Though I’m running a little late for our annual World Arthritis Day talk (it actually falls on October 12th) – another one that had to wait a bit as I was crawling to the finish line of the midterms – I still think it is important that we talk about it each year here.
So. . .
The graphic above lists some manifestations of arthritis – and there are so many. Some are orthopedic in nature, like osteoarthritis, and others are autoimmune, like rheumatoid arthritis.
In considering those two primary types of arthritis, the World Health Organization reports that, in the over age 6o population (where we see the greatest affect of osteoarthritis), 9.6% of men and 18% of women experience symptomatic osteoarthritis. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis may strike at any age and it is reported at a rate 0.3 – 1% through all age groups.
According to the CDC, arthritis and related rheumatic conditions are the leading cause of disability in the United States. This has long been the case – and now there are additional concerns in some cases for those with autoimmune disease who might have been able to still work outside their homes pre-COVID, but are now having to be fearful due to some of the immunodeficiencies that come with their conditions.
As I’ve written here for years now, I’ve run the gamut with my multiple diagnosis – and with what I can and cannot do, sometimes seeing it change over the course of days or even hours.
I’ve experienced times when my hands wouldn’t “work,” for want of a better way to explain it.
I’ve been in a smartchair, unable to walk in the past.
One aspect of my treatment that absolutely wrecked havoc on my body was the need to keep me on high (oh so high) doses of prednisone as well as frequent steroid injections for many years.
Among other things, I have ended up with feet that are just crumbled – and an immune system that is as well – from this therapy – but there really was no other way given the severity of my disease.
That said, I have fought like hell to get my prednisone dosage down, despite the pain, in order to stop further damage from it – and I have been astonished by some recent pictures in my Facebook memories and the difference this reduction in dosage has made:
In this collage, the bottom left I found is actually a picture of me five years ago – when I had to say goodbye to hair thanks to the combined effects of prednisone and methotrexate – and was experiencing moonface as well, with a picture of the next year – so four years ago – still at 40mg of Prednisone daily next to it, bottom right.
The top picture is a recent football Saturday picture, with a much more manageable dose of Prednisone. I have to admit that the reduction comes with increased pain and body stiffness, and with more flare issues at times – but the ravages of high dose therapy on my body was not sustainable any longer.
Not related to the prednisone itself necessarily, but rather to my disease, I am also happy to share these pictures, taken in the same place at the end of 2020 and now, that show some positive changes.
On this roller coaster, I am grateful for any good periods and even small improvements. ❤
I never know what each day will bring or when that will change (and right now I’m dealing with a flare that involves some wicked fatigue, fevers, and awful right ankle issues – it’s always something).
There are far too many specific arthritis and rhematic diagnosis to cover in a short post, but here are just some of the general symptoms of two of the primary ones that I have written about often and that are relatively common, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis:
It is noteworthy that, while each disease does have certain features that are unique to it, many autoimmune diseases have common symptoms that overlap, often with severe fatigue, joint pain, fever, etc.
When a person with autoimmune disease is describing a flare, they are usually describing something like this, though some of these symptoms – like the lupie rash – are lupus specific:
Finally, I wanted to share this interesting infographic that I saw about barometric pressure and autoimmune flares. As I’m sure many people have heard their loved ones with chronic illness report feeling more ill when severe weather is coming, this explains why that may be:
Especially with the first round of chilly weather coming in the South this week, many spoonies will likely experience symptoms, such as increased pain and stiffness, as we get acclimated to the weather changes.
It will be time to snoodle up and stay cozy as our bodies adjust – especially as this is the start of what is typically “sick season” as well.
As always, onward. ❤
Be well, everybody. Take care of yourselves and each other.
Grace and Blessings.