Ankle replacement? How bad is it?

 

Gentle Reader,

 

Have you dried off from your most recent visit to the Y’s water aerobics for arthritics?  Not there yet?  Today I want to share information about replacing those joints that just keep hurting so much that you prefer to sit or lie down rather than try to move through the pain.  My favorite website for the latest procedures is Johns Hopkins Medicine.  This week they have an article about ankle replacement.  Replace your ankles?  Oh, my goodness.  It would have to be really bad before I’d do that.

 

My own experience with arthritis in the ankles came as a result of breaking the left ankle while cross country skiing in 1997. The snow conditions were our usual white cement so often prevalent in the Cascade mountains.  The Women on Wednesday group I ski with had chosen the Swan Lake trail that begins along Lake Kachess and then rises through twists and turns to an upper plateau. We have never made it to Swan Lake. It must be there somewhere.  Our ski day usually begins with a couple hours of climbing on skis, then lunch in a nice trail side spot, followed by another 20 minutes uphill to warm up.  Then we usually turn around and come down.  These logging roads are never groomed except by the occasional  snow mobile.  Snow mobiles can create moguls that make skiing even more challenging than breaking trail.  If the uphill has been through new snow, even cement (heavy) snow, the downhill can go quite well.  On the particular day of the breakage, I was doing my usual fast downhill and on one curve, planted the tip of my left ski squarely into a snow bank.  My body continued on.  I could hear the snap.

 

It was possible to ski out the remaining 4 miles or so by keeping the left leg slightly bent and the foot rigid in the boot, using the polls and right ski to snow plow.  On the bus, a fellow skier and nurse, filled a sandwich bag with snow and wrapped my ankle with an emergency tape.

 

The next day, an x-ray revealed a hair line fracture which they cast. I was in this non-weight baring thing for 60 days and a walking boot for another 30 days.  I worked hard to keep the muscles functional with all sorts of floor exercises including leg lifts in all directions, and was ready to walk as soon as they gave the go ahead.

 

Now, fifteen years later, I am getting little twinges when setting off on a hike or long city walk.  Do I stop?  Is it harmful to keep going?  I can report that I may slow down a bit, exercise great care in foot placement and gait, and above all keep going.  So far so good.  The pain doesn’t stop me and the ankle is still functioning well.  Will it get worse?  Probably.  Will I go for surgery someday?  Who knows.  I would recommend doing every possible thing before going there.  If you do read the article at the link, you’ll see that people have good results.  Are they hikers, cyclists, climbers?  Or are they people who just want to be able to walk around their house when the pain has become so unbearable they are confined to a chair?

 

Osteoarthritis and arthritis caused by injury often come down to the same thing as one ages.  I prefer to take hands full of supportive supplements to 3 Advil because I am sure that the supplements strengthen tissue and feed cells for better all over health.  Advil will mask the pain for sure.  It is pretty conclusive that vitamins, minerals and protein build healthy tendons, muscles and bone.  There may still be pain.  Try an herbal pain inhibitor first.  Shaklee makes a good one.  If you want to explore these, go to HiHoHealth dot com.  We have a Pain Relief page there.

 

The Johns Hopkins site on arthritis gives good information about the other joint replacements as well.  Good luck if you are facing this decision.  If you want to talk more about your options with a person who has been dealing with arthritis for 35 years, I’d love to hear from you at 206 933 1889.  If you would like to comment, please do.

 

Do well, Be well and Keep Moving,

 

Betsy

 

 

 

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Pain free flying

Avoiding increased pain when on vacation.

This is the first of a series of posts on staying pain free while traveling.

I just spent 10 days in Mexico with 4 friends, enjoying my time share and a few extra days in Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the coast of the Yucatan as 25 minute ferry ride from Cancun.  It was wonderful.  I had my herbal pain killers at the ready, and took a couple every 4 -5 hours.

Plane rides are the worst for osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis and the 4 plus hours from Seattle to Houston were challenging. I am reminded of the many long plane rides I have taken and the technique I have learned for staying comfortable.

Back in 1992, right after my husband died, I took a trip to San Francisco for some R & R.  We sat in the plane on the runway for 6 hours waiting for the fog to clear in SF so we could leave Seattle and land 2 1/2 hours later.  If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that the traumatic injury to my L5 happened only 3 years earlier, and while I had rehabilitated enough to do 3/4 of the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier in 1990, I was still at risk.  Slouching in a chair, especially an airplane seat, is the worse possible thing to do for a potentially unstable back.  As Moshe Feldenkrais would say, you are either sitting (sits bones directly under your erect back) or you are lying down (any tilted back position on down to prone).  I was lying down in the most unsupported manner.  When we finally landed in San Francisco, I could hardly walk.  My left leg had extreme sciatica pain from the pinching at L5.  What I learned from that experience has saved me from ever repeating it.  It may help you.

I drink a lot of water and a rehydrating drink called Performance which I carry in a zip lock bag and mix with the water they offer, or in the bottle I carry on.  Do you know that you lose a cup of water every hour you are in the air?  You do not excrete only water, but minerals that you must have for proper balance in your system.  These are the electrolytes you add with a high quality hydrating drink like Performance.  (If you want to know more about the products I mention, go to www.HiHoHealth dot com.)

Drinking a lot forces me to get up and down to use the rest room.  Moving prevents prolonged slouching from setting in.  While sitting, I do isometric exercises.  I seldom tilt my chair back but try to stay upright.  On long flights to Asia and Africa, the TV monitor w shows isometric exercises that are helpful.  Here are several that I have used.

Isometric Leg Exercises

Isometric exercises are an effective way to exercise during a flight. Also called static tension, isometric exercise involves a contraction of a muscle without a change in the length of the muscle. Bodybuilding.com recommends doing an isometric thigh exercise while sitting on your seat. Make a fist with your hands and place them under your knees. Squeeze your thigh and calve “around” your fist, and hold for five to 10 seconds.

 

Knee Exercises

Knee flexions and extensions are other simple exercises to do during your flight. Knee flexion involves lifting your knee toward your chest while sitting on your seat with your back against the back rest. Lower your leg, and repeat with the opposite leg. Knee extension involves straightening your leg as far as you can while sitting with your back against the rest. This is crazy making in steerage where I sit.  Do these exercises as many times as desired.

Calf Exercises

Deep vein clots are common in the lower leg or thigh, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Improve the blood flow in your lower leg by contracting your muscles. To do a calf raise, place your tiptoes on the floor. Thrust your heels upward as high as you can until you feel a contraction in your calves. Hold for five to 10 seconds, and lower your heals, or repeat continuously with a pumping motion. Repeat as often as you can to improve blood flow in your veins. This is a really good one.

 Arms

Exercise your arms with a wrist roller workout. Cross your fingers and do a rolling motion with your wrists for 10 to 20 seconds. Improve blood flow in your arms by making a fist with each hand and flexing your forearms toward the floor. Hold for 10 seconds, release and repeat. Optionally, raise your fists toward your chest and down to your thighs for 10 to 20 times to also target your biceps.

Shoulders and Chest

Shoulder shrugs are a way to relieve tension in your upper body. Hold the shrug for 10 seconds and release. Exercise both the chest and shoulders by doing a rope climb. Imagine a rope hanging over your head, and “grasp” it with your hands as to climb it. With each motion, reach from over your head and pull down until your arms touch your thighs. Repeat 20 times with each hand.

Back and Abs

Stretch your back by bending at your waist until your chest reaches your upper thighs. Hold for a few seconds and slowly return to an upright position. Keep your back straight throughout the stretch. Target your abdominal muscles sitting upright and exhaling completely. Without inhaling, suck in your stomach as deeply as you can and hold for few seconds. Release and repeat.

 

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/532387-seated-exercises-to-prevent-dvts/#ixzz1h1GMalQ5

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/460480-leg-exercises-for-while-you-are-in-flight/#ixzz1h1ExSucs

Do not worry about what other people think.  After all, your body needs this and their bodies could probably use it to.  You might have the whole row exercising.  You will have much less jet lag and arrive ready to walk and pull your suit case.

I would love to hear your techniques for keeping aches and pains under control while flying.  Next week I will share my away-from-home morning routine before setting off for a day of site seeing.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving.

Betsy

www.HiHoHealth dot com

Traumatic injury: my story

Hello, Gentle Reader,

In 1989, I lifted, or should I more accurately say, yanked a large drink box full of wine bottles out of the back seat of a two door Datsun.  I heard something go in my lower back.  I was angry about carrying these bottles up a long flight of stairs to the social hall of a large church.  My husband in his characteristic generosity offered to cook an elegant meal for a visiting prelate from the Russian Orthodox church inMoscow.  While I approved a grand reception for this honored guest and his entourage, I criticized my husband for trying to do this alone.  Plenty of people would love to cook with Don Bell.  My only task was delivering the drink.

I could feel the place in my back where the terrible sensation had come from.  I carried the box and several more like it upstairs anyway.

The next morning, I awoke early, still smoldering over the piles of potato skins on the kitchen counter and the olive oil slick floor, remnants of the single-handed cooking effort the night before.  Jack LaLanne was just beginning his exercise routine on TV.  I took my position on the large expanse of our hook-latched rug covering the living room floor.  I would work out my anger through exercise.  On all fours, he called out doggie leg lifts.  Snap.

Whatever happened lifting the box, leg lifts finished me off.  I rolled on the floor sobbing in pain.  All my previous judgments against people who complained of bad backs taunted me.  Pay back for lack of understanding and sympathy.   Those legions who suffered, did they suffer as I was now suffering?  Were they not the malingering lazy bums I judged them to be?  What was I going to do?

I could not stand or sit but remained on all fours.  I slowly in extreme pain pulled myself to the staircase and up to our bedroom where Don still lay sleeping.  Once I struggled into bed and lay on my back, I began to breathe more deeply.  I went into head honcho mode commanding my groggy husband to get my day planner and find the phone number of my massage therapist.  It was 7 a.m.

This amazing person came over two hours later.  Don had already gotten me a 24-inch bolster cushion so my legs were in a chair position while lying flat on my back.  This was the only pain free position I could find.  Mary worked on me for over an hour, calming the sympathetic spasms in my shoulders, neck, upper back and arms.  She persuaded me against my wishes to take a muscle relaxant.  She came back twelve hours later and repeated the treatment.

The next morning I was able to inch my way painfully down the stairs and into the car.  Ouch.  That move brought tears to my eyes.  Don drove me to my chiropractor who gently calmed the spinal column and relocated the offending L5 into its proper place.

I was 52 years old.  A skier, hiker, biker, dancer, runner, I valued physical fitness next to Godliness.  More than Godliness.  I was determined to overcome this glitch.  Little did I know what was in store for me as I set about healing from an L5 herniation.

Tell me your story.  How did your back begin to hurt?  What makes you worry about ending up in a wheel chair?  How did arthritis begin and where has it taken you?

My story of treatment and recovery continues next week.  Stay tuned.

Betsy Bell

Betsy Bell’s Health4U

4455 51st Ave. SW

Seattle,WA98116

206 933 1889

www.TiredNoMore.com