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  1. #1
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    Prognosis: Degenerative Arthritis

    That is what the Doc said after XRays.

    I just got back into cycling this year after my boys suggested that a bike ride across Iowa would be a great family vacation. So we all registered for RAGBRAI. Then I started to train; and re-confirmed that my necks and wrists did not like an upright. So I plunged and bought a recumbent trike and then started training with some vigor and sincerity. I was doing at least 100 miles a week by mid-June in preparation for RAGBRAI. I noticed a 'hot knee' on some occasions.

    But on RAGBRAI, at day number 4 my left knee was really beginning to hurt. So I rode on to a EMT location and wrapped the knee. Now after 4 weeks of giving it a rest, I want to get back on the bike and ride again and prepare again for the same event next year.

    All that to ask: Do any of you have advice or experience with arthritis? Should I with the right therapy and exercise be able to do the long tours?

    Thanks for any and all input on this matter.

  2. #2
    What's the speed of dark?
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigAlMN
    Do any of you have advice or experience with arthritis? Should I with the right therapy and exercise be able to do the long tours?
    Pain in the knee can result from a number of afflictions; patella track - where you muscles develop to where they pull your knee cap off center, patella tendenitis - a typical athletic over use injury, or arthritis. The treatment for the three is pretty much the same; physical therapy. Besides sonic massage, electronic stimulation and exercises, the absolute best thing you can do is ice down your knee. With out question I would get a professional physical therapist opinion. If that's not possible the least you can do is ice down your knee after every ride. Ice works for pretty much all physical activity pain. Other than that, there's the typical arthritis relief offered by asprin/advil/aleeve. Don't ignore the pain - it's there for a reason, but if you know the cause for the pain, you can understand it, treat it and/or live with it. But at the same time, don't let it drag you down either, getting old ain't for sissies! Deal with it..or don't. Your choice.

  3. #3
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    I can share with you my story as long as you realize that I am not a Doctor.

    I was pronounced to have Arthritis in both knees following a MRI after a bad accident in rock climbing. The Doctor said that nothing could be done and prescribed Vioxx to reduce my pain. By the way, I am 63, 190 lb., 74" tall and very active with biking, hiking, jogging.

    Well, I decided to exercise on a stationary bike for one hour per day at low strain and about 80 RPM.
    After 6 months of that, I went off Vioxx and used 6 Advil per day. After 6 month more, I dropped the Advil and exercised more seriously.
    Today, I do back to back century's at a rate of 100 miles in 6 hours. I can average 20 MPH on variable course. All of that with Arthritis which I know is there when I jog for a few hours on pavement.
    I hope this helps.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Oh I forgot, I will do a 3000 mile cross America bike tour in the spring. That tour is at a rate of 100 to 150 miles/day. I am currently training for that at a furious pace.

  5. #5
    Member steel_knee's Avatar
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    I too suffered from arthritis in neck, lower back and knees. Three years ago I had knee replacement surgery on my worst knee. Before the replacement I couldn't walk more than a few hundred feet. Within 3 months I was walking several miles a day. I now bike 20 miles a day and I'm 67.
    Ernie, 04 Dahon Speed TR (mine) and 05 Speed P8 (wife's), Ventura CA

  6. #6
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    One of the reasond I took up cycling, was because of an old knee injury that had gone arthritic. Even long walks were getting painful and I wanted to retain some of the fitness I still had. I have beem lucky in that the knee improved and I am now cycling more and more.

    Several things can cause knee pain, the common one being the foot angle on the pedals. Try angling the foot a bit differently, toes pointing in or even out. Adjust the saddle height, and for and aft position. The other thing to do is take it a bit gentler. Slow down on the hills and put less strain on the joint until the knee gets a bit stronger.

    The other thing to do is get a tandem, but your co-rider on this may swear at the weakling on the back thats not pedalling. Either that or a Gym session or 50 where you can just turn the pedals and get movement on the joint to "free" it up a bit and put some strength in it.

  7. #7
    Senior Member DnvrFox's Avatar
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    FWIW, everyone starts with osteoarthritis starting about age 25. The rate of degeneration varies from one person to the next.

    I have no outward symptoms, but an x-ray shows some degeneration in my spine, My wife has very significant osteo of her knees and back.

    Genetics, I would guess, for most of us. Some folks have sports injuries or other causes.

    I would urge a bone density scan as a precaution.

    Bicycling is often one of the prescribed therapies.

  8. #8
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    I too have a touch of Autheritsis in my whole body. I do live with the pain but have not experienced the swelling as yet.

    Buy the book by Bob Johnson "Stretching". Get in the habit of stretches every morning. It most certainly does help.

    I don't know how old you are but I am 65 and move around pretty good. I just walked 9 holes of golf and this afternoon my back is hurting. Some pain you live with.

    The first thing that goes into my bikebag is Tylenol 500. However, my right knee started to hurt and then the left. I am thinking maybe I will pull my seat up 1/2 inch. A little reach won't hurt. So I did. No sore knees today.

    Keep those muscels strong. As you age, if you lose muscel they just do not come back like the good ole days.

    Barb

  9. #9
    Wheezing Geezer Bud Bent's Avatar
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    Recumbents are easier on every part of your body than df bikes are, except.................. your knees. With a recumbent, you are pushing against a seat back, and you can generate more pressure on your knees than anything you can do on a df.

    You didn't say whether you just spin, or if you have a tendency to power pedal a lot, but while you're doing all the other things to take care of your knee pain, keep in mind that a fast pedal cadence puts a lot less stress on your knees.
    Bud
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    They told me it's ok to post mileage over in the commuting forum, so you'll probably find me there these days.

  10. #10
    Senior Member trmcgeehan's Avatar
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    I am 67, and have arthritis in both knees. For the past three years, I have been taking a daily dose of glucosamine/condroitin/msm, with good results. I used to take Ibubrofin for pain, but have stopped taking it and I still have no pain. I still have stiffness when I have been sitting for a while, but this goes away after a few minutes. I also do some stretching every day, which helps the stiffness. My doc says cycling is excellent for arthritic knees. Every stroke compresses the cartilege which has liquid in it. This produces a flushing action which keeps the cartilege supple. A dry knee cartilege (no physical activity) tends to become brittle and break.
    "I am a true laborer. I earn that I eat, get that I wear, owe no man hate, envy no man's happiness, glad of other men's good, content with my harm." As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 2. Shakespeare.
    "Deep down, I'm pretty superficial." Ava Gardner.

  11. #11
    Spot, the cat BobL's Avatar
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    My two cents worth...

    I just had arthroscopic surgery on thursday to remove a large flap of cartilage hanging off the back of my knee cap. I'm 99% sure I injured that running about 3 months ago. About 15 years ago, a (different) surgeon told me that I had the beginnings of this condition and advised I quit running. Shortly afterwards, I started riding.

    My surgeon this week told me the rest of my knee cartilage looked like a 20-something year old's knee. My knee cap looked like a 65+. I'm 51. He recommended high cadence cycling (he knows I do this) and said that cycling that way may be the only thing that keeps me from having knee pain all the time. He recommended glucosamine, saying it was the only thing there was some real medical studies to support.

    In short, while conditions vary, a lot of people with arthritic knees cycle long distances all the time. Keep your pedal cadence high, and pay attention to your leg extension on the saddle. Too low is likely to hurt more than too high. The old saying is if your knee hurts in the front, your seat is too low; if it hurts in the back, it's too high. I've found I get the other signs of a too-high saddle (rocking) before my knee hurts in the back.


    BobL
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