George Hadler reached out to Arthritis New Zealand after he was told to wait as long as possible before having knee replacement surgery for arthritis in the joint because his knee would “never be the same” after surgery.
George felt unable to hold out any longer, and his x-rays and scans indicated that a “half knee replacement” would be the ideal surgery for him and had it done in November 2014.
After several weeks of recovery and rehabilitation, George was delighted with his new knee.
“The pain had gone, and it felt quite strong and I had got back to being active again,” he said.
In January 2017 he started to experience severe pain and swelling in the knee, so he went to see his GP, who referred him to a specialist.
“My specialist promptly booked me for a second keyhole operation where he carried out trimming of the meniscus and completed a synovectomy (inflamed membrane removal around the remaining joint). The operations made things settle down quickly, and I was pleased.”
But, again, the joy was short-lived. In April 2018 George’s knee was back to the state it was before the keyhole surgery. This time it was even more inflamed, and there were also mild pains in both feet and ankles.
Again, he approached his GP, who then wondered if the pains in the feet and ankles could be gout arthritis. George had suffered from a couple of gout attacks in his toe some 20 years prior and is on daily medication for this reason.
“I was hoping that these uric acid tests would get to the bottom of things. I was very disappointed when my GP told me that my uric acid level test was normal”.
As a progression the GP prescribed George with a lengthy and powerful course of anti-inflammatories which made a positive difference, he said. The downside to the medication was that they upset George’s stomach so much that he needed to stop and start them when he couldn’t stand the pain and discomfort. The intermittent use of the anti-inflammatories eventually led to the pain in his knee waking him at night.
Finding someone to help
“I started looking on the Internet. I found lots of interesting information on arthritis, autoimmune conditions, and the like, but then I found a reference to Arthritis New Zealand and sent them an email. They invited me to call one of their educators which I promptly did,” he said.
George then got to speak to Robyn, an arthritis educator, who asked several questions which included a history of his knee and associated discomfort. Robyn suggested things to ask the GP on his next visit, including being stern and asking his GP “If it isn’t gout arthritis, then what was it?” and being firm in his request to see a rheumatologist.
His firmness worked and George got two visits to the rheumatologist. The rheumatologist gave a steroid injection to relieve the immediate pain and during the second visit, he increased George’s gout arthritis medication.
“My knee was markedly improved and I had no pain at all within three weeks. My feet and ankle niggles have disappeared thanks to the gout arthritis medication and now one year on these improvements still exist.”
“I want to thank Arthritis New Zealand and especially the arthritis educator. She has since proactively contacted me several times through the process and was very supportive, professional, and knowledgeable.”
There are two types of medicines used to treat and prevent gout arthritis respectively. These are uric acid medicine and gout attack medicine:
Uric acid medicine
Uric acid medicines bring your uric acid levels down. You need to take them everyday, even if you are not having a gout arthritis attack.
Gout attack medicine
Gout attack medicines treat an active gout arthritis attack. These are to be taken when you feel an attack coming on or if you are in pain from a gout attack. These medicines only treat the pain and swelling – they do not stop gout arthritis because they do not lower your uric acid levels.
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