Actually, that’s a very good question. It’s one that I wish I had asked a long time ago.
The term arthritis actually refers to more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. The two most commonly diagnosed types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. While arthritis primarily involves joints, certain types can also affect major organs.
The damage to joints can be mild to wild. On the milder side are stiffness and soreness. On the wilder side, the cartilage can be completely destroyed and the bones of the joint damaged both by inflammation and by rubbing against each other.
There are a number of factors that go into arthritis, from family history to injury. Even infections can result in arthritis in joints. In my case, some things I was exposed to as a small child put me at a higher risk of inflammatory problems. Add to that my having done things like jumping out of planes, rappelling, and other activities and you get a good chance of developing arthritis. And bone spurs.
In my case, it would appear that something has caused my osteoarthritis to become very aggressive in my shoulders. So much so, I’m going to be asking the rheumatologist I’m seeing in January if that diagnosis needs to be refined.
The X-ray of my right shoulder shows that the cartilage is gone; the bone ends look like the lunar landscape (with some small bone spurs acting as mountains); and, a chunk of my humerus is missing. That missing piece is most likely the piece of bone seen trying to work it’s way down towards my chest. The left shoulder looks better, but not by a huge amount.
There are a number of treatment options for arthritis. For my “just” osteoarthritis, I’ve been taking a drug called Meloxicam for the past three years off and on, and it has helped with some of the inflammation and related issues. Looks like more may have been needed. In addition to my shoulders, I have symptoms starting in my back and neck.
In the experiment I am starting, my goal is to do all I can to help my body heal itself. The best outcome is that through what I do is to reverse the damage. The middle-case outcome is that I help as much as I can on the shoulders, and slow or stop progression elsewhere in the body. The worst-case outcome is that over the next six months I generate very expensive urine courtesy of the supplements and things continue as they are.
The odds are not good. In fact, I’ve been told that the odds of any one supplement working on my condition (and with my genotype, etc.) is less than ten percent. That said, if I don’t make the effort, I will never know if anything could work. There is also the fact that by taking multiple supplements, I run the risk of side effects. To help reduce that risk, I’m keeping my primary care physician aware of what I’m taking and will be requesting some extra blood tests to be sure I’m not causing problems rather than fixing them. In particular, I want to monitor the amount of calcium so that I don’t spike it.
Then again, I’ve beaten long odds a time or two before. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.