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My story: Veronika

A football injury in the 90's before knee rehabiliation was a "thing"

Photo of a brown-haired female football goalie in a yellow t-shirt walking in front of a football goal. There are players in the background behind her.

When 15-year-old football player Veronika injured her right knee in connection with a match, no one told about the risks that existed for developing future knee problems. Within the football club, there was neither preventive training nor knee-stabilizing exercises for the players, something that sports clubs today are constantly encouraged to weave into the training to avoid knee injuries among young athletes. Nor was there any talk that Veronika would start rehabilitation or adapted exercises after the knee injury to strengthen the muscles around the knee and avoid other problems. Instead, there was pressure on her to return to the football field as soon as possible.

At that time, there was no talk of rehab, but then it was rest, tape and then run on as soon as the swelling subsided.

It was not until 10 years later that she began to feel locks in her knee as well as swelling and pain. It was the same knee that she had injured as a 15-year-old who now, after all these years, suddenly had problems. Veronika sought medical attention and after an MRI examination was diagnosed with prearthrosis and a meniscus rupture. After an arthroscopy and a grinding of the meniscus, Veronika began her rehabilitation, something she never got the chance to do as a teenager. Apart from rehabilitation, she received very little information about her condition or how she could prevent it from getting worse over time.

I was not given any information on how to think ahead, but only that I had to completely stop running and contact sports. Instead, I was given restrictions and advice to keep the weight down.

After no longer being able to be active, as she had been all her life, she suffered from depression. Without education on osteoarthritis and advice on adapted forms of exercise, Veronika felt helpless.

It took a long time before I could start to rethink and accept the situation and start working based on the new conditions.

She slowly began to start training again in the form of cycling and strength training, however, filled with feelings of fear and ignorance. The ignorance of how to adapt her training after her diagnosis led to her straining the joints incorrectly and getting strain injuries not only in the knees but also in the hip.

After several years of training without either information or support and constant problems with pain, swelling and stiffness, she feels that she has finally found a balance that works. Today, Veronika is 42 years old and knows much more about osteoarthritis and what it means to live with the disease. She believes that because people talk more openly about osteoarthritis today than they did 15 years ago, it has been easier to find more information about the disease.

Despite the fact that Veronika's osteoarthritis has become more pronounced today, she copes with everyday life well and does both strength training and cycling to strengthen the thigh muscles. If necessary, she takes Ibuprofen or Naproxen for pain relief.

She points out that it is very important to find a good balance when it comes to training for your osteoarthritis. Exercising too intensively is not good, then the knee can swell up and become stiff. On the other hand, she believes that it is just as bad for osteoarthritis not to exercise at all.

Today, Veronika also knows that she was in another risk group for developing osteoarthritis as her father also suffers from the disease. Due to her young age, she is now worried about the future:

What will happen in another 10 years? Will I be able to keep it [osteoarthritis] in check with the training I do today?

But worrying and stressing is not good for the pain, she says, as it worsens when mental well-being is not at its peak.

What has helped Veronika the most in living with her osteoarthritis is knowledge about the disease and exercise, the recommended basic treatment for all osteoarthritis patients. Also focusing on a good diet and talking to others in a similar situation has made everyday life a little easier. By sharing her story and experiences, she hopes to be able to help others who are in a similar situation.