Anxiety & Needles: The Trials of Early Arthritis

Some of you may remember my trip to physical therapy a couple years ago and since then, a continuous mention of knee issues. It’s been an on-going thing and unfortunately, isn’t an “injury” that will go away. Joint pain from little to no cartilage runs in the family (on both sides) and starts early. Sure, the running doesn’t help but it’s not the root cause.

Options are pretty limited when you’re not talking about a torn something or a broken other thing. Also working against me is my age.

Per my orthopedic doctor’s recommendation, I can transition to other sports (cycling, swimming, etc) that are not high impact. However, that will only reduce the pain and cartilage erosion over time, not stop it. And frankly, I love running to much to give it up. So there’s more cross training in my future, but definitely not a lack of running.

Basically, having early arthritis before I turn 25 sucks.

Due to the knee pain getting worse, I switched to just cycling and swimming for a few weeks. It didn’t get better, so I took a few weeks off. Still a progressive decline to where it was affecting my ability to function normally (and no, driving a manual car with bad knees is not fun). Even keeping up with my exercises from physical therapy was having little impact. So I broke down and did it.

I made an appointment with my orthopedic doctor to get injections of a cartilage substitute into my knees.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m kind of afraid of needles. Like, cowardly and terrified sort of afraid. But at this point I had to take the chance, because I had little other alternatives. Wanting to get back to doing something you love can do that.

Long story slightly shorter, I received injections of Synvisc into both of my knee joints. It hurt. A LOT. I pretty much compare it to when I broke my wrist a few years ago. It’s something like a gel that they flood your joint with to spread and help ease the joint pain. I refused to see the needles or watch the injections. Yeah…I’m not a doctor, so please don’t take my word as law—this is just how I interpreted the explanation.

That was a few weeks ago. The first few days were a bit awkward and admittedly, a little difficult. The pressure from the gel as it slowly evens out into the joint made it feel like my knee cap was going to pop off. My doctor had advised me that it may take a couple weeks before I really felt results and even then, it’s hit and miss with this type of injection. Absolute helps some people and does nothing for others (there’s also a required 6 month wait time between them).

I’m slowly getting myself started all over again. During exercise I have to be careful about how I pivot the joints, but the injections appear to have helped. As exercise increases over the next few weeks, we’ll see if that holds up.

But still, I have hope! This runner is gonna make her comeback. Or comically fail trying.

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