Living with osteoarthritis is hard, but it doesn’t mean you have to stop doing the things you love! 34



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When Helen turned 60, she began to feel pain in her knee. Slowly over time it got worse and doing the things she loved most became painful. Helen soon discovered that she had osteoarthritis, a disease that so many Australians find debilitating. But instead of letting the pain control her life, Helen made some small changes to keep living her active and healthy life. And since she made those changes, she’s been happy and healthy.

HelenOAStarts at 60 was lucky enough to speak with Helen and learn a little more about how osteoarthritis impacted her life and how she’s been able to manage it by keeping active.

When Helen first developed osteoarthritis, two of her favourite regular activities became difficult – gardening and spending time with her grandson. “One of my passions is being out in the garden. When my osteoarthritis set in I found it extremely difficult to kneel down to do any sort of gardening and it would be painful to get walk walking again. I noticed I started to favour my knee by staying off it and resting continually, which did not agree with me. It has impacted my family life too, as I look after my 16-month-old grandson, Bane, fortnightly. I noticed that I was spending a lot of time on the floor with him and it sometimes would take a little longer for me to get up”.

Initially, Helen went straight to her doctor and was prescribed anti-inflammatory medication. While it helped, Helen wanted to do more to help her situation and her physio suggested that exercise was one way to make things easier. She said, “I started an exercise program which involved walking from one side of my swimming pool to the other and increased this until I could walk comfortably for around 30 minutes. I felt a lot more vibrant and much better in myself accomplishing this.  As part of my daily routine I started to walk each morning and evening for approximately 30 minutes and built this up each day.”

Over time, Helen began to see a fantastic change in the way her body felt and those every day activities like gardening and spending time with her grandson were enjoyed again. She said that thanks to exercise she can, “now walk up stairs without difficulty and can walk for a reasonable distance and time without any problem – it is liberating to not feel held back by my osteoarthritis.”

Despite this, there was one other thing that made keeping active a little difficult – the cold weather! However, Helen recognised that it was her natural inclination to reduce exercise in the cooler months and instead adapted her exercise regime to suit her. She said, “My approach my seem silly to some but I like to put the radio onto a station that plays 70’s – 80’s music and move around the lounge room to the beat of the music. It makes the exercise fun and as I’m personally not a fan of being out in the cool it means I still keep active.  I am sure if some of my neighbours saw me dancing around during the day they would wonder what I am doing but I do enjoy it.  I also sit in my lounge chair and do some leg exercises to keep my joints moving which I find beneficial.”




Essentially using activity and exercise that suits her has helped Helen immensely and her advice to other over 60s suffering from osteoarthritis? Find what suits you and do it – you shouldn’t stop enjoying life because of osteoarthritis! She said, “My advice to other osteoarthritis sufferers would be to try walking in a heated swimming pool, talk to your doctor about the options available, be mentally positive and try walking just 5 – 10 minutes a day and see if you can gradually build it up.  Do not let it rule your life.”

So remember, just because you have osteoarthritis doesn’t mean you have to stop living a healthy, happy and active life – in fact, the more active you are, the better you’ll feel!

Tell us, do you have osteoarthritis? How do you manage it? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below…

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  1. Exercise, so simple but so effective….

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  2. I have had both knees replaced and OA in my neck and feet, but I still do early morning swim training 3 times a week, and compete in Masters Swim Events. Also walk as much as possible. As the saying goes ‘ if you don’t use it, you lose it’.

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    • I am like you,Patricia. Both knees done but I have it in the rest of me. I still garden and walk and do exercises for my neck which helps a lot. I am unable to kneel so I sit to weed but have put in raised garden beds. My new job is to prepare a new garden for my son. I’m nearly 79.

  3. HI. I do spin cycle and wear compression sox…My knees were supposed to be replaced last year….yes you must keep moving and flexing..the worst thing is to put your feet up for too long. I’m 74. Cheers John

  4. OA loves exercise- just need to pick what’s right for you and be ready to adapt over time. I’ve lived with OA for many years and will never give in to it! I take no medications but exercise regularly (even Zumba, Pump and Boxing) doing what I like. I have had 2 knee replacements and still have OA in my feet and hands. I try to switch off the pain and keep active.

  5. Well,I’ve got osteoarthritis in my hips and lower spine…so far have had one hip replacement which has given marvelous results…HOWEVER,sciatica has kicked in with a vengeance on the unoperated leg and is making life pretty miserable,even with painkillers on board!!…go and walk in the pool??..I don’t think so as I can’t even dress my lower half by myself at the moment!!…seems like I will have to go under the knife again as epidural injections have not helped either!!…lucky me,too much crap going on in my spine to even consider exercise…

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    • Im the same Anne, I had to give up workbecos of the pain im in, my back has gone and I need my hips replacing but they wont do my hips untill my back is fixed , god knows when that will be living on allsorts of pain killers and nothing fixes the pain. I should ask for an epidual, but over here I think its only used for child birth over here . Thanx for your info & hope u get better soon. ♥

    • Looks as though you have typical,worn out nurses problems,Robyn!!…I would be asking about epidural steroid injections and medial blocks if I were you…just because it hasn’t worked for me doesn’t mean it won’t work for you!..try and find a doctor who deals in pain management..good luck!

  6. I walk 2 to 3 days a week and do circuit training the same amount of times some days I really have to push myself,I am 71 this year,will keep going as long as I can manage it.

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