Steve Backshall health: Presenter’s battle with agonising condition – ‘it was just awful’

For anyone watching Strictly Come Dancing at the time, Backshall looked in his element–smiling as he jived and quick-stepped around the stage. But behind it all, he was fighting a condition he has had to deal with for over 10 years, an interview with the Daily Mail revealed.

The presenter, who developed osteoarthritis in the years following a climbing accident, talked about how dancing on the program was “just awful.”

He told the Daily Mail: “My knee had been giving me a bit of trouble ever since I broke my left ankle in a climbing accident in 2010.

“It took 11 operations to try and fix the ankle but I never let up on my expeditions and adventures.

“Throughout that time, to compensate for the weakness on my left, I was putting pressure on the opposite side of my body — and my right knee was absorbing all that.

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“The pain in my knee started slowly, but by the time I was on Strictly it was agony.”

Osteoarthritis is a common condition that causes painful joints and stiffness and can be caused by joint injury as well as other risk factors.

The symptoms include swelling, grafting, and crackling sounds as the arthritic joints move around, according to the NHS.

Backshall was diagnosed with the condition after a scan in 2014 which revealed cartilage damage and a cyst in his kneecap.

He was given a procedure to cut away the damaged cartilage and cyst but the pain persisted.

Backshall admitted at the time he continued pushing his body to the extreme with ascents up the Himalayas and other adventures.

Typically, people with the condition are also treated with a number of painkillers, but for many people in severe pain, these provide a scant amount of relief.

These painkillers can include simple paracetamol, opioids such as codeine, creams and steroid injections.

Backshall said: ‘By January 2020 I was really struggling. It was clear something had to be done as I couldn’t live on painkillers.’

The presenter went on to pay for private treatment called nSTRIDE which cost £1,800.

However, over a year later, he told the Daily Mail at the time the effect had ‘worn off’ and he was considering further treatment.

nSTRIDE involves injecting anti-inflammatory proteins called cytokines and interleukins into the knee, according to Nuffield Health.

Despite the presenter’s failure with the treatment, there are studies that were sponsored by the nSTRIDE manufacturer Zimmer Biomet which found that the treatment was effective at reducing pain from the condition.

One study, published on ClinicalTrials.gov, found sufferers of knee-based osteoarthritis had a 65 percent reduction in pain compared to a 41 percent reduction in the placebo group.

The NHS also offers surgery for people with severe pain from osteoarthritis, such as replacing the arthritic joints.

However, long waiting times for hip replacement surgery have driven many people to seek private treatment.

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