Arthritis, or is it

When my mother and father regularly attended a coffee shop and met a group of friends they had a five-minute maximum rule on medical reports and other grumbles. So, if it takes more than five minutes to read this, then I apologise.

In September / October 2021 I developed persistent pain and stiffness in my knees and hips during the day and it was keeping me awake at night. I didn’t get to see a GP (and still haven’t) but I was told “you will have to manage my own pain”. He did prescribe some hefty painkillers and Naproxen – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. In November I had my hips x-rayed and they reported “a bit of wear, not excessive.” In January 2022 I had my right knee x-rayed again to be told “no significant degenerative wear”. Through the online system I told them “I still have persistent pain and stiffness, especially in my swollen right-knee, during the day and keeping me awake at night. I have been getting cramps in the calf and thigh which in turn causes direct pain in the knee. I have used paracetamol and Voltarol which provides some temporary respite.”

In November I started to see a chiropractor, someone recommended by Margaret and others we know. He has been useful for demonstrating the amount of movement I have in my knees and he suggested light exercises. To be honest, it was really useful just having someone check me over fortnightly and now monthly and, more recently, confirm the improvement I have made. I had given up golf and walking any distance by this point.

Years ago, I knew a doctor socially who hated people turning up at his surgery clutching pages from the internet. Now I think they expect you to and it is necessary to do your own research. I told the GP I was taking Wellman 50+, Glucosamine 500mg and Vitamin C, Omega 3 6 9 Flax and sunflower “Udo’s Choice” 1000mg x2 (recommended by my aunt). On saying I had reduced my dairy intake significantly he said “don’t bother”.

I realised GPs are not allowed to request an MRI scan and it is referrals to NHS specialists that get stuck in a queue. I requested a private referral with a consultant of my choice and had an instant appointment. He took one look at me and said he could see I had arthritis all over my body and arranged an MRI on my knee. He also said I was “evidently slim” so his judgement was called into question by my so-called friends. Looking at the scan he said I was a long way off a knee replacement but offered a steroid injection.

The response to the injection was immediate and significant. It made me good again for ten weeks.

By September 2022 I had been using Voltarol  for a year and it was losing effectiveness. I was prescribed Ibuprofen Fenbid Forte 10% 100g which certainly helped the knees. In November I had a face-to-face with the medical partnership’s Musculoskeletal Practitioner. He suggested Ostensil-plus (hyaluronate acid and oil like substance) an injection not available on the NHS but if I ordered it online he could inject it. I did lots more reading.

In January 2023 I returned to a short period of swimming twice a week. The non-weight bearing exercise seems effective.

In February 2023 I had a second self-funded 80mg Kenalog (steroid) injection. The effect was not immediate this time and didn’t really last four weeks. Disappointed by this I did more reading (see reference below) and found an increase in glucosamine might be more helpful and, critically, with a complex of other stuff: Glucosamine (1000mg), MSM (100mg), Turmeric (100mg), Chondroitin (400mg), Vitamin C (80mg), Hyaluronic Acid (25mg), Boswellia Serrata (50mg).

On recommendation of a friend have also started using a glucosamine gel on my knees, rather than the ibuprofen gel, and continue to use paracetamol.

By late April 2023, rather than getting shooting pain within my knee, I have some stiffness and muscle-ache. I am not walking with a limp. My knees are not so sensitive and I am sleeping better. My hands suffer overnight but ease up with cold water. I have found the chilling effect of an evaporating cloth eases the knees and ankles at the end of the day. It has enabled me to play nine holes of golf and walk a little more. Uneven ground isn’t great on the knees.

Through the summer I managed to play some golf using a buggy. I eventually had a face-to-face with a GP who said playing golf would not aggravate it. So that is worth knowing! He said to use Nurofen for 3 weeks and then Co-Codamol as and when required. On the possibility of carpal tunnel syndrome he said they could x-ray my wrist and maybe operate on it… but I would still have arthritis. A double-mugging!

I was mildly cross with the GP for telling me to manage my own pain. But there’s the truth, it’s your only option. However, please don’t self-medicate on the basis of anything I have written.

Having mentioned my mother at the beginning I should add that my little fingers look just like hers. I wish I could talk to her about it. But for no more than five minutes.

Glucosamine Complex
The Most Effective Joint & Arthritis Supplements in 2023

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