24 Oct Arthritis In Your 30s: It Happens, It’s Not Fun, But Here’s What Helped My Chronic Pain
I’m a woman who lives an active lifestyle that began when I was a tiny tot. I hit the ice for the first time at the age of five and I remember easily gliding around and picking up the graceful sport like a duck takes to water. Ten years of competition followed. I became a “rink rat”, practicing before and after school and I worked my way up to medaling at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships (“Nationals”, as we called it). There is no doubt in my mind that the seeds of discipline and hard work were sown early on and today, I’m grateful for my athletic training which taught me that practice, perseverance, and commitment are key components to achieving your goals both on and off the ice.
When I retired from competition at age 15, I traded in my skates for sneakers. I joined the cross country, track, and dance teams at Marlborough School (an all-girls college prep school in Hancock Park, a suburb of Los Angeles). I remained active in college and found yoga and spinning shortly after graduating at 21. I haven’t stopped moving since. Working out and doing something active daily is as important to me as eating and breathing…I can’t imagine I’ll ever stop. However, recently, chronic pain in my right hip forced me to slow down.
I found myself modifying my poses in yoga class and I was unable to keep up during sprints in spin class. The athlete mentality in me kicked into gear, urging me work through the pain, but it quickly became too much to bear and I found myself skipping workout sessions…which never happens.
The pain was at its worst when I was sitting in deep flexion in bucket seats while driving around LA. I would dread traffic; not because it would make me late, but because it was physically painful.
After waking up in pain for about a month and limping around to the point where coworkers noticed and would ask, “what’s wrong with your leg?” I finally went to an orthopedic surgeon. He ordered x-rays, sent me to get an MRI, and when the results came back, my doctor told me my labrum was torn and there was a significant area of arthritis in my right hip. Ouch. No wonder I was in so much pain.
In a nutshell, I have little to no cartilage in my hip socket — that means there is no cushion between femur and hip socket — and bone-on-bone hurts! My doctor asked me if I had had some sort of trauma or injury in the past (no, I haven’t) and he went on to say that usually, he doesn’t see this type of wear-and-tear in someone until they’re well into their 50s or 60s. He added that I was pretty young to have arthritis this severe and there wasn’t much that can be done to fix the problem aside from hip surgery.
In an effort to avoid surgery, my doctor told me to avoid high-impact activity and suggested PRP injections (platelet-rich-plasma therapy). However, PRP is not covered by insurance, is costly (about $2k for each treatment), and has not been proven effective. He also suggested physical therapy.
Let’s just say I was shocked by the diagnosis and extremely bummed out at the thought of living with chronic pain for the rest of my life. After the diagnosis, my mind went back to my days on the ice. I thought about the constant jumping, pounding, and landing on my right leg—and while I’ll never know exactly what caused the arthritis, I can’t help but think that skating could have been a contributing factor.
After a few days of moping, I accepted the problem and decided to tackle it holistically. I started seeing my acupuncturist more frequently (acupuncture is believed to help reduce pain from arthritis by reducing inflammation), and have added daily supplements to my diet including Turmeric, Glucosamine/Chondroitin, and MSM to help ease the pain (scientific studies are inconclusive, but lean towards beneficial results) and I see my physical therapist twice a week.
I also have a timer on my phone to remind me to do my daily exercises recommended by my PT. And you know what? After one month of physical therapy—doing daily exercises to help make the muscles around my hip stronger—I feel better! I am no longer walking with a limp or waking up in pain.
Here’s what I do on the daily to help release the tightness around my hip and strengthen the area around my joint.
Updated video with modified exercises (posted a couple months after my first video):
Cheers to mobility, stability and a pain free life!
Note: After I was diagnosed arthritis, I learned that millions of Americans suffer from this joint disease and it’s the leading cause of disability among adults in the U.S. (more facts and figures about arthritis can be found here)
TURMERIC: Turmeric is the spice in curry that makes it yellow and has been used in India for thousands of years. It is used as a spice and medicinal herb. Curcumin is the main active ingredient and it has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is also a very strong antioxidant. If you start taking it as a supplement, make sure you add black pepper, because it’s not easily absorbed without it (I’ve been adding black pepper to my toast in the morning when I take it to enhance the absorption).
CHONDROITIN/GLUCOSAMINE/MSM: Chondroitin, glucosamine and methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM, are commonly found together in one pill and are touted for joint health. The complex is commonly used to reduce pain from osteoarthritis and other inflammatory joint problems.
OTHER SUPPLEMENTS I TAKE FOR OVERALL HEALTH:
SPIRULINA: Pop one of these green gems of goodness everyday and reap the benefits of one of the healthiest nutrients on the planet. Spirulina is a microscopic blue-green algae and contains every essential amino acid, more carotenoids than any other whole food, and is a great source of vitamins A, K, B12, as well as iron, manganese, and chromium. It strengthens the immune system and boosts energy levels.
BIOASTIN: Bioastin Hawaiian Astaxanthin is a green algae and is one of the world’s strongest antioxidants. It is 5,000 times stronger than vitamin C and clinically proven to support joint, brain, eye, and skin health, according to the Nutrex Hawaii website. And, just a note, when you take this supplement, make sure you eat something preferably with fat as it will help in the absorption process!
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KYOLIC AGED GARLIC EXTRACT: This company grows their garlic on organic farms free from pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. The garlic cloves are naturally aged and become odorless so you can ingest these supplements without any concerns of garlic breath! Aged garlic has been shown to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation. Plus, it can also enhance your immune system. Personally, I like to take it to reduce my likelihood of getting sick.