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Rita is 61 years old and lives in South Florida. She is on disability, but directs a choir and volunteers for a variety of activities at her church. She also describes herself as a "great mom and grandma."

How long have you had arthritis?

It seems like I've had it for 3 or 4 years, at least. I was diagnosed last summer.

What were your symptoms before treatment?

I had terrible pain in my back, knees, and ankles. It got worse over the past few years. It was very hard to deal with.

Did this affect your life?

Yes, it did. What used to take me 1 hour to accomplish, began to take me 3 hours, so I had to get up earlier. I can only walk short distances now, since my ankles are in bad condition.

Did you try any home remedies?

I tried many herbal medicines. They may have helped some, but only for a short while.

What led you to see a doctor?

I developed a hump and my elbows and ankles hurt frequently, so I saw a specialist for rheumatism. He diagnosed arthritis after a looking at an x-ray. He also did a blood test.

What treatment is the doctor providing for you?

I am taking Celebrex, a prescription medicine. It helps, however my back pain is still awful sometimes. Lately my hands are hurting as well. I have trouble closing my fist and my hands are puffy. I don't take much else for pain, because I also have diabetes and asthma and I try to limit all the medications. I have also been operated on twice for intestinal problems, so I am careful not to aggravate that area. I take the Celebrex when I need it.

Do you still have any questions about arthritis or its treatment, and if so, what?

I am a young, 61-year old woman and I would like to have less pain. I would also like to prevent this condition from putting me in a bed for as long as I can.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Rita noted that she often goes several days without taking her medicine. She has concerns about taking multiple medicines and irritating her stomach, both of which are important and valid issues. She should be sure to talk to her doctor about these concerns. She also has not tried some of the many proven home-care strategies, like a regular exercise program, heat and cold therapy, stress reduction, capsaicin cream, and a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals. Often, such home care steps are all that is needed, and you will not need prescription medicine. If you have arthritis, talk to your doctor about all of your treatment options. To get the most benefit, you should take any medication as instructed by your doctor. If you have concerns or questions, discuss them with your doctor and pharmacist.

Review Date: 12/24/2012

Reviewed By: Ariel D. Teitel, MD, MBA, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, NYU Langone Medical Center. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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