Why I can’t bend the knee – fully?

Attempt # (lost count).

So, here is another attempt after my recent impulses have settled and inner demons have calmed down. PS: Trigger warning on content and images.

Here is a backstory on the condition I had. This post purely comes with the intent that it might help someone. I heard a few recent cases, one of which included an early teen with a similar misdiagnosis story, which motivated this attempt to raise awareness.

It all began in 2012, with a pain in one of my knees leading to inflammation and swelling. With the initial visits to doctors, the diagnosis was ‘Synovial fluid‘ in that knee joint. The treatment started for the same.

But soon after, I noticed one of my elbows getting inflamed and swollen. After getting another series of checks and getting different opinions, the new diagnosis was ‘Rheumatoid arthritis.’

I started my treatment, and with that, I had surgery to remove the affected elbow’s content, and the fluid drained in my affected knee. Post-surgery the affected elbow recovered over time, but the affected knee started swelling again. The solution provided was that I go on high-dose steroid medication.

I did not want to take that path, as steroid medications can get addictive and have serious side effects. So, I tried alternative medicines – Ayurveda, acupuncture, homeopathy, vegan diet for a year, but nothing helped. I had some remission periods over the years, but the inflammation and swelling always returned.

Rheumatoid arthritis is chronic, which means it is not curable, but it can go under remission with the proper treatment, but there is a possibility of relapse.

So, my condition was ‘expected’ and raised no alarms. I then suddenly developed a swelling under one of my underarms: the size of a golf ball that stayed and erupted on its own on one fine working. This was freaking my mum out, but I couldn’t stop laughing all day. Imagining that all it needed was a pop, like a giant pimple.

Soon after, I fell, which got me bedridden because I fell on the affected knee’s side. This was around mid-2015.

The visits to doctors resumed, and it got all of us thinking. Rheumatoid arthritis affects joints, and this recent episode impacted a non-joint area, which is unlikely. So, the doctor asked me to take a Tuberculosis (TB) test after probing with the information shared by another doctor friend. And the results came out to positive for ‘TB infection in joints.’

I got informed that it was a TB infection all this while, and rheumatoid arthritis was a wrong diagnosis. Because both have similar symptoms, a misdiagnosis could happen in few cases.

As the next step, I had surgery on my affected knee to remove the contents, underwent physiotherapy to regain movement in the leg, and repair the muscle weakness caused. Additionally, I was on TB medication for a year. That was the cure.

But because of the delay in treating the affected knee right, a portion of the bone eroded, and the affected leg muscles could not be restored completely. This means that the affected leg now works only 80% (#notcomplaining). And, there is a possibility for a knee replacement surgery in my 40-50’s.

I will leave you with one key takeaway from my personal experience –

TB infection in joints is a thing, so if you have excessive swelling and inflammation in any area, get this test done to rule out the possibility. Don’t shy away from asking your doctor about this. And, insist on it, if needed.

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