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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

My Experience With Helping My Sister With Arthritis

There is no doubt that the sisters are second mothers. My sister is a very active person and a couple of years ago, Rheumatoid arthritis got married. And after a few months, she conceived and started enjoying every moment of her pregnancy. She was expecting a little girl and as per her expectations, she was blessed with a little angel.

She became even busier; quit her job for a few years to take care of her little loved one. The little bundle of joy brought happiness and excitement to our entire family. We had a very grand first birthday with our sister’s daughter.

My sister-Inactive and Depressed!

Inactive and depressed

My depressed sister, Credits: pixabay

After a few days, my mother told me that my sister is very tired and weak these days. She packed all the nutrient-rich drinks and foods for her, whenever she visits. Everybody was under the impression that it was a general weakness postpartum. Well, I had heard about postpartum depression. But not heard about these sorts of aches and pains in the body, fatigue, and joint pains.

Days passed. My sister called me and said she feels totally inactive now. She feels that she is very tired and not able to take care of her little one. She was doing all sorts of household work with a sense only to complete and could not enjoy any single thing in a day.

To the Doctor

Doctor Consultation

A general physician, Credits: pixabay

I was totally depressed and couldn’t see my active sister like this. My sister’s husband wanted to take my sister to a doctor. We went to a general physician. My sister started explaining her symptoms to the doctor. She said she has joint pains and stiffness early in the morning. She couldn’t start her work for at least 30 minutes (after she woke from the bed). Her joint stiffness and pain totally spoiled her entire morning.

The doctor listened to every symptom of her very patiently and referred her to a rheumatologist in a super specialty hospital. He gave painkillers for the time being and advised to consult a rheumatologist as early as possible. We were all very totally perplexed and couldn’t understand what was happening with my sister’s health.

Rheumatic Diseases?

Rheumatic diseases

Joint pain, Credits: pixabay

We could get an appointment with a rheumatologist only after 3 days.

In the meantime, I did some research on Google. I was under the impression that rheumatic diseases are common in the Western population and not much reported in India. I was wrong. Rheumatoid arthritis has a prevalence of 0.92% among adults in our country. Also, I believed that women experience joint pain and joint stiffness only in their late 40s, not in their late 20s. Again my assumption was wrong. The knee pain and weakness in older women were due to loss of bone strength and bone loss which is called osteoarthritis.

Consultation with a Rheumatologist

Rheumatoid arthritis

My sister had rheumatoid arthritis, Credits: pixabay

We could see a rheumatologist. She did a physical examination, listened to family history and my sister’s symptoms. She advised me for an x-ray and a few blood investigations. She told us to come back after two days. I accompanied my sister for the X-ray and blood tests. And after two days, we were back to the doctor. My sister was diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The doctor said this problem is quite common in our country. And it is seen post pregnancy due to multiple changes in the hormones.

She prescribed immunomodulators and steroids for a short span of time until the immunomodulators start its action. She explained patiently that this disease is an autoimmune disease and there is immune system dysregulation. She advised my sister to be back after a month.

My Research Continued….

Rheumatoid arthritis

Early diagnosis, Credits: pexels

  1. I learned that rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease with multiple factors contributing to its pathogenesis.

  2. It mainly affects the knee, elbow, hand, and shoulder joints. The characteristic features are joint inflammation, joint stiffness, and limited motions.

  3. Females are most affected. Smoking and oral contraceptive pills can increase the development of RA.

  4. Genes play a role. If you have a family history of the disease, then you have a chance to get it.

  5. Early diagnosis helps a lot. It prevents bone destruction and cartilage damage. Fortunately, my sister had an early diagnosis.

After One Month…

Happy sisters

My sister is back!, Credits: pexels

My sister was happy as she had a symptomatic relief in the symptoms. Her swelling and pain subsided. She was better than before.

Our doctor was also happy as my sister responded to the treatment well. The doctor shared a very important thing. She said that Rheumatoid arthritis is not curable and the disease can be managed well with the medicines. Stopping the medicines can make your symptoms come back.

If a patient attains a satisfactory response, the dosage of the medicines will be reduced. But lifelong medicines are mandatory.

We thanked God for showing us a proper physician and also grateful that my sister had relief from her symptoms (at least partially, though not completely).

Take-Home Message

RA is a systemic disease and can affect any part of the body. If you have prolonged joint pain, consult a doctor immediately as early diagnosis helps prevent disabilities.

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