Osteoarthritis: Elaine reveals her experience of the condition
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The 72-year-old shocked and worried fans as back in 2019 he was pictured in a wheelchair, unable to walk. At the time sources reported that the ageing actor had been in “constant pain for years” and was awaiting much needed knee replacement surgery, after osteoarthritis had completely destroyed his joints. In September 2020, Coltrane then spoke out about his health himself.
Speaking honestly and openly about his struggle with osteoarthritis, Coltrane said: “I was fighting pain 24 hours a day when I was in National Treasure and Great Expectations.
“I had no cartilage in my knee. It was bone on bone.”
Going on to say that he wouldn’t wish such pain “on [his] worst enemy,” before his surgery, Coltrane was left so debilitated he couldn’t walk unassisted.
“He was wheeled in and out of the Harry Potter event on Monday which came as a big shock to fans given they’re so used to seeing him standing strong and tall as Hagrid,” a source added.
“It’s left him unable to walk without any assistance and he’s been given a wheelchair while he waits to have a special surgical procedure in America to repair his joint.
“It’s hugely frustrating for him but he’s really hoping to be back on his feet after getting the operation.”
Fortunately, by 2020 the actor had found some “relief from pain” as he was able to have the long awaited surgery.
The star added: “It was just horrible. The relief from that pain since the operation and being able to sleep has changed my life.”
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. Some people know the condition as degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis.
Occurring most frequently in the hands, hips, and knees, the condition first develops as a joint begins to break down and the underlying bone begins to change. This breaking down of bone can happen as part of normal life as joints are exposed to a constant low level of damage.
As the protective cartilage on the ends of bones breaks down, individuals will be in an immense amount of pain. Other symptoms that can occur from osteoarthritis include:
- Stiffness – joint stiffness might be most noticeable upon awakening or after being inactive.
- Tenderness – your joint might feel tender when you apply light pressure to or near it.
- Loss of flexibility – you might not be able to move your joint through its full range of motion.
- Grating sensation – you might feel a grating sensation when you use the joint, and you might hear popping or crackling.
- Bone spurs – these extra bits of bone, which feel like hard lumps, can form around the affected joint.
- Swelling – this might be caused by soft tissue inflammation around the joint.
The severity of osteoarthritis symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, and between different affected joints. For some, the symptoms can be mild and may come and go. But for others, people can experience more continuous and severe problems which make it difficult to carry out everyday activities.
Talking about the time he was told it was osteoarthritis, Coltrane revealed that doctors told him he had absolutely no cartilage left on one of his knees. When seeking medical help, GPs may carry out X-rays and blood tests in order to rule out other possible causes of pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Differing slightly, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. Symptoms such as swelling, pain and stiffness are caused by cells in the immune system attacking the line of the joints.
Over time, this can damage the joints, cartilage and nearby bone. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis also experience problems in other parts of the body, or more general symptoms such as tiredness and weight loss.
Affecting only 400,000 people in the UK, osteoarthritis is far more common than rheumatoid arthritis, which affects nine million people in the UK. Most often, people in their mid-40s or older.
However, although the condition cannot be cured completely, there are available treatments to help individuals cope with symptoms and stop them from getting gradually worse over time.
Mild symptoms can sometimes be managed with simple measures including:
- Regular exercise
- Losing weight if you’re overweight
- Wearing suitable footwear
- Using special devices to reduce the strain on your joints during your everyday activities.
But if an individual’s symptoms are more severe, additional treatments such as painkillers and a structured exercise plan with a physiotherapist may be needed.
For individuals such as Coltrane, whose condition prevented him from walking, a knee replacement was used to rid him of the damaged joint. Also known as an arthroplasty, knee replacements can take up to two years to recover from, but most people are rid of their pain after the procedure.
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