I come from a “big” family — that is to say almost everyone I am related to is overweight. It never really bothered me I was unhealthily tipping the scales until my knees started acting up in my late forties. At first I did not really mind it. Both my parents and grandparents suffered from knee pain. For us, knee pain, like gray hair, is a part of growing old.
However, as time progressed, the pain started becoming worse. I tried telling my doctor, who was treating me for diabetes, and she prescribed Naproxen. That worked for a while, but then the pain returned. It got so bad that I couldn’t walk from one room to another. Even worse, my right knee swelled up so bad.
My daughter came for a visit and was shocked to see the state my knee was in. She did some research and told us about an orthopedic specialist. Though some of the swelling subsided, my knee was still in a pretty bad shape and I had to be in a wheelchair when we visited the doctor’s office.
The orthopedic surgeon that saw us was young. I actually doubted if he knew what he was doing. But he was very professional. He showed me a picture of the knee. In between the bones are cartilage which he says makes the bones slide smoothly against one another. However, since I was overweight, he said the cartilage received more stress and was worn down. This resulted in the bones rubbing against each other. Their surfaces were damaged and that’s why the knee was inflamed and painful. He diagnosed me with osteoarthritis.
An x-ray of my knee was taken and, true enough, my cartilage was thinned out, the joint was inflamed and there was a lot of fluid in my knee. The doctor said it was synovial fluid in the joint capsule. The stretched capsule was actually the one causing the excruciating pain.
I was hoping to be treated as an outpatient but he had me admitted. He prescribed me with Celecoxib. He said it would be a pain reliever that wouldn’t cause stomach irritation. He also did a procedure called arthocentesis, where he used a large needle to drain fluid from my right knee. I stayed about a five days in the hospital before my doctor allowed me to go home. There was still a little pain but at least I wasn’t in the wheelchair anymore.
My doctor’s number one instruction to me was to lose weight, something I am moderately succeeding with. He also told me that I needed a moderate amount of exercise to help re-establish the stability of my knees. He doesn’t prescribe jogging or running. Fortunately, we live near a beach so I go out and swim. I continued with the Celecoxib for one month. When I returned for a checkup, my doctor said I should take the drug when my knees hurt.
Today, my knees are behaving but they do act up when I walk a considerable distance or when the weather is cold. I’m thankful that my condition was managed properly, but I wish my other doctor had told me about losing lose weight or had referred me to a specialist early on. I wouldn’t have spent so much money or suffered such pain. I sincerely think, people should be educated that knee pains shouldn’t be ignored and that there are doctors who actually find out the root of the problem and treat the cause instead of just giving us more pills.
Originally from Russia, Ben Shwartz now lives in Israel. At one point he weighed over 110 kilograms (242 pounds), but has since lost almost 40 kilograms (88 pounds). Losing weight helped relieve Ben’s knee pain and many other health problems. Ben writes about knee pain in his blog.