My name is Laura F. I just had my 44th birthday two and a half weeks ago, but my story doesn't begin here. It starts at 17 years old when I separated the ACL on my left knee hopping a low fence. The knee was never addressed. By 28 years old I was told I needed a total knee replacement, but such a procedure was not available to someone my age. I was also diagnosed with osteoarthritis lining both hips.
By the time I was 37, Zimmer developed a prosthetic that would last, what I was told, 20 years, so it was replaced. I had no arthritic symptoms in my right knee, however x-rays were ordered to be sure the knee was clean. It was. By 40 years old my "clean" right knee was displaying symptoms of acute arthritis, was scoped and pinholes were punched in what little cartilage that remained in an attempt to stimulate regrowth. 8 months after that the right knee was replaced.
6 months later, 4 weeks before my 41st birthday, my right shoulder began to show signs of acute arthritis. It too was scoped by a new surgeon and I was told that the shoulder would need a replacement, because I am "pealing like paint" something they never see in a patient my age.
Three years have gone by. I haven't worked, can't get insured and have been denied Social Security disability. I have watched the decline of my left shoulder, as well as my neck and thoracic spine. I have been diagnosed with degenerative scoliosis and cervical stenosis, as well as bulging discs and herniated discs. I am told that all I suffer from is osteoarthritis onset by a genetic defect.
Please, can anyone tell me what that means? I have tested negative for RA twice. The only way to describe the effects are; when I look down, whether sitting or standing, a numbness radiates away from around T8 all the way out to the edges of my shoulder blades, followed by an intense burning sensation. In fact I break a sweat. When this started it was lower, around T6, it seems to radiate higher now, very close to my cervical spine. I frequently have total numbness in my pinky and ring fingers on both hands.
I can hear the vertebrae crunch whenever I turn my head slightly and I have lost a lot of the range of motion due to stabbing pain in my neck. My right shoulder pain becomes so severe that it's like a hot poker straight up to my ear.
I am very much aware of my prognosis, but I would love for someone to be able to diagnose the "reason" I have such rapid bone and cartilage degeneration at my age. I don't take any medication and have chosen to live with my pain until alternative therapies are an accepted treatment for whatever health coverage I may acquire in the future. - Laura