Osteoarthritis at age 20.

Posted , 6 users are following.

I know it sounds like a long shot, so before you go trying to shoot me down, hear me out. I've had joint problems since I was a kid, mainly in my back. In recent years it's been getting worse, and every joint in my body grinds, creaks, and pops. Every joint I can trace back to a specific injury I sustained. My wrist, I broke and never had it taken care of (stupid, I know.) My shoulder, torn rotator cuff. My ankles, skate boarding in my teens. My knees, a car accident where they ended up catching the under side of a dash board in a 70 MPH collision. My neck, same car accident. My hips? Honestly couldn't tell ya. Point is I've put my body through hell and I'm paying the price already. It's 2 AM. Can't sleep. Haven't been able to sleep more than 4 hours in about a year. My hands start to swell and feel like they're on fire by the end of the day, and the rest of them just ache endlessly. I grew up working my ass off in 110 degree heat 8 hours a day, dehydrated and not on a great diet. I'm a mechanic now, so it's really all going down hill, fast. Doctors say I don't have arthritis, I'm too young. But yet when I wake up in the morning and try to get out of my stiffness, all of my loved ones look at me in disgust when they hear how loud all my joints pop and grind, doctor looked at me the same way. I'm 20, and I have to worry about "If I pick that up, am I gonna be able to sleep tonight?" I haven't had an MRI yet, but I'm guessing that's where they're sending me for my next appointment. Two doctors in a row have given me prednisone and sent me out the door, which didn't do a damn thing but send my blood pressure up and make me feel like my face was melting off. Tried getting a referral to a rheumatologist, but that was 4 months ago. Don't have much faith that it's gonna happen. So what should I do? I don't have any deficiencies I'm aware of, blood work would of shown it, and I'm well hydrated and well fed these days. The pain is still persistent, and gradually getting worse. I've tried wrapping them, but any kind of pressure just hurts more. Ice packs, heat packs, name it, I've tried it. Cold makes it worse actually. Any pointers?

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6 Replies

  • Posted

    Keep seeing docs until you come to a treatment plan. A rheum is a specialist and that's what I would recommend. There are many new drugs that can help you thru the pain and stiffness. A good rheumy will test for everything and mabe too you have fibromyalgia. Not sure just a guess. How is you diet! Eating clean probiotics you know the drill.

    suggestions all speaking from personal experience. Don't give up and do get a MRI. 

    A car accident could have missed other injuries that may show up on MRI.


    Use hot muscle rubs and Tylenol extra strength give it a try, I'm not a doc I don't know your medical history but I can see your suffering and want to encourage you to do what ever it takes to get past this .

    Stay strong and keep searching for answers.



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    • Posted

      If no-one is listening wouldn't it be worth saving up to see a rheumatologist privately?

      You certainly need a new doctor!  What utter nonsence he speeks - even very young children suffer from some sort of arthritis.

      You certainly have damaged bones and can't carry on like that all your life!

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    • Posted

      No problem. I get it. I know what you mean and I hope he listens to all of us we all jointly have experience to share. Some docs are C docs keep searching for the A docs. Their the docs that stick with you and give everything to help a patient till you have a successful diagnosis. 


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  • Posted


    I can seriously relate to you. I had a motorcycle accident when I was 18 seriously damaged my spine. After months in hospital laid flat on my back then physio and back and neck brace, I walked again. I struggled on and off with various pain until but nobody helped me. At 48 my problems really started now at 54 I'm practically wheelchair bound with severe lumber cervical stenosis, arthritis in both knees, hips wrist left ac shoulder joint. Only now are they realising something is not quite right. Sorry I failed to mention a rheumatologist in 2012 discharged me stating I had fibromyalgia even though inflammation was in my bloods. I never get joint and muscle pain my pain is always in my joints, my feet and fingers swell and are very painful. Only now are the consultants listening and realising something isn't quite right. I'm off to see another rheumatologist soon as my inflammation marker is high but not high enough for rheumatoid arthritis but gp thinks it could be seronegative ra .

    Fight and keep asking questions. Ask them what they think is causing your pain and demand to see a rheumatologist. I can't stress enough as if they'd have tried harder with me I may not have had all this damage.

    Good luck


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  • Posted


    Hopefully my story will give you a few clues!

    I WAS diagnosed with hip OA at age 40. Trust me, an Osteoatrhtitis diagnosis wouldn't help you in the least. Do you know what it really means? Absolutely NOTHING.

    There is no test for Osteoarthitis. It is a diagnosis of exclusion. There is no consistent presentation of OA - its a hotch potch of different problems with different presentation and prognosis. If they can't find anything else wrong and you have sore joints then it'll be diagnosed as OA (in the UK at least - probably elsewhere in the world too as they all use the same research). There is no treatment. Just pain relief drugs and, if and when things get bad enough - surgery. That may or may not help. If you were over 40 you'd have probably been given that OA diagnosis - that's what the guidelines say. Over 40 no x-ray evidence of anything wrong with joints is needed to make the diagnosis. I can predict with a fair amount of confidence that in time you will get that OA diagnosis. If you're struggling to move normally at 20 then chances are your joints are wearing abnormally (think about a car's tyres when the tracking is off). Sooner or later the normal wear and repair mechanism will cause detectable changes to your joints. These changes are probably totally benign - no different from a scar forming on the skin. But it'll give the docs the 'proof' they need to give you that much coveted OA diagnosis - they can then give you a prescription for pain medication and leave you to get on with it (aka leave you to rot).

    Now the good news!

    My problem - now completely fixed - was a treatable muscle imbalance.  In my case I practiced karate for years - with a tendency towards a dominant side. The muscles on that side got dominant and I ended up with a muscle imbalance that twisted my entire skeleton out of normal alignment. That caused pain and wear to joints in hips, spine, shoulders, feet, neck - at one point I had pain everywhere. When I fixed the muscle imbalance and restored normal alignment to my skeleton ALL pain and symptoms went away. At 53 I'm involved in sports at a high level. I'm heading off to the gym shortly to do 240kg hack squats and weighted pullups!

    The next bit of good news it's that what worked for me is working for many others too! In other words, it seems that at least some *definite* cases of incurable OA are in fact reatable muscle imbalance. I think EVERYONE with joint pain will have accompanying muscle imbalances that are at least contributing to their problems. So it always makes sense to address a muscle imbalance.

    What you're saying sounds like you definitely have a muscle imbalance. Injuries are a common cause of imbalances. Whether that imbalance is responsible for all of your symptoms is impossible to say. However, logic dictates that prior to getting a diagnosis of exclusion (such as OA) you need to rule out all other possible causes. It is safe and harmless to work on correcting a muscle imbalance. It is almost certain that this will make you feel better - will it resolve the problem completely....perhaps!

    The bad news.

    It's not easy to do and there are no experts to help you - you might find a doc or physical therapist to give you a bit of help and support but you'd really need to drive this yourself. Become your own expert. There are plenty of excellent and freely available resources but you need to do your homework. There is no magic pill or silver bullet.

    From my own research and experience I've found that due to us all having the same basic structure, muscle imbalances tend to follow a set pattern (or one of a few set patterns). The first thing you should try and figure out is whether you have any twisting and tilting in your pelvis. If you have, then that gives you a big clue about where to start and should give you some confidence that you MAY have found the root cause of your problem.

    Are you aware of any twisting in your pelvis?

    Have you ever had the feeling that one leg is longer than the other?

    In my profile you'll find a url to my website where I share lots of info about my journey and about the type of imbalance that causes these joint problems. Have a look there and see if anything resonates with you. Feel free to get in touch with me here - or privately - and I'll do my best to help you figure out if you do indeed have the type of imbalance that can lead to all these symptoms. If you do then I can give you a lot of help in putting it right.

    Good luck!!!

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