Let’s Get a Grip on Arthritis… My Family’s Experiences:

I hope you have had a great week so far.  I still can’t believe we are in 2019 now and I probably won’t get used to it for 6-7 months.

Today’s post is sponsored by The Arthritis Foundation!  I feel like it is really important to talk about this and spread awareness about arthritis because one in four (more than 54 million) Americans have arthritis.  Whether you struggle with arthritis or you do not, we can all learn how we can make a difference to help those that live with this challenge daily!  Arthritis is the #1 cause of disability in America and we need to be talking about this and raise awareness.

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As runners or exercise lovers, I think we can all agree that it is incredibly hard to have to stop doing what we love to do because of pain or discomfort.  I have been heartbroken many times because I’ve had to stop running and drop out of races because of an injury or health problems.  During those months of recovery I missed the feeling of my heart rate increasing with each mile or the stress relief I got from 60 minutes outside in the fresh air alone.  It’s so hard to have to adjust our lifestyles and passions due to an injury. I can’t even imagine how hard it must be to do this for those struggling with arthritis!

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Arthritis is not an “old person’s disease”… my sister was diagnosed with arthritis when she was 35!  Two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65, including 300,000 children.  My sister has been active her entire life and she has always taken such good care of herself by eating well, running and her strength training.  She was absolutely shocked by the diagnosis and how much her arthritis affected her everyday life caring for her children and being active (her two youngest boys are below a little bit after she was first diagnosed with arthritis).

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My sister was the one that got me into running in the first place!  I started running with her when I was twelve years old and we have shared hundreds and hundreds of miles together.  She has a pr of 1:35 for the half and this girl is STRONG emotionally and physically.

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I was so sad when I lost my favorite running buddy for a few years (she was able to have surgery to help the herniated disks, which has allowed her to run again but running with arthritis will never feel the same as it used to for her… there is no cure (YET) for arthritis).

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My mom has lived with arthritis throughout her life.  She has had arthritis in her knees most of her adult life.  Running has never been an option for her because of her arthritis.  After she gave birth to me she had temporary postpartum arthritis in her hands for about 7 weeks.  It was very painful to use her hands, especially after being asleep.  The arthritis pain made it very difficult to handle a hungry, crying newborn in the middle of the night.   There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related diseases.  It affects so many different people in so many ways.

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I hope and pray that there is a cure someday soon for arthritis.  I hope that those that struggle with it will one day be able to have a better daily quality of life and continue to do the things that they love to do.  It’s so important that we talk about this and raise awareness.   I have heard from many of you over the last 8 years that struggle or have loved ones that struggle with how arthritis has affected their running—> 81% of Americans have or know someone with arthritis!

Let’s help to get a grip on arthritis and here are a few ways that you can help.

*You can join The Arthritis Foundation and me by visiting HERE to learn about how you can join the #LetsGripArthritis movement, donate and learn more about arthritis.

*You can also help me raise awareness about arthritis by posting what you love doing (like running or lifting) on Twitter or Instagram because not everyone with arthritis can do the things they love.  Remember to include #LetsGripArthritis hashtag and tag your friends too!

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*If you do struggle with arthritis, you can get tips and tricks about how to continue doing the things that you love to do despite arthritis—>. HERE!

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Do you or anyone that you know have arthritis?  How long have they/you had it and how does it effect your daily life?    

Do you have any injuries or health problems right now that effect your daily life?

How old were you when you first started to run?

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63 comments

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My mom has arthritis in her hands and she has noticed a loss of strength and also more general discomfort in the mornings. It is such a terrible disease and I am praying along with you that a cure is found!

I started running in 6th grade on our middle school XC team. Haven’t looked back!

Happy New Year!

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Oh she must dread mornings and the pain she feels then. Keep me updated with how she is doing!
6th grade–>. I LOVE IT!! Running has been a big part of your life since you were so young! Thanks, same to you Melissa!

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I didn’t realize how common arthritis is. Thanks for bringing attention to this. My parents don’t have arthritis, but they both have carpal tunnel in their hands. My dad actually has to have surgery for his in a couple of weeks because he’s a PA in orthopedic surgery, so it’s starting to affect him at work at this point.

It’s tough when things we used to be able to do so easily become tough because of health issues. Running is my stress release and brings me so much peace, so the past couple of years without being able to train at full capacity and not even be able to consider racing right now have been really tough. I’m trying to have a good attitude about it, though, and remember to be thankful that at least I’m able to run, even if it’s not as much or fast as I want it to be right now.

Enjoy your weekend, Janae!

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I didn’t realize how common it was either until I started learning more when my sister was diagnosed. SO MANY PEOPLE STRUGGLE. Oh carpal tunnel is incredibly painful.. I have a few friends that have that. Let me know how the surgery goes. I have a really good feeling about your 2019 Natalie!

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Thanks for sharing this post. Three years ago at age 30, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease where my body attacks my joints. Doctors still don’t know what causes it. I’m happy to say I’m doing well now, thanks to medicine and a positive attitude, but there was a time where I couldn’t even walk down stairs, wear shoes or hold a hair dryer. And the medicine I was taking made me so sick. It was a lot of trial and error, and taking things day by day.

Arthritis is a tough disease and I empathize with your sister and anyone who is working through the pain and life adjustments it requires. xoxo

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Oh Stephanie. I am so so sorry. I can’t even imagine what you have been through over the last three years. Thank goodness you are doing better now and just wondering, did you make any dietary changes to help? You are amazing.

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Thanks for the kind reply. I struggled a lot in the past with binge eating, and my diagnosis made me work really hard to overcome it. I still have moments now and then, but for the most part I have it “under control.”

Aside from that, I made a point to incorporate a lot more healthy fats and protein in my diet. Sounds pretty basic, but I lean carb heavy if I don’t make an effort. I also took fish oil, circumin and probiotics. I tried removing peanuts, night shade vegetables, cutting back on gluten, and various other adjustments to cut back on known inflammatory foods, but didn’t see any changes.

One thing I do think made a difference was working out. Even on my worst days, I committed to moving my body somehow, and once I got to a better place, made strength building a priority.

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This is very interesting to me. I am going to have my sister look more into these types of diet changes to help. I am so so happy that working out has helped you so much too… you are an incredible example!

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One thing I totally forgot to mention – I switched from never eating organic to eating nearly all my produce and meat organic. Wishing her all the best. Xoxo!

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Thank you for sharing this with us… I sent her your comment yesterday and I’ll text her this right now!

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I was diagnosed with two autoimmune disorders at the beginning of 2018 – Hashimoto’s (a thyroid disorder) and rheumatoid arthritis. To say 2018 was a challenging year for me would be an understatement, lol. I had to cut WAY back on my running (I only logged 685 miles for the year), which was so hard for me mentally. Good news is that through functional medicine pathways, a strict diet of cutting out a bunch of foods that can be inflammatory, and new medicine I am back to running and hoping to run another marathon this fall!

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Oh wow Michelle. Your 2018 was unreal… I can’t believe everything you went through and SIX HUNDRED AND EIGHTY FIVE MILES while going through these things is beyond incredible to me… how you kept going… you are so strong. Thank goodness you are finding answers and I cannot wait to hear about your marathon this fall. You. Are. Amazing.

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Thank you for sharing. I was just diagnosed with RA, also at the age of 35. As a super active person, it almost feels embarrassing and isolating to be so sidelined right now. Thank you for the reminder that I am clearly not alone and giving hope. Blessings to you and your family!

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Suzanne. I am so so so so sorry. You are absolutely not alone. My sister was the same age and so incredibly fit/took amazing care of herself just like you. If you need me to ask her any questions or offer support please let me know. Thanks.

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Wow, I did not know all that about arthritis :(
I am injured and have been since my 4th baby was born (she is 7 months now). The only exercise I can do is swimming laps (I miss running SO much!) I hurt my pelvic floor (obterator internis) while pregnant or childbirth. I have no idea when it will be better, which is the most frustrating part!

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I had a long reply typed out, then my power went out…

But w/o rehashing my whole history with pelvic floor (and pubic stress fracture) issues, I just want to say I had Obturator Internus muscle spasms. I know how you feel; it’s awful, it wrecked me. Getting physical therapy saved me… and yes, it’s a very specialized field, likely requiring a Rx from your ob/gyn (it’s internal P/T). I never knew such a thing existed, but I was miserable until I did it. Pelvic floor issues are often from muscles being too tight (which is different than strong), and kegels were the absolute worst thing for me. And kegels are what everyone tells you to do!

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Thank you… I did see an internal PT for 6 months but they told me there is nothing else I can do now until I’m done breastfeeding :( I plan to just breastfeed a few more months. I’ve never heard of kegels being bad! I would love to email to hear about your experience. I’m am feeling very stuck right now! I can’t see your email address but mine is [email protected] Thanks :)

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CARRIE. I am so so incredibly sorry about this. Please keep me updated and I hope you are able to get this figured out soon. Tracy’s advice sounds really helpful! I hope you can email with her (I think her reply should include her email… if not I can get you two connected) if you have any questions! Tracy, I am so happy that you were able to get it all figured out!

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Thanks so much!

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It actually helps knowing that I am not a total freak show for having been (officially) diagnosed with arthritis before the age of 40. I was surprised to read the percentage of adults under the age of 65 who deal with this. I hate that my financial landscape makes specialist doctor visits really hard to afford so I can’t quite get the care I need, but I like that I can still be active even with this—my running has shifted to only short distances (for now) and 1 min walk/1 min run intervals, and I had to give up my love of taking Les Mills Body Combat classes, and it’s not only they I love spin classes–but because of their lo-impact nature I have come to RELY on spin classes. (At least relying on them I think contributed to my finally becoming certified to teach Les Mills RPM…).

I WILL say this: about 6-7 years ago a friend who is an avid runner was diagnosed with MS. Her attitude of gratitude for each day that she can run and do active things just embroidered itself into my spirit and once I got over the sort of shock and sadness of ‘my body hurts in specific places and weird ways…and now I know what it’s called…’ and I was looking for a way to shift my perspective, Beth was the first mental vision I had—her smile and her acknowledgement of what sucks in HER medical diagnosis while also expressing such gratitude and love for what she CAN do. That helped me get over my own dang self and create my monthly 5k in 2018 goal and inform my attitude of ‘four 10ks in 2019’ goal—with zero desire to worry about speed and every desire to be safe and to focus on the joy I feel with foot to pavement whenever my knee feels ok and I can get out there (I am literally crying with gratitude for her thinking about how much she had influenced me without even knowing it…).

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YOU ARE NOT AT ALL STEPHANIE and I thought about you when I was researching all about this. Thank goodness you are still able to be active because I know that is such a huge part of your life. I am so sorry that you have arthritis… always thinking about you. Your friend is absolutely amazing and her way of life has helped so many people. Keep on inspiring others just like Beth has for you!

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My dad had terrible arthritis. He was a very active person, but I remember days where he could barely walk because he hurt so badly. NOT TO BE A DOWNER, but he was looking for something/anything to help and was on medication for it. He ended up having a fatal heart attack at the age of 63, and nothing was proven, but I really think it was a side effect/result of the medication. It’s so so hard because you want so badly to feel better, to feel normal, that you’ll do almost anything.

My mom has back pain and is on meds that have pretty much made her lose her memory, but she really can’t handle the pain without the meds.

So, I think it’s hard. Medical advances are a blessing and a curse in the form of drugs. I always always try to find/use some kind of natural remedy before going onto any kind of prescription drug, but I can definitely see why some people really have no choice but to turn to prescription meds.

I really really feel that hot yoga has been my game changer in mind and body for helping me to feel good.

Speed workout later this afternoon and a 14 miler Sunday and the Key West half is TWO WEEKS from Sunday! WOOT WOOT!!!!!!!!!! I’m ready for sun, sand, and warmth :) But not too warm during the race! ha ha Happy running this weekend, Janae!!!

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I’m sorry about your father. Do you mind sharing what medicine he was taking?

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Oh Jen, I. Cannot. Even. Imagine. what your poor parents (I am so so sorry you lost your father) have been through and the pain you have experienced from watching them struggle so much.
Good luck this afternoon, I am SO excited to see you crush Key West half. Keep me updated and take it one interval at a time! Have a beautiful day Jen.

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I was 9 when I started running. I danced at that point too, and my parents told me that I could only choose one as I got older. And, of course, I picked running. I felt like there was too much drama in dance haha.

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I didn’t know you were 9 when you started… that is awesome! I hope you have a great day Jenny!

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Several years ago, I found out I have degenerative disc disease in my neck. I used to think that my severe headaches were caused by dehydration after running, but I found out that some combination of jarring and muscle tension actually caused the neck stiffness and pain, also related to the position of my cervical vertebrae. Lots more mobility work, stretching, and working my neck/shoulder/back/hamstring muscles with a lacrosse ball helps, as well as acupuncture.

I never stuck with running regularly until after grad school, so my mid twenties. It started as exercising my big, energetic dog, but then I kept craving longer distances and goals. Wow! I just realized this fall it will be half of my life :)

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Wow, that sounds really painful Corey and I am glad that you have found some things to help with this. HALF OF YOUR LIFE OF RUNNING… that makes me happy:) . Thank goodness that pup of yours got you started! Have a beautiful day Corey!

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Thank you for this post! My mom has had arthritis for since her late 40s and she has been on many different types of treatments to address the pain and stiffness. The infusions she gets work pretty well, but the downside is that they lower her immunity. So she has to be really careful. My younger sister was just diagnosed with the same arthritis as my mom a few months ago (psoriatic) but she is younger, only 39. She was completely devastated by the news. She is a very physically active person with 2 small children. She mainly lifts heavy weights but also likes to run. She immediately got several opinions from specialists and decided to go on an antiinflammatory diet, which involves cutting out a lot of the foods she loves, but she believes it is worth it! I am definitely going to check out their support site to see if they have any events or if I can somehow show my support in other ways!
I started running in my late 20s, but didn’t start really training, being competitive, or doing long distances until 40. Since then running has become a vital part of my life and I love it more than ever before! I hope I can run until I’m 100 😊

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Annemarie, thank you for sharing your mom and sister’s stories. It is so sad to me how many people are affected daily by arthritis. I am so glad that your sister has found a way to help manage this with her diet. Keep me updated with how they are doing! You are ROCKING your running and I love hearing about your world. Have a beautiful day!

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Hi Janae. I’m 53 now and began running when I was in middle school. I ran 10K’s through college and then due to various health and time constraints only ran sporadically until picking it up again about 7 years ago. At that time I found myself with LOTS of free time on my hands after finishing 12 years of coaching my kids in youth soccer and baseball.

I have arthritic knees and have found that if I only run twice a week they don’t bother me much. I have found that less is better though – as I was able to drop my 5K time down to 21:35 last year from 24 minutes a few years ago. I do supplement my runs with elliptical and recumbent indoor bike workouts.

I also suffer from Hashimoto’s but it is under control and does not seem to effect me much on a daily basis.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

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John, thank you so much for sharing your story. Huge congrats on cutting off so much time from your 5k, that is awesome. I’m happy running is back in your life again and very glad that you are able to also add in other workouts to help manage your knee pain! Keep in touch and have a wonderful Friday!

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I’m dead at that family picture, you all look so sweet!

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Oh thank you!! My mom is the best:)

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I have arthritis In my neck and my big toes. The big toes start hurting during long runs which is why i stopped doing marathons. Wearing Hokas when i run helps so maybe a half this spring.

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I am so glad that the Hokas help and I hope that you are able to do a half this spring. Let me know, I’m thinking about you Kristen!

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Mine seems to affect my hands (wrists and finger joints) and toes (especially the big toe) primarily. It started when I was in my early 40’s, now 47. I cut way back on my running (from 6 days a week to 2 or 3 tops) and found cleaning the house especially hard in my hands, so I have someone come in 2X a month to do the deep clean that really bothers my hands (the only bonus, lol). It gets worse if I eat certain foods (Inflammatory) and with some weather changes. I have learned over time what works best to keep things as good as I can for my body. my brother has RA, and so what I deal with is nothing compared to him, so I rarely even mention it. I also take a high grade curcumin supplement which seems to help a lot.

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Tracy, that is so so so hard. I am so sorry for what you and your brother live with. I hope that those 2-3 days of running a week feel good this year and keep me updated with your progress.

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I was first told I had arthritis in my foot at the age of 27! The doctor even shook his head confused with the xray because of my age. Then recently at 32 I went for an xray due to hip pain and the doctor said my lower spine is starting to show signs of arthritis. I did competitive cheerleading/gymnastics for years so I’m assuming all the pounding on my joints/bones may have had something to do with why I crack and ache every morning! I always associated it with being ‘old’ but I guess my body is aging faster than me ;)

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TWENTY SEVEN?! Emily, that is incredibly hard! I am hoping that you are able to manage your pain and that there is a cure soon. Please keep me in the loop with how you are doing!

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Solid blog and thank you for bringing attention to arthritis. I started running when I had a mid life crisis at 37 🤣. I ran 7 marathons and was diagnosed with RA at 44. I was stubborn and really wanted a 10 year pin (Ogden Marathon😀) so I continued to run through the pain. My marathon times went from a low of 3:59 to a high of 5:45. Just last year (at age 51) I was able to break the 5 hour barrier. I manage the pain with diet and exercise (swimming) but some days are harder than others. A flare up will stop all activity. My goals lately have been to have enough energy and stamina to play with my granddaughter.

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I am so glad that you are able to control some of the pain with what you eat and how you move… I am so incredibly sorry about everything you’ve been through. Runners really are stubborn, I totally get that. Your granddaughter is so lucky to have you! Thank you for sharing your experience and I hope their is a cure soon!

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Wow I didn’t know that your sister and mom both have arthritis. It’s so hard to deal with an impacts every part of your life. I really hope they find better treatments for it soon, it impacts so many people.

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It really is. Thank you SO much Victoria!

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Wow. I could not believe it when I read the title of today’s blog post. I have ran all my life. I have been running with pain in my hip for two years. The doctor told me it is severe arthritis in my left hip and moderate in my right. I will need a hip replacement. I was devastated. I am 38. My husband and I have ran every morning for years. I read running books, listened to running podcasts, have running friends, etc. Every thing was running. I basically had no balance in life. I can no longer run. I still go to the gym every day, which I am thankful for. My husband quit running, which I hate. He said if you can’t run then I won’t run. Which is very sweet. It has been very hard for me. I have had to find new podcasts to listen to, new blogs to read (thankfully your blog is not only about running), find new physical activities and new workout friends. I now tell all my running friends to make sure they have balance in their life. Can you recommend any daily blogs that aren’t running related? Thanks for blogging about arthritis!

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Leah. I am SO so sorry. This is terrible. Your husband sure is a good man to do that. I’m here if you ever need to talk to somebody. Emailing you now!!!

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Don’t give up hope Leah! My husband was an avid runner who needed a hip replacement @ 43-44 due to arthritis. He put if off as long as he could (3 yrs) until he could barely walk. It was a rough 2 weeks after surgery but he was walking up to 2-3 miles a day after that and was back to running within 3 months. He keeps mostly to trails which is softer on the hip but he runs up to 3x a week from 7-11 miles each run. Some doctors discourage it but others say if it is something that soothes your soul, do it. He’ll probably need another replacement after 25-30 years anyway so he may as well do what he loves to do which is RUN RUN RUN! Best of luck to you!

And Janea, your sister is such a rock star! Nothing seems to keep her down, such an inspiration!

Fran

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After a minor tear in my meniscus a couple years ago, I found out I also have arthritis in my knee. I haven’t been able to run consistently since :(. Thankfully, it hasn’t affected everyday life and can still play with my one year old. And I still enjoy reading your running adventures!

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Oh Jen. I am so glad you are still able to play with your little one and that it hasn’t affected everything in your world but I am so sorry that it has taken a bit of your running away. Thinking about you and if you ever need to vent to somebody, I’m your woman!

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Jen – did you have the meniscus tear fixed?
I had surgery to fix a torn meniscus several years ago and also have arthritic knees – but am still able to run a few times a week and several 5K’s a year. The recovery from the meniscus surgery was not bad at all for me.

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No. The doctor said that new studies have shown that I will be worse off in the future if I have surgery. Basically the surgery will accelerate the arthritis.

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Ah, interesting.

I had to have surgery no matter what – the little flap that was torn would lodge itself in between my knee joint and I would have to limp around in pain for a day or two until the flap would dislodge. This would only happen a few times a year and i had no clue what was causing it until I finally had a knee doc check it out. Wish I had done it sooner to avoid the excruciating pain, lol.

Maybe you could running sparingly iike myself? I am more than happy with my 5K times just running twice a week. I always make sure to have at least 2 non-running days in between runs.

Good luck and have fun with your 1 year old!

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Thanks so much for posting this and bring awareness to his disease! I was diagnosed with RA 3 years ago and literally thought my life was over…by the time I finally got into see the rheumatologist (after 9 months), I could barely walk down the stairs at a theater. I also ran my second Boston at the peak of my disease but before being treated, and it was SO PAINFUL, the hardest thing I’ve done. Luckily, I have been blessed that medication has worked for me! So after a really hard and painful year I was able to start running again. And that’s one of the reasons I chose trails. Being up there did something for my soul that I didn’t get from the road, and I also didn’t have to worry about speed. It was easier on my body. I was just THANKFUL to be up there and it felt so good to be moving again. I just got talked into signing up for another road marathon though this spring so I’ve been hitting the pavement the last month and am hoping my body holds up🙏🏼. I’d love to get back to Boston, but now I have a different perspective and realize just being able to run at any speed is a blessing. All the best to your mom and sister!❤️❤️❤️❤️

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THANK YOU so much for this post!!! I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis about 6 months ago at age 37. Much like your sister, I’ve led a healthy lifestyle and was pretty shocked. I really appreciate you bringing more awareness to the impacts of arthritis!!

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I was diagnosed last year with RA and PA and Lupus!! At the young age of 34!!
I was a runner with lots of half marathons, 10ks, and 5ks under my belt, I cannot run anymore which is so hard. I walk, bike and do stretches, it helps but is not the same as running.
I would love to see a guest post from your sister on how she handles all this. Thank you for sharing, we need a cure!!

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I am missing your post from January 5….hope everything is alright with you Janae :). My morning coffee was not the same without you but I totally understand….life sometimes has other plans.

Take care! Tonya

P.S. lovely 4 mile run with our GSP then a few hours of decorating the house for our 6th Birthday celebration!

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HEY TONYA!! I missed being a part of your morning routine! THANK YOU and I’ll have a new post in the morning! Sounds like a wonderful day… enjoy Tonya!

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Hi, I came down here to see what’s up and then found Tonya’s comment and your reply! I’m glad you’re alive. Didn’t see anything on social media. Shout out to Tonya!

Happy New Year and your blog matters!

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Wow, thank you so much!!! That means a lot! Have a wonderful Sunday!

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I also have arthritis in my early 40s. I find the more active I am the better I feel. I have to modify my running to more of a run walk program but it keeps me running and it is good for me mentally as well.

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Thank you for your post on arthritis! My daughter was diagnosed last year with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) right before her seventh birthday. It was after months of tests for unexplained, debilitating pain. As a mom, I felt so helpless. She reached a point she couldn’t get into or out of the car because of her knee pain. After she had a new set of blood work done I got a call at work from my husband telling me to meet him at the emergency room. We had to pull my daughter out of school because the blood work showed antibodies that could have been a cancer. Many hours and tests later we were given the JIA diagnosis. Though relieved it wasn’t cancer, we were still scared about the unknown. As we drove home, she said that we must have seen a really good doctor since she was the first to figure out what was wrong. I just cried. We then started the months of figuring out what medication would help her pain. After some that didn’t work at all, we are finally on a weekly shot that is working and working well. She is so glad to be able to keep up with her twin sister and younger brother now. And I love seeing her pain free. We got a great box of information from the Arthritis Foundation that has helped us navigate this new world of child with JIA. Thanks again.

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I have RA but the symptoms have been reduced since I started taking Omega-3 three times a day.

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Hi there. Good sharing! This post is very helpful to me to find the way of running that suite and safe my body and health.
Although we do exercise or workout, it doesn’t mean that we do not need to take care of our health. My experience, I also have taken iron supplement which is good supplement for women to keep blood level from https://www.womenangle.com/best-iron-supplement-for-women/. But I also need more knowledge to take care of health. Please share. Arthritis is also my problem but I did not know a good way before, so this post is great. Many thanks.

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