Agnes' Story

80-Year-Old Runner Continues to Compete After Finding Knee Pain Relief

Agnes Smith began running at age 40 to help her get through a painful divorce. She became hooked after coming in second place in her first 5K and she ran her first marathon a year later. Agnes found that running races satisfied a newly discovered competitive sprit, and in the years since she has participated in many races, including half and full marathons.

Agnes Smith and Sean Cupp, MDAgnes, now 80, resumed long distance racing 10 years ago after a 15 year hiatus to build a new marriage and professional life. A meniscus tear after her third half-marathon in her 70s prompted her to take a year off running. She began receiving knee gel treatments and was referred to Sean Cupp, MD. Dr. Cupp is co-director of University Hospitals Sports Medicine and an expert in sports performance and enhancement.

Dr. Cupp prescribed a five-week bi-annual regime of hyaluronan injections for Agnes’s knee pain and arthritis. As a college student interested in sports medicine, Dr. Cupp was able to work with colleagues of the research doctor who developed hyaluronan, so he has a first-hand understanding of the effectiveness of this pain relief injection.

Agnes said she appreciated how Dr. Cupp supported her as an older runner, instead of encouraging her to just walk instead: “My competitive spirit needs to be racing, not just walking,” she said.

Agnes Smith being evaluated by Dr. CuppAgnes’s first treatment was last June. At the time she was training for a half marathon in August, and she ended up improving her time by 20 minutes and coming in second place in her age group. Dr. Cupp was thrilled when she told him about it at her next appointment.

“Dr. Cupp helps me keep doing what I love to do,” said Agnes.

Dr. Cupp’s advice to Agnes is, “There is only so much life in your joints; you decide how you want to use it.”