Living with arthritis

HANCOCK – Sue Slinde was born with congenitally dislocated hips, and over the years she had many treatments for the condition. But later in life, other health problems developed, including arthritis.

The situation with her hips had a cascading effect over her body, Slinde said.

“I started having back problems in my 30s,” she said.

When she was 35, Slinde said she started getting physical therapy for her back, but not much else as far as treatment.

“They told me to take aspirin,” she said.

Now, the 63-year-old Slinde said she is taking prescription strength non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to ease pain.

“I’ll probably be on those the rest of my life,” she said. “For the most part, (the drugs) are very helpful.”

In her early 40s, Slinde said she had her right hip replaced with an artificial hip. Her left hip followed when she was 45.

Slinde developed arthritis in her knees, and in September, her right knee was replaced. She expects her left knee will be replaced in about five years.

Slinde is a patient of Dr. Sigurds Janners, who said arthritis can happen in any joint in the body, but knees are the most susceptible.

“It’s the one that is more damaged than any other joint,” he said. “Obesity is a major component. The load on the knee joint is tremendous.”

Janners said arthritis is a disease, which can be caused by trauma, infection, degeneration of the joint, and genetics. Pain can vary from just an annoyance to causing a sufferer to be bedridden.

Prescription medications are used for extreme cases of arthritis, Janners said.

In extreme cases, such as what Slide experienced, Janners said surgery to replace joints may be needed. Another procedure involves injecting a gel substance into a joint to repair surfaces pitted by the disease.

“It looks like potholes in the road,” he said. “(Injecting gel) doesn’t cure it, but it buys you time,” he said.

An arthroscopic procedure uses a scope in the joint so loose pieces of cartilage can be removed, which will ease pain, Janners said.

By keeping active with walking and even knitting, the pain of her arthritis is significantly reduced.

“I can knit for hours,” she said. “Knitting seems to help a lot.”