Jump at the Chance for Treatment

It’s all in the goals. For Lenore Hiscoe, goals have launched her thru life and landed her on solid ice. When the 71-year-old figure skater experienced knee pain that prevented her from jumping, she saw Ramsey Shehab, M.D., Deputy Chief of Henry Ford Sports Medicine, who understood the unique needs and goals of athletes.

Wins and kudos

Between 1999 and 2021, Lenore won 13 gold medals in the U. S. Adult National Figure Skating Championships: Silver Ladies 5. And she won gold in the 2004 Michigan Senior Winter Olympics. Off the ice, Lenore won kudos for teaching history and economics at Walled Lake Central High School for 39 years, and for the 14 summers she taught English to teachers in China.

“I do all the 360 jumps and single rotations in the air. They all land backward on the right foot, and it was the right knee that was giving me trouble,” says Lenore who has been jumping for 50 years. “I couldn’t totally bend my knee, and you have to bend your knee to absorb the pressure from landing.”

Self-diagnosis error

For two years, Lenore tolerated her knee pain, assuming it was caused by a torn meniscus that would require surgery. She limped, used ice and heat, and then stopped jumping. Yet she wanted to compete and resume jumping, so her coach sent her to Henry Ford Sports Medicine and Dr. Shehab.

The X-rays and MRI helped him make the real diagnosis: moderate osteoarthritis. The condition can be caused by injury or wear and tear. Also, a decrease in synovial fluid – the thick lubricating fluid between the joints – may cause pain and worsen arthritis.

Treating sports-worthy knees

The remedy was simple, and she had a choice: Cortisone injections or a series of three gel injections over three weeks. “Dr. Shehab said the repeated injections every six months could keep me going for a long time,” says Lenore.

Unfortunately, no injections can solve the problem, says Dr. Shehab. “Steroid injections can help with pain but are potentially harmful to the joint if repeated over time. There is no such concern with lubricant injections.”

The Euflexxa gel injections contain the active ingredient sodium hyaluronate, which occurs naturally in the joint but dissipates with time. “It’s a natural lubricant and shock absorber,” says Dr. Shehab. “The goal is to control or minimize osteoarthritis symptoms with it. Active individuals – recreational to professional athletes – with mild to moderate osteoarthritis benefit the most.”

“The injection worked like magic. Before I walked out of his office, there was a major difference. It was stunning,” says Lenore. “The injections help with common activities such as walking up and down the stairs, and they will significantly extend my ability to skate.”

But the best news came when Dr. Shehab gave Lenore the OK to jump. “I’ll modify my jumping because I don’t want to aggravate my knee so badly that I can’t walk when I’m 85,” says Lenore.

Resonating goals

“Dr. Shehab is a wonderful sports doctor. He’s a young athlete who is efficient, and he understands my focus. He acknowledged that we need to keep my knee in good condition so I can get back on the ice,” says Lenore. She finished her second series of injections in January 2022.

“I’m hoping to stay on the ice and compete in freestyle, which I tend to win,” says Lenore who glides with the Rusty Blades skaters at Lakeland Skating Club in Pontiac. “We’re not competing against each other. We’re competing against ourselves.”

“I’m overly competitive. I need a goal to keep me going, and competition has been my goal for 50 years. I’m not going to give up because skating keeps me active and involved,” says Lenore. “I love the feeling of freedom on the ice. But I never want to be in a wheelchair because I had one more competition.”

Balancing risk and sports for the future

Lenore’s advice for other athletes? When necessary, see a sports medicine doctor. “They have miracle stuff they can do. And don’t be so dedicated to your sport that you’ll damage yourself. You’ll pay a big price when you get older,” says Lenore. And when you can’t do your sport anymore, coach it. Volunteer or manage the team. Find something you can do with the groups you love. Stick with it. And don’t be afraid to take chances.

“I hope to be skating until I’m 80. I don’t think I’ll look back at the end and have regrets,” says Lenore.

Recommendations for Lenore and others who’ve experienced knee pain and arthritis? Lead an active lifestyle. Manage your weight. Stretch often. Promptly check out injuries. Wear proper shoes.

“I hope to be skating until I’m 80. I don’t think I’ll look back at the end and have regrets.”

Have an injury?

Appointments within 24 business hours. Virtual visits available. Call (313) 651-1969.


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