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Rebecca Barnard

2016-06-16 14:18

Les's Story

I have been diagnosed with arthritis in my neck and lower back, with metatarsalgia in my left foot. I also have un-diagnosed arthritis in my right hip.

The metatarsalgia started about 10 years ago after a long sightseeing trip walking round London. I have only recently been diagnosed with the condition as previously I was self-treating through stretching and the application of heat treatment cream and ibuprofen cream. The pain in the last 6 months has become very uncomfortable. Over the winter I went to the doctor hoping for treatment and my foot was x-rayed to confirm the condition. Unfortunately nothing is available at GP level to treat the condition, only over the counter painkillers and creams. I could go and have steroid injections, but I am not so sure I want them.

I was x-rayed a few years ago for arthritis: my GP recommended a painkiller of my choice and stretching, which both help. The arthritis exists, I think, as a result of my karate training which I did for many years on and off from the age of 15, I am 60 years of age now and I have not trained in any martial arts for about 10 years. I stretch when I can and take the dogs for a 3 mile walk every day, and for 8 -10 mile walks at the weekend. The progress of the pain seems to have been increasing in a linear fashion for about 5 years now.

The metatarsalgia causes constant pain; it is either very painful like a bus has run over my foot, or just mild pain like someone has stood on my foot at the bus stop. I get very little rest from the constant burn, tenderness and numbness of the foot. I treat the condition with 2 ibuprofen or paracetamol at bedtime in the hope that it will give me enough relief to get to sleep. I also stretch my foot by pulling my toes up and down when the pain allows. The pain spoils the walking as I am prone to lose my balance when the pain is severe; the warmer weather of late spring and summer helps a lot. It's rare that my foot feels normal and for the most part I have learned to live with the discomfort now. The arthritis pain comes and goes, and is better when I am warmed up and even better when I stretch.

I am self-employed and am required to be quite active, and so the impact on my life from the pain in my foot can be quite severe, for example if I am late or have to postpone appointments because I feel ill as a result of a sleepless nights with my foot hanging out of the bed hoping it will fall off so I can sleep.

I strongly believe that atmospherics, hot weather and the cold have an effect in some way on pain, but I think the effect is complex. Biological changes seem to not always follow external conditions; e.g. high pressure outside in winter and afterwards sitting at home for a few days in the warm will not always deliver relief. I also believe that day length has an effect on my pain, as the condition becomes less bothersome and can even disappear with a few long days of sunshine.