Mental stress

I have just been diagnosed with osteoarthritis of hips. I was extremely active, hiking 3 times a week up to 10 miles at a time, and always being outdoors. I am having difficulty coping with not being able to even walk to the local shop now without severe pain. I don't know how to accept the situation I now find myself in. I am being treated like an old decrepit lady ( I am 66). I am offered painkillers and antidepressants which I have refused.


  • ajolly
    ajolly Member Posts: 59

    Hi @sadhiker, welcome to the forum.

    I am sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis and the pain you are in. Coming to terms with a new diagnosis is difficult but I am glad you’ve found the forum where many of our members have been in a similar situation and can offer their advice and share their experiences with you.

    I am sorry to hear you are in severe pain. As you’ve mentioned you are not interested in painkillers, I’ve provided two links which may be of some help. The first has information on managing pain, including options such as suggested exercises and mindfulness. Different things work for different people and I hope there is something in here that works for you.

    The second link focuses on complementary and alternative therapies. It is always best to consult your doctor before trying anything new however as even vitamins can interact with other medications you may be on.

    Please take a look around the forum and join in wherever you feel comfortable. This is understandable a very frustrating and difficult time for you and if you feel like talking to someone, I encourage you to give our Helpline team a call (0800 5200 520, Mon-Fri, 9am-8pm).

    Best Wishes,


  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,742
    edited 23. Jul 2020, 23:24

    Right, settle down with a cup of tea and a packet of choccie bics. Here goes...

    Hi Sadhiker, i’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis and how hard you're finding it. I can completely empathise, I’m 60 and had the same diagnosis back in March. Before this I was a really keen fell walker and did big trekking holidays, eg Everest Base Camp. Mine was mildly grumpy for a few years then after a gentle tumble onto my backside all hell broke loose in my hip, and now like you it’s all I can do to walk into the village for a coffee, even with a walking pole that has been to far more exciting places with me. I know how tough it is to come to terms with that.

    One thing for sure is that you are not a decrepit old lady, you are a fit and healthy person with a wrecked hip, for now. Have you been referred for a steroid injection and hip replacement? I have, who knows when it will happen, but till then I’m marking time while I look forward to that happening and getting back out on the hills again, although I accept I have a genetic tendency to arthritis and it may get me elsewhere, so when you can’t enjoy the mountains, revel in the valleys,

    You say you have refused pain killers and anti-depressants. Do you mind if I ask why? For the first few weeks I despised having to take a concoction of pills with each meal, like you I felt like an instant invalid, but I had no choice as the pain was excruciating with nearly everything I did, getting into bed, sitting on the loo, putting socks on, picking stuff up off the floor, walking up the garden path. The still does to some degree. But gradualy the inflammation in my really bad hip settled down a bit (with a lot of careful pacing, ie consistent rest, which also gives the chance for the injured tissues to heal a bit), so I’ve been able to reduce the meds and just vary them on a day to day basis, depending on how much damage I did the day before or damage I’m about to do (eg if I’ve got a heavy day at work). They haven’t fogged my brain much more than usual (!), the worst side effect has been constipation which I blitz with laxatives and diet. I’ll spare you the details!

    The main thing is they’ve enabled me to stay active much more than if I wasn’t taking them, and they’ve made life more bearable by reducing the pain. My 86 year old uncle with a ruined hip was almost housebound because he refused to take pain relief because of the constipation, but once we nagged him to get some laxatives and take the painkillers, his life restarted again. So do reconsider taking them. You will find they help you keep some semblance of your old life going, even if on a smaller scale.

    Alice has suggested some alternatives if you really don’t want to go down that route, and you may find some that work for you.

    I’d say the same about antidepressants. Sometimes your stress responses go into overdrive and cause havoc with your brain chemistry and emotional responses which has all sorts of ghastly effects on you physically, including fatigue and inability to handle even daily tasks. This would make your diagnosis with your hip even more overwhelming. Sometimes it can take a while finding a prescription that suits you, but it’s no more an admission of failure than putting a splint on a broken leg. It’s just something different that needs fixing. But there are other ways to approach this too, and meditation is frequently recommended by GPs and consultants alike as having proven benefits on brain function. Mindfulness is also helpful for similar reasons. I have been known to hug the odd tree, and it was strangely calming, as is talking to butterflies, spiders, bees, plants, pretty much anything sharing this planet with us. I try not to do it when people are watching.

    it is really hard having to change your horizons, particularly when like me, your horizons were broad and exciting, but now it’s time to be kind to yourself. You have a new job, and that’s to help your body get through this rough patch. The most exciting journeys often encounter bogs, crags, getting lost, foul weather, you get the picture. You’ve just hit one of those patches. A new strategy is required to push through this bit, your body needs you to help it. It’s pants, as we all want the path to be smooth and lovely, but reality isn’t like that.

    Also, you might want to find yourself a good physio to set you off on an exercise regime that will strengthen the muscles to support your hips, and give some supplementary treatment. There’s also some really good exercises on this site specific to hips. Do what you can. Some days it will be good, some days it won’t. That’s ok.

    As an encouragement, I know so many people who have had hip and/or knee replacements, and their life is as good now as it was before. My sister taught aerobics for 30 years which destroyed her knees, and wrecked a load of other joints (yes, it runs in our family). She had two new knees before she was 60. She still teaches classes, is a professional and award winning garden designer/hands on gardener, she rides horses and fell walks in Cumbria. Her husband, with one new knee, ex rugby player, is the same. Another trekking friend (Annapurna circuit, Grand Canyon) is doing well on her new hip.

    I’d be lying if I said this doesn’t still get me down, that I’m fed up with the pain, fed up with my life being so limited at the moment, the fatigue that comes with OA (I find that really annoying), but some days are better than others. Pacing is really important, reduce your activity and spread it out over a longer period, eg, instead of two 10 mile walks, do six 3 mile walks. Schedule in rest days before and after an active day to prep your joints, and to allow the inflammation to settle. Swear at the gremlins making your legs hurt (it helps!), but learn to be kind to your hips too. They need your help. When the pain really hits, relax and let it pass. Sad,y Ik’ve realised I’m going to have to give up my Genlte Pilates classes, but ai do what I can on a day to day basis, and as I’m fortunate enough not to be housebound, I view all my normal day to day activities as exercise,

    Come on this forum when you need a moan, some help, to compare notes, to share successes, to have a giggle, we’re a friendly lot with very varied stories and arthritic conditions, but a wealth of experience and support. There’s loads of good info provided, and a help line for when you need it,

    Another really good tip I was taught is to distract yourself from the pain. Find something you can immerse yourself in, and you don’t notice the pain anywhere near so much. I can spend hours in the garden and hardly notice the gremlins, and if I’m not up to gardening that day, I’ll do some work, play an instrument, read a book, do some tapestry, molest the cat, snuggle down under a blanket with Game of Thrones, whatever floats your boat.

    This isn’t the end, it’s a very annoying rough patch, but you can use it as a time to grow, to see life from a different angle, develop some new hobbies, and to hone your bloody minded determination to get through it.

    Hang on in there, take all the pills they offer you, do what your physio tells you, find a different way to do stuff, learn, adapt, grow. Nag your GP. Pray for the NHS waiting lists to recover soon. Hug a tree, meditate. You’ll be amazing when your new hip arrives!

    And at the very least you’ll be able to say, “at least I had a great time wrecking my body”.

  • SilverSpots

    What a lovely post LilyMary

  • Sharon_K
    Sharon_K Member Posts: 460

    thank you for sharing such an amazing post @Lilymary full of brilliant ideas. I have had hipe replacements and they are wonderful for me. @sadhiker I hope this helps

    Best Wishes