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My story: Gunill-Louise

A knee injury on the slopes and two athroplasties.

Photo of a person in skiwear skiing down a snow covered slope.

The year she turned thirty, Gunill-Louise went on a ski holiday intending to have a lot of fun with her friends. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long before she had an accident on the slopes, a knee injury that later in life would cause her serious knee problems.

I wanted to be cool, so I decided to ski off-pist. However, I ended up falling and badly injuring the meniscus in my left knee.

The knee was wrapped with a bandage and Gunill-Louise was told to rest for the remainder of her trip. Back then, in the 80s, there was little knowledge about the importance of exercising an injured knee. Most people who sustained knee injuries were told to rest until the swelling and pain had subsided. Today, we know that exercise after a knee injury is crucial for recovery. Exercising the knee and building strength in the muscles around the knee joint reduces the risk of developing osteoarthritis in the future.

Ten years after the traumatic knee injury on the ski slope, Gunill-Louise began to feel pain in her left knee. After a visit to the doctor and an MRI X-ray, she was told that she had suffered from osteoarthritis in the same knee that she had once injured. However, a message was the only thing Gunill-Louise took home that day, without any further information about the disease osteoarthritis or recommended treatment methods.

The pain only gradually got worse over the years and if I had not finally sent in a self-referral I would never have received any help.

A self-referral submitted led to a prosthesis operation when it was established at the time of the examination that the joint disease was far advanced. It was because Gunill-Louise had never before received tips on treatment methods, that osteoarthritis had gradually worsened and created enormous problems for her in everyday life. At the time of the operation, a half prosthesis was inserted into her knee, something that made life much easier for Gunill-Louise for several years, until she fell on one occasion almost 16 years later. The case meant that a second operation became necessary where the doctor decided to insert a full prosthesis instead.

The full prosthesis came as a rescue, but it was the knee exercises that Gunill-Louise received after the operation from her physiotherapist, which was necessary to keep the knee in good condition. The exercises have followed her since the operation and will probably follow her for the rest of her life.

If I do not do my exercises, I immediately become stiff and swollen in the prosthesis joint.

Gunill-Louise has always been active and enjoyed training. Today she trains as much as possible. She makes sure to do her exercises every day with a focus on both knees. In connection with the second prosthetic operation, osteoarthritis in the right, uninjured knee was also noticed. She admits that she does not dare to stop exercising, as she does not want to have surgery on another knee.

It was so cumbersome to have surgery so that's why I do my exercises. In the beginning I ignored training the right knee and trained only the left but then the right knee got worse so now I train both knees every day, for life.

Gunill-Louise has three exercises that her physiotherapist has given her which she performs together with stretching. In addition, she is at the gym twice a week and strength training. Her physiotherapist has also helped to show how she should do strength training right at the gym.

If I do not train in a few days, it starts to hurt in both my knees.

After a second prosthetic operation and by doing her exercises that trained the muscles around the knee joints, she now manages quite well in everyday life.

I can not ski or run anymore, so I have had to change my training program a bit. Now I kayak instead in the summer and cycle a lot. I also walk long distances. After the new operation, it works well.

Gunill-Louise knows that exercise can be difficult to perform and hurts a lot for those with osteoarthritis. She points out that it is important to train as early in the disease phase as possible and not to let it go too long before treatment. Seeking knowledge about the disease is also very important, she says, and not gaining weight. She keeps herself updated on the disease as often as she can and looks to keep her weight at a normal level.

I have finally found a good balance to live a good life with my osteoarthritis.