Living your best life with arthritis.

AS it Goes – Fall Flares

frozen fall leavesLike many people with arthritis, the change of seasons is a killer. This autumn, in particular, has been most unkind. First, my ankylosing spondylitis flared, and then aches and pains mysteriously appeared in various joints as the weather waxed and waned. Seriously: first a wicked snow storm dumped 10 cm of snow one day with temperatures plunging to negative digits, and then in the span of three days, the temperature soared to 18 °C!

This fall has been nastier than usual, with the osteoarthritis in my knee becoming more pronounced and hobbling me for several weeks. I followed the RICE principle— rest, ice, compression and elevation—to no avail. I finally capitulated and got a cortisone shot in the knee to get me over the rough patch, and then began physiotherapy to get the knee back in proper working order (is that possible?) As a bonus, the physiotherapist gave me a few cold laser treatments on my osteo-ridden thumbs, which also have been pains—literally—of late.

Joint flare

Image courtesy of Scottchan |

The knee problem meant that my daily afternoon ramble through forest and dale was off limits. In fact, it was one of those epic trail hikes that crippled my knee in the first place. However, my loyal dog walking companion, Agatha, is pleased with the reprieve from those long walks. Agatha’s arthritic hind end has been causing her much discomfort recently and we now make weekly visits to the vet for cartophen shots to get her inflammation under control. Pets feel the changing weather patterns as much as their owners.

Most arthritis patients will tell you that their aches flare at the change in seasons, but medical research still has not made a definitive link between weather patterns and arthritis. However, there’s definitely “something” in the air and even weather forecasters, such as, offer a daily indice for arthritis sufferers, advising when the weather is beneficial for arthritis pain or at high risk.

Fran HalterTo add insult to injury, my husband’s golf elbow (which is a tendonitis in the elbow from something wonky in his golf swing) also began to ache. He, too, ended up in the doctor’s office complaining about the joint’s stiffness and tenderness. A little cortisone shot, some physio and he will be right in a couple of weeks. It certainly has been a challenging fall for our inflamed household. ~Fran

Do weather changes affect your arthritis, too?

Arthritis New Zealand’s ORANGE sets out to inspire

Poster for the playArthritis New Zealand has produced ORANGE, a unique stage work to celebrate and release the artistic voice of young people with arthritis. The play is performed by a group of young and talented people, aged 17 to 24 years, living with arthritis. They will articulate the struggles, alongside the strengths and resilience experienced by young people with arthritis to inspire the fight against arthritis. If you are inspired by this play, talk to your local school or community to create a similar play to raise awareness for arthritis.

In a press release, Arthritis New Zealand CEO, Sandra Kirby said: “ORANGE is a multi-disciplined performance combining and displaying the unique talents of the young actors, dancers, singers and musicians involved, celebrating their abilities. We are incredibly proud of the performers and the work that has gone into bringing ORANGE to life. The audience will be taken on an inspirational and very personal journey throughout the performance. A truly collaborative effort with an emphasis on the challenges, alongside the personal triumphs experienced every day by young people with arthritis.” Continue reading

Caring for your spine: Start early

Woman on ball at officeAccording to the Brain and Spine Team at the Cleveland Clinic, your spine starts to age in your 20s and 30s, and it continues aging as you age. “If you took 100 patients who are 30 years old, about 30 percent will have some form of arthritis in their spine, ” says spine specialist Dr. Kush Goyal.

Dr. Goyal reports that everyone experiences degenerative changes but these are not always serious and may present one and more or no symptoms. Natural degenerative changes can, however, lead to pain in the back and/or legs. Spine specialists identified arthritis as one of the common problems they see in patients. Continue reading

Marilyn Muldoon’s tips on living with Sjögren’s

The ROAR 2014 event saw a couple of great presentations, including a captivating one by Marilyn Muldoon, a patient living with Sjögren’s. Other presentations included:

  • Dr. Marie Westby – Hip and Knee Replacements in Canada: What does quality rehabilitation care look like?
  • Dr. Lynne Feehan – Well in Hand and Feet…Bone health and physical activity in early RA
  • Dr. Catherine Backman – Changing Shoes: The impact of arthritis on self identity and roles
  • Dr. Linda Li – Web, Apps and Wearables: Tools for joint health?
  • Dr. James Dunne – A beginner’s guide to Raynaud’s

The Arthritis Broadcast Network was onsite to capture the day’s best moments. One of our favourite moment from the event was the graphic representation of all the presentations drawn by graphic recorder artist Sam Bradd. Marilyn Muldoon captivated audience with her talk on “A beginner’s guide to Raynaud’s” or as we like to call it, her personal tips on how to live with Sjögren’s. We have enclosed the a raw video of her talk above for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

AS it Goes – My Donation is in the Mail

It’s that time of year again . . .

Donate: donation is in the mail

Image courtesy of Winnond |

when the soliciting machine cranks up its fundraising pleas for donations to worthy or charitable causes. I regularly receive solicitations from university alumni associations, hospital foundations and non-profit organizations asking me for a contribution. Sometimes these groups ratchet up their fundraising appeals with personal telephone calls, asking me to renew an earlier pledge or to make a one-time “special” donation for an especially critical need. Continue reading

ACR News – Happiness from the Inside Out: A patient’s perspective

Picture of a butterflyCynthia Coney, MEd, CAPP, was the keynote speaker, and spoke as a patient living with lupus, at ACR’s ARHP Keynote Address: Happiness from the Inside Out. Coney is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and author. She holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and is a Master Trainer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and The Center for Prevention Workforce Development. Her publications include: Earned Income: A Critical Resource for Sustainable Nonprofit Health Organizations, Intellectual Property for Nonprofit Organizations, and The Wild Woman’s Guide to Living with Chronic Illness.

As a patient who’s been diagnosed with lupus in 1980, she shared her experience as a patient receiving care and support for more than 30 years. She had one advice to offer health professionals, that is: offer empathy, not sympathy.

Continue reading