The Arthritis Game

Late winter in 2002, my life was finally coming together. I remember the day clearly. It was February and I was busy exercising and building muscle for what was soon to be my new career. The three months before had been filled with hope and optimism. I successfully passed the written exam, aced the physical agility course and had shined in my interview with the Police Department. I was on the list and on my way to my future.

Midday that Sunday afternoon was a typical Sunday for me. I was working on strengthening my legs when I felt a pop in my left knee. It became swollen, red and painful. Thinking this was a mild injury, I laid off, kept it iced and treated it with over the counter medications.

After a month, the swelling had not only not dissipated but had increased. The pain now severe, I sought medical help. The standard series of X-Rays and blood work showed nothing out of the ordinary and I was sent on my way with what they believed was a sprained knee.

Two months later, my knee was the size of a grapefruit,. The pain was horrible and I had lost the ability to bend it at all. Two MRIs later and my doctors decided they needed to look inside, check out the damage and drain the excess fluid, which they did successfully. My ordeal was far from over.

About two months after the operation, my right knee began the same painful process of swelling, pain and bruising. Far worse than my left knee, which was giving me problems with pain and mobility. This time around my doctors performed bone density tests on both knees which returned cloudy results. They decided the right knee needed to be drained and I underwent another surgery.

The recovery process seemed to make everything worse and physical therapy proved to be fruitless as the physical exertion only seemed to inflame, swell and cause more pain to my knees. It was at this point that I was referred to a Rheumatologist. My Rheumatologist immediately ceased my physical therapy and began exploring other options.

As my condition(s) were still, at this point, without diagnosis, my doctor settled on a cause: Osteoarthritis. While I was really young to be experiencing this, my Mother's ailment's led him to believe it was genetic. So, he began a treatment regimen that was related to arthritis instead of anything orthopedic.

I was advised the over the years the arthritis would spread and it has done just that. Now in my neck, fingers and spine, it has left me with sever pain, limited mobility and open to falls, sprains, strains and dislocations, which happen frequently.

My health plan went from recovery and rehabilitation to management. It was a grim realization that I more than likely would be dealing with this for the rest of my life but I stayed positive and that frame of mind is extremely critical when dealing with arthritic conditions. It can be seriously depressing, the lack of mobility, the pain and the limitations. It's always good to talk to your doctor about your mood.

What has been helpful to me is moderate exercise. There are plenty of options out there that you can do to help your joints. Low-impact walking helps my knees stay loose. Short distances on level terrain are ideal, with shoes that are designed for walking. Talk to your doctor about supplements such as Glucosamine Chondroiton. Different people have different results. Personally, I didn't notice any difference after three months of taking it. If you're going to try it, take it consistently or you won't have a true ideas to its effectiveness.

Last but not least. During flares of inflammation, apply ice packs to the effected joint. Do this consistently. One time, here and there, is not going to be effective. Rest, rest, rest! Rest your joints. Activity, use and friction all worsen inflammation. Don't overdo it. Know your limits and stay on top of your condition.

It amazes me that I have been living with Osteoarthritis for 12 years. It hit me young and has worsened over the years, but it has not become my identity. There are things I can no longer do, but I choose to stay focused on the things I can do.

Diabetes News: Arthritis Drug May Benefit Patients with Type 2 Diabetes, Says New Study

New research indicates that a drug called anakinra, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis in children, also shows promise for patients with type 2 diabetes. The study appears in the April 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

When 34 subjects received 100 milligrams of anakinra by injection on a daily basis, their blood glucose levels decreased over a 13-week period. By contrast, 36 subjects who received a placebo injection saw a rise in glucose levels during the same period. Those who received anakinra tolerated the drug well.

"We (showed) that a 13-week treatment with anakinra improves glucose regulation and insulin production in people with type 2 diabetes," said Dr. Marc Donath, professor of endocrinology and diabetes at University Hospital Zurich in Switzerland. Donath co-authored the study.

According to an article on MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, type 2 diabetes, also known as noninsulin-dependent diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes. The condition is characterized by high blood sugar levels. Once developed, these high levels persist throughout the patient's lifetime.

In type 2 diabetes, the body does not properly manage insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. The majority of patients with type 2 diabetes are overweight by the time they develop the disease. Family history, genetics, and lifestyle factors such as lack of exercise and poor nutrition all contribute significantly to a patient's risk for type 2 diabetes.

In earlier studies, Donath's team found that interleukin-1 beta played a part in the destruction in pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin. Anakinra can keep interleukin-1 beta from destroying cells.

"Our study is proof of concept for a mechanism underlying the disease and [may] block its progression," said Donath. "Interleukin-1 beta may be involved in other complications of the disease, such as arteriosclerosis. Therefore, this therapy may also prevent cardiovascular events. However, this remains to be shown." Donath's team intends to carry out further research on anakinra.

"This study points to inflammation as definitely having a role in the [diabetes] story," said Dr. Stuart Weiss, an endocrinologist at New York University Medical Center, and a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

However, Weiss added that while research on anakinra is "worth pursuing, I wouldn't get my hopes up for a clinical application, especially since the drug appears to lose its effectiveness over time."

Sources:

MSN.com, article:

http://health.msn.com/centers/arthritis/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100160261

National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus, printable article on type 2 diabetes:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000313.htm

Lyme Arthritis: My Story

I don't remember being bitten by a tick in the spring of 2007, but I must have simply not noticed. That was the year that I developed Lyme arthritis, a uniquely frustrating strain of Lyme disease that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

Swollen Joints

The first sign that I was sick was rather memorable, to tell you the truth. My left knee swelled up to twice its original size and ached constantly. I was living in Connecticut, the Lyme disease capital of the world, at the time, but yet it never occurred to me that that might be the problem. Joint pain wasn't something I had ever heard talked about as a possible symptom of Lyme disease, after all.

Diagnosis and Treatment

In fact, though, Lyme disease can and often does cause a temporary but severe form of arthritis. My doctor, after feeling my knee for any sign of a physical injury, quickly guessed that that was the problem, and he proved to be right. I was put on antibiotics, but warned that my recovery would be a slow process. Because I had gone so long without seeking treatment, it would be longer until I was back to normal than it would have been if I had simply gone to see a doctor a week earlier.

If you live in an area where Lyme disease is common and suddenly start experiencing unexplained joint pain, learn from my mistake and go see a medical professional as soon as possible. Arthritis isn't an easy-to-overlook aspect of the condition-in my case, at least, it was the most difficult part. When my joints were at their worst, I could barely walk, and even on the days when they were doing better I found myself hobbling everywhere at a tediously slow pace. The throbbing would keep me up at night and frustrate me during the day.

The good news, though, is that it went away with time. To be sure, it took months after my official diagnosis, but these days my joints are back to normal.

My Experience with Arthritis and How I've Dealt with It

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 12, and I am now 30 years old. So basically, it has been affecting me most of my adult life. I would like to share my experience with you, in hopes that it might help you just a little.

My arthritis started out very mild. The doctor told my parents that it was nothing to worry about. A few years later it got a little more serious, but it was still nothing serious. Last year though, things began to get a little grimmer for me.

I was prescribed methotrexate for my disease just last year, which is a drug with lots of unwanted side-effects. First of all, it suppresses your immune system, causes hair-loss, and it is also used to cure cancer. Personally when I take it, it makes me feel like I have a bad cold or the flu. I'm still taking this drug, and although it makes me quite nervous, it gives me hope that I'm on a road to feeling better in the future. And that's one of the most important things when fighting arthritis. Looking to the future, and looking for a possible solution that will relieve some of these symptoms.

The worst thing that you can do is getting depressed and giving up hope. I have been there. It is hard to feel sick everyday, and be confined to your bed when it is a beautiful day outside. It gets tiring to have swollen joints and not being able to run or jump like your other friends can. But what I have come to realize is that I can't focus on my limitations, I have to focus on the positive aspects of my life. I find that when my mind is happy, my arthritis is not as bad as when I get stressed or depressed.

I have always loved the outdoors. I love to go hiking and camping. And although my disease has somewhat limited my ability to do what I love, I have not let it completely defeat me. Yes, my bones get stiff when I'm hiking up a mountain, and I'm afraid that my body will break to pieces. It's definitely tough, but the best thing that you can do is learn to cope with with.

I have also met and connected with other people that have arthritis. It's hard for people that don't have the disease to understand how things feel. Connecting with those like me has allowed me to identify myself a bit more clearly, and also know that I'm not alone.

Living with arthritis is not easy. The disease itself definitely hasn't gotten better overtime, but as with anything in life you can learn to adapt to it. Humans are adaptable creatures. Arthritis inflicts a lot of pain and damage to your bones, but you must not let it get to your brain.

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that results in chronic inflammation of the joints. The condition also causes inflammation of surrounding tissues of the joints or other organs of the body. It is considered as debilitating disease that affects approximately 1% of world's population. As per one of the studies revealed by current census data of the U.S. "It is believed that approximately 1.3 million people suffer from the disease in United States". Moreover, women affect by the condition most, more likely three times as compared to men. Normally, rheumatoid arthritis progresses in three stages. In the first stage, swelling takes place of synovial lining, after that at a fast pace division of growth of cells takes place. And in the third stage, enzymes are released by inflamed cells. Apart from joints of the body, wrists, knee, fingers, ankles etc are other common body parts that are affected by the condition.

Main causes and Symptoms

The main cause of the condition is unknown. Being considered as autoimmune disease, body's immune system does not able to differentiate between healthy tissue and foreign substances and attacks on the body. Some other factors like genes, virus or bacterial infection also contribute towards rheumatoid arthritis.

Person experiences symptoms like:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Morning stiffness
  • Redness and swelling around joints
  • Loss of movement, misalignment of joints, etc

The condition requires lifelong treatment, therefore it is necessary to seek medical assistance as soon as person experience its symptoms.

Treatments-Ways to reduce its effects

Although, no cure exists for rheumatoid arthritis, by following several methods one can reduce its symptoms and improve quality of life. Some of the most common treatments of the condition are assorted below:

  • Adequate rest on getting physically exhausted– Taking adequate rest after getting physically exhausted aids in treating the condition significantly. It is advised to the patients of rheumatoid arthritis to take frequent breaks while performing exercises, so that they won't get too tired.
  • Eat balanced diet- One of the simplest yet effective treatment is consuming anti-inflammatory diet. Consuming foods like small cold water fish, foods containing omega 3 fatty acids, fruits, leafy vegetables, etc aids in treating the condition to a great level.
  • Protecting Joints- Joints can be prevented by adopting joint protection techniques such as recommended by specialist. Joint protection techniques like cold and heat treatments, providing support and aligning joints by making use of splints or orthotic devices are recommended by most of the specialist. Reducing pain and improving joint mobility by applying electrical stimulation also assist in treating joints adequately.
  • Exercise- Depending upon the condition of patient, individualized exercise programs and other range-of-motion exercises are recommended by physical therapist. Practicing right kind of exercises at regular basis aids in delaying the loss of functioning of joint pains.
  • Prescribed medications and drugs- DMARDs (disease modifying antirheumatic drugs) drugs like methotrexate, etc are commonly used for treating the condition. Anti-inflammatory and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen etc are also recommended for treating rheumatoid arthritis. Other medications like corticosteroids and Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors are also prescribed by professionals. However, it is advised that do not administer any medication without consulting with the professionals.

Aforementioned are some of the methods by which condition can be treated and people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis can lead a normal and healthy life.

Summary: Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that leads to chronic joint inflammation. Swelling, redness of the skin, swollen glands, etc are considered as common symptoms of the condition. The disease can be treated effectively by adopting a number of measures like taking medications, rich diet, adequate rest, etc.

Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis ten years ago, right after my twenty-first birthday. Most of the time arthritis is something you think only afflicts the elderly. But, here I was a 21 year old kid that felt like an 81 year old woman.

The signs and symptoms for RA are as follows: aching swollen joints that are warm to the touch, fatigue and weight loss. Okay, that’s the medical description now this is how I felt. I dropped ten pounds in one month. My shoulders felt dislocated, sitting down or standing up brought tears to my eyes, and when I walked it felt like knife blades were in my feet. And this is no exaggeration. I have a new respect and sense of compassion for the elderly. So don’t rush Granny as she hobbles along in the store. She is in a great deal of pain.

After, hurting for so long I went to my doctor. He examined my joints and ran some blood work. At my next appointment he gave me the results my sed. rate was elevated and I tested positive for rheumatoid factor. This man who saw me for strep throat and colds since I was a child; came to me and said, “I’m sorry honey it looks like rheumatoid arthritis.” I was dumb founded, was I going to be crippled. I had no idea what my life may be like. I just went to my car and cried. I was wondering could I ever have kids. And if I could would I be able to take care of them? These questions would be answered later along in this journey.

So I went to a rheumatologist and started treatment. They are three drug categories to treat RA. NSAIDs like Daypro and Celebrex; DMARDs like methotrexate, and the new biological drugs like Enbrel, Humira, and Remicade. Since the biological drugs were out of my price range. I started on methotrexate and Daypro. Methotrexate is a chemotherapy drug in pill form. It made me extremely nauseas and some of my hair fell out. Not fun especially for a woman. But as my body adjusted my hair grew back thick and my stomach eased.

I began to feel better. The pain lessened and life went on. My husband and I decided to have children. I was one of those lucky women that went into remission during pregnancy. I wished they could bottle what ever causes the remission. Some days parenting with RA is very difficult, especially during the younger years. I remember one day I was having a bad flare up and I could hardly lift my infant son. That day we spent a lot of time on the couch. I chose to stay at home for my kids and it was easier on my joints.

Exercise is a key element in living with RA. Although painful at times it lubricates and loosens the joints. Sitting around all day is worse than being up and moving. Walking and swimming are great for people with RA. They are both low impact and easier on the joints. Exercise also helps with the depression that often accompanies RA.

By following treatments and exercise I have a pretty normal life. I can’t go rock climbing, but I can roller blade with my kids. I’m looking into biological treatments and hope I can get an even more relief there. So this is my continuing journey through RA. And if you have been just recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis I hope my story can help you.

Living With Psoriatic Arthritis and Pustular Psoriasis

Today I am a very happy 40-something living with severe Psoriatic Arthritis and a severe skin disease known as Pustular Psoriasis. I was only 26 years old when I was suddenly stricken with these diseases. I was a young mother, recently divorced and working as a nurse, my childhood dream job. I was also serving my country in the U.S Army Reserves as a nurse and a medic. My world changed for the worst; or so I thought at the time, in Feburary 1988. After receiving my diagnosis from my Rheumatologist, I was devastated.

The first year of my illnesses I had to work very hard to accept my fate of living with disabilities. I slowly adjusted to the horrific side-effects of my medications, progressed from being bed-ridden to a wheelchair, to a walker then a cane. My progress was slow and at times very frustrating but after about the first year and a half I realized that my biggest battle was going to be the mental aspect of living with the unbearable pain and strict limitations of daily life. I relied heavily on my faith and began to look for things to keep my mind and my hands busy. I purchased a small sewing machine and taught myself how to sew. I began to do needlepoint and crewel embroidery and made Christmas crafts from felt.I watched alot of PBS programs and fed my mind with educational programs. I soon found a love for painting landscapes and writing poetry and short stories, just for my own entertainment and pleasure.

Day by day, week by week then month from month I began to heal, accept and learn to live at peace with my illnesses. I am not going to say that I don't have my bad days because I do have those but I know I will be okay. My biggest reward is finding joy in living life to it's fullest, every day!