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Crohn's Disease Forum » Extra Intestinal Manifestations » Arthritis » New to Arthritis. I've Joined the Club!


03-17-2012, 12:24 AM   #1
Jennifer
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New to Arthritis. I've Joined the Club!

I've been doing some heavy lifting for a year and a few months now and within a few months of that heavy lifting I started having severe pain in my mid to lower back and my hip joints. I'm a caregiver for my own grandpa so he's who I've been helping lift (he had a massive stroke and his left side is still pretty off but he started not being able to move it at all). He's skin and bones so I imagine he weighs about 140-160lbs. Did I have the arthritis before I started helping out with him? Like how long does it take to get bad?

I had 3 x-rays done. Two for my back and one for my hips and they all showed arthritis (in both hips and my spine). First doctor said it was "normal" arthritis, whatever that is and the second doctor said it was Degenerative Joint Disease and to take supplements and buy some Shape Up shoes by Sketchers.

When I sit in any normal chair (not a couch) I start to have tingling and numbness in between my shoulder blades along with pain (more like an ache). When I lay on my back the left side of my left thigh goes completely numb. I haven't found any information talking about numbness with arthritis. So something is being pinched along my spine somewhere and maybe more than one place you think?

Should I be seeing a specialist for this or will the supplements (glucosamine chondroitin) and "special" shoes help at all? I don't want to just treat the pain or waste my money either. I don't know what to take to bring down inflammation besides Advil (I know Advil is bad but I always take it and Tylenol is make believe candy).

I spoke to a Physical Therapist (the one my grandpa sees, he's a nice guy) and he didn't seem to believe I have these problems at my age (I'm 29 and he doesn't know I have Crohn's) and asked what the severity was. The doctor never told me what the severity was (mild, moderate or severe) so he doesn't think its that serious until I told him about the numbness and he suggested PT but they would just give me tools and I'd have to do what they teach me for the rest of my life (which makes sense but I dunno if its worth it). Is PT worth it for arthritis?

Sorry if that was long. I'm tired of the numbness in my back and the numbness in my thigh is new (just started a couple weeks ago). Is it worth getting an MRI? Both my mom and Grandpa (her dad the one who had the stroke) have Rheumatoid Arthritis so I'm a little concerned.

Thanks for any help or support.
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Diagnosis: Crohn's in 1991 at age 9
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Things I take: Tenormin 25mg (PVCs and Tachycardia), Junel, Tylenol 3, Omeprazole 20mg 2/day, Klonopin 1mg 2/day (anxiety), Restoril 15mg (insomnia), Claritin 20mg
Currently in: REMISSION Thought it was a flare but it's just scar tissue from my resection. Dealing with a stricture. Remission from my resection, 17 years and counting.
03-17-2012, 10:33 AM   #2
David
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Hiya Crabby,

Was one of those doctors a rheumatologist? Or maybe even a neurologist? If the numbness/tingling is due to arthritis that's actually a warning sign from everything I've read. I'd definitely get to a specialist if you haven't. Probably a Rheumy who also has a strong understanding of everything that Crohn's Disease can entail.

I know you're on B12 injections but when was the last time you got your levels tested and what were they?

Sorry this has cropped up for you, that sucks
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03-17-2012, 01:33 PM   #3
Jennifer
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No both of the doctors were GPs (same office the one I actually go to has been out of town cause her grandfather had a massive stroke and she's taking care of him, go figure). Neither doctor suggested a specialist. I need to have the B12 rechecked cause instead of doing the shots once a month we started doing it every other month cause the first GP I was seeing (I was doctor shopping cause they all suck over there buts its the only place my insurance covers) didn't think I needed it every month anymore. I know you want numbers but I don't have them. I was told they were in the normal range instead of the low end of normal. I think on Monday I'll try to get the soonest appointment I can to try and get a referral to a Rheumy specialist. I'd ask for the referral to PT if it was worth it or should I wait to see a specialist?
03-17-2012, 05:30 PM   #4
David
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I'd personally put priority on:

1. Getting in to see a specialist.

2. Getting your B12 levels tested and getting the data on what your last test level specifically was so you can correlate the new and old. That way you will have a good idea if every other month is sufficient and you're at least maintaining or if your numbers fell off a cliff and your doctor is an idiot.

3. [insert something here of your choice] regarding that doctor who told you to lower your B12 injections if that turns out to be the problem. "Your maintained level is normal at this dose? You had a resection? Great! Let's lower the dose so it's no longer normal! Hope you like nerve damage!"

Obviously B12 deficiency isn't going to cause the arthritis but it could definitely be the numbness and tingling and that some doctor decided to lower your dose not too long ago and now this is happening makes me strongly suspect as much.
03-21-2012, 11:59 AM   #5
Cat-a-Tonic
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Crabby, here's my take - my situation is a bit unique in that different doctors have told me different things about my hip. My GP thinks it's arthritis, and an orthopedic surgeon I saw thinks it's bursitis. There are different physical therapies for arthritis and bursitis. For arthritis, you work on strengthening the area in question as well as the surrounding muscles. For bursitis, you work on stretching the joint. I went through physical therapy for arthritis, so I did strengthening exercises, and that helped somewhat but not totally. I "graduated" from PT (you don't go forever, they get you to the point where you've improved enough and feel confident that you can continue the exercises on your own), and after that is when I saw the ortho surgeon and he told me about bursitis and stretching. He offered to refer me back to PT but I decided to try stretching on my own (my physical therapist was great but she was out on maternity leave at the time, so I figured I'd try it on my own and go back to her at a later time if I needed to - so far I haven't needed to), and stretching on my own been going very well and I now have pretty much zero hip pain! I continue the strenghtening exercises too though "just in case" so really I would say a combination of both stretching and strengthening have helped.

Long story short, PT wouldn't be a bad idea if you haven't been before. They can give you the tools necessary to get your joints feeling better and then you should be able to continue on yourself. They'll probably focus on more gentle exercises (no lifting of heavy things involved) to gently and gradually strengthen the arthritic areas over time. If you don't want to go to PT, you could google some gentle strengthening exercises. Make sure though to work on not only the affected areas, but the surrounding ones too. When I was in PT for my hip, they had me work on my thighs, glutes, lower back, etc as well as both hips (only one of my hips is bad).

This is getting to be way too long of a reply, but just thought I'd mention one more thing - it probably would be worth your while to see a specialist to get a better idea about your arthritis (you mentioned you don't know if your arthritis is mild, moderate, or severe). I was skeptical about seeing an orthopedic surgeon as I figured he'd just jab my hip with a steroid shot and send me on my way, but he really knew his stuff and said he didn't think a steroid shot would do much for me. He said I could have mild arthritis, as my right hip does look slightly different from the left, but he also said that people aren't 100% symmetrical and it could also be that the difference is just a natural slight asymmetry. From where my pain is located, though, he thinks bursitis is more likely. So anyway, I'm rambling - looooong story short, my advice is to go see a specialist who really knows about arthritis and can tell you more than a GP could, and go to PT too.
03-22-2012, 12:54 PM   #6
Jennifer
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Thanks Cat. I made an appointment the other day to see my GP (yay she's back and I don't have to see the goober ones anymore! ) this Friday morning. I'm gonna ask to see a specialist and I want my records of all the x-rays done and of my blood work so I can understand what's going on with ME better. The last doc I saw went over those last lower back x-ray results so fast I hardly caught what she was saying but it sounding like there were 3 things wrong with my back.

I'm also gonna ask for a lab order that I can use before my next B12 shot to see if I should go back to once a month instead of every other month. I think I'll ask for a full vitamin panel to see if I'm low on anything else too (don't know why my GI doesn't order any of that stuff).
03-22-2012, 04:38 PM   #7
outlier
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sounds like you are describing to ankylosing spondylitis. this is an arthritis that effects the spine and si joints. find a rhematoglist you like and start getting checked on left untreated this can cause real damage.
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03-23-2012, 05:32 PM   #8
Jennifer
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Saw my GP today and she wants me to start PT so I'm waiting for that referral. She also ordered an MRI (don't know what part of my back) to see if we can find what's causing the numbness. My arthritis is mild she said (Oh darn it I forgot to get a copy of my records like I meant to. Knew I was forgetting something). She prescribed Tramadol for pain 50mg 3 times a day. My fiance has taken it before and he told me that it can become habit forming so he doesn't understand why my doctor wants me to take it so often and at that dose and she gave me 5 refills making it seem like she wants me to take it for a long period of time. He said I should take it as needed and I think he's right cause I just took one and it affects me a lot. Doesn't mess with my blood pressure like Norco and Vicoden but it definitely makes me loopy like I've been drinking so I won't be able to function with this med. I'm gonna try breaking it in half next (its not time release) to see how half the dose affects me. I just feel drugged up and stupid and that's not what I want. We tried Gabapentin before but it did the same thing. I need something that doesn't make me stupid. Any suggestions? I can't keep taking Tylenol and Advil everyday. If pain and numbness continues after PT and finding nothing on this MRI (if they find nothing) then I think she'll order an MRI on another portion of my back. She also said MRI first, then she'll think about a referral to an arthritis specialist but so far I don't have one.

Also got orders to have blood work done before my next B12 shot in May. Gonna check all vitamin levels with it to see if the multi I'm taking is doing anything.
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