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.