For a long time, Jana Eckner, who suffers from osteoarthritis of the knee, put aside her own well-being. But then she decided that she could not go on like that – and she completely turned her life around. Find out from this report how Jana was diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the knee, how she has since mastered her life with osteoarthritis, and what she does to stay active.
Because of a family tragedy, Jana had neglected her own health for a long time. Now 48 years old, she also ignored the stress and strain from her work at that time. At some stage, she noticed that she reached her limits, physically and mentally: “I was sitting in the kitchen in the morning, wanting to drink some coffee, but I wasn’t able to grasp the cup,” Jana explains. She couldn’t do anything. Her blood pressure exceeded 200 at that point. That was the moment when Jana decided: “No more!” She changed her job after 13 years. “That was what helped me move forward again. Our whole family benefited from this change,” Jana says. “We decided: now we are starting a new life.”
Osteoarthritis of the knee, grade 4: more bad news
Having just started her new job as a salesperson in a specialist orthopedic store, Jana suddenly lost all feeling in her leg on her way to work. She tripped over the curb and fell onto her knee. “The pain was incredible,” Jana reports. “My knee was all shades of purple.” The shocking diagnosis followed: stage 3 to 4 osteoarthritis of the knee. That means that the cartilage in Jana’s knee is severely worn. The bones are touching each other. “I thought: good Lord, you’re only 48 and you’re active. How can it be that you have such advanced osteoarthritis of the knee?”
The first signs of osteoarthritis of the knee had been noticeable many years earlier. At that time, Jana’s knee locked repeatedly when she was running. But the problems went away quickly, and Jana forgot them. How much the osteoarthritis had advanced in her knee in the meantime only became obvious after her fall. Nevertheless, Jana suppressed her knee pain for weeks because she didn’t want to take time off from her new job. Toward the end, her swollen knee had a circumference of 54 cm, and she couldn’t do her work any longer – knee surgery was unavoidable.
In the evenings, my leg is always swollen, and it hurts.
During surgery, the physicians not only removed the meniscus that was torn during the fall, they also carried out an arthroscopy and smoothed out the joint. Despite the procedure, Jana’s osteoarthritis of the knee is still limiting her significantly: “I still have problems walking long distances or standing up for prolonged periods. Climbing stairs or lifting heavy objects is also painful.” As a salesperson, Jana has to stand a lot. In the evenings, she always returns home with knee pain. “In the evenings, my leg is swollen, and it hurts,” she explains.
I’m so young, I really don’t fancy knee replacement.
Living with osteoarthritis: new hobbies to keep moving
Jana can no longer pursue her hobbies to the same extent either because of the osteoarthritis: “Hiking and Nordic walking were always a way to recharge my batteries after work.” These days, she can only manage short strolls; Nordic walking is almost impossible. “I’m very specific about my routes because I’m afraid I won’t make it back.” But Jana doesn’t want to stay sitting around at home all the time. “I do need a bit of action and activity,” she says. That’s why she got involved in her home town of Zeulenroda, Germany. She organized a street party with an art exhibition, for example, and took the lead in turning the park into a social venue again. “This involvement provides great balance for me.”
Jana is well aware that she will need an artificial knee joint at some point. Nevertheless, she still does everything to remain mobile and to delay knee surgery as long as possible. “I’m so young, I really don’t fancy knee replacement.” She wears Bauerfeind’s GenuTrain A3 to support her joint during activity. “I always wear the support for a few hours when I’m working. That means my knee isn’t so swollen in the evenings,” reports Jana. She also does physiotherapy as part of her osteoarthritis treatment, uses the Bauerfeind Treatment App for daily knee exercises at home and goes for short walks with her husband. “I know I’m not as mobile as before the osteoarthritis. But I’m doing everything I can to ensure my life is and remains worth living.”