Frequently Arthritic Questions: The 10 Most Common Questions People Ask Me About Arthritis

Where does it hurt?

The body has 360 joints and I have multiple forms of arthritis, which has taught me pain comes in so many different ways, not just in the joints. There’s added bonuses to Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis and Fibromyalgia like nerve pain, headache, muscle spasms and aches, side effects like ulcers, vomiting, diarrhea, vaginal and stomach bleeding, and not to forget the mental health diagnosis of depression and anxiety, etc.. The correct question is, where doesn’t it hurt?

Do I hurt all the time?

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? Chances are yeah. I am also always fatigued which is painful in it’s own kind of way. If my RA isn’t flaring there is also the permanent damage that is irreversible. This is why the right medication treatment plan and early diagnosis is crucial with inflammatory arthritis.

How does that effect you on a daily basis?

Chronic pain and fatigue makes some of the simplest tasks too difficult or painful to do. I have to manage my energy very precisely a week in advance, scheduling in rest periods or saying no because suddenly my symptoms are starting to worsen. I pay for it if I don’t focus on my self care, which is eating healthy, stretching, exercise, the sauna and moments to myself to recharge my battery.

How did I get that?

Bad luck? Bad genes? I’m cursed? I colored my hair? Second hand smoking? I’m a woman? The how is not something I am stressing about, the now and future is where my focus is at.

What treatments are there for it?

Just super fun ones like low dose chemotherapy that made my hair fall out and get my liver tested every month because it can mess that organ up. It’s been a wild ride of 18 different medications and counting.

Medication for Rheumatoid Arthritis by the Mayo Clinic

NSAIDs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen sodium (Aleve). Stronger NSAIDs are available by prescription. Side effects may include stomach irritation, heart problems and kidney damage.

-Steroids. Corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, reduce inflammation and pain and slow joint damage. Side effects may include thinning of bones, weight gain and diabetes. Doctors often prescribe a corticosteroid to relieve acute symptoms, with the goal of gradually tapering off the medication.

-Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These drugs can slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and save the joints and other tissues from permanent damage. Common DMARDs include methotrexate (Trexall, Otrexup, others), leflunomide (Arava), hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine). Side effects vary but may include liver damage, bone marrow suppression and severe lung infections.

Biologic agents. Also known as biologic response modifiers, this newer class of DMARDs includes abatacept (Orencia), adalimumab (Humira), anakinra (Kineret), baricitinib (Olumiant), certolizumab (Cimzia), etanercept (Enbrel), golimumab (Simponi), infliximab (Remicade), rituximab (Rituxan), sarilumab (Kevzara), tocilizumab (Actemra) and tofacitinib (Xeljanz).

These drugs can target parts of the immune system that trigger inflammation that causes joint and tissue damage. These types of drugs also increase the risk of infections. In people with rheumatoid arthritis, higher doses of tofacitinib can increase the risk of blood clots in the lungs.

Does it run in my family?

Yes, my aunt and grandmother dealt with arthritis and autoimmune diseases. Cancer is on the other side. I’ve learned to really listen to my body and it’s silent cries.

Will it go away?

No, it is an incurable autoimmune disease. That is partially why I am so passionate about creating awareness for the importance of research to fund treatments that may lead to a cure or better outcomes.

Have I Tried….?

Just no. No. I am going to let you in on a little secret. When someone becomes chronically ill chances are all they’ve done is try things or done hours upon hours of research on things and spent so much money. We don’t need recommendations.

Aren’t you too young for that?

3 in every 1000 children in Canada have arthritis, it doesn’t care about age, sex or race. Almost 300,000 babies and children have arthritis or a rheumatic condition in the United States.

You don’t look sick?

I am not sure if this is supposed to be a compliment or if they are questioning if I am lying. Invisible illnesses and disabilities are all around you.