When most people think about the effects of osteoarthritis (OA) on their life, they think about how it impacts them physically – how they may not be able to walk long distances anymore, or sit on the ground to play with their grandchildren. But what many don’t consider is the effect OA also has on their emotional, mental and spiritual energy or the quality, focus and force of one’s energy.
I fought joint pain every day for almost three decades, and it took up much of my best energy and left me with little for my family and work. I used to run or play tennis every day. Due to my OA, my personal trainers consistently told me I should not be running, but cycling and swimming instead. But, you see (and here comes the flawed thinking), I was busy. It took too long to change my exercise routine, and I got bored. I loved the action I got from a tennis workout, or from a four-mile run.
Over time, the pain in my knees combined with my desire to push myself physically forced me to give up many of the things I loved. Finally, I decided I needed to see what could be done about my joint pain. I met with my orthopaedic surgeon and together, we decided that knee replacement surgery was right for me.
In preparation for my surgeries and recovery, I applied many of the principles developed as co-founder of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute (HPI) to my patient journey, such as staying focused on my mission to lead an active lifestyle again and setting rehabilitation goals to manage my energy and expectations. I wanted to hit tennis balls and be active with my sons again − activities I had given up because of the severe OA in my knees. These goals were what kept me going day-to-day throughout my rehabilitation and recovery.
I kept a daily journal throughout my recovery, not to track each and every thing I did, but to recognize the “new” or significant things I did each day. This was the key to my rehab success, in addition to the incredible support I received from friends and family.
Recovery was not only about getting my physical energy and movement back, but it was also about getting my emotional, mental and spiritual energy back on track. In just 90 days, I was back to hitting tennis balls and playing in the backyard with my 6-year-old son – I was back to where I wanted to be physically, but I was also more engaged with my friends and family.
Based on these experiences, I’m working with DePuy Synthes Companies, and Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski to launch It’s More Than Joint Pain, an educational campaign to raise awareness of the effects of joint pain on overall health and energy levels. As part of the campaign an online survey of 2,626 U.S. adults, ages 45-75, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of DePuy Synthes Companies, found that adults living with OA fare worse than the general population and worse than those who have had joint replacement when measuring several aspects of health, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
I encourage anyone living with joint pain to visit www.MoreThanJointPain.com. There, you can take an online survey, which can help assess the impact your joint pain may be having on your overall health and can show how you stack up to the national average of adults who have treated their OA with joint replacement surgery. You can also learn about potential treatment options like joint replacement surgery and find an orthopaedic surgeon near you on the website.
DePuy Synthes Companies and HPI are part of the same family of companies and will be partnering in the coming months to unveil a new patient education program called the PATIENT ATHLETE™ that will be available at orthopaedic surgeon offices across the United States. This program is designed to give adults who are preparing for joint replacement surgery access to the science‐based methods used by HPI to help people manage their energy and thrive.
I hope that by sharing my joint replacement story, I can help others living with severe joint pain realize that there are treatment options available that may help them regain their full and best energy so they can be fully engaged in their life and in the lives of those they love.
©DePuy Synthes Joint Reconstruction, a division of DOI 2014. All rights reserved.