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Running With Arthritis

I recently received this email from a runner in Virginia asking a good question on running with arthritis:

"I have been running since I was 13yrs old and I am 42 now. Friday I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis after 6 weeks of no running but cross training on the elliptical. The doctor thought it was tendonitis but after not getting better he decided a MRI would be appropriate. The MRI confirmed it was osteoarthritis. I am starting physical therapy on Monday 3x a week.

My question: Is it possible for a runner who has osteoarthritis to be able to run again. I feel like my world has been rocked and shaken. Running is HEAVEN for me and nothing compares. It is my total stress reliever and if I do nothing else in a day if I've run my day is totally complete. I am the mother of 3 great kids and I guess I should be thankful I can do the cross training now because I get cranky when I don't get to do something. I just feel like this means my running career is over. My mileage before getting injured was about 25 a week.

Please let me know your thoughts. I have searched the internet for help on other runners who are going through what I am and have osteoarthritis of the foot with no luck so far. Thank you so much for taking my comment. I'm praying for a miracle. I know it's not life threatening but it's my mental state I'm concerned about."

Answer:

Let me start my answer with a story. I have a runner in his late 30’s as a patient who had the unfortunate luck to be injured in the Desert Storm conflict while he was serving in the Marines. He has severe arthritis in both feet from his injuries. He has had at least 5 foot surgeries including a fusion of his subtalar joint in one foot. He ran the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon in less than 41/2 hours. If he can run a marathon on feet that are that bad, I am confident that you can get back to some kind of running.

The name of the game is accommodation. You will need a great pair of orthotics made by a podiatrist that knows what they are doing and specializes in biomechanics. They can fabricate a device that will transfer the stress from the arthritic area to a strong, healthier part of your foot. That coupled with physical therapy, core strengthening exercises and a good pair of running shoes will get you back on the road! Run Happy! And pain free!