Like Sadie, I've got hypermobile Ehlers Danlos. I've not ridden in about eighteen months because the pain is steadily getting worse despite being on a permanent supply of opiates. I had a little sit on River bareback a few weeks ago which was awesome, but my god I suffered for it afterwards!
It's difficult to know what to do for the best. It took me fifteen years to get properly diagnosed (I had to go private, too) after being told it was JRA, hypochondria, growing pains, fibro and all sorts. I very much subscribe to a "use it or lose it" philosophy and refuse to be entirely dependent on my wheelchair, but it's a catch 22 as the more active I force myself to be, the more dislocations and other injuries I sustain, and then I spend weeks or months recovering so I lose all the muscle tone again. Swimming has become a no no for me, as my fingers, wrists, shoulders and ankles dislocate from the water pressure and although I should go and just do some hydro exercises without swimming, it's too frustrating and tempting to just do laps instead!
Careful stretching beforehand, so as not to hyperextend your joints, can help as can splints, supports and strapping to protect fragile joints, but I've not yet discovered a way to make riding bearable. A lot of my splints I bought myself after consulting with an occupational therapist about what would suit me best, as my NHS ones were far too bulky for regular use, and my OT even managed to sort me out with Fischer walking sticks, as crutches kept dislocating my wrists and thumbs.
It's madness that your doctor thinks you're too young for painkillers! I was on codiene by 15, tramadol at 22 and now at 27 I'm taking buprenorphine via a patch so it's in constant supply and have morphine for bad days. Yes, you do end up in a position where you have to move up dosages and change meds as your body adjusts, but although I moan that the buprenorphine doesn't ever make me pain-free, I had a few days without it when I placed my repeat prescription a bit late and was absolutely bedridden despite having no acute flare ups at the time, so it's obviously making a massive difference to my quality of life.
If you can, I'd recommend seeing an OT (I was able to self-refer although my GP is generally pretty happy to sign off things for referral when I think I need them) and discussing better supports and maybe even learning how to strap certain parts (I tend to do my ankles and wrists when I ride as even my nicer supports still feel too bulky when it comes to giving aids). It's really a horrible uphill struggle and it's taken me an incredibly long time to get the medical professionals around me to take me seriously and then to reach the partnership I've got with my doctor around managing it. I'd also suggest speaking to someone at a Riding for the Disabled venue about what tack and equipment that might help and see if they can recommend a more comfortable saddle that can be fitted to you as well as your horse. The daftest things, like where the stirrup bar is positioned make a big difference to position and can put real strain on your back, hips, knees and ankles.
I hope you figure out a way to make riding more comfortable. Nothing's nastier than having your hobby cause you pain
[FONT="Book Antiqua"][COLOR="Sienna"]He's of the colour of the nutmeg. And of the heat of the ginger...he is pure air and fire; and the dull elements of earth and water never appear in him
*Salsa* 19th April 1998 - 7th July 2013[/COLOR][/FONT]
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