Almost three months ago, at the end of September, I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. I’d been suffering pain in my big toe joint on my right foot for several years, but since having baby F, it had rapidly gotten much worse, and I was also starting to get pain in my left foot. My right foot by this point had gotten so bad, I kept it tucked away from everything (especially the children lest they brushed against my foot), and sometimes I couldn’t put weight on the front of my foot at all.
The consultant told me that if they were to put a camera in and take a look at the joint, “it wouldn’t look very nice at all.”
He told me I have three osteophytes, which are small bony protrusions that grow from existing bone to protect the joint by limiting movement. And limited movement is exactly what I have. I can no longer stand on my tiptoes for yoga poses, perform a correct lunge, or bend my toe upwards like I used to be able to. Osteoarthritis in this specific joint, the big toe joint, is very common and the reduced range of movement is called hallux rigidus.
I can no longer run, and sometimes, when the pain is bad, I walk with a limp just to keep the toe from bending.
My options are, firstly, cortisone injections to reduce pain and inflammation. After a year or two, I’ll be facing a chielectomy, which is an operation to remove the osteophytes. This helps some people, but not others. After that, I’m looking at fusion of the two bones either side of the joint.
Yeah, well I pretty much ran away from the hospital after he said that.
The thing is, over the last couple of months, my joint pain has gotten a whole lot worse. I now have aching and stiffness in my thumbs, wrists, elbows, shoulders, base of spine, hips, knees, and of course, my big toes. Sometimes at the end of the day if we watch TV for an hour or two, standing back up again is a something I have to do slowly and carefully. My whole body feels worn out and stuck together. My joints crack and click in a way they’ve never done before. My hands have lost their strength and I feel weak and fragile. It is the pain in my spine that worries me the most.
Arthritis runs in every line of my family, which perhaps explains why I have it so young. I am not sharing this for pity or sympathy, but as a record of where I stand right now. I’ve been through what I guess was a grieving period, where I felt totally miserable and fed up. Now I am looking for answers. I am currently in the process of researching dietary approaches and supplements that may help. I use Voltarol gel when it gets really bad, but I won’t resort to cortisone injections yet – where will I be in ten years otherwise?
When I’ve come up with a plan (because hell-yeah I love a good plan!), I will share it and keep you updated. At the moment I feel as though I am inhabiting a 70 year old body, and I do not like it at all.