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Does anyone know the answer to this? (Can't get answers from my GP!)

bloodredrosesbloodredroses Posts: 5
edited 4. Apr 2020, 23:23 in Living with arthritis

About 10 years ago, in my mid/late 20's following a nuclear bone scan for a different issue (turned out to be a tibial stress fracture) I was told I have "disk degenerative disorder". The short question is; is "disk degenerative disorder" the same as arthritis?

I ask and get a different answer each time I ask my GP or even a physio and a consultant in rhumatology, from being told "not exactly..." to "yes it is" to "no it's not, you don't have arthritis". The majority don't seem to think it is, but one very well experienced GP said it was and one physio said they weren't sure and another said didn't think it was that everyone had some form of arthritis as they hit 30 years old and ...I''m confused! The more I ask, the more I seem to get disagreement and I want to know as I need to understand how to work around it and don't want to say I have an issue that I don't actually have.

Some background (in case it helps/matters)

I didn't know what this was, but the Orthopedic Consultant who saw me with these scans said I should stop all running and do no impact exercise. Back then I was a heavy exerciser (read: had a problem!) and was exercising (running, spinning, impact based cardio etc) because I'd need a knee replacement very soon if I didn't. I'd always written off the twinges in my knees as a weakness I needed to overcome...

I've since cut back on the exercise, additionally being told I am hyper-mobile and have "hyper-mobile syndrome" (or HMS) and since this have massively had to alter things to prevent further injury and further pain. But besides knowing what the hell is going on inside my body, I'd kind of like to know what exactly this thing is and if the twinges are something I need to go back to my GP with (advised pain relief wont go beyond Paracetamol by the way) or if I should be asking for something else here. I just want to know what to do to help myself and maybe prevent this from getting worse but...arthritis is not a cheap thing to manage when you have as low an income as I do and I could really do with not spending so much time and money over something that wont benefit because I do not understand the diagnosis!

Comments

  • dreamdaisydreamdaisy Posts: 31,556 ✭✭✭

    You say tomayto, I say tomahto. I cannot see why the good old fashioned terminology of OA hasn't been used, apart from the fact it doesn't sound 'trendy' enough but I am not a doc or physio, just a very practised arthritic.

    My joints are under the double cosh of an auto-immune arthritis plus osteo, so two kinds of damage in the same places. The discs in the spine naturally degenerate over time, as do other parts of the body, we are physically clockwork mechanisms which, as we age, refuse to rewind as efficiently as they once did. I suspect your heavy physical schedule to avoid a knee replacment (huh? I think that's guaranteed to bring one one on) is partly responsible for this, as is life itself.

    Paracetamol is just as effective as other pain dullers in that it does precious little - the expectation is that pain relief will remove ALL the hurt. It doesn't and it always comes back. The strong stuff merely removes us from the pain, which is pleasant enough but tends to inhibit living. Pain is a way of life, I manage it with minimal pain relief and maximum distraction: if I am not focused on it it is not as apparent (I have around forty affected joints, including my fingers so I am off now as typing this is not helping and I need my hands later for driving). DD

    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • You do not appear to say who originally told you following the nuclear bone scan. Based on what you said it appears that it was the person who referred you for the scan and that person was an Orthopaedic Consultant - is this correct ?

    There is a reasonably comprehensive article on the phenomenon at :-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degenerative_disc_disease

    When you were told - "everyone had some form of arthritis as they hit 30 years old" this is a rather sweeping statement although investigations may reveal changes that could be considered within the scope of 'normal wear & tear' for the patient's age. Advice is given as appropriate and from what you say it appears that the Orthopaedic Consultant did advise you as he believed to be appropriate.

    If you are experiencing pain or symptoms that concern you then it seems reasonable to return to your GP and ask them these questions.

    Ultimately, as there does not currently exist an objective test, pain is what the patient says that it is - i.e. if Paracetamol does not prove efficacious in practise then both GP and patient needs to discuss alternative options - pharmaceutical and otherwise. Paracetamol is commonly used as a starting point in pain management.

    I'm afraid that I did not understand when you said - "arthritis is not a cheap thing to manage". Beyond prescription charges, transport costs to GP & hospital etc what expenses do you encounter ? It is possible, in some circumstances, to reduce | obtain exemption from prescription charges and / or reclaim the costs of attending appointments.

    I hope that I have been able to provide something of value.

    Arthur

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