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View Full Version : Anyone else swim with bad knees ( osteoarthritis)



cathlaur
October 15th, 2007, 02:36 PM
Hey there

My knees have been quite sore with the swimming ( probably pushing off the wall and kicking drills seem to bother me) My hubbys Uncle is an ortho and he told me just to swim through it ( as I am not going to do anymore damage). Which I am. I guess losing weight is key. Also strengthening the muscles around the knees.

Obviously they don't hurt enough to stop but they are more sore than before I swam. I kind of thought swimming was supposed to be good for this type of thing.

So I want to hear other peoples stories about arthritis and swimming.

Thanks

Katie

Blackbeard's Peg
October 15th, 2007, 04:07 PM
I'll let you know how my bum knee turns out in 20 years or so...

slknight
October 15th, 2007, 04:50 PM
I'm 37 and have arthritis in both knees but my right knee bothers me the most. I went through a lot of expensive physical therapy this summer that did basically nothing. :bitching: I was told by my PT that I am a "biophysical nightmare" and that I shouldn't do any flip turns. :blah: I promptly ignored that. ;)

I started cycling after I finished PT and that has helped the most. I've also lost 17 pounds (with about 25 more to go) and that has also helped. In my age-group swimming days, I used to kick extensive amounts of butterfly, but I no longer do that. I tend to do really small kick sets, and when it's bothering me, I don't do kick sets or fly at all. I have noticed that now that we're back inside and doing short course, my knee is hurting more. That's one of the reasons I prefer LCM (fewer flip turns).

My ortho told me that I might be looking at total knee replacement within 10 years and I'm really not interested in that. My hope is that with moderate amounts of cycling (which strengthens the knees) and weight loss, I can keep the pain in check.

Blackbeard's Peg
October 15th, 2007, 04:55 PM
slknight,
since you mention biking and LCM,
I am told that Biking is really good for the knees, as it builds the muscles around the knee, therefore making it stronger. Makes sense to me, but unfortunately, I haven't been able to fit anything in other than the 10 min/3.2-4 miles I do to start out my therapy sessions.
Also, with pool length, they moved the bulkheads back to the middle of the pool and instead of swimming scy width-wise turning on two concrete walls, we're now swimming SCY 50m-length-wise, with 1 bulkhead and one concrete wall. I am interested in seeing how that works out with my knee, but as I've mentioned previously, last week was pretty good for the bender!

slknight
October 15th, 2007, 05:06 PM
A few more general things I forgot to mention:

Avoid:
1) running
2) elliptical machines
3) stairs, especially carrying heavy things up and down the stairs. I carried my 43-pound son up the stairs the other day and my knee really hurt
4) other exercise that requires a lot of bending of the knee like step aerobics, squats, etc

My knee always hurts more after surfing but I still do that on occasion because it's so much fun.

Good things:
1) ice
2) cycling
3) stretch the hamstrings
4) stretch the calves

cathlaur
October 15th, 2007, 06:13 PM
Thanks for the responses. Sorry to hear others have bad knees to. OUCH

I to have been told I will need knee replacements eventually. I am just trying to get some weight off and in shape so maybe I can push that back for years and years.

How come the eliptical machine is so bad for you. I love it!

I do bike as well though my knees hurt while doing but not afterwards.

From what I have read weightloss is the best thing one can do. SO that is what I am trying to do:cane:

Katie

geochuck
October 15th, 2007, 06:24 PM
Knees not a problem get two new ones. A little steel a little plastic and they move not well but better than they did.

aquaFeisty
October 15th, 2007, 10:10 PM
Hi Katie,

I am 32 and have documented arthritis in the left knee and "Carrie-suspected" arthritis in the right. Swimming is my sport of choice! At the moment, it's about the only way I can get a good cardio workout. All of slknights tips are dead on. Here's a couple more things I do:

When my knees are hurting, I am cautious with my push-offs. I will tend to push off a bit more on my tiptoes to spare the knees. I also currently have a self-imposed breaststroke kick limit of about 400 yards per practice (I swim 3-4 times/week). I am a breaststroker who used to rely entirely on my kick so this kinda sucks. However, I do a lot of breast pull with dolphin kick in place of real breaststroke. I use fins with great caution.

Last spring, both knees really flared badly. I had been kicking too much breaststroke, had used fins excessively one day and then swam again the next day and decided to 'attack' all my walls. The stabilizing muscles that keep my knees happy were pooped and I paid for it. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I went to PT for about 6 weeks 2x/week, limited my breast kicking to 50 yards MAX per practice, did all my PT exercises at home with religious zeal, and went to bed every night with an ice pack on each knee. I ended up having a great shave and taper meet at the end of the season... so I think you can do fine swimming with knee arthritis, you just have to be smart about it. :)

Good luck!
Carrie

wolfie1961
October 15th, 2007, 11:16 PM
Bad knees here too. Had surgery on the left and two on the right, the latest one back in January. I just started swimming again (after a 17 year layoff) because my orthopedist told me to loose some weight. I've got arthritis in both knees and have very little cartilage on the kneecap. Swimming is about the only thing that I can do with out the added pain.
Just work though it and watch for excessive swelling.

cathlaur
October 16th, 2007, 08:16 AM
David I have had several surgeries to. It is tough. My knees hurt more during the swim and by the end of the day they don't. So I just keep doing what I am doing. Hoping to strengthen the muscles around the knees. They never ever swell which is weird.

Carrie thanks for all the info. WHAT is really weird is my knees dont hurt in breaststroke. More the pushoffs from = the wall. I had bad knees at your age as well. Now I am 41 and they are about the same. Though I had to give up my beloved downhill skiing a few years ago. It was complete and utter agony.

George glad to hear your new knees work. Yeah. I gather they are doing some awesome things with replacements now. They get better and better.

Katie

Ripple
October 16th, 2007, 09:45 PM
I don't know if I have osteoarthritis, but bad knees - damaged in a car accident - are what got me into swimming in the first place. They are slowly getting better. For a long time I couldn't ride a bike for more than an hour without pain, now I can go about 2.
Things that I find helpful to avoid knee problems in swimming:
- Limiting breast stroke to two short sessions a week.
- Avoiding fins. They really seem to set the right knee off.
- Two-beat kick instead of six, most of the time.

stussy96
October 16th, 2007, 11:45 PM
My knee saga: :(

I grew too fast for me knees and I have been told they basically never grew large enough to support me. In jr high I ran track and x-country with 2 knee braces, seeing a specialist a few times a month. He basically told me I would have to live with my knees and the condition they are in.

Got to college. Swam more. Started lifting more. Knees got worse. Had x-rays, various tests and LOTS of work in the training room/PT to make them better. After all these tests and x-rays, the Dr's learned that I had worn away the cartilage behind both of my knees, so the back of my patella was being rubbed against the end of my femur. They said I had a few options: cortisone to help with the pain. But that was temporary and would make it worse in the end. Or, I could live with it. I opted for that. I was then warned I was able to tear my meniscus easily since there was no longer any protection in that area. If I did that, I would be in terrible pain and immediately have surgery and never really swim much more.

So I lived with it...to the point where I would LITERALLY cry going up and down the stairs to my 3rd floor apartment. 1 week of that nightmare, I decided to "retire". I was only 20.

I still swim with pain, I can't really do breaststroke kick like I used to, but the key is that I still swim. I think it helps. On days my knees are bad, I take it easy. Focus on technique, drills and pulling. I can barely run anymore, and biking is tough. Swimming is all I got!!

I'm just now 25. I have a LONG road ahead with my knees.

The Fortress
October 17th, 2007, 12:28 AM
I know I've said this before, but why no prolotherapy or PRP for knees? Reasonably high success rate. Other athletes doing it. I wore away the tendons in my shoulder in youth and have been pursuing this option with some success. It is supposed to work even better for knees. One reason I'm persevering on the shoulders is to prevent early onset arthritis. Conventional PT cannot fix the problem. Seek other non-surgical treatments!

david.margrave
October 17th, 2007, 01:11 AM
What's wrong with elliptical machines? I thought they were alright, lower impact than running at least.

wolfie1961
October 17th, 2007, 03:23 AM
David I have had several surgeries to. It is tough. My knees hurt more during the swim and by the end of the day they don't. So I just keep doing what I am doing. Hoping to strengthen the muscles around the knees. They never ever swell which is weird.

Carrie thanks for all the info. WHAT is really weird is my knees dont hurt in breaststroke. More the pushoffs from = the wall. I had bad knees at your age as well. Now I am 41 and they are about the same. Though I had to give up my beloved downhill skiing a few years ago. It was complete and utter agony.

George glad to hear your new knees work. Yeah. I gather they are doing some awesome things with replacements now. They get better and better.

Katie

Wow,
If you were replying to me, it's been 30 years since I've been called David. And that was because my mother was yelling at me!!! LOL

cathlaur
October 17th, 2007, 08:01 AM
Ha ha ha Wolfie :lmao:is that better.

Fortress can you tell me more about what you are talking about or post a link so I can read up on it. That would be wonderful.

Stussy I am so sorry to hear about your problems. I to was told I grew so fast that my knees did not keep up . Then I raced downhill skiing and played lots of basketball. SO ouch. I am not in much pain as you are . I feel bad for you. Though my knees hurt during practice they are good later. Though I have hard time with getting off of the floor or out of the pool. I must look ridiculous. I am glad that swimming is helping you .

Weird how breast stroke does not bother me. hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm


Ripple sorry about the car accident. I have a bike and it hurts when I ride it but boy can you feel it working the muscles. Unfortunatley the bike gets put away soon. The snow will be here before I know it.

Katie

The Fortress
October 17th, 2007, 08:43 AM
Fortress can you tell me more about what you are talking about or post a link so I can read up on it. That would be wonderful.


Take a look at http://www.treatingpain.com/. In the bottom left corner, there is a listing for "regenerative injection therapy." There are two types: prolotherapy and plasma regeneration aka platelet rich plasma. There is a youtube video describing the latter. I have sought desperately for a shoulder cure since I began masters swimming and finally settled on prolo combined with ART. Unfortunately, prolo is not covered by most insurance plans. (However, my huband and I have succeeded in suing our insurance company and getting coverage with letters of necessity from our doctors.) My understanding is that plasma regeneration is faster and more effective and IS covered by insurance. I'm getting my first treatment in a few weeks. The topic of prolotherapy was also discussed in an Aug. 7 article in the NYT personal health section. It's not for everyone. But if you have a chronic, non-surgical condition, it seems like an option. It does take a long time to work. You are, after all, attempting to regenerate tissue to eliminate pain.

I'm sorry for everyone's knee plights!

cathlaur
October 17th, 2007, 09:32 AM
I tried synvesc and did not find it worked. I am going to check the link you provided.

Thanks

Katie

The Fortress
October 17th, 2007, 09:37 AM
I tried synvesc and did not find it worked. I am going to check the link you provided.

Thanks

Katie

Very resourceful of you! Is synvesc mostly for lubrication of the joints as opposed to regeneration? I hope you can find something that works. Sux being in pain!!!

cathlaur
October 17th, 2007, 09:45 AM
Yes synvesc is supposed to lubricate the area. I did not find a big difference though some people do. I found the needle very painful as well. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

I am lucky I am not in pain all the time just when I swim and sometimes afterwards but not all day. I really need to lose some weight. I am losing inches and feel really wonderful. I am excited about this journey so I just ignore my knees. That maynot work forever but it does now

Katie

slknight
October 17th, 2007, 09:46 AM
I know I've said this before, but why no prolotherapy or PRP for knees?

It doesn't appear that there's anyone who does prolo within a hundred miles of me. :(

As for the elliptical, it bothers my knee. I was told not to do it since it hurts.

The Fortress
October 17th, 2007, 09:56 AM
It doesn't appear that there's anyone who does prolo within a hundred miles of me. :(

As for the elliptical, it bothers my knee. I was told not to do it since it hurts.

That stinks. :( I think they're not as many really good prolo/pain docs because it's simply not as lucrative as surgery. Wish I could send my doc to you!! Or, maybe it's worth the round trip drive? You only get the injections every 4-5 weeks. And you can space them out even further than that.

Katie: The needle doesn't really bother me, except when it goes right in the tendon. But it's not really a painful procedure. After the injections, you feel temporarily better, then you're just sore for a few days.

I do see other athletes trying this. My doc has plenty of soccer and football clients, as well as regular folks who want to avoid the big cut. Redskins apparently love prolo.

geochuck
October 17th, 2007, 10:02 AM
For $130. buy this http://www.irpowerlight.com/