Sunday, January 06, 2008
I'm 53 (54 in March) and I'd been diagnosed in my mid twenties with degenerative arthritis. A few years earlier I'd had a workup for Rheumatoid, Lupus, etc due to severe TMJ (jaw joint). At that time everything came back negative. I'm a nurse, and had several back injuries (work related), so I really didn't think much of it. When I was 28 one doc told me I'd be in a wheelchair within 2 years!
Over the years, being careful at work and home, I was able to control my back and joint problems. I'd had trouble with my back and neck, and then about 5 yrs ago started having knee pain. I was overweight, so again the doc said degenerative. Then about 2 yrs ago I started having problems with my shoulders, bursitis was the diagnosis then. (I never accepted that diagnosis as my symptoms didn't fit)
About 2 yrs ago I started having pains in various joints. At first it was just an occasional pain, no swelling or redness, so I figured I's injured it somehow. About a year ago the pain started to get more intense and moved from joint to joint after 24-26hrs. I'd have a couple of weeks of this, then everything would calm down. At one point I was told I may have gout, due to foot pain. (again, gout? I don't think so! LOL) This was also the first time any joint showed obvious inflammation, it was red, hot and swollen!
I started seeing a new primary doc last March and reported this to him. Since I had no pain or anything that day, he told me to call him if it got worse and did some blood work (inflammation markers, and Rheumatoid factor). A few weeks later I called for an appointment with a wrist that was red, swollen and painful.
Last few month most of my pain has been in my hands and arms. I mostly have pain and stiffness, but on at least a few occasions I've had swelling and redness. For the most part it's my hands in the wrist and palm area and it often hurts up my arm and into my shoulder. Curiously, the opposite of my "bursitis" which starts in the shoulders and goes down the arms!
The last couple of weeks I've had feet pain. I get these "twinges" (for lack of a better term) across my toes, the joint closest to the food. It's kind of spamsy, very sharp, hard to ignore, but fleeting. I also have been getting pain in my ankle, outer aspect. The last few times it's been both feet.
Right now both feet and my right wrist and hand hurt. The ankles have been hurting since around noon time. I had a lot of things to do today, I've just moved, and I had no choice but to walk....a lot!
For the past year I've been pretty strictly following a low carb diet with mostly natural, home cooked foods. I've also been taking both fish oil and krill oil supplements. Since starting low carb my inflammation markers are within normal limits. Prior to low carb they were elevated, a lot....they had been since the TMJ in my 20s.
When I saw the specialist He reported that my inflamation markers are still low, but my AntiCCP and Rheumatoid factor are both elevated. He thought I might be developing or about to develop RA, but these results indicate I have "full-blown RA". He said he couldn't understand why I haven't been having more severe symptoms, given my numbers. He agreed that low carb and lack ofprocessed foods was probably a good thing.
I've also been seeing Dr Eric Westman, who is very well known in the low carb community. He's pro-low carb and uses Atkins to treat patients with heart disease, diabetes, etc as well as smoking cessation, which is what I went to him for. Dr Westman has me on a very low carb diet with no grains, no nightshades, no citrus and minimal dairy. He has basically told me the lower the better on carbs. My average is about 30 grams per day. Unfortunately this move was a bitch and I was without cooking facilities for the past 3 months! Eating out more meals than not it NOT conducive to this strict a diet and after getting frustrated and bored I went off plan....using Christmas as an excuse. Since I've been off plan the pain is much more intense and of longer duration.
I'm still trying to figure this all out. I'm a firm believer that our diet plays a big role in how we feel, particularly with auto-immune disorders. Environmental toxins too, but food we actually eat and breakdown and to me that's much more dangerous to the function of our body. I've done a lot of research over the past few years and have been following a basic anti-inflammation diet for several years, except I'd have occasional grains and ate more meat than recommended. I've noticed that I felt much better on my doc's plam, but I'm not sure what is the cause....the grain or the nightshades or the lower carb levels. I'm going to follow this for another month, then add back just tomatoes, but in limited amounts. I can live without grains, but tomatoes are a big part of my diet. I'm hoping I don't get worse when I add them back!