Health

Arthritis – 10 million people in the UK have a form of arthritis

Arthritis… nobody can take away your pain, but don’t let pain take away your happiness.

Over 10 million people in the UK have a form of arthritis and surprisingly 15 thousand of those people are children.  

In this article, we are talking to Kay who has severe arthritis in her feet. Sometimes the pain and inconvenience of her arthritis bring her to tears – the discomfort is draining, limiting and depressing. Day after day it’s a waiting game to see if her two operations will have been as successful as she had hoped. It’s taking time but fingers crossed.

Are you thinking about having an operation for your arthritis? This article might help you make a decision. The article isn’t to be seen as medical advice it is just giving you information from one sufferer about how she dealt with the challenges and how she is coping now.

It’s a pain!

Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in a joint and symptoms generally include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Redness
  • Warmth
  • Swelling
  • Limited movement
  • Arthritis can also affect organs

The two most common forms of arthritis are:

Osteoarthritis – this is the most common type in the UK with around 8 million sufferers.

  • Typically it develops in adults in their late 40’s or older and more common in women but this type of joint condition can happen at any age
  • Osteoarthritis damages the smooth cartilage lining on the joint, restricting movement and leading to pain
  • When the lining starts to go rough, the supporting tendons and ligaments have to work harder resulting in swelling and bony protrusions called osteophytes
  • Severe cases of this can lead to bone rubbing on bone. Changing the shape of the joint, pushing the bones out of place
  • The most common areas of the body are the hands, spine, knees and hips

Rheumatoid arthritis – this type affects more than 400 thousand people in the UK. It often starts when a person is between 40 and 50 years old with women three times more likely to develop it

  • Rheumatoid arthritis happens when the body’s immune system affects joints resulting in pain and swelling
  • The first place affected is the synovium, the outer covering of the joint then it can spread across the joint potentially causing the bone and cartilage to break down

It can be draining and upsetting…

Arthritis can drag you down and make every day hard work. Some people don’t cope well with pain and let everyone know about it and there are others who are in pain but suffer in silence, not wanting to make a fuss – just like Kay.

Kay was diagnosed with arthritis in her feet five years ago when she was only 42. At such a young age and not knowing a lot about arthritis it was a bit of a shock to find out she had something that she had only associated with the elderly.

I asked Kay some questions about her arthritis and this is what she told me…

What were the symptoms that you had that made you go to the doctors about your feet?

Five and a half years ago I started to experience pain in both my feet, there was more in one foot than the other. Initially, I thought the pain could be because I stood around a lot all day without taking the weight off my feet and I was wearing inappropriate footwear. As time passed, I started to develop problems with my knees, sometimes they would suddenly give way from underneath me when I least expected it. The pain I was experiencing didn’t subside at all so I went to the doctor.

The diagnosis was a process of elimination before he sent me for an X-ray. I tried shoe inserts and bought specific shoes for people with pain like what I was experiencing. The pain got so bad that I struggled to walk properly – my mobility was really restricted.

What tests did they do when you went back to the doctor?

They did an ultrasound scan and an Xray and decided it was arthritis, my feet were so bad and the specialist told me I needed to have both feet operated on. 

What was the procedure that they performed on your feet?

The surgeon did a Calcaneal Osteotomy and Mid fusion. One foot at a time with a six-month break in between.

How did you cope post op?

The pain was horrendous. My foot was in a cast and I couldn’t walk on it at all, I had to use crutches and a wheelchair. People had to do just about everything for me and the recovery period felt like it went on forever. My mobility improved on week six. They had taken the cast off but then I had to wear a big foot support that went right up to my knee.

How has it affected you mentally?

Other than no mobility and requiring assistance the overall outcome is positive so getting there.

What is your recovery rate?

Early days so far as the second op within one year. First op not quite a year on and a significant improvement so far but still, some swelling around the heel

Would you recommend the op?

Yes but only if you have significant hands-on family and friends network and depending on the age of younger children

Do you have any other interesting info?

Every operation is subject to the individual and their healing ability.

Due to the severity of my pain, job, age and being a mum of four, this was the last option to improve my quality and mobility so it was a no-brainer. However, it puts a mental strain on you and your network and requires a strong mind and positive thoughts as well as a good pain threshold.

Thank you for sharing your experience Kay.

When I delved more deeply into arthritis, I found a lot of information. There are many ailments and conditions that are connected to arthritis, such as:

Ankylosing spondylitis

  • A long-term inflammatory condition
  • Affects the bones, muscles and ligaments of the spine
  • Leads to stiffness and joints fusing together
  • Swelling of tendons, eyes and large joints

Cervical spondylosis

  • A degenerative osteoarthritis
  • Affects the joints and bones in the neck

Fibromyalgia

  • Causes pain throughout muscles, ligaments and tendons

Lupus

  • An immune response condition that can affect different organs and body tissue

Gout

  • A form of arthritis caused by too much uric acid in the body
  • It usually affects the big toe but can develop in any joint
  • It can cause redness, swelling and pain

Psoriatic arthritis

  • An inflammatory joint condition that can affect people with psoriasis

Enteropathic arthritis

  • Chronic, inflammatory arthritis associated with bowel disease
  • The most known types are the ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
  • The most common affected areas are the limb joints and the spine

Reactive arthritis

  • Inflammation of the joints, eyes and urethra
  • Normally develops after an infection of the bowel, genital tract or throat infection

Secondary arthritis

  • A form of arthritis that can develop after a joint injury

Polymyalgia rheumatica

  • The immune system causes pain and stiffness across the shoulders and tops of the legs
  • Joint inflammation
  • Normally affects people over the age of 50

Arthritis in children

About 15 thousand children are affected by arthritis in the UK. Most types of childhood arthritis are known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

JIA is known to cause inflammation and pain in one or more joints for at least six weeks. Symptoms normally improve as the child gets older.

Is there a cure for arthritis?

No, but there are treatments that can slow down the condition. Medication can be prescribed including painkillers, disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids. In severe cases, like Kay’s, surgery could be required.

Operations that are recommended for arthritis are:

  • Arthroplasty (joint replacement)
  • Arthrodesis (joint fusion)
  • Osteotomy (a bone is cut and re-aligned)

Here are some little tips that we have picked up whilst researching arthritis:

  • Eat your greens! Broccoli, spinach, kale, parsley and lettuce can slow down cartilage destruction due to their high calcium content
  • Keep moving! Sit down, stand up – keep moving
  • Warm your body up before exercising to prevent joint and muscle injuries
  • And stretch 2, 3, 4 – loosen up those tight muscles and ligaments
  • Extinguish smoking! Smoking can reduce bone mass

I was reading an arthritis blog and came across these two quotes that I thought I would share:

“You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other, and you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. You curse. Then you go about your business of living. That’s how I’ve done it. There’s no other way.”

— Sharon Bothma, Johannesburg, South Africa

“I’m thankful for my struggle because, without it, I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.”

— Lydia Shih, Atlanta, GA

Read more about arthritis here.

 

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** The content on this site should not be used as medical advice, we are giving our readers information and insights. If you are concerned about your health or need medical advice please see your doctor. If you are struggling with any issues please talk to someone – don’t suffer in silence. **

 

References:

https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/1041053/arthritis-pain-symptoms-rheumatoid-arthritis-protect-joints

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