New to Versus Arthritis, Welcome your input

Hello, I am a newbie to this site.

I suspect I have had arthritis for a couple of years, in my left arm. It was severely fractured and successfully operated on about 25 years ago. After a year's physiotherapy, I regained almost all use of it. But recently, I've gradually come to feel reduced mobility, stiffness, and some pain. I will have to learn to manage it.

But it is nothing like the sharp pain at a specific point at the bottom of my left ankle whenever I walk, which emerged two months ago. To start with, I rested it, assuming it was a sprain. Then last month I got an x-ray which showed no bone abnormality. When the pain didn't subside, but if anything got worse, at times radiating up to my knee and leading me to collapse with weakness, I went to A&E. They did x-rays, again no abnormality. I asked if it might be a sprain. NO. An aneurysm? No. The doctor concluded it was probably arthritis because I fractured a bone on the left side of my foot about 20 years ago. I was told to walk on it rather than rest it and I will be referred to a rheumatologist, when I don't know.

I've been googling 'arthritis' to learn more about it. It doesn't seem to match the experience of my ankle, or my foot x-ray with an x-ray of arthritic joint.

But at least I found this site and can learn from you, who have learned from experience and medical attention. I feel desperate. Rest or walk with a lot of pain? I can barely hobble to the corner shop. Or take painkillers which may not work and may disguise the pain, which is a red flag, and make my ankle worse? I've asked for an MRI scan, which would be informative. I think the NHS are reluctant because or the expense. Help!!

Thank you so much for any response and best wishes to all coping with this disabling condition.

Comments

  • Shell_H
    Shell_H Member Posts: 548

    Hi @Rosie9876 - Welcome to the online community!

    I see you've been having increased pain and stiffness in your ankle, and recently a sharp pain when you walk. Your GP thinks it may be arthritis, and that it may be linked to an old injury you had. You're looking for advice and more information, as what you've seen on your x-rays and your experience doesn't match what you've found about arthritis.

    I can tell you that diagnosing osteoarthritis is not simple - it doesn't necessary show up on any tests, including MRIs and X-rays. Normally Osteoarthritis is diagnosed from a description of the symptoms and a physical examination by the doctor (hands-on kind of thing). Have a look at our page on Osteoarthritis, it has a section on symptoms, on diagnosis and on managing your symptoms and living with osteoarthritis.

    The idea that it may be linked to an old injury is actually quite common, There has been research into this and it has been shown that there is a solid link between being injured in a joint and developing Osteoarthritis at some point later. Versus Arthritis has done some research into this - below is a link to one study which looked at knee injures and osteoarthritis diagnosis two years later:

    I'd also say everyone is different. Sadly as Osteoarthritis is hard to diagnose with tests, most of the X-rays etc you'll find online ar for the really bad or obvious cases. It does not show up like that for everyone. If your doctor believes it is arthritis then they are probably right, although getting your referral to a rheumatologist would be really helpful.

    This is getting long, so quickly: Exercise is highly recommended with arthritis. If it hurts a lot, go slower, focus on stretching and strengthening exercises until you can move up to more walking. If you can do it, you should. But if it hurts really badly stop and go slower. Pain is not a good thing. Painkillers are recommended to help you with your daily life, and make sure you still look after yourself and don't push your bad joints.

    Do have a look around and see if there is anything else which you find interesting on the community. A lot of our members have really helpful tips on how to cope with pain.

    Lovely to meet you!

    Shell

  • Rosie9876
    Rosie9876 Member Posts: 4

    Hi Shell,

    Thank you so much for your quick reply. I really appreciate it, and the tips and links to articles.

    I'm so sorry, I must have described my situation badly and maybe went on too long.

    I've had a sharp, very localised pain in my ankle from the start - the same pain sensation all along, and it's swollen at that point. It was about two months ago. I wondered if I overdid a hike. It is so painful that I can hardly walk even a short distance. I don't have stiffness in my ankle, just the pain, which generallly subsides when I rest my foot. Except, at night, if I turn on my side with my ankle on the mattress, it hurts. It has got a bit worse because sometimes when I try walking (hobbling), I feel weak and as though my leg is collapsing from the knee.

    What I was trying to say is the ankle pain is totally unlike the discomfort and stiffness I recently feel from a different, more serious multiple fracture to my arm a long time ago. So I do realise that an old fracture can lead to arthritis. Not only does the pain in my ankle feel different from my arm pain, but also it is not where my foot fractured, although it is the same side of the same foot.

    Your comments are very helpful and reassuring. I hope it won't be too long before I am seen by a rheumatologist. Even a little walking is very painful, hard to cope over this long time. I guess I will have to play it by ear how much I exercise and walk.

    Thank you for welcoming me to the community.

    Rosie9876

  • MrDJ
    MrDJ Member Posts: 276

    Hi

    sadly i wont be able to help much even though im one of the very few that has over the years had almost every form of arthritis going. it all started in 1985 at 21 with OA and 2 years later ankilosing spondylytus. then it affected my sight and went blind in my left eye. then they hit me with ive now got RA and in the last 10 years PA.

    even though ive worked in a xray department for the past 41 years as mentioned above plain bone xrays will not usually show anything for quite a while.

    yes an MRI would show more but usually they will do more tests first. when you went to A/E did they do any blood tests as a full blood count including ESR & CRP will show if you have any raised activity markers.

    you mention turning while in bed and it hurts more on the matress. i have 2 pillows that i rest my feet on. keeping them raised at night can help. years ago it was so bad that i bought a bed cradle which is used by hospitals for fracture patients to keep all the sheets away from your feet. similar to this https://www.careco.co.uk/item-p-bd07037/flexi-height-adjustable-bed-cradle.htm?utm_source=shopping&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=PLACampaigns&gclid=CjwKCAjw2vOLBhBPEiwAjEeK9geGm2AXyMHpT8_iAcKiYghy1l_2MMisWURKjyiWrEO2B5hNC46f3xoCPO4QAvD_BwE

  • Rosie9876
    Rosie9876 Member Posts: 4

    Hi Mr DJ,

    Thank you so much for your reply. I am so sorry to hear of your nearly 40 year ordeal with arthritis, and hope that you can now at least prevent any further effects.

    I am only learning about arthritis now, and had to google 'ankilosing spondylytus' to find out what it is. As I mentioned, I suspected I've had arthritis in my left arm for some time, after it was badly fractured a long time ago, and operated on. Some of the good the operation and physiotherapy did has been undone.

    I have only had x-rays done, one set in September, another a month later. I didn't know what ESR & CRP are either, but looked it up. I can see swelling at my ankle where the pain is and wonder if those blood tests can tell the cause of the swelling. I have no discernable swelling in my arm, but other symptoms like stiffness and achiness, that sound like arthritis due to past injury.

    Thank you for the suggestion about a foot pillow in bed. I am surprised my ankle hurts then because I have a memory foam mattress. but I will certainly try the pillow. So far, I've just been sleeping on the other side as much as possible.

    Wishing you all the best.

  • MrDJ
    MrDJ Member Posts: 276

    Thanks Rosie.

    Over the years ive gone through down spells and have just grown to just get on with it as no matter how you try to explain it to ohers they have no idea of this hidden disease unless they have suffered from it.

    most people have a bucket list while i have a disease list that i add to each time something new decides to affect me. ive got a very long list :D

    The ESR & CRP are just inflimation biomarkers and when these are raised they show you can have some inflamation activity disease. the baseline of a normal result has changed quite a few years ago but i believe a normal reading for CRP is below 10 and ESR is below 20. mine used to be 197 and 92. now they are just within range thanks to the concotion of drugs im on. Ive heard of some patients having readings of 200-300.

    If your doc does decide to do these blood test then normally a full blood count is done as well. it can give a rough indication of what could be causing the pain and swelling.

    another thing, does your painful joints feel warm or hot to the touch compared to further up the arm or leg.

    hopefully soon they can get to the bottom of whats causing these issues for you.