Myth 1 – There is only one type of arthritis

Arthritis’ is a name for a group of more than 100 conditions affecting the joints. These conditions cause damage to the joints, usually resulting in pain and stiffness. Arthritis can affect many different parts of the joint and nearly every joint in the body. It can also affect organs such as skin, eyes and lungs.

While osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout are the most common forms of arthritis, some types of arthritis that you may not have heard of include:

  • ankylosing spondylitis – see Laura’s story below
  • psoriatic arthritis
  • juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  • fibromyalgia
  • haemochromatotic arthritis
  • polymyalgia rheumatica
  • scleroderma
  • Sjögren’s syndrome

To find out more about these and other conditions visit: Types of Arthritis

Laura’s Story

Laura has a condition called ankylosing spondylitis.

“I’m 34 years old, and live in Sydney with my husband Tim and our kids (Caleb, 4 and Tabitha, 2). I first realised something was really wrong with me when I developed ankle pain in May last year. After seeing a physio for a few weeks, it was getting worse rather than better. I was eventually diagnosed in October with arthritis – different doctors refer to it as “spondyloarthritis”, “ankylosing spondylitis” or “seronegative arthritis”. It’s inflammatory, it’s auto-immune, and it’s painful. In hindsight, I’ve realised that a number of problems I’ve had over the years were probably related (knee pain, neck/back problems, and RSI in my wrist).

We don’t own a car and rely on public transport and walking to get everywhere. For almost six months last year, I was in considerable pain due to severe inflammation in my foot, and we were very limited in what we could do. It was very difficult to care for my children, which was upsetting and frustrating. We tried to find activities close to home or public transport that were interesting and manageable, but it feels like I really missed a lot of quality time with my kids.

I’m thankful that I had my wonderful and very hands-on husband to take care of the kids, but also to take care of me. I felt helpless, not being able to stand and walk and help with housework or children, but whenever I got upset about this, my husband was very supportive in reassuring me that it is okay for me to rest. I also had my colleagues at work offer to perform the more walking-intensive parts of my job for me (even the pregnant woman helped out!).

I’ve been on methotrexate for about a year now, which is causing fatigue and some other side-effects, but overall it has vastly improved my quality of life. I am able to walk much more comfortably which is a huge relief. I’ve been attending the Arthritis NSW warm water exercise classes all year, and am finding this is really helpful for decreasing pain. Being diagnosed with arthritis has made me keen to enjoy life while we can, and earlier this year we enjoyed a family trip to NYC, which was an amazing experience, and because I got so much exercise from walking around all day, I was even pain-free!”

Thank you to Laura for sharing her story.

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