“Arthritis causes me more trouble than Parkinson’s”.
We, at Spring Chicken, have been discussing comorbidity, that is, a medical condition existing simultaneously but independently with another condition in a patient. In particular, we were looking at the weight to be attached to the various conditions and how they impacted upon the life of the patient.
Uplifting stuff! There’s nothing like discussing illness, particularly one’s own, for raising the spirits.
In my case, I have 3 main conditions to contend with. Probably the one that gives me the least trouble is a chest problem which renders me vulnerable to bacterial chest infections. It is presently well controlled and is not at all debilitating.
However, I do not allow myself to be complacent about it. I am all too aware that an estimated 40000 people in the U.K. die each year from the impact of air pollution. A statistic which does not offer comfort to those with weak chests!
The “big” condition that has attached itself to me is Parkinson’s disease. 5 years after diagnosis it has let me know that it is certainly a degenerative condition. It has slowed me down and made me clumsy. I do not propose to recite the nature of the plethora of irritations that it proposes, because that is not the purpose of this article.
The impact of Parkinson’s on my daily life has been substantial, but surprisingly, it has not been the most troublesome.
That accolade belongs to Arthritis, which has affected my hands.
About 2 to 3 years ago, I developed pain in the base of my right thumb at the point where it meets the index finger. At first, I put it down to my carrying a rucksack and slotting it between my thumb and index finger. That analysis was proved wrong as the disability spread to both hands.
X-rays proved that I had osteoarthritis. It caused problems because it limited my flexibility whilst being painful. The only remedy offered was painkillers in the form of cream to be applied. It was of little help.
By some stroke of luck, about 6 months ago, on a review of my medication generally, my GP suggested a referral to the Hand Clinic. There, it was confirmed to me that I had osteoarthritis. I was referred for physiotherapy. The physiotherapist was excellent. She gave me some splints to prevent the wrong muscles taking inappropriate strain.
Within 2 weeks my grip strength in my right hand had improved by 20%. I also suffer less pain. I am due for a further checkup shortly.
The consultant thought that my osteoarthritis seemed very aggressive and erosive and he referred me to a Rheumatologist. This doctor agreed but was not sure whether the condition had burnt itself out.
It seems that my responses to his examination of my hands showed that I was feeling little or no pain.
He gave me a steroid injection in my backside. This is to remove inflammation so he can make a measured decision. If the condition is still alive I understand there is treatment available.
So, our hands are so important to us that any trouble with them can be more troubling than more substantial conditions.
What I have learnt is that a referral to the Hand Clinic is invaluable. Many an apparent lost cause can be improved.