By Fiona Keegan
As we know there are many different types of arthritis – over a hundred in fact. Our
Helpline Volunteers continue to keep themselves updated on the many different types and it is always interesting for us to get a call from someone having been either recently diagnosed or living with one of the lesser known forms of arthritis.
Callers often start off by saying ‘this may be a silly question but’……. . For us there is no such thing as a ‘silly question’. In fact it is often the ‘silly question’ that can open up the most interesting of conversations! Of course you don’t need to have a question to phone our Helpline. A chat (and perhaps some laughter?) with someone who is also living with arthritis can be of huge benefit to both the caller and the Helpline Volunteer!
Here are a sample of the type of calls we get on our Helpline and how we might respond:
‘I have had a knee replacement fitted 5 years ago, however I had to have a revision fitted 2 years later due to pain while walking. Unfortunately pain persists and my knee cannot carry my weight and I experience severe pain having walked a short distance. My weight is normal and I am doing all my exercises. I don’t want to be taking pain killers for the rest of my life and am looking for a solution to my problem….’
‘There are a number of things that may help in reducing your pain. You may find relief from either hot or cold packs. Some people prefer to reduce inflammation by using cold therapy, others prefer to use heat to warm up the muscles around a joint. It may be worth talking to a physiotherapist who can assess if the exercised your are doing are still the most effective for you and whether it may be time to change your exercise regime. It may also be worth approaching your GP with specific questions about your pain after keeping a diary of when pain is at its worst. In this way they may be able to tell you what is the best time to take medication to reduce pain. Your GP or Rheumatologist may be able to prescribe medications other than pain killers. The range of medications that can be used to treat arthritis is huge and they are much improved in their effectiveness and success. We will send you a copy of our booklet ‘Coping With Pain’ and details of our ‘Living Well With Arthritis’ Programme as well as details for the Walking Group in your area. Even though it is a struggle to walk any distance at the moment, these Groups are led by people with arthritis and are trained to include everyone regardless of the distance they can walk. These groups also provide a social outlet and an opportunity to meet others with arthritis’.
I am 23 years old and I have been recently diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis. I have tried 2 different DMARD so far and have had joints aspirated and injected and I have been hospitalised twice in the past 5 months. At first I really struggled to understand this diagnosis and still have days when I feel very restricted unable to do things like I used to and I have so many medications to take. I wanted to enquire about the Living Well With Arthritis Course. Do you think I would benefit from it?
‘It is not easy to get a diagnosis of arthritis when you are so young however there is a huge network of support available to you. There is the Arthritis Ireland web-site and a Young Arthritis Network page on Facebook. This is a great source of information and support as you can be instantly in contact with another person around the country who is living with arthritis. The Young Arthritis Network is solely for people aged between 18 – 40 so there are often similar questions to do with careers, exercise, relationships etc. being discussed. The Living Well With Arthritis Course would benefit you enormously in that it equips you to become a self-manager of your condition and hopefully improve your overall sense of well-being. We will forward all details of how to sign up for the course along with information on Psoriatic Arthritis and other booklets on Coping with Pain and how to get the most from your doctor’s visits etc’.
Whatever type of arthritis you are living with from the most commonly diagnosed to the ‘never heard of that type before’ – we are here to help and we welcome your calls so please get in touch by calling 1890 252 846.