I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis at the age of 40 after finding that my fingers were swollen and stiff first thing in the morning. I was already on quite strong painkillers for spinal problems (degenerative disc disease from the age of 21), so my GP just told me to keep taking those. Since then it has started to affect almost every joint in my body.
I am now 56 and it affects every aspect of my life. I find using a knife to chop or peel things is a nightmare, opening jars and packets almost impossible. I have started with hip pain all of a sudden, which I'm almost 95% certain is arthritis, rather than related to my spinal problems. The nagging, burning ache keeps me awake at night and even though my GP prescribed NSAID tablets which help, I can't take them constantly because of stomach problems! Life with arthritis is frustrating, but... I will never let it beat me!
I have constant chronic pain
I suffer from osteoathritis in my lower back which I am in constant cronic pain everyday. I also suffer from the same in my neck & left shoulder on top of having fibromyalgia, I underwent surgery in my lower back also to remove a broken disc trapping my sciatica nerve which is now damaged. I take numerous painkillers of different types daily to help ease the pain of all my conditions but the pain seems to just as bad with them.
I am awaiting my 2nd spinal injection from the pain clinic but have also been told this is probably my last one as medically they have run out of options for me & will now be concentrating on me managing my pain myself. I just feel low most days as I am limited in what I can do and if I do try I seem to overdo it which leaves me in total agony for days.
I nearly gave up running!!
I am a runner, so when started experiencing pain in my knees I was concerned. The pain got worse and worse so I eventually went to see my GP. I was referred to the hospital for a walk-in appointment to have an X-ray with results sent back to my GP. The upshot … I was told I had osteoarthritis and should stop running and take paracetamol regularly. I was devastated, but took the GP’s advice and stopped running. But the pain didn’t get any better. In fact over the course of the next 10 months it got worse and worse to the extent I could barely walk up or down the stairs.
So I decided to go back to my doctor – in fact I saw another doctor who referred me to the Muscular & Skeletal Unit at my local hospital where I saw a physiotherapist. He looked at my X-rays and agreed that I do have the onset of osteoarthritis, but no more or less than a women of my age. However, he went on to say that I had Hoffa’s Syndrome – a condition where the fat pads behind the knee are inflamed and it was that causing the excruciating pain, not the osteoarthritis! He told me that with a few physio exercises, undertaken 3 times a day, I could be back to running within 3-4 weeks. He was right! I am back to running. Now I’m not saying that everyone with arthritis has another underlying issue. But what I am saying that in some cases it’s really worth being persistent and trying to get referred. Had I not been referred my symptoms wouldn’t have gone away and in fact may have become even worse. I think we all need to explore all avenues before we accept the definitive diagnosis.