Before I had osteoarthritis I really didn't have any major problems, because the problems were really the result of the [spinal] surgeries. The fact that I had 4 lumbar [surgeries], 2 cervical, and a thoracic disc that was herniated, that’s the thing that was most painful and held me down, so I really didn’t know the osteoarthritis was going to affect me the way it did because I was already in pain.
I’m a chronic pain patient since 1978, I’ve been on narcotics probably the entire time, on and off, so it really wasn’t until I noticed that I had the shoulder problem that the osteoarthritis really took over.
I had problems even lifting my arm up; when someone was to go shake my hand I had so many tingles up and down my arm.
I went through a series of steroid injections—probably about a dozen of them—to try and relieve some of the pain, which they were very successful. I had probably months without any pain in my shoulder. Number of X-rays and finally the doctor said there were too many steroid injections, couldn’t do anymore, it wasn’t safe. And the last X-ray just showed bone on bone in my shoulder—both shoulders.
In fact, they said the only solution at that point would be a total shoulder replacement where they take the shoulder joint out and they replace it with titanium and plastic implants, which—that was very successful.
The downside of it—I had one shoulder done and then several months later I had the other shoulder done—that was 2010—I was fine, but then in 2011 I started noticing the same problems in my hips.
If I was down on the ground, I could not get up by myself; I either needed a cane or some level of support to get up.
Again, going to the doctor’s, X-rays were taken, and again it became a bone-on-bone situation. I went through another series of about a dozen steroid injections to see if that could calm it down—which it did, but again it got to a point where the injections were no longer a safe thing to do, so it was a question of a total hip replacement. So I went through the same thing I did with the shoulders: one year I had one hip replaced, and the following year I had the second hip replaced.
And then, as osteoarthritis started continuing, I had a condition that a lot of people call “trigger thumb” or “trigger finger” where a finger would lock in place, or there was my thumb and I couldn’t move my thumb without forcing. That was months and months of physical therapy, again more steroid injections; cleared up, but it will come back from time to time.
So what I’ve noticed is, because of this osteoarthritis, there’s going to be other things that will happen down the road. I haven’t had my knees replaced, but my doctor says it’s coming because he can see the amount of arthritis that’s beginning to grow in the joints. So, it’s just a question of when, and again, like I said, I’m just trying to slow it down.