Stiff, Sore & More

Back in April I started having some issues with my right knee. At first I thought I had hyper-extended it from a doggy play time accident. I limped along and didn't think too much about it. After a week or so of some serious stiffness and some mild swelling, I had one of the doctors I work with take a look at it. He examined it and moved my leg around to see if my pain could be related to the ligaments or meniscus in my knee but we quickly determined they were fine. We were unsure what was really going on but decided some anti-inflammatories, ice and elevation might do the trick. Unfortunately, they did not. I didn't feel well but I was trying not to be a complainer and just "suck it up". I kept thinking that with time it will hopefully just go away.

After a while, I was feeling miserable- not only was my knee still a problem but my right wrist and a few other joints were starting to bother me. I am lucky I work for the Rheumatology group at the University of Utah and the doctors in my department are amazing. They were all concerned with my continual limp and my obvious frustrations but I kept passing off my pain and limp as no big deal. Finally I couldn't take it any longer, I made an appointment to physically be seen as a patient in my clinic. Gary Kunkel saw me as a patient and did a full exam. He was pretty sure my knee pain wasn't related to any damage to my tendons, ligaments or anything else. And he's pretty certain the tenderness and swelling in my joints is actually something called, Reactive Arthritis. This type of arthritis is an autoimmune disorder which responds to an infection in the body typically caused by certain types of bacteria.

Dealing with the reactive arthritis has not been pleasant. Since my doctor's visit I've taken two rounds of steroids, had two cortisone injections (one in the knee and one in the wrist), been eating Ibuprofen like it's candy, and started a medication called Sulfasalazine. I'm still incredibly stiff in the mornings and my new meds are giving me headaches.  I also feel sluggish and fatigued- I'm not sure if it's the arthritis or the medication that's making me feel this way. Thankfully, my joints seem to loosen up by the afternoon and walking, climbing stairs, and driving become much easier. But it's like Groundhog Day- it all starts over the next morning. I did make Dr. Kunkel promise the meds wouldn't make me gain anymore weight or make me more irritable (lol). He found this amusing. I read that sulfasalazine can actually make you lose weight due to all of the GI related side effects- I'm still waiting for this side effect to kick in.

Here are some pictures of the cortisone injection I got in my wrist. (I was too chicken to even look at the injection when he did my knee.) Dr. Kunkel uses an ultrasound machine to analyze the swelling and to help determine exactly where he will inject.

Here is my wrist the morning of my injection. You can see the swelling in the top of my hand.

Prepping my hand prior to the injection.

Using ultrasound, ready to inject.

All the way in. 

Pulling off fluid.

This is the screen on the ultrasound machine. 


  1. Aaaaaaah! Jenn! Oh man. That sucks. Does it eventually go away? I hope so. You are BRAVE!!!

    (Glad you and Cardy are enviro-geeks, too. Makes me feel like there is hope in this world!!)

  2. I sure hope it goes away! My doctor thinks it will and from what I've read it can take up to 6 months. I'm trying to stay positive and I'm keeping my fingers crossed the stiffness and pain are gone sooner than later!

  3. Hope all the treatment works for you!!!

  4. This sounds terrible!! At least you don't have to stand on the hard floor at the barn anymore!!

  5. oh my goodness! I am so sorry Jenn! I hope you are doing ok dear friend!


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