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My Path to Osteoarthritis

Updated on January 15, 2019
Lorelei Nettles profile image

Lorelei has battled OA for years and was first diagnosed with RA in 2014 although she probably had it for some time before.

Like most young people, when I was a teenager I thought I could do anything even if I got hurt in the process. We just never understand how those small injuries may come back to haunt us later, nor do we probably care. My first knee injury happened when I was 13. I lived on a very long and steep hill that ended in a cul-de-sac. In my infinite wisdom at the time decided that my first real experience on a skateboard should be to travel halfway up that hill and skateboard down in a bathing suit. About half way down I realized I did not know how I would ever stop at the bottom where the cul-de-sac met a drainage ditch and brambly bushes. My decision was to try to step off onto the curb and land in the grass. As you might imagine that is not how it worked out. Traveling faster than most cars would on that road my decision resulted in a complete wipeout. I was bruised and battered, but the right knee took the brunt of the crash.

Over the years, I had many manual labor jobs for which I heavily used my hands. I began to have trouble with my fingers and right wrist. After tolerating the pain for many years, I woke up one morning and realized I could not move my hand. It had frozen in place. Trying to bend the wrist or use the hand was excruciating. I credited this to carpal tunnel and began to wear a wrist brace. This helped me as far as holding on to some things but caused it to be in more pain. After years of dealing with this on again, off again problem I finally saw a hand specialist. He said it was probably a combination of things, but mostly OA.

In 2014, I began having trouble with exercising. Movements that should not have been a big deal began to cause me big problems. Sometimes that included not being able to lift my arms. The doctor said to just be careful. Then a few months later my whole body began to hurt and become immobile. After visiting a Rheumatologist, I learned I had RD (Rheumatoid Disease). Many of my friends convinced me not to take the medications that are offered because they are so dangerous, so for almost a year I did nothing. I suffered a lot and had trouble moving as the RD had struck my whole body minus my hips. My joints were continually twisted and pulled until finally, I decided I could take no more. I went on the medication offered and immediately received relief. The problem? In those months, my joints had deteriorated. They had been damaged as if they had been used continuously and soon after OA moved into most of them.

Source

While experts go back and forth on what sets off OA attacks, most sufferers will attest to the fact that weather changes can cause a lot of pain. Where I live, in the Arizona desert, it is supposed to be prime real estate for those with OA, but I am not sure that is so. This year has been especially bad for me. It started in September and as I write it is January and I still have not stopped having pain. The weather has been unstable with systems coming into the area in waves. As soon as I start having a better day - which means less pain – another wave comes through. I monitor the barometric pressure and realize that it does not take much of a change to set my OA off. When the pressure stays consistent, I get some relief. Unfortunately, the pressure has not leveled off for any length of time.

Helps

While gels, salves, and braces can be of great help to some sufferers, with the wear and tear we put on our bodies, the joints can only last so long. I do highly recommend trying Outback Pain Relief it has been a wonderful help to me. It smells nicer than those minty things and personally, I do not care for things with capsaicin, but that is me. It really does take the edge off the pain. The key is to rub it in well. This year finds me with the need for a total knee replacement. My right knees cartilage has disappeared and it is bone on bone. Although many do not have to have such surgeries until they are in their 60s to 80s, it is not unheard of for people with OA to have them in their 30s to 50s. I will be heading to surgery sometime in the next months.

This morning I was reading of people who are getting knuckle, wrist, and thumb replacements. This all sounds like a great thing, but it often can come with a lack of full use of such joints. The pain people suffer often leads them to surgery, while others choose to avoid it and sometimes end up in wheelchairs or permanent braces instead. So far there are no cures for OA however there are things that can help such as various injections such as the ones spoken of in an article in Medical News Today. And science is coming up with new things all the time that might help. Right now, they are talking about knee cartilage regeneration using stem cells, but not all insurance will cover such procedures as it is too new and expensive.

There are many resources online to explain the symptoms and treatments for OA. I must admit that getting the knee shots got me through quite a few years before I got to the point of surgery. There are also exercises, pain relievers, and diet suggestions that can help. Of course, keeping a healthy weight is helpful. Something I continue to work at. It seems counter-intuitive, but keeping your joints moving is one of the best things you can do for them. I spend many an hour now just trying to keep my joints moving.

My story

I am currently using a walker part time to get around my house. My right knee no longer straightens out completely although I try. I am also having trouble with the “good” knee, as well as my wrist, ankles, and back. Occasionally, I also have issues with my neck, shoulders, and feet. Until I have the knee replacement and have healed sufficiently I am forced to sleep on the couch as the stairs to my bedroom have become too difficult. Before, during, and after my surgery for a time, I will be taken off my RA medications. This could open a whole new can of worms for me concerning pain and movement if I have an RA flare. But I will have to see what happens. I cannot wait for my surgery to be over with however so that I can go back to walking normally. I feel I took too much for granted during my life and am now paying the price. My advice? Keep moving and protect those joints!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Lorelei Nettles

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