Almost two years ago, I had a severe car accident that changed my foot forever. I have severe stiffness, pain and swelling if I am standing on it for too long. While I was never officially diagnosed with osteoarthritis, my surgeon assured it might appear someday. It seems as if that is the case, and I am only in my mid-thirties. Osteoarthritis means the wear-and-tear of the joints, while simply arthritis means joint inflammation. If you suffer from this, however, you know the pain all too well. For those whom are the lucky ones, how are you to know you’re at risk?
The first obvious sign is the pain. It’s going to feel as sharp as a knife, while only ice is going to dull it down. I’ve had nights where the whole arch of my foot is burning and throbbing in pain. It hurts to lift it, but I prop it up on pillows and blankets, just in case it is swollen. I do not have the best work shoes. The screw in my ankle from the car accident rubs against my ankle, which intensifies it by the time I get home.
Stiffness is another huge symptom, especially for me. I get stiffness on the top of my foot, which is odd because that was not injured. Some nights my whole foot is stiff and it is as if I am towing a brick at the end of my leg. Osteoarthritis is not a walk in the park—literally. There are going to be times your foot gets stiff while you sit in the car or at a movie theater. Take a deep breath and a slow step. I am fortunate to have a loving, endearing husband to be patient with my slowness and help me wherever I need to go.
The range of motion may also be affected in your joint. I usually move my foot up and down to exercise it. Then, I move it side to side and do circular motions with my ankle. When my ankle is as stiff as board, I cannot do these but I try them anyway to loosen it up. You have to fight through the pain and move forward. You have to believe that you will get better; otherwise, it is going to keep getting worse. I work retail and there are nights I have to lean on the racks and raise my foot to relieve the pressure. When I do, pain shoots through it and somehow it is better after that. I cannot explain it.
You may also encounter sleep problems when you have osteoarthritis. Let us face it—it is just too hard to get comfortable. Your foot dictates which side you lay on, and which position is most soothing. The joint pain demands heat or ice, and let us be honest, ladies—you are not going to be satisfied until you get that relief. Joint pain is the worse, but stiffness makes me not want to walk down the hallway.
If you are affected by osteoarthritis, please—I urge you get it checked out. It is a lot of unbearable pain that can be avoided. I am walking with a walker in my thirties when I should be enjoying a vibrant life. Some things in life cannot be avoided, but this one can be treated when you go to the doctor. For most women, you will not encounter it until you are much older, and that is fortunate for you. If you do have it now, get the best treatment so you can get on with your life; the way you were meant to live. Do not let osteoarthritis hold you back from your life’s dreams.