Q: What type of arthritis do you have?
A: I have polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Q: What joints does your arthritis affect?
A: Arthritis affects my jaw, back, elbows, wrists, fingers, hips, knees, ankles, and toes.
Q: Do you have JIA or JRA?
A: Many patients and doctors use the terms (juvenile idiopathic arthritis and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) interchangeably. My rheumatologist uses juvenile rheumatoid arthritis for my case, and I choose to use the term JRA more frequently.
Q: What were your first symptoms of arthritis?
A: My first symptom was a painful elbow that we initially thought was a case of tennis elbow. Once my other elbow and both of my knees became painful as well, we knew that it was something more serious.
Q: When were you first diagnosed with juvenile arthritis?
A: I was first diagnosed at the age of 11. My diagnosis was revoked for a few months due to some abnormalities in my presentation that confused my rheumatologist, but after seeing a new rheumatologist the original diagnosis was confirmed. More about my diagnosis can be found in the "About Me" section.
Q: What medications have you used to treat your arthritis?
A: I have used a variety of medications over time to directly manage my JRA, including methotrexate, leflunomide, naproxen, ibuprofen, diclofenac, Enbrel, Orencia, and Humira. Because everyone's arthritis responds differently to different treatments, I do not endorse any medications or treatment plans.
Q: What other treatments have you undergone for your JRA?
A: I have worked with biofeedback specialists, physical therapists, water therapists, occupational therapists, and psychologists to manage my arthritis and reverse some of the damage caused by my disease. I have had several rounds of intra-articular corticosteroid injections. I also use therapies including heating pads, heating patches, ice, cold packs, menthol creams, and braces.
Q: Do you follow a vegan diet because of your arthritis?
A: No. I follow a vegan diet for moral, ethical, religious, and environmental reasons. Because I have been a vegetarian since the age of 7 and a vegan since the age of 15, it is impossible for me to say whether or not my diet has affected my health. I do not endorse or deny diet-based rheumatoid arthritis treatments. I firmly believe in individualized treatment plans.