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Arthritis and riding
#1
first, sorry for the long post.
Just been diagnosed with lower back arthritis. I had known it was in my neck and upper back for years. xrays just showed it has now invaded muliple discs in my low back and damanged them.
I would not have known this at all except due this winter we had I had not ridden for basically seven months. Five days after I rode I woke up one morning unable to flex at the waist. (I am sure some of this was related to soft tissue since I did no activity at all during our brutal winter). Movement has improved greatly from the first day but not as fast as I would like. I am still limited somewhat in bending, twisting/turning. Not that I ever had full 'normal range' motion to begin with. I have always had tight muscles.

I intend to continue to ride (western) as I am mentally miserable if I do not do so. Riding has kept me sane for 28 years.

I am in physio therapy and take painkillers as needed. I know that I need to reduce the chances of falling while riding by choosing a quiet non spooky horse. I have also found for years, that I need to choice horses that have a certain striding otherwise my neck kills me. Has anyone else ever had to stop riding a particular horse because how they move?

Now with the addition of low back arthritis I am wondering how to get my back to where it can stay soft enough to go with the rhythm of the horse ( trot/canter)and keep pain reduced.

Anyone have suggestions to reduce risks, improve the ability to move with the horse? Lightweight saddle suggestions under 20lbs? Please note, I am not one to join yoga or pilaties classes or the gym. I am too uncomfortable in those situations. No money for them either. What I have goes to the horses. Grin.
thanks.
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#2
Sorry to hear of your problems. I think all of us as we tack on the years acquire more aches and pains. Joe is a pretty rough ride which I'm reminded of everytime I ride. I know many people who have switched from stock horses to gaited because of the smoothness that some gaited horses have. So far, I've resisted doing that but admit it is getting more appealing every year.

I imagine the PT is trying to strengthen your core muscles so they can take some of the strain off of your spine. Ask your therapist for exercises that you can do at home and DO THEM! You might call HorseSaddleShop and ask for saddle recommendations but weight may not be the only factor to consider. You might also have to try different seats to see how your pelvis tilts. Some saddles have deep seats, others are more shallow, some have a higher rise, some have a higher cantle and all effect how your body is positioned. You may also play around with the stirrup length & width.

I hope you're feeling better soon and can enjoy riding (and not suffer after!)
Karen ~ Trails  
  &
Joe Paint Gelding
Paoli, IN

"My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sun and neigh in the night."
[Image: th_horse-galloping.gif]  

~~~~~~
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#3
What Karen said.

Also, a few years ago someone on here recommended the book Richard Hittleman's Yoga 28 day exercise plan. This is a really simple easy book. They start with a couple simple basic moves and then keeps adding to them. If I remember correctly she had arthritic problems.

I found the book really helpful. Now I just need to start doing the exercises again.

Another thing, Professionals Choice makes a great back brace. Check it out. It is made out of neoprene so provides moist heat and support. It is well worth the money they ask.

Are you taking any supplements? MSM, chondroitin sulfates, and Glucosamine sulfate. If not these may make a huge difference. There are also a bunch of different herbal combinations you may want to check out. Things containing yucca and devils claw are supposed to be especially helpful.

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#4
Perish the thought that you might have to stop riding, but if that time comes; have you ever considered driving as an alternative to riding? You could still be involved with horses but not have to put yourself at risk of falling off a horse. Just a thought.
"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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#5
I don't have anything to add, except to agree with what others have posted above. And I do think that where there is a will, there's a way!

Learning yoga or pilates doesn't have to mean joining a group or spending money. You can learn a lot from books and videos that you can probably check out at your local library.

And, yes, the horse does make a great difference! Butterbrickle is a much more comfortable ride for me than Warsong, but Warsong is my buddy...

EZ2SPOT
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#6
PG- currently physio is used to help with the healing of any soft tissue issue with ultrasound, and had has give a couple of exercises to start reducing the rigidy of my back and increase ROM. I would love to be able check out different saddles but I live on island, and it is difficult to get access to different options without spending a fortune on shipping. As for weight,it has to be under 20lbs as it is all I can lift on a good day. As for gaited horses, I love them. have had the chance to ride several when visiting relatives in ontario. I think on the whole island there is only one gaited horse that someone shipped in.
Mrs Hook, no nothing in the way of supplements was recommended. (maybe too much damage to do any benefit?) Will look for the book.
RH--I have attempted to drive horses in past. You maybe right in thinking of it as an option at some point.
EZ- great idea about checking library for books/video. I never think to go there. And I am glad to hear it is not just me who notices that some horses are more comfy than others.
Cayuse
A lovely horse is always an experience...It is an emotional experience of the kind that is spoiled by words. Beryl Markham
Riding is a complicated joy. You learn something each time. It is never quite the same, and you never know it all. Monica Dickens
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#7
I have to ditto all the above, how about a Chiropractor#8206;? its amazing what they can do.
Colleen who hopes to have a horse soon.

The air of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears -- Arabian proverb

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#8
It is a rare Dr that will recommend any kind of supplements. Vets will, Drs won't. Those you need to check out on your own.
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#9
The best supplement I've found is HA (Hyaluronic Acid). I use it in combination with MSM and it can be purchased in capsule that contains both. When Image had arthritis I did a lot of research and tried it for her. It worked so well that I tried it myself. Now if I go without it for any length of time I have a hard time walking. I buy NOW brand because it's Gluten Free, but I'm sure there are other brands that work just as well.
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#10
I am so sorry you are having to deal with this[Sad]

I'm sure your PT's or doctor have given you "training" lessons on to bend, lift thing, turn yourself to get out of the car, etc. It is all very critical to maintaining some semblance of modality.

I have Grade III Spondolothesis (sp?) and found myself flat on my back with two bulging discs and a pinched nerve, this past April. I didn't think I had any discs left to bulge but the MRI's don't lie.

I am back up and mobile but yet again I have had to re-learn another way to safely bend, lift, and turn (twisting no longer exists for me).

1. Regarding your saddle:

Can you find someone to loan you (or try a new one in the store) a barrel or roping saddle? The have deep seats, will hold you in better, and may be more comfortable on your back. While they help me, they may not help you which is why it would be great if you could try one on loan that also fits your horseSmile

2. If the PT's gave you home exercises, DO THEM[Smile]

2.1 I was also able to mimic, on a smaller less expensive scale, the equipment my PT's used to get me back walking again.

2.1.1 Icy Hot now makes a miniature TENS unit. It is only $40 and the replacement pads are around $14 for two in a package. Best $40 I've spent in awhile.

2.1.1.1 I brought the shiatsu massager up from the barn and use it on myself now -- in place of the great gal that did my PT massage - lol It is for humans anyway and was another $40 purchase from WalGreens.

There are a couple other things I also bought they cost $300 and $500. If you're interested, let me know.

3. I will not take the pain killers. For one thing they don't begin to touch the pain. Even the IV at the ER only helped by 50%. I just take Excedrin extra strength; especially since, in my state, I stand a chance of getting popped for DUI if the police decide I am under the influence of prescription drugs.


I do have a prescription for Lidoderm pain patches. They are not affordable if one doesn't have insurance which is ridiculous. I cut them in half.

Keep moving. you cant' afford to lose muscle as the day will come when that's all you have left.

^^The neurosurgeon told me that because my entire back is Trashed and muscle is all I have left. He said if he did operate my entire back needs reconstructed and ¡§the pain would be too excrutiating, even for me to tolerate¡¨. Not to mention the weeks and weeks of downtime it would involve.

For example, My IR horse mildly foundered because Mr. WTW was doing the chores for me and not all the details got attended to.
ƒ¼
All my younger days of Tom Foolery, re-schooling widow makers and rough-riding snowmobiles, got me where I am today; not that I¡¦d change anything ¡V lol

I am 67 and thankful I can still walk with nothing more than a back brace and some pain patches.

I stay busy cleaning stalls, no matter how much it hurts because muscle is all I have left back there.

You are already aware of everything I¡¦ve just said but sometimes it¡¦s better to hear first-hand experiences to drive home that, while you¡¦re keeping active, exert enough caution to keep you out of the doctor¡¦s office for a couple years -- this isn't going away[B)]

Almost forgot --- Diet, don¡¦t forget about diet. It really is important. I was in enough misery for awhile, the thought of most foods made me ill. It was a good withdrawal period off sweets and starches.

You¡¦d be surprised the difference in pain level when starches and sugars are taken out of the picture.

I eat a lot of healthy high protein stuff these days. I tried to eat a Hershey Bar, the other day and for the first time in my life, it tasted awful ¡V lol lol Never thought I¡¦d see that happen.
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