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Weeklong Series on Arthritis: Arthritis Part Two

| November 19, 2013


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The initial signs and symptoms of arthritis can be misleading. Many people suspect an injury when they experience early symptoms. But it’s very important to realize that joint pain and  should not be ignored. Paying early attention to symptoms is the first step to being properly diagnosed.

Julie Foster is an arthritis patient that works at the Aroostook Medical Center. She says about her arthritis diagnosis, “There was a lot of crying, a lot of disappointment and fear that you’re gonna be this way for the rest of your life and you’re not gonna be able to live a normal life.” Foster sighs when she recalls what went her through her mind when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis just two years ago. She’s the third generation to have the disease in her family and remembers mostly “pain, just pain and joint pain and inability to make a fist with my hands, my fingers were really swollen.” Foster says she decided not to tough it out and ignore the pain. Instead she saw her primary care doctor who confirmed an arthritis diagnosis. That decision helped Julie change life gears. And healthcare practitioners say paying attention to early warning signs and symptoms of arthritis can help patients in the long run.

Some of those early arthritis warning symptoms include: pain, stiffness, fever, redness and extreme tenderness of the joint, pain and stiffness in the arms, legs, or back after sitting for short periods (or after a night’s sleep).

Nadine Lamoreau is a family nurse practitioner at the Aroostook Medical Center and says “knowledge is power and if you know you’ve got arthritis you can take some really positive steps to mitigate the progression of the disease so you can start taking steps to exercise more start losing weight weight loss is like the biggest thing that you can do help arthritis.” The two common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Statistically most people have osteoarthritis. Lamoreau says the difference between the two is the latter., RHEUMATOID arthritis can be much more severe. But overcoming both first begins with a fierce will to do so. “if you have an attitude of like well this is what I got and I have some control over it then I think it makes you feel less a victim of your disease state and when you feel not a victim then you take steps to take care of it and I think that’s what makes all the difference,” says Lamoreau. After her diagnosis, Julie spent a year on a regimen of different medications. Until she finally found one that worked for her. She says she was transformed. “This is a nanny who likes to knit and crochet and couldn’t do it. I did the medication on a Tuesday on a Friday I was crocheting again,” says Foster.


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