Sunday, March 6, 2011

Wait, there's more than one arthritis?

Holy crap, did you know that there are 171 different types of arthritis??? This isn't just limited to things with 'arthritis' in the name - Lyme Disease, Kawasaki Disease, and Spinal Stenosis are just a few of the others.

Often when someone hears that I have arthritis, they get this vision of a 105 year old lady with crooked fingers and can't believe someone so young could have that. That's because they don't know the differences between things like Osteroarthritis and Still's Disease. Let's take a [not-super-close] look!

Osteoarthritis
  • Caused by wear and tear on a joint. Once the padding in the joint is rubbed away, bone hits bone. This is a relatively common occurrence for athletes or anyone doing repetitive movements (factory workers, etc).
  • The most common symptoms are pain, limited ROM, tenderness, and morning stiffness.
  • Steroids and OTC pain medication are the most common forms of treatment, but more effective pain meds and surgery happen often.

Still's Disease
  • Has no found cause but there are many theories
  • Symptoms range from a ghost-like rash to swelling of the organs to intense joint pain.
  • The most common treatments involve a combination of steroids and methotrexate, generally combining them with a third drug. I, for instance, am on Plaquenil in addition to those two.
  • Surgeries are pretty common, especially for those developed the disease at a younger age. Of course this really all depends on treatment and the strength of the disease.
Now, I'm not downplaying the pain and severity of dealing with osteroarthritis. However, those with more complex forms of arthritis, such as Still's Disease, generally have a lot more problems to watch out for. So why is it that most forms of arthritis don't get as much attention as those that affect the old people (or those who do the same thing over and over again)?

I say it's because there are not enough 'famous' people facing these disease willing to speak out about them. It's always about hiding a condition. Instead, we need people like Kathleen Turner to come forward and embrace their disease, using it as an awareness tool. Until we have that, we won't really get recognized by the rest of the world.

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