Since my last run I developed a weird virus and have had to take a few days off running, mostly to give my lungs a chance to recover. Now its nearly a week since I ran and one of my motivations to run has reappeared to give me a nudge to get back out there. Pain.
Arthritis, both the osteo and rheumatoid types, is rife throughout my family and I have had it in one of my hips since I was 13. As outlined in how-i-lost-3-stone one of my reasons for losing weight was to try and ease the pain in my hips. Over the last 3 years, my arthritis has begun to affect my hands, neck and lower back as well as both hips. It doesn’t help that I live in a damp, wet country and it is absolutely true that I can feel it when there is rain coming – it hurts! (it’s the change in air pressure not the actual rain).
For a long time, running has been blamed for causing arthritis, especially in knees due to wear and tear, but in recent years this has been proven to be incorrect, with studies demonstrating that the repeated weight-bearing activity actually increases the rate of bone regeneration and blood supply to the joints (http://www.webmd.com/arthritis/news/20141115/running-wont-raise-risk-of-knee-arthritis-study-says).
Shazia Bég, MD, a board-certified rheumatologist at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando, agrees. “Most studies show there isn’t any correlation between running and developing osteoarthritis.
In fact, exercise, including running, is now being recognised as a treatment for arthritis. As Arthritis Ireland state-
Physical activity is proven to be a vital part of managing arthritis. As well as reducing pain and inflammation, keeping active improves joint support and lubrication, helps with weight control and has many other health benefits
My own personal experience would completely agree with this new thinking. My own GP (family doctor) supports my running and encourages me to try and run through the pain. This is a bit controversial, I know, but this pain is different to that caused by an injury and those of us with arthritis know the difference. It can take about 15 minutes of running at a gentle pace for the pain to ease (I can actually feel it fade away) and it stays gone for days!
It can be hard to make yourself run when it hurts. Today my hands are very sore and the idea of shaking them back and forwards repeatedly is not appealing but I KNOW it will make them feel better.
The result of my running is that I live with my arthritis without any pain medication. This is very important. There is no cure and as I age, chances are it will get worse and more wide-spread. The more we use pain medication, the less effective it becomes so the longer I can manage my arthritis with out pain killers and anti-inflammatories, the better.