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  1. #1
    Spark of the Divine Fire
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    Biking with chronic pain / illness

    Howdy!

    I am wondering who else is biking through pain, fatigue and weakness related to chronic illness. I'd love to know what kind of bike you ride, how you deal with challenges, and how things have changed (improved) for you since you started.

    I'll answer too, but I want to think about it first.

    Angela

  2. #2
    Bikezilla Mazama's Avatar
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    Not a chronic illness, but I did suffer from frequent back and knee pain. When I started riding, those pains quickly subsided. I ride the first thing in the morning while I am well-rested.
    14,000 miles and rolling...

  3. #3
    Tilting with windmills txvintage's Avatar
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    While not an illness, I have had three back surgeries leaving titanium cages at L5-S1, and arthritis, two knee surgeries leaving the left knee bone on bone and will need replacing at some point, more arthritis, shoulder surgery to repair rotator cuff and labral collar damage that revealed even more arthritis, and reconstructive surgery on my left foot.

    All of these things are subject to a bit of discomfort I have found that the more I ride, the stronger the supporting muscles get, and the more weight comes off the better I feel.

    There are plenty of days that I can't go, and consecutive riding days are a stroke of luck at best. It's getting better though, and I'm awaiting being able to ride every day. It will come.

  4. #4
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    I have rheumatoid and osteo arthritis as well as asthma. I have the asthma pretty much in check. I take Osteo Bi Flex for my osteo arthritis and methotrexate for the RA. Besides that I try not to think to much about it and ride. If my elbows hurt I stop for a few minutes and start up again. The same with any other thing that bothers me. Now that I've been riding for 2 years, I can ride 4 hours none stop. I'm 68 years old and I figure I'm going to have some kind of pain, after working in construction for over 40 years, so I more or less except it. Yes riding does help a bunch.
    George

  5. #5
    No I'm Not a Pirate! Bionicycle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by angelaharms View Post
    Howdy!

    I am wondering who else is biking through pain, fatigue and weakness related to chronic illness. I'd love to know what kind of bike you ride, how you deal with challenges, and how things have changed (improved) for you since you started.

    I'll answer too, but I want to think about it first.

    Angela
    I ride a bike, having had two lower back surgeries, and a total left hip replacement. The main concession, if you could call it that, is that I have started riding only step-though frame bicycles. I call it a concession only because it kept me from riding my beloved 1976 Schwinn Le Tour again.

    I have a modern Single Speed U-frame/Mono tube (Aluminum) Cruiser bike I like really well… and for more adventurous rides I have a 1985 Fuji Sagres Mixte 12 speed bike. My wife has a Single Speed Cruiser that she likes really well, but if I ride the Mixte with her; she says it gives me an unfair advantage on the hills…

    For the most part my pain level isn’t too bad, my back will flair up sometimes, and sadly my right hip (original equipment) has been flaring up more lately… sometime in the not too distant future, it’s going to need replaced I fear. But, I’m lucky, if you could call it lucky, I have been told by many of my Doctors, that I seem to have developed an extremely high tolerance to pain… I think they are full of it, because some mornings it takes a lot of effort to get up and get going…

    Just get out there and do what you can, and try to have fun doing it… you will be surprised how much more you can do, if you are enjoying it at the time… but, be ready to possibly pay for it the next day. The good will often out last the bad...
    A bird can roost but on one branch, a mouse can drink not more than its fill from a river.

  6. #6
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    I have rheumatoid arthritis that I manage with turmeric. I've had days when a joint was locked up badly enough that I didn't feel safe to ride, but if it's just a matter of discomfort, I suck it up. It won't get any better if I sit and moan. That's rheumatoid, not all conditions are like that, so you'll have to make your own judgment call, I'm afraid.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    In 1994 I had a partial amputation of the left leg below the knee with 5 inches of bone loss on the road due to a head on collision involving motorcycle vs. car. I also had the tendons of 2 fingers ripped out affecting the use of my ring and little fingers. 2 years of recovery left me with my ankle set so that I pronate to an extreme amount, My left big toe is broken as well so I get large blisters from any cycling shoe. Being an avid touring and road cyclist before the accident, I returned to cycling albeit slowly. I have issues to be sure, but completed my last of six metric centuries this year and one 150 miler. I weigh 230 lb's and am 58 years old.
    So I ride with pain every time I ride, but I love the sport and soldier on as they say. Ibuprofen is my friend! My bike is a Heron Wayfarer.

    Richard

  8. #8
    circus bear ban guzzi's Avatar
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    man, I feel like a wuss readin' your stories! My biggest was a crush foot from sparring and a herniated disk with constant sciatic pain. The foot is MUCH better and some days the only thing I can do with any comfort is ride my bike. Heck, some days I can't sleep because of pain but I can pedal! So thats what do...

    Biking strenghtend the foot and helped break up scar tissue and loosen up the connective tissues and for the back, core strength and better muscle tone in the small of the back. No surgery for back (thankfully!!) but vastly improved over the last couple of years. I can touch my toes again after 2 years of just looking at them from where my back would quit bending...
    Car Free Life.
    Riding without a brake is like saying that you trust traffic. ~ jonestr

  9. #9
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by angelaharms View Post
    Howdy!

    I am wondering who else is biking through pain, fatigue and weakness related to chronic illness. I'd love to know what kind of bike you ride, how you deal with challenges, and how things have changed (improved) for you since you started.

    I'll answer too, but I want to think about it first.

    Angela
    Mild scoliosis from degenerative disc disease, uneven legs, knocked knees. Other than paying attention to bike fitting, reducing my weight, stretching and exercising the small muscles in the back, neck, and shoulders, stopping frequently, taking Ibuprofen, and getting used to folks not riding with me, there's little I can do about the pain. Well, that part about folks not riding with me doesn't relate to my physical pain, but it's painful nevertheless.

  10. #10
    Mr. Frowny Man Alathea's Avatar
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    I'm liking the reading of all the back injuries in here-don't take that the wrong way, but it helps to see others doing stuff with all that. I got injured in the Army and I have L5-S1 and S1-S2 herniations, sciatic pain, and some nerve damage in my toes in my right foot from impingement. No surgical intervention yet-I'm keeping it at bay with conservative maintenance and pain killers (Ibu, Ultram, and flexaril). I don't want the VA going in to my lower back-i'm only 31 and really don't want them to mess it up. ( I don't think they do the titanium cages, either, last time I checked into it they wanted to fuse)

    I ride a Specialized Hardrock, hardtail no suspension (though I may spring for a Suspension seatpost at some point). Its an older one so the top tube isn't dropped like the newer ones are. I swapped out the grips, im still playing with the saddle fore/aft and tilt, but I ride mostly upright so that's a plus. I currently ride about 12 miles a day round trip-mainly to work and back with a ride on the weekend sometimes-its hard to make myself get up 20-30 minutes early for excercise's sake when I can belt it to my workplace because I have to! (incentive....its a wonderful thing)
    The Earth is degenerating these days. Bribery and corruption abound.
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  11. #11
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by ban guzzi View Post
    man, I feel like a wuss readin' your stories! My biggest was a crush foot from sparring and a herniated disk with constant sciatic pain. The foot is MUCH better and some days the only thing I can do with any comfort is ride my bike. Heck, some days I can't sleep because of pain but I can pedal! So thats what do...

    Biking strenghtend the foot and helped break up scar tissue and loosen up the connective tissues and for the back, core strength and better muscle tone in the small of the back. No surgery for back (thankfully!!) but vastly improved over the last couple of years. I can touch my toes again after 2 years of just looking at them from where my back would quit bending...
    When I was in therapy for basically the thing all I could ride was a recumbent excersize bike. It was the only thing that didn't hurt. Did you ever try massage?
    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
    1989 Raleigh Technium, 1989 Schwinn Traveler, 1986 Specialized Rockhopper
    1984 Specialized Stumpjumper, 1986 Specialized Stumpjumper and just way too many projects to list.

  12. #12
    circus bear ban guzzi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cs1 View Post
    When I was in therapy for basically the thing all I could ride was a recumbent excersize bike. It was the only thing that didn't hurt. Did you ever try massage?
    next on the list along with accupuncture. Only 37, you know?
    Car Free Life.
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  13. #13
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Bilateral Osteoarthritis in my shoulders, dealing with other joint issues on my end, and most of the time, the riding and exercise help with the pain and definitely contribute to my flexibility.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  14. #14
    Tilting with windmills txvintage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alathea View Post
    I'm liking the reading of all the back injuries in here-don't take that the wrong way, but it helps to see others doing stuff with all that. I got injured in the Army and I have L5-S1 and S1-S2 herniations, sciatic pain, and some nerve damage in my toes in my right foot from impingement. No surgical intervention yet-I'm keeping it at bay with conservative maintenance and pain killers (Ibu, Ultram, and flexaril). I don't want the VA going in to my lower back-i'm only 31 and really don't want them to mess it up. ( I don't think they do the titanium cages, either, last time I checked into it they wanted to fuse)
    Yep, my first back injury happened on active duty along with my first surgery. It ended 10 yrs of service.

    After I got out, and with all kinds of numbness and Sciatica, I was lucky enough to get a job with realy good benifits for when L5-S1 decided that all remaining residual material was gonna blow. That's when I got my "go fast titanium aftermarket fastners". The L4-L3 blow out was pretty much a natural occurance from the added stress of the fusion at L5-S1, and about 2 unfortunate seconds of bad luck.

    I think the overall theme here is that if you can tolerate it, the benefits far outweigh the discomfort. My surgeon(s) were all in agreement when I went to them in May about riding. They all said that if I could stand the initial discomfort to go for it, and while I might not be able to do it, I just as well might get away with it. My Rhuematologist/Osteo Arthritis and knee Docs were thrilled with the idea, even. They figure the more active I am, the longer I can put off a knee replacement.

    Once you have lived with an injury/disability for a few years, the tolerance of discomfort and pain sort of just happens if you're lucky.

  15. #15
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by txvintage View Post
    Once you have lived with an injury/disability for a few years, the tolerance of discomfort and pain sort of just happens if you're lucky.
    To some extent, I agree with this -- most people do develop a somewhat different sense of what constitutes 'discomfort". I don't think this is what makes the difference between people with chronic conditions who are active and those who aren't, though. I think in most cases it's the result of a very hard-headed conclusion that a painful active life is better than a somewhat less painful life lived in a rocking chair.

  16. #16
    Senior Member surgeonstone's Avatar
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    I have severe arthritis of my right hip, can not walk without significant pain and putting off a replacement as long as I can. I find if I emphasize my left side in cycling I can go further and faster. I have to limit myself to under 40 miles at a time or I am in plain agony when I get off. I tried not riding for a while but psychologicaly it devastates me not to ride, so I press on, no longer as fast as I was but still enjoying the beauty of a nice ride.

  17. #17
    Spark of the Divine Fire
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    Quote Originally Posted by lil brown bat View Post
    ... what makes the difference between people with chronic conditions who are active and those who aren't... it's the result of a very hard-headed conclusion that a painful active life is better than a somewhat less painful life lived in a rocking chair.
    I think you might be right, lil brown bat.

    I said I'd answer, and it's taken me a while, but here I am. First, here's my ride. I think this bike saved me, for real.



    This bike allowed me to start riding again, without shoulder pain, back pain, etc. He's misbehaving at the moment, but I still love him.

    What I've learned, maybe, is that there's (almost) never a day when I can't ride at all. On a horrible day, maybe I can only ride a single block, but it's better to ride a tiny bit than to sit on my a%$ (are we allowed to use words like that here) and tell myself I'm too sick to ride.

    A corollary to that is that riding makes me feel better, not worse. I have to remind myself that when I'm home, in pain, thinking "No way am I getting on that bike!" I (almost) always feel better after getting outside and being active.

    Lastly, that things get better. I seem to want to forget this, but the truth is that if I go halfway up a hill in granny gear, and walk the rest of the way over and over again, one day I'll find that I've just ridden all the way over. It takes longer for me to improve, but improvement does come.

    I guess that's my story. Thanks for sharing all of y'all's.

    Angela
    Rides: 2008 Raleigh Detour 4.5 (Ivy) and 2006 Trek Sole Ride 100 (Lurch)
    Wife to: 2007 Raleigh Mohave 2.0 (22")
    Mom to: 2006 Trek 7200 (25"!), 2008 Raleigh Venture 3.0 (22"), 2007 Raleigh Mohave 2.0 (16"), and a little tiny Allycat Shadow trail-a-bike & PV Glider balance bike :)

  18. #18
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by txvintage View Post
    Once you have lived with an injury/disability for a few years, the tolerance of discomfort and pain sort of just happens if you're lucky.
    I agree, although that attitude has its down side. I rode with a rib fracture on my last tour, risking serious injury, because I didn't recognize the pain I experienced as a danger sign. It wasn't much worse than the 'normal' back and shoulder pain I get on long rides, I thought.

  19. #19
    Spark of the Divine Fire
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    I rode with a rib fracture on my last tour, risking serious injury, because I didn't recognize the pain I experienced as a danger sign.
    Ouch. You get used to the doctor telling you, "Yeah, you hurt. What's your point?" and you stop getting things checked out, then... I hope you healed up ok.

    About folks not riding with you... I wonder if there are other folks where you live who would like to have slower rides... geezer rides, crip rides? I think as more people bike, those things might become more popular. I hope so, anyway.

    Angela
    Rides: 2008 Raleigh Detour 4.5 (Ivy) and 2006 Trek Sole Ride 100 (Lurch)
    Wife to: 2007 Raleigh Mohave 2.0 (22")
    Mom to: 2006 Trek 7200 (25"!), 2008 Raleigh Venture 3.0 (22"), 2007 Raleigh Mohave 2.0 (16"), and a little tiny Allycat Shadow trail-a-bike & PV Glider balance bike :)

  20. #20
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by angelaharms View Post
    Ouch. You get used to the doctor telling you, "Yeah, you hurt. What's your point?" and you stop getting things checked out, then... I hope you healed up ok.

    About folks not riding with you... I wonder if there are other folks where you live who would like to have slower rides... geezer rides, crip rides? I think as more people bike, those things might become more popular. I hope so, anyway.

    Angela
    Well, it wasn't quite the doctor telling me that. It was me. And there's little point in complaining about it. I seem to be OK now, and in fact I'm re-riding the tour I crashed on, starting the end of this week.

    I'm happy to ride with anyone, however I'm too 'serious' for casual riders, and too slow for 'serious' riders. Casual riders aren't going to ride 50 miles into Philadelphia and back, and most folks who do such a ride go faster than my 10-12 MPH.

    And the idea of a 'crip' ride, as you call it, fills me with dread. Many folks become their ailment; I didn't. One reason Neils on Wheels worked out as well as it did for a time was because my riding didn't revolve around scoliosis and Neil F's cycling wasn't about epilepsy. Yes, we had to work around our problems, but we still did what we wanted to do.

  21. #21
    Thread Killer evblazer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    I'm happy to ride with anyone, however I'm too 'serious' for casual riders, and too slow for 'serious' riders. Casual riders aren't going to ride 50 miles into Philadelphia and back, and most folks who do such a ride go faster than my 10-12 MPH.
    If you ever want to do some brevets down in TX let me know A couple of weeks ago I went down for a ride and ended up pretty much all alone for about 10 hours of riding at 12mph or so while everyone else was poof gone.
    It is probably flatter down here so it would be easier to stay at your high range. Maybe some day I'll go visit my sister up in PA and we can go for a little spin. My ever present limitation is my HR. If I don't keep it low where it is supposed to be aortic regurgitation will do it for me with a not so nice reminder.

  22. #22
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by evblazer View Post
    If you ever want to do some brevets down in TX let me know A couple of weeks ago I went down for a ride and ended up pretty much all alone for about 10 hours of riding at 12mph or so while everyone else was poof gone.
    It is probably flatter down here so it would be easier to stay at your high range. Maybe some day I'll go visit my sister up in PA and we can go for a little spin. My ever present limitation is my HR. If I don't keep it low where it is supposed to be aortic regurgitation will do it for me with a not so nice reminder.
    If I have a rich uncle pass and leave me the funds, sure, I'd be happy to spend time in TX on a brevet with you. Perhaps I could borrow one of your recumbents - I've never ridden one before. I've been told they are good for folks with scoliosis, but wouldn't your back be bothered by reclining for long periods of time? On an upright you can shift positions.

  23. #23
    Thread Killer evblazer's Avatar
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    One of marfan syndromes gifts was a mild case of scoliosis that was borderline needing correction when I was younger. I still have a very visible snake to my spine. There are a few people in the north texas recumbent I go riding with on occasion that have had spinal surgery, fusions and all that stuff who found it only possible to ride getting on a recumbent. Obviously many people can still ride an upright with spinal problems but it is a different options with it's own +/-s.

    The hard part on a recumbent is I can't take my weight off when I'm going to hit something or go over some rough chipseal so I just gotta take it. In the beggining I did get a little soreness on my tailbone kinda like I did on my sit bones when first on my upright for long rides. When I ride through miles of fresh chipseal I'll feel it but I not as bad as when I first got it.

    On my seat with the recline it is at the load is spread from just under my shoulders to below my tailbone. You can even put a little lumbar support in there. I could probably take a nice nap on my seat it is so comfortable after getting it just right. It is just like laying back on a really nice well fitting lazyboy recliner.

  24. #24
    No I'm Not a Pirate! Bionicycle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by angelaharms View Post
    Ouch. You get used to the doctor telling you, "Yeah, you hurt. What's your point?" and you stop getting things checked out, then... I hope you healed up ok.

    About folks not riding with you... I wonder if there are other folks where you live who would like to have slower rides... geezer rides, crip rides? I think as more people bike, those things might become more popular. I hope so, anyway.

    Angela
    During one of my checkups about a month after my first back surgery (circa 1989)… I told my Orthopedic Surgeon that I was still having moderate back pain. His reply was, somewhat smug… well of course you are, you’ve had blah blah, big words, such and such disc disease, you are entitled to the back pain…

    I looked at him, and said… well I’m certainly glad that I am entitled to the pain I have; that makes me feel much better to know that I’m not receiving it, when it could be going to someone more deserving than me…

    His other advice when he talked about exercise, was always… if it hurts try not to do it, and if it doesn’t hurt, don’t do it until it does hurt… I always get a laugh out of him, because I then add… and, if it feels good, don’t do it in public.

    Doctors…
    A bird can roost but on one branch, a mouse can drink not more than its fill from a river.

  25. #25
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by evblazer View Post
    One of marfan syndromes gifts was a mild case of scoliosis that was borderline needing correction when I was younger. I still have a very visible snake to my spine. There are a few people in the north texas recumbent I go riding with on occasion that have had spinal surgery, fusions and all that stuff who found it only possible to ride getting on a recumbent. Obviously many people can still ride an upright with spinal problems but it is a different options with it's own +/-s.

    The hard part on a recumbent is I can't take my weight off when I'm going to hit something or go over some rough chipseal so I just gotta take it. In the beginning I did get a little soreness on my tailbone kinda like I did on my sit bones when first on my upright for long rides. When I ride through miles of fresh chipseal I'll feel it but I not as bad as when I first got it.

    On my seat with the recline it is at the load is spread from just under my shoulders to below my tailbone. You can even put a little lumbar support in there. I could probably take a nice nap on my seat it is so comfortable after getting it just right. It is just like laying back on a really nice well fitting lazyboy recliner.
    Oh, you have scoli too! Let's compare curves! Here's me on a bad day:



    That's after my first metric century.

    OK, I think I may need to get a bent at some point. I'll start checking around.

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