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Early Signs of Osteoarthritis

I have long suspected that something’s really wrong with my right knee. I have this creaking sound every time I bend and straighten my right knee. Generally it does not give me pain but still, the creaking sound had always worried me.

Before I started going to the gym and practicing proper eating, I used to suffer from either numbness or pain on both of my knee, and more so on the right side. After I started exercising, incorporating yoga, the pain is reduced to a mere discomfort. Then, I read that weight training helps because at least, it can strengthen the muscles surrounding the knees and therefore can help to reduce the strain on the knees. With that and proper stretching each time I finish my workout, the numbness and pain are reduced to a very minimum. Now, the flexibility that I used to have when I was young returned and my head is able to touch my leg during stretches.

Today, I spent time with a very knowledgeable person- my mom’s good friend who’s an ex-nurse. She’s highly intelligent, England trained and now a retired staffnurse. When I told her about my creaking right knee, she asked me a series of questions and told me point blank that I am showing early signs of osteoarthritis:

  • my love for caffeine, especially Ceylon tea in high doses for years went straight to my bones. In Chinese medicine, it is long known that tea, especially Ceylonese tea has a very corrosive effect on the bones
  • there is no replenishment- I do not take milk (as in cow’s milk), not much taufu and I also do not take much meat. Also I don’t talk calcium supplements.
  • a largely sedentary lifestyle and bad eating habits that I was having prior to joining gym.
  • poor posture also contributed to too much of strain being placed on one leg

As osteoarthritis or OA is a degenerative joint disease, it means that my joint will get worse as I age. OA normally strikes much older people and people my age seldom gets it. But heck, 100 years ago, diabetes is so uncommon but now, even kids below 10 years get it. There is no cure for OA, so I can only do my best to delay the onset of the deterioration. When I asked her why there is no pain or swelling, she told me that pain will only start once it’s very advanced.

I have always known that too much of caffeine contributes to this condition because each time I drink my favourite tea with sugar and condensed milk, I will feel a little numbness in my knees and joints. But like an addict who needs the ‘fix’, and coupled with constant fatigue, I was not willing to give up- even though it caused me weight gain and pain. Now, with more sensible eating and exercise, I can do with less dosage of caffeine and is now seriously looking to give up the habit. I will start to take supplements- Glucosamine & cod liver oil tablets daily.

Anyway, I take at least about extra 200 kcal daily due to coffee/tea. That means that in a week, I take about 1400 kcal in coffee/tea alone. And 1400kcal happens to be my week’s worth of cardio. And when you take coffee/tea, you will tend to accompany it with light cakes or biscuit (more calories). I had always known that with the type of exercises and food intake I have been doing, the reason why my weight had not been dropping (at the usual 1 to 2 pounds per week) was because of my one or two cups of daily coffee (with sugar and condensed milk). I had been willing to pay the price, dropping only about 2 pounds per month (and keeping it off).

But today, I really got a good wake up call. I have too much to lose clinging on a bad habit.

Reason for me to post this is to encourage those who are currently on bad/destructive habits to give it up before it’s too late. Sometimes we engage in destructive behaviours with our eyes open, ie we know it’s bad for us. For instance, some may smoke a few packets of ciggarettes a day thinking that it’s not 100% of all smokers get cancer- especially when we see some older generation living up to a ripe old age with smoking. After all, even some health freaks can’t run away from diseases.

Yes, no doubt things like this does happen. My grandaunt smoked the poor man’s ciggarettes (tobacco leaves being rolled up on a piece of paper) and lived till to over 90 years. But she does not live a sedentary lifestyle- she worked as a servant and only retired at the age of 80. Sedentary lifestyle and bad eating habits (especially always eating outside cooked food with lots of salt, sugar and MSG) are very bad and therefore, our body’s immune system will not be able to fight the onslaught of tobacco. So we should never compare ourselves with the older generation who never eat processed food and laboured literally their entire lives. Life is had for these people but you will notice, but they are less frail at old age.

Yes, we will never know what’s going to happen in the future. But if we have done the best of our ability to take care of our health and yet, illness come, at least, we’ve known we have tried. We can perhaps leave it to our fate or act of God, but there will not be much guilt knowing we have done everything in our power. In our lives, we always plan, invest in property, our children’s education, our retirement plan…. so why so many of us never seriously thought of investing in our health?

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  • Roni December 29, 2007, 4:02 am

    Great question. I’m not sure, some people just aren’t ready yet. It took me 30 years to figure it out!