‘Arthritis left me frozen’

Living with arthritis

I had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as a child, but most children grow out of it by the time they’re 18. Unfortunately, in my case, the arthritis didn’t realise it was supposed to go away! My first adult attack happened when I was about 22. I’d just finished university and was going on holiday to Mexico. I don’t know what triggered it, but I had been very stressed over my exams.

I noticed my knees were very stiff in the mornings. They felt hot and puffy, and my wrist and finger joints were also affected. Because I’d had rheumatoid arthritis as a kid, I realised what was happening and went straight to the doctor’s. He prescribed anti-inflammatories, but it got worse before it got better. Before long, I couldn’t walk properly for about an hour after waking up. It was like my joints had to unfreeze before they could work. I felt like an 80 year old but the anti-inflammatories didn’t seem to work.

The arthritis treatments that did help were physio, and constantly changing drugs until I found one that worked. The miracle cure for me was celecoxib or celebrex as it’s sometimes known. Within a week of taking it, my knees were 50% better. I found hot water bottles on my joints helped relieve the pain, although some people prefer ice packs. Speaking to someone who understood was also great. I rang the Arthritis Care’s helpline, and the people there suggested I ask for some time off work. I never did, but just hearing a sympathetic voice helped!
Laura Matthews, 29, Darlington

Read more about arthritis in children
More in-depth information about rheumatoid arthritis
For more information and advice, visit www.arthritiscare.org.uk