We’re in the middle of a sweaty, suffocating heat wave right now. Just running across the street to grab the mail this morning was miserable. So, I’d say this means no bike rides for me anytime in the near future. We’re supposed to have temperatures in the upper 90s at least until Wednesday, I think. The dew point is also extremely high, reaching tropical levels (75 deg. last time I checked online). I know talking about the weather is boring and I should be grateful it’s not snowing right now (I am). I do love summer yet the heat and humidity is hard on my body and causes a definite increase in swelling and pain in my joints. My ankles especially are both puffy and very sore to the touch. I’m sure I would be better off living in a drier climate, however Minnesota is home for now – with its sultry mosquito-filled summers and bone-chilling endless winters. Today I’m mostly annoyed that I can’t go on a bike ride or just sit in the backyard reading a book without melting into a puddle on the patio.

In other RA-related news, unfortunately the steroid injection I had in my right ankle almost two weeks ago did not help. I had a feeling it wouldn’t, because I suspect that the problem is in the soft tissue of my ankle and not the actual joint itself. The numerous other cortisone injections I’ve had in the past never helped, but I was really hoping it would be different with this one. I’m dreading calling my orthopedic doctor again about this because I’m afraid he’ll say what he said the last time I saw him in December after he looked at another new MRI scan – “I don’t know what to do.” What DO I do next? Try the Mayo Clinic again? The ankle isn’t that complicated of a joint (not compared to the wrist, for example); I just don’t understand how no one can figure out the problem. I’ve been dealing with these bad ankles since 2005 and it’s come to the point where I’m about ready to have the right one fused. I don’t want to do that but I don’t know what else to do to ease the pain. Does anyone have any insights or experience with this? If so, I’d really appreciate your input.

8 thoughts on “Heat

  1. Wish I could help you on a the ankle info. you are seeking but I have no direct experience with a fusion. You may want to go over to the about.com arthritis board and put a post there. I have been using them for years and I know a few of them have had fusions done but not sure if it was wrist or ankle. (((HUGS))) Pain stinks!

  2. Thanks for your comment. Having my ankle fused is really only the last resort. I think that I probably need to have another synovectomy done to remove inflamed, damaged synovial tissue. I had this done in November 2006. My MRI scans keep coming back normal so the doctors are puzzled and actually don’t want to do a fusion because the MRIs show a healthy ankle. However, I can’t be on my feet very long and my right ankle especially is constantly painful and swollen. Sigh…

  3. Hello! I had a triple fusion (the 3 joints) leaving the main ankle joint alone.. I had pain for years in my ankle 3 surgeries cleaning the inflammation out and a synovectomy. my ankle joint is healthy but the other ones were really bad! The fusion helped a lot with the pain and I am getting used to not having the side to side motion.. it is a long recovery 3 months of non weight bearing and then another 3 months of physical therapy.. its been 9 months and sometimes i still have some swelling after i get off work!, but the pain is gone and it feels 100X better then before =) I was diagnosed with RA 12 yrs ago. mine mainly affects my feet and knees and one finger.. if you have any questions let me know!!!

  4. Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks for your comment and the info. So the other surgeries on your ankle didn’t really help that much until you got it fused? Is that right or am I misunderstanding this? Yes, I’d love to talk more about this if you have time! My pain gets really intense and I haven’t been able to live a “normal” life, really, since my ankles flared up in 2005. The ankle pain has really limited my ability to stand for periods of time, walking, etc. I don’t understand why nothing ever shows up on the X-rays and MRIs.

    1. The other surgeries did not help! from what i gather this small bone on the side of my foot i want to say the navicular bone had no cartilage left between it and the talus. that was causing a lot of my swelling and pain, from walking on it improperly to compensate for the pain i put stress on the outside of my foot which caused the subtalar joint to become damaged. Now i have no side to side motion and the pain is gone.. it still aches time to time from the hardware i think but the pain i had before was like stabbing burning pain towards the end i couldent even walk on it! Like you X-rays and MRI’s showed nothing i think because they were looking for sprains or fractures or something.. i would go in limping with a ankle 3 x the normal size… and they would think i broke it.. but nothing would show up.. it took a good year for them to figure it out.. the true ankle joint that allows for up and down motion is actually in good shape, it was just the other joints causing my whole ankle to swell since its so constricted! your foot/ankle has i think 33 joints in it all together and if one is off it can throw your whole foot off! I would recomend the procedure, rough recovery but worth it.. now I just have to get on to my knees *sigh* seems never ending! let me know if you have any other questions!! =)

  5. Hi Angela,

    I’m new to this forum. I came on your comments because our son is getting married in three weeks but this heat wave has my wife lying in a ball crying 24/7. You see, she has very bad rheumatoid arthritis. I have been looking on line for confirmation of my suspicion that heat waves make RA sufferers flare up.

    Since my wife’s RA is attacking her entire body, her pain is like what you have in your ankle but is all over her body. And it isn’t in any bones. It’s all soft tissue. RA does cause bone damage and deformities unless you take meds to ward off those side effects. Methotrexate and Plaquenil are both good at keeping boney changes from happening. But senovium grows back (my wife’s joint replacement surgeon just found a bunch in her knee that did not show up on any scans.) I don’t think the doctor’s are always the first ones to figure things out. Your ankle is probably overgrown with senovial malformation and it just doesn’t show up.

    In the mean time, if you have a significant other, kids in the house, a husband…whatever. Do what we do. I get my wife on the bed just before she goes to sleep and literally “milk” her swollen tissues. I have to work the fluid out of her toes, then her feet, then her ankles, then her calves. I do all this while I have her legs propped on a pillow to help the fluid run away from her feet and calves. This helps her sleep much better but the heat wave still makes her miserable. We’ll most likely miss our son’s wedding because she can’t sit in a car for four hours, it would kill her.

    Good luck on your ankle. You are right about what is wrong. It is soft tissue that is wrong and you probably need to see a rheumatologist rather than an orthapedist given your symptoms and history.

    David Rodgers

    1. Hi David,
      Thanks for writing. I’m sorry to hear that your wife’s RA is so bad. My RA actually does affect my entire body when I have flare-ups. My ankles have been in constant pain since a flare-up in 2005. I also have a permanently damaged right wrist which was caused by a flare-up that started sometime in 1998. I had surgery on it in 1999 but by then it was too late. The cartilage was all eaten up by inflammation and bone erosion had also occurred. I know how frightening and aggressive RA can be. I think you’re probably right, that the inflamed synovial tissue has probably grown back in my ankle and just isn’t showing up on the MRIs. I will probably have to push my orthopedic doctor to scope my ankle again like he did in 2006. The only thing that I’ve found to help with the ankles is to put ice on them. And to rest, of course. But resting is hard when you’re trying to live a normal life and need to WALK. I do see a rheumatologist – I’ve been seeing one for 14 years since I was first diagnosed. My orthopedic doctor I mentioned is the surgeon who operated on my ankle in 2006. He is an ankle specialist. My RA meds are managing my RA well for the most part, so there is nothing else my rheumatologist can do. These ankles of mine are really stubborn and just do not want to heal, it seems.

      I really hope your wife feels better soon and will get some relief. Hopefully the heat wave where you live will break soon, too. Heat and humidity is a bad combo for people who have RA, it seems.

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