In 1999 I began to experience increasing stiffness and pain in my right foot, leg and hip. At first I thought I would just work through it and keep on walking to work, biking, paddling, skiing in the winter and jogging occasionally throughout the year. However, the stiffness and pain got worse and worse until one day I could barely walk.
I went to my doctor and was given crutches and referred to a physio. At the time I was living in Vancouver and went to a number of different physio’s that included Active Release Therapy (ART) and other treatments. My doctor referred me to a sports medicine specialist that said I had a mechanical structural issue in the way I walked. I was sent to UBC sports medicine and given different exercises. I was able to get some movement back but the pain in my hip continued.
In 2000 I was sent to an orthopaedic surgeon. He recommended an x-ray which showed that my right hip had advanced arthritis and my left hip had mild arthritis. He said that I had to give up running, that it was unlikely to improve and would likely require a hip replacement on the right side. As well a problem in my ankle could require my ankle to be fused, but both issues combined could result in confinement to a wheel chair by the time I was 50. Since I was only 40 I thought I had to do something. So began my long journey back from chronic pain to pain free with increased mobility that I believe is better than in my 20s.
I could not have done this without the combination of a physio that uses IMS, a structural integrationist, and more recently a trainer that has built on the progress I have made. I firmly believe the key to my success has been my own dedication to daily stretching, core and specific strength building exercises that I do to improve the functioning of my hip. Interestingly I have used the regime I developed for my hip to overcome pain in my middle back from a previous sports related injury and in my neck from a car
accident (I was broadsided by a drunk driver).
The daily stretching and rolling my fascia and muscles with a foam roller and ball has also contributed to reducing my pain and increasing my flexibility. Several people I know have gone for hip replacements. Yet, in a recent trip to the specialist I was told that while my arthritis is still present it has not progressed. This was attributed to the structural changes that I have implemented that have changed my posture and the mechanics of joint movement.
For me it means no chronic pain, increased mobility, and improved mental health (being in pain all the time is depressing and tiring). I have lost weight, and am in as good shape as I was in my 20s. Although I cannot do radical sports that put a lot of impact on my joints because of arthritis that continues to affect other parts of my body, as of 2008 I am healthy, happy and pain free – two years in advance of my 50th!