I was first diagnosed with osteoarthritis in 1989, at the age of 19 years. I had been having problems with horse-riding (my all-consuming hobby was equestrian competition — eventing and showjumping), getting pain in both hips when riding larger horses and after long rides. In hindsight, I had been showing symptoms for years. From a young age I had trouble sitting cross-legged, and at age 16 had started getting some lower back pain, which I now believe was a consequence of developing flexion deformities. I was told that I would need hip replacements by the age of 40, but that I must try to postpone this evil day as long as possible because hip implants only lasted about 10 years. As my inflammatory markers were never raised, treatment was conservative (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, paracetamol, physiotherapy and exercise), and I was encouraged to continue my equestrian activities as a form of physical therapy.
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