Osteoarthritis. That was the diagnosis after Manfred was finally able to take the time to deal with his knee pain. He had been at his wife’s side throughout her long illness and had neglected his own well-being. They had run an auction house together in Leipzig for over twenty years, had two daughters and had shared almost their entire lives together. “My wife was actually THE expert on coins from the GDR era,” he recalls. Then she became ill. From then on, her health and care took priority. “I just tried to ignore the pain in my knees and took tablets,” the now 66-year-old recalls.
It started at some point
Manfred was on his way to visit his wife in hospital when he first became aware of the symptoms. His daily route took him over a slight hill and his knees started to hurt one day when he was walking downhill.
"At first I tried using simple supports, which did help."
But after his wife died in 2010, his daily visits to the hospital stopped and the widower became less active. This lack of exercise meant that the cartilage in his knee received an ever-dwindling supply of nutrients, since these are found in the synovial fluid and are massaged into the cartilage during the loading and unloading process. An arthroscopy was needed to smooth out the cartilage surface, which had become rough. This was followed by a short course of injections. While this did lead to an improvement, there is no cure for osteoarthritis. The full extent of the joint wear could finally be seen on X-rays.
"The synovial fluid is gone in the whole knee."
“My orthopedist says that cycling is very good. I do this on my exercise bike. And my knee is a lot more mobile afterwards,” says Manfred Höhn. “Fortunately, I mostly work at a desk so the osteoarthritis in my knees at least doesn’t affect my work very much.” The times when he really needs to stand in the auction house are brief and his two daughters have been helping him to continue running the business since his wife died.
“Physiotherapy is an essential part of my life.”
Physiotherapy is a tried-and-tested way of improving the mobility and function of the knee joint and relieving pain. “There are different exercises which really help. Even when the treatment hurts, I still feel much better a few days later – it really does me good,” the coin dealer explains. With the combination of physiotherapy and a knee support, he is at least able to work, but he is more restricted in his private life.
“I can’t do anything without daily painkillers.”
Although Manfred is doing everything to counteract the osteoarthritis from an orthopedic perspective, he also has to treat the pain with medication. Hiking, swimming, cross-country skiing and other types of sport are not possible for him at the moment. Longer walks need to include a number of stops to rest. However the widower has got used to the situation and has adjusted his life to his health limitations. Gardening keeps him moving and his grandchildren really keep him on the go too. “The children want to run around and play. I sit with them on the floor, go out into the woods with them – it’s non-stop action all day,” explains Manfred with a proud grandpa smile. “And I can manage pretty well thanks to my knee support, since it stabilizes my knee and reduces the pain.“
Osteoarthritis of the knee should be checked regularly by a physician
Since osteoarthritis cannot be cured, it is particularly important that the condition of the joint should be frequently checked and treated by an orthopedic specialist, so that knee replacement surgery can be avoided for as long as possible. Joint wear can be slowed down by sports which relieve pressure on the joint – such as swimming and cycling – as well as by physiotherapy and a well-fitting knee support. It is important to keep moving despite the pain. A much-loved hobby can be a huge help with this. For Manfred Höhn, it is his two grandchildren who keep him on the go – and it really does him good.