Right now you’re probably thinking, WTF is a Chikungunya? A major part of this mosquito transmitted virus is severe joint pain, just like with Arthritis. So what does a cyclist with this kind of joint pain do, and how does it affect riding?
Okay, so here’s a little more information on Chikungunya (pronunciation: \chik-en-gun-ye) before getting into the topic of joint pain and cycling. I’m assuming some of you are interested in what this strange sounding virus is, and how I got it.
Oh, and before I go any further….I want to mention that nobody should be scared of Chikungunya and certainly should not avoid traveling to the Caribbean because of it. You likely won’t get it while on a 1 or 2 week vacation, and even if you do…..it’s really not bad. The benefits of a trip to Grenada or any other island definitely outweigh the negatives of chik-v.
I believe the virus started in Africa over 60 years ago, but there have been outbreaks of it in several (mostly developing) countries in 2005, 2009, 2011, and right now in the Caribbean. This most recent round of the Chikungunya virus hit the Caribbean in December of 2013 and has spread through each country and even into Florida. It seemed to have overtaken Grenada the hardest between August and October, where pretty much every person I know had it.
But here’s the kicker. The original symptoms of Chikungunya (chik-v) can be quite mild….in fact when I first had it I wasn’t laid out with fever, pain, or the other things that come along with it. But what makes chik-v a real pain in the ass is the relapse….or “leftovers”, as my 4 year old calls it. The relapse is when some people are hit hard with the joint pain, and studies say that it can last up to 2 years or longer. Now it’s my turn to say, WTF?
Chik-v seems to go after joints that have been injured in the past, along with fingers, wrists, and ankles. When I was younger, I mashed up my left ankle quite severely and chik-v has attacked it along with my fingers, wrists, and left knee. When I get out of bed, I must look like a freaking 90-year-old man…..yeah, it’s seriously that bad.
But don’t let me scare you. It’s a total pain, but it hasn’t stopped me from doing anything. Sure, I might cringe or make a weird face at times (even shaking hands with someone makes me grimace)….but on the days where it’s worse than others, I just pop a couple ibuprofen and I’m good to go.
Cycling With Chikungunya, Arthritis, or Joint Pain
Okay, sorry for all the chik-v details. So what does a cyclist do when they’re living with joint pain? Well, as you know….cycling is much nicer on your joints than running or some other kinds of athletics. Even though my ankle and knee make walking hard, I don’t seem to feel them on the bike. But the wrists and fingers are a slightly different story.
I don’t know exactly how close this is to Arthritis, but I definitely now have an idea of what it’s like to live with that debilitating syndrome. Get this, some days I can’t even squeeze my water bottle and have to suck back water by just using my mouth.
If you ride a road bike like me, you likely have similar shifters and brakes. Normally, shifting the gears or squeezing the brakes is a simple thing that you don’t even think about, right? Well, having joint pain in your fingers and wrists turns this into something much more difficult. There is one Ironman triathlete I know here in Grenada who can’t even ride her bike because she’s unable to shift or brake. For me, braking is the worst…..good thing I don’t like using them if I don’t have to.
At this time, there is no prescribed remedy or cure for chik-v. There are a few people I know who have gone in for a steroid injection and it seems to have helped them a lot.
Although my Mom has lived with Arthritis since I was 10 years old, I don’t know what remedies there are available. I know there are prescriptions available, but I don’t believe there are any full-out cures.
I’m more of a naturopath anyway, so here’s what I have to recommend.
Anti-Inflammatory Cherry Joint Tea – our incredible Loving the Bike nutritionist, Kelli, posted this recipe a while back. I just searched it out myself and plan on mixing it up.
Ultimate Joint Health Smoothie - Yep, another recipe from Kelli….and another one I will be making for myself.
Ibuprofen - Yeah, even though I try to stay away from the meds…..there are days like today where I need to pop a couple of pills to make life easier.
Move – Even if it’s somewhat painful, I feel that it’s much better to keep moving than sit around. I can’t speak for Arthritis, but with chik-v and other joint pain….it gets better with movement. First thing in the morning is always the worst, but once I get moving around and the joints start working it gets so much better.
Be Healthy – With everything in life, good health is always the way to go. Eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep, look after yourself….and your mind, body, and soul will thank you.
Ride Your Bike - I couldn’t end off without saying once again that cycling is a great thing to do when you have joint pain. There is little stress on the joints, makes you feel happy, and the movement will definitely help out with that irritating joint pain.
Top photo c/o transactpatch.com