April 12, 2013

Online support groups like this have been extremely helpful to me as I battle PsA. I learn from the experiences of other arthritis sufferers. Today I learned this:

A couple of years before my joint pain began I got bronchitis a couple of times and then pneumonia. I never felt like I fully recovered from the pneumonia. Sure my cough was gone but I had this constant heavy pain in my chest and could never take a deep breath. After months of struggling I was referred to a pulmonologist. I was tested for asthma which came out negative yet the doctor put me on asthma medicine. When those inhalers didn't seem to work she put me on COPD medicine which did little to alleviate the heavy chest feeling and rib pain. Telling me my chest cavity must be bruised was the best the pulmonologist could come up with so I decided I was done with her. Then a few months later the arthritis started and the rheumatologist became my new doctor.

A few months after I started Enbrel it dawned on me that I was able to breathe freely, no pain when taking deep breaths. My lungs were back to normal. I told my rheumatologist this and she seemed puzzled. Whatever.

Then, today I find out, from an online support network of all places, that I'm not nuts. There is a condition called costochondritis, a form of inflammation of the cartilage where ribs attach to the breastbone. Illnesses such as psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis feature costochondritis. 

The puzzle pieces are fitting together...the years of foot pain (which I was always told was due to flat feet but was really enthesitis), chest pain (which I was told was asthma etc. but was really costochondritis), jaw pain (which I was told was TMJ but was really arthritis in my jaw joints). All these conditions were centered around the same spondyloarthropathy diagnosed years later. And these issues have been resolved using Enbrel (except for the enthesitis, that nasty pain won't go away for anything). 

I'm a problem solver and love it when the unknown falls into place. 

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