Coping with Psoriatic Arthritis Enthesitis in My Knees
“Having a normal knee would make life a lot easier.” - Andy Murray
Can you imagine having normal knees? I wish I could. My knees have been anything but normal. Long before my psoriatic arthritis diagnosis and without warning, my knees would cause me to fall often.
Unfortunately, doctors didn’t take it seriously enough to really figure out what was wrong with them. Instead, they teased that I was just a young, clumsy, blonde.
An inflammation storm throughout my knees
Fast forward to today, 18 years after my PsA diagnosis, 36 years since my knees began having issues, and I am unable to walk for more than a few minutes a day without triggering an inflammation storm throughout my knees.
I have had some really wonderful years where I could walk for hours or even all day, but that ended approximately a year and a half ago.
Since then I have had to accept some hard realities, in addition to coming up with a plan to not allow psoriatic arthritis enthesitis to stop me from living.
How enthiesitis affects my knees
When an enthesitis flare attacks my knees, the inflammation is so severe that it pushes my knee caps around. There are times when I can feel exactly where tendons have attached themselves. My knee becomes tight and movement is limited.
And then there are moments when it feels like every part of my knee is just floating around the area. When the inflammation decreases everything then falls and pops back into place. The difference between the flares I experience today and the ones from a year and a half ago is that I always knew how long they would take to recover and how far I could push my knees before triggering another flare.
The level of inflammation changes daily. My knees have been in a continuous state of flare for the past year and a half and the amount of time that I can spend walking continues to decrease.
In the past, all I had to do to reduce the inflammation was to rest, ice, and elevate my knees. In 2017, I began treating them with pulsed electromagnetic field therapy which did the same job, but in a fraction of the time.
Unfortunately, even though I am still able to reduce inflammation from enthesitis in my elbows and hands with pulsed electromagnetic field therapy, it is no longer effective with my knees. To reduce pain in my knees I use a combination of CBD balms and a pain relief device that triggers sensory nerves to block pain. Mind you, this is just to relieve the everyday flare pain, not the pain that occurs when I walk.
With any surgical intervention out of the question until my mystery abdominal pain is resolved and my long and horrible history of having allergic and severe reactions to most medications, my options are limited. To remain mobile, I had to get real about how I wanted to spend my time.
Mobility aids that keep me moving
As my ability to walk decreased, I took my manual wheelchair out of retirement. This was a bitter pill to swallow. As much as I loved being able to get out, I hated that I had to rely on someone to push me around.
Longing for independence and realizing that nothing was going to change any time soon, my husband and I decided to invest in our future by purchasing a power wheelchair. Now I can go anywhere, well, almost anywhere I want.
At home, I keep a pair of crutches next to my bed. While I am thankful to not need to use them often, it gives me peace of mind just knowing they are there when I do need them. Do I hope that I will be able to retire all of my mobility aids someday? Of course, I do! But until more problematic and painful health issues are properly addressed, this is as good as it gets.
Do you experience psoriatic arthritis enthesitis pain in your knees? What helps you cope with the pain and limitations it creates?
How do you plan to recognize PsA Awareness Month?