that had fnally sent me there, though, was that I had developed such severe knee pain that walking was very difficult; I didn't make a habit of going to doctors about little aches and pains, or even high fevers or the flu. I was hoping that she'd send me to my sports medicine doctor, but she did an RF test and then sent me to a Rheumatologist instead, because the RF was positive.

I saw the rheumatologist for two months, during which time he tested me for syphilus and inflammation, and decided based on that and the symptoms I was having that while he found osteoarthritis in my feet and the RF test he ran, too, was positive, there was no real evidence of RA, so he (finally, hooray) sent me to my sports med guy. The sports med guy saw me for a while and prescribed some good - but ultimately ineffective - exercises, and finally determined that perhaps I should get orthotics. I had to save up for those, as my insurance didn't cover them, but I finally did get them. They didn't seem to do much good, though, and so I decided to see a doctor again when the knee pain was getting worse again so that, if necessary, I could get a new referral to the sports med guy. Also, I had switched GPs for convenience reasons, and wanted to meet my new GP. In the meantime I had been feeling very exhausted, having problems with my hands and feet tingling, and had put on a bit of weight unexpectedly, and thryroid disorders run in my family, so I thought I'd get that checked out, too, while I was at it.

I met my new GP, and she ran complete bloodwork and asked me a few questions. Everything came back fine except for the platelet level (slightly high) and the RF (still positive) and so she basically told me that while I could get a second opinion from another rheumatologist or go back to the sports med guy, I should probably just accept that running was causing me to be in pain, and would continue to do so, and that if I won't stop running I should expect the pain to get worse and my joints to deteriorate, but that there was really nothing wrong.

That didn't make much sense to me; I know runners in their 70s, and they seem to still have joints, so why, if there is nothing wrong, would this be the case? However, I do trust her opinion as she is the one who went to medical school, and she seems to be very competent. At this point, I have decided that my best bet is probably just to keep taking supplements (I have been taking glucosamine and will start taking calcium, too) and ice a lot, stretch a lot, and accept things for what they are, but I am just curious if there is any other idea about this, or any advice about what I can do to avoid living out her prediction - and that of all the other doctors, who also advised not running or playing piano.
 Shannon Morgan, CMA - Wed Jun 22, 2005 11:54 am

User avatar Unfortunately It's true, running is the very worst activity you could do in your situation. Not every runner is lucky enough to have good joints their whole lives; osteoarthritis happens to most everyone, especially people who put a lot of stress on them.

There are lots of low impact aerobic excercises to do that will keep your fitness level and help save your joints.

If you are truly asymptomatic with the rheumatoid and it is just osteo, you do need to stop impacting your joints. The glucosamine and chondroitin is a good idea, but will only slow the degeneration, not reverse it.

There are lots of low impact aerobic excercises to do that will keep your fitness level and help save your joints.
 Sarita - Wed Jun 22, 2005 12:25 pm

Thanks for your response. I guess it's hard to accept things we don't want to hear, but I know that is probably true. I don't want to quit running (I am fairly serious about it), but I guess I'll just have to accept that if I don't, I have no one else to blame but myself for my pains. Anyway, maybe after I reach my sport-related goals, I will move on to something else - triathlons at the very least, as then I'd be doing swimming and cycling to balance out the running.

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