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  1. #1
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    Arthritis Anyone,helpful suggestions

    Figured I would post this here instead of in the Nutrion section do to hopefully more responses.

    Recently I have been diagnoised with form of arthritis called polyarthritis more or less immune auto-inflammatory type that is effecting all of my joints, seems almost constantly but enough times where the pain can be quite high and cause constant deep body pain and joint pain.

    So my curiosity is directed to those that have arthritis rather rheumatoid, osteoarthritis, or whatever how
    your cycling helps or enhances your well being as well as crank or gears that you use that put less stress on your joint.

    I have been cycling since the early seventies, started as a rehab tool after my discharge form the Marine Corp's and I really have no plans on giving it up what so ever.

    I find hammering like I use to do in the harder gears seems to excerbate the pain and joint inflamation, and i just really enjoy a very hard, hard all outtype rides; but spinning does not seem to do much better.

    I have good days and bad days lately seems to be more bad.

    Though I live in Texas where it is relatively flat currently I use 53/39/12-25 on one bike and 53/42/12-25 on another bike and I am wondering if something like a compaqct crank would be more beneficial or just changing the the rings to something like 39/48 or 50/39.

    Don't reallyknow if this would even help. Durng the rides I feel ok even though my ankles andkee's hurt at times it is mostly the next day.

    I do have some pain meds, but I really want to stay away from them as long as possible, and currently pop about 6 iburfon a day

    I would really appreciate any suggestions or wisdom iin whaqt anyone else has experienced with riding and forms of arthritis.

    Gary
    "Advantages Must Be Pressed, Disadvantages Must Be Overcome"

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    My philosophy is that you can't conquer it, you can only live with. I have arthritis with severe osteoarthritis in my right knee. I've had numerous surgeries on both, including an ACL reconstruction about 5 years ago on the right knee. While I occassionally get out of the saddle, I don't kid myself about what hard pedaling can do to bad knees. My road bike has a 52/42/30 triple. I changed the rear to a 12-32 XT cassette with XT Rear DR. This works for me in the north Texas hill country. I may go to a 13-30cassette in the near future. I doubt if I'll ever even consider a compact.

    The cycling does not inflame my knees as long as I use the low gears. If I push hard on a ride, knees will be stiff and feel like they have sand in the joints when I get up the next morning.

    I also have arthritis in my hands. It came along when I was in my early 30's. Fortunately, so did the personal computer, and the keyboard exercise helps my hands. If I am away from the desk for a week or so the hands start to really hurt.

    However, I did finally give in to doc's suggestions and started taking Celebrex about 8 months ago. It has worked wonders on the pain and inflammation. I also take glucosamine chondroitin, and started it the same time as the Celebrex. After a year or so we plan to lower my Celebrex dosing and see how it feels.

  3. #3
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    We recently went on a charity ride where one of the folks was using an electric-assisted bicycle. They pedaled when they could, but also used the electric assist at times. I don't know if this appeals in any way to you, but at least this person got some of the joys of bicycling, while using the electric assist to be able to complete the ride.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  4. #4
    Semper Fidelis
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monoborracho View Post
    My philosophy is that you can't conquer it, you can only live with. I have arthritis with severe osteoarthritis in my right knee. I've had numerous surgeries on both, including an ACL reconstruction about 5 years ago on the right knee. While I occassionally get out of the saddle, I don't kid myself about what hard pedaling can do to bad knees. My road bike has a 52/42/30 triple. I changed the rear to a 12-32 XT cassette with XT Rear DR. This works for me in the north Texas hill country. I may go to a 13-30cassette in the near future. I doubt if I'll ever even consider a compact.

    The cycling does not inflame my knees as long as I use the low gears. If I push hard on a ride, knees will be stiff and feel like they have sand in the joints when I get up the next morning.

    I also have arthritis in my hands. It came along when I was in my early 30's. Fortunately, so did the personal computer, and the keyboard exercise helps my hands. If I am away from the desk for a week or so the hands start to really hurt.

    However, I did finally give in to doc's suggestions and started taking Celebrex about 8 months ago. It has worked wonders on the pain and inflammation. I also take glucosamine chondroitin, and started it the same time as the Celebrex. After a year or so we plan to lower my Celebrex dosing and see how it feels.


    thank you for the reply
    I already have osteoarthritis in my right knee and have been putting the surgery off and you are right on pushing hard it exacerbates the pain more especially in my knee's as well as the ankles and shoulders. I am actually on a trial run of medication from the VA which helps tremendoulsy but I am trying to avoid anything extra for the pain.
    I will ask aboutthe celebrex, again thanks
    "Advantages Must Be Pressed, Disadvantages Must Be Overcome"

  5. #5
    Semper Fidelis
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    We recently went on a charity ride where one of the folks was using an electric-assisted bicycle. They pedaled when they could, but also used the electric assist at times. I don't know if this appeals in any way to you, but at least this person got some of the joys of bicycling, while using the electric assist to be able to complete the ride.


    not yet, I ahve been thinking of a recumbent but I have ridden a regular road bike for so long the alternatives as you stated in my mind are not appealing, but you never know.

    Thank you!
    "Advantages Must Be Pressed, Disadvantages Must Be Overcome"

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    Not sure whether a recumbent will help your knees. It does help other parts of your body although I'm told that it requires some getting used to because you are now sitting in a chair pushing the pedals and your lower back starts to get some abrasion it didn't get before. Your gearing seems about right for flat areas; for hilly areas I'd try either a larger "bailout" cog in the rear or a compact front. I think a triple would be good, too, but the jump down to the granny is enormous and I never really liked it even on my mountain bike. I'd think about things to help you spin more. I know people who cycle with arthritis and they've achieved some measure of relief and the ability to continue by spinning. I wish you the best in your search.

    -soma5

  7. #7
    Semper Fidelis
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    Quote Originally Posted by soma5 View Post
    Not sure whether a recumbent will help your knees. It does help other parts of your body although I'm told that it requires some getting used to because you are now sitting in a chair pushing the pedals and your lower back starts to get some abrasion it didn't get before. Your gearing seems about right for flat areas; for hilly areas I'd try either a larger "bailout" cog in the rear or a compact front. I think a triple would be good, too, but the jump down to the granny is enormous and I never really liked it even on my mountain bike. I'd think about things to help you spin more. I know people who cycle with arthritis and they've achieved some measure of relief and the ability to continue by spinning. I wish you the best in your search.

    -soma5

    Thank you.

    I never realized how painful arthritis can be.
    I have been spinning more just trying to find the right gear I guess, and out of habit and years of cycling I have used the big ring for so long the little ring never feels comfortable unless I am just thrashed or I climb some areas 40 miles from my house.
    I am leaning towards gearing like a compact just buying a 50 ring, 50/39 with my 12-25 cassette to see if that gives me some relief.

    I am not much of a whiner or complainer but some days, lately it feels like someone has beaten me in every part of my body .
    "Advantages Must Be Pressed, Disadvantages Must Be Overcome"

  8. #8
    jcm
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    Six ibuprofen a day? You must be a hell of a lot tougher than me. I use it intravenously, grind it up in my water bottles and pepper my baked potato with it. In fact, I'm in the process of writing a cook book entitled, "Better Cooking With Vitamin I". Hoping to make the Oprah Best Read List.

    Seriously, the only places I don't hurt are below the hip joints, thank God. I've screwed around forever trying to configure my bikes in order to be able to ride very long day trips out to 100 miles. Got it dialed in pretty good now.

    I am a true believer in Three Rings Up Front. Enough of this nonsense about weight and style. get yourself a granny gear and use it. At about the 75 mile mark, if it's windy or I'm particularly tired, I will sometimes even go granny on very slight hills. The point is to take the pressure off the joints.

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    a77impala a77impala's Avatar
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    I have had Osteoarthritis for 15 years, I quit biking about 10 years ago because of hip pain. At one point I was taking several Ibuprofin a day, until they ruined my stomach, plus arthritis meds. I retired 5 years ago and started biking again to get exercise, I was doing 10 miles a day on a mtn bike, anymore and I suffered. Two years ago I switched to a road bike and gradually increased up to 30 miles a day with no pain.
    Last weekend I rode in a MS ride and did 75 miles one day and 46 the next and no stiffness or pain at all. I attribute this improvement to biking, I ride everyday, even in the winter if temp is above 30 degrees farenheit. All I can say is it works for me.
    I no longer take any meds, not even an occasional aspirin. There is no cure so you can only live with arthritis so anything that works for you go for it.
    Good Luck!
    Last edited by a77impala; 09-29-07 at 02:44 PM.
    Treks, 79-710, 83-600, 85-420, 87-560, 90-930,92-970, 95-930, 96-930, 1220, LeMonds, 2000 Zurich, 05-Etape, 06-Versailles

  10. #10
    Senior Member rodrigaj's Avatar
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    I have had osteoparthritis in 3 neck vertebrae and in the big toes of both feet. I take glucosimine/chondoitin and when it really gets bad, 600 mg of ibupophen per day. I have lived with this for 15 years and I don't ever see it going away, or getting better. Some days are better than others.

    I have found that when it is at its worse, a very intense ride lessens the pain. If I simply cannot get on the bike, I get on an elipical machine I keep for winter workouts. Excercise in the best treatment for arthritis. The endorphins lessen the pain and the exercise takes your mind off of it.

    Keep a daily regimen of aerobic exercise, deep breathing, stretching, proper nutrition and common sense. I hardly notice it anymore, and on especially bad days, I never dwell on it. A good PT is your best friend.

    Good luck.

  11. #11
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    I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 1986. In spite of heavy duty RA meds ... the Rheumatologist had me on Prednisone, Methotrexate, and a lot of Aspirin ... there was still significant inflamation and joint damage over the years, as well as a reduced range of motion in most large joints.

    In 2004 I switched to Methotrexate, Plaquinel, Arava, Aspirin (12/day as an anti-inflamatory), and Prilosec. That dramatically reduced the inflamation.

    In 2005 my wife and I bought hybrids to get some badly needed exercise that was easy on the joints. Over the last 2 years bicycling has changed our lives. I lost 45 lbs, and increased the range of motion in all my large bone joints. Inflamation is down.

    The two of us regularly go on 50 mi trips, including back to back 50 mile overnights. I rode my age on my birthday this week (65 mi) , and that was on a Giant Cypress DX hybrid. At the end of the 65 mi, I felt so fresh that I could have gone another 65. Absolutely no stiffness

    I only have 2 arthritis related problems on the bike. I have to change the contact point and position of my foot on the pedal fairly regularly or the balls of my feet swell up and get real sore. So I can't really go clipless. And I can't straighten my elbows, so I need a fairly upright sitting position, otherwise it's like holding a pushup position as I ride.

    We do ride hills on loaded bikes, so I lowered my crank set to 22/34/44 from 28/38/48 (with an 11/32 cassette), but I probably would have gone for the lower gearing even without the RA.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Recycle View Post
    I have to change the contact point and position of my foot on the pedal fairly regularly or the balls of my feet swell up and get real sore. So I can't really go clipless.
    Yeah, you can. Here's what you do.

    On a long ride of over 50, using SPD's, I have the same problems. But if I take my little allen wrench and move my cleat up half an inch or so I can go on. So I really have two positions for my cleats. And its really pretty easy to move them up or back when you stop to stretch because the "cleat marks" on the soles will show you where they go. Next day, move the cleats back to the usual spot. Just shifting the pressure point, even with stiff soles, helps.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcm View Post
    Six ibuprofen a day? You must be a hell of a lot tougher than me. I use it intravenously, grind it up in my water bottles and pepper my baked potato with it. In fact, I'm in the process of writing a cook book entitled, "Better Cooking With Vitamin I". Hoping to make the Oprah Best Read List.

    Seriously, the only places I don't hurt are below the hip joints, thank God. I've screwed around forever trying to configure my bikes in order to be able to ride very long day trips out to 100 miles. Got it dialed in pretty good now.

    I am a true believer in Three Rings Up Front. Enough of this nonsense about weight and style. get yourself a granny gear and use it. At about the 75 mile mark, if it's windy or I'm particularly tired, I will sometimes even go granny on very slight hills. The point is to take the pressure off the joints.
    not really a tough guy I do have a high tolerance for pain though but I believe that is strarting to change do too the constant inflamation.

    I am going to look at a larger style gearing like a 12-26 and even a compact crank.
    Today I did 38 miles and just did a lot of spinning 39/ 17 took about 12 miles to quit hurting I feel pretty good now though, cut my mileage in a quarter from 120 miles a week to about 75 do too the joint pain.

    thank you for your reply.
    "Advantages Must Be Pressed, Disadvantages Must Be Overcome"

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by a77impala View Post
    I have had Osteoarthritis for 15 years, I quit biking about 10 years ago because of hip pain. At one point I was taking several Ibuprofin a day, until they ruined my stomach, plus arthritis meds. I retired 5 years ago and started biking again to get exercise, I was doing 10 miles a day on a mtn bike, anymore and I suffered. Two years ago I switched to a road bike and gradually increased up to 30 miles a day with no pain.
    Last weekend I rode in a MS ride and did 75 miles one day and 46 the next and no stiffness or pain at all. I attribute this improvement to biking, I ride everyday, even in the winter if temp is above 30 degrees farenheit. All I can say is it works for me.
    I no longer take any meds, not even an occasional aspirin. There is no cure so you can only live with arthritis so anything that works for you go for it.
    Good Luck!
    Strange huh, some days I can ride 50-65 miles not a problem other days 20 miles feel's like I am dieing.
    Did 2- 23 miles early in the week, slow rides because of the pain and 38 today slow also today was somewhat better do too just spinning.

    Really strange last week did 125 miles, did 63 miles @ an average of 19.8 hammered through the whole ride on last Sunday and the pain started Monday, whole ride in the big ring, {ding,ding, goes the bell**
    Gonna keep a record or diary type infor., on using th esmall ring and spinning for about a month and see what happens.
    No big ring today
    thanks for your response.
    "Advantages Must Be Pressed, Disadvantages Must Be Overcome"

  15. #15
    Senior Member wrafl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HAMMER MAN View Post
    Figured I would post this here instead of in the Nutrion section do to hopefully more responses.

    Recently I have been diagnoised with form of arthritis called polyarthritis more or less immune auto-inflammatory type that is effecting all of my joints, seems almost constantly but enough times where the pain can be quite high and cause constant deep body pain and joint pain.

    So my curiosity is directed to those that have arthritis rather rheumatoid, osteoarthritis, or whatever how
    your cycling helps or enhances your well being as well as crank or gears that you use that put less stress on your joint.

    Gary
    I was diagnosed with osteoarhtritis but went on agressive rehabilitation in the form of massive physical therapy and walking excercise. Since then, my arhtritis condition improved and thus I advanced into cycling over 2 years ago. I still have joint pains but it wasn't as bad as back then and I don't take medicine for pain since I am prohibited by other doctors from the abuse I might get into with pain pills and other reasons such as having only 1 kidney and history of bad liver in the 70's. Riding a bike helped
    my knees improved from OA condition and have built strong legs and knees as a result. My doctor was right, that increased activity will help my joints, suchs as the kneem elbow and shoulders. I believe I have the crank set just about right contributing to my ability to ride longer distances. Perhaps you need to adjust the crank to a comfortable level to avoid too much stress on your joints.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    I don't know what you currently have now, but shorter cranks will reduce the amount your knees will have to bend. Even a little reduction may have a large effect. You may have to go to a little lower gearing to make up for the loss of torque.
    Keep in mind, a 10MM shorter crank acts like a 20MM reduction.
    You would raise the seat 10MM to reach the bottom pedal "properly", which puts the top pedal 20MM lower from the seat than before. That's 0.8 inches!

  17. #17
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    I appreciate everyones responses, thank you!
    "Advantages Must Be Pressed, Disadvantages Must Be Overcome"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
    I don't know what you currently have now, but shorter cranks will reduce the amount your knees will have to bend. Even a little reduction may have a large effect. You may have to go to a little lower gearing to make up for the loss of torque.
    Keep in mind, a 10MM shorter crank acts like a 20MM reduction.
    You would raise the seat 10MM to reach the bottom pedal "properly", which puts the top pedal 20MM lower from the seat than before. That's 0.8 inches!
    I really have not thought of a crank reduction.
    I have used 172.5 for 30 years but that is something to consider.

    Thank you
    "Advantages Must Be Pressed, Disadvantages Must Be Overcome"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Recycle View Post

    In 2004 I switched to Methotrexate, Plaquinel, Arava, Aspirin (12/day as an anti-inflamatory), and Prilosec. That dramatically reduced the inflamation.
    Prilosec is a well known acid reflux medicine, does it also have anti inflamatory properies that extend beyond the digestive system?

    The reason that I ask is I took one earlier for heartburn and now that I read this thread. I noticed that my knee feels better too.

    I am always looking for common denominators.

  20. #20
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    1) If you haven't tried glucosamine sulfate, get thee to Walmart and buy a bottle.

    2) Fight inflammation before it starts. Cut back or stop using foods that are inflammatory. Coffee, refined sugar, the stuff that makes life worth living...

    3) Fight inflammation naturally. Get to a health food store and get a bottle of distilled Omega 3 fish oil. Take one with each meal, if I was you I'd try two with each meal.

    Eat like you were on a diet. But on this diet not only are the portions medium sized, you eat fish or chicken, no red meat. Lots of fruit and veggies but only eat high glycemic fruit after a ride. The rest of the day everything has to be low glycemic index.

    4) Definitely try a 170 crank, there are good ones on sale right now, you know, Nashbar etc. But there is also Sugino cranks which are nice looking, not expensive and have an amazingly small granny ring. Another option is a 32 or 34 T rear cassette. Whatever it takes to get the stress off those knees.

    5) Consider a trainer. Seriously, the smoothness of the resistance is very kind to knees.

    6) I think you can beat it. But then I'm nuts so take that for what it's worth

  21. #21
    Semper Fidelis
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    Quote Originally Posted by late View Post
    1) If you haven't tried glucosamine sulfate, get thee to Walmart and buy a bottle.

    2) Fight inflammation before it starts. Cut back or stop using foods that are inflammatory. Coffee, refined sugar, the stuff that makes life worth living...


    started that long time ago


    3) Fight inflammation naturally. Get to a health food store and get a bottle of distilled Omega 3 fish oil. Take one with each meal, if I was you I'd try two with each meal.

    thanks on my list


    Eat like you were on a diet. But on this diet not only are the portions medium sized, you eat fish or chicken, no red meat. Lots of fruit and veggies but only eat high glycemic fruit after a ride. The rest of the day everything has to be low glycemic index.

    hardly ever touch red meat,high protein and fiber/fruit type foods

    4) Definitely try a 170 crank, there are good ones on sale right now, you know, Nashbar etc. But there is also Sugino cranks which are nice looking, not expensive and have an amazingly small granny ring. Another option is a 32 or 34 T rear cassette. Whatever it takes to get the stress off those knees.

    looking @ cranks and chainrings as I type and post off and on

    5) Consider a trainer. Seriously, the smoothness of the resistance is very kind to knees.

    Had one threw it away many yrs ago, something to consider now.

    6) I think you can beat it. But then I'm nuts so take that for what it's worth
    glucosamine sulfate, on my list



    appreciate your interest and help,
    thank you.

    Didn't know you cared LOL a little different from P/R
    thanks
    "Advantages Must Be Pressed, Disadvantages Must Be Overcome"

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    Quote Originally Posted by ib4it View Post
    Prilosec is a well known acid reflux medicine, does it also have anti inflamatory properies that extend beyond the digestive system?

    The reason that I ask is I took one earlier for heartburn and now that I read this thread. I noticed that my knee feels better too.

    I am always looking for common denominators.
    ib4it,
    I wasn't having any stomach problems, but the Rheumatologist prescribed Prilosec to minimize the chance of stomach problems developing after 20 years of taking a dozen aspirin a day.

    I did not notice any difference in inflamation nor in the progress of the RA after starting on it. As far as I know, there are no anti-inflamatory properties of Prilosec that extend to the various kinds of arthritis. But, as with all arthritis meds, YMMV.

    Best of luck in beating it.

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    With all the mention of shortening the crank length, you should remember the shorter the crank, the less leverage you have in the 90 degree positions. While you have a smaller circle to spin, you also lose 3% of your lever going from 175 to 170, so you have to push slightly harder for the same RPM.

    If you don't have a problem with range of motion, I'm not sure a shorter crank arm would significantly help. It might even increase the load on those knees.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monoborracho View Post
    With all the mention of shortening the crank length, you should remember the shorter the crank, the less leverage you have in the 90 degree positions. While you have a smaller circle to spin, you also lose 3% of your lever going from 175 to 170, so you have to push slightly harder for the same RPM.

    If you don't have a problem with range of motion, I'm not sure a shorter crank arm would significantly help. It might even increase the load on those knees.
    That's why they have lower gears! Or use a 3% smaller diameter tire.
    The shorter cranks will reduce the leverage, but allow one to up the cadence.
    I can't say the OP's arthritic knees act EXACTLY like MY arthritic knees, but a reduced range of motion means less pain for me. I was able to increase my cadence while using a lower gear and end up going the same speed with less effort.
    Besides, if you have bad knees, you probably aren't exerting full force in the 90 degree crank position. It hurts too much! With the shorter crank, you'll be exerting more force, more of the time, since the leg will be more extended ALL of the time!

  25. #25
    bobkat
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    There is a whole bunch of forms of 'arthritis' that have all different different causations and treatments. Kind of like a generic "bellyache' - lot of different kinds, causations, each having different treatments.
    I'm not sure what type of 'poylyarthritis' you have, but if it is an immune type, I assume you have been investigated and are undergoing treatment by a rheumatologist. If it is an auto immune type, treatment would probably tend to be along the line of rheumatoid arthritis, although I'm just guessing here.
    A lot of the other advice, fish oil, nutrition, flax seed oil, etc. is great advice as well as generic advice for inflamed joints no matter what the etiology. But if it is auto immune, then that should be specifically addressed as some auto immune diseases can silently affect more organs in the body than just the joints. Which is why I'd sure seek and follow the advice of a good rheumatologist.
    Glucosamine/chondroitin sure can't do any harm, and a lot of people swear by it. Same with shorter cranks. I went down to 152's but geared the triple chain down to compensate for the loss of leverage. But it may not apply to you as I did it for different reasons and it was on a recumbent, too.
    Good luck with it....

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