My Painful Journey

I was 25 years old when I first started experiencing the symptoms of arthritis, and it took another 25 years before I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis—so I was 50 before I started receiving treatment that would actually help me.

My doctors have told me that psoriatic arthritis is hard to diagnosis because it can mimic the symptoms of other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and gout.  This could be true, but I’ve had severe psoriasis since the age of five—with plaques over 90% of my body. Back in the day, it wasn’t common knowledge that those with severe psoriasis have a greater chance of getting psoriatic arthritis.

The warning signs

I started having symptoms of arthritis around the age of 25. My nails would get thick patches of flaky skin underneath which would thicken and sometimes lift the nail as it grew.  Even with these symptoms I was never tested for psoriatic arthritis or did doctors think I was bad enough to be treated or tested.

Once the swelling started, it got hard for me to write. I got worse as the years went by; more swelling, sore feet, hands, and shoulders. At the beginning, the swelling only lasted for a short time. I went to many doctors over the past 50 years. No one ever put together psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. So each time I went to the doctor it was treated as an isolated incident and I was given more painkillers.

Over the next 15 years, my pain got worse. I just learned to accept life and live with my condition and pain. Whenever my arthritis acted up, I learned to endure it for a few months until it calmed down. My arthritis got to its worst 10 years ago.  I knew I was in bad shape when I went to throw a quarter in a toll booth and couldn’t do it because the pain was so bad. I had to get out of the car to put a quarter in. Even lifting small things was getting to be a problem.

I had assumed that just like my other arthritic experiences, this flare would disappear as mysteriously as it came, but after a year or so, this was clearly not happening. I also started to develop pain in the ball of my foot, which again, got worse, with toes becoming swollen too.

Diagnosis makes a difference

At the age of 50, I was told I had psoriatic arthritis. This was music to my ears. I finally had a diagnosis and could start getting the treatments that I so desperately needed. I am presently on a biologic which has help me to live a better quality of life, but still not pain-free. I have been on several because sometimes they do stop working.

I know that many of you suffer the same as I do, and we all go from medication to medication and think our life is over because we are constantly in pain. I just want to say, don’t give up your dreams; just go for it. I would not have imagined in a million years that I would be writing articles for Health Union. This is a dream come true and a great opportunity to get the word out about this disease.

The one thing that I have learned is that we are not alone in this journey. There is someone going through exactly what we’re going through. We are not alone in this fight. I know there are times when you feel you can’t go on.  Please consider finding someone to talk to or join a support group. Also, never let anyone tell you that you can’t be treated. There is a treatment that will help you. Just keep hoping that one day a cure will be found for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Over the years I have been an active advocate for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, speaking up and out about this disease. 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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