So my arthritis symptoms starter just over 3 years ago now. I woke up in the middle of the night not being able to move my wrist. It happened a few times but I didn’t think that much of it, and it stopped after a while. That Christmas I moved to Middlesbrough to start pantomime, and one morning during rehearsals, I woke up unable to walk! My entire body had seized up, I had extreme pain throughout my knees, wrist and most major joints. At first, I thought it may have been just aching from dancing, but after it happened again and again, some days where I had barely danced at all, I started to realise that it was something more. I couldn’t go to the Doctors in Middlesbrough, so I had to wait until after panto had finished. This was very difficult to manage, having to wait until I was back at dance college in Swindon. When I finally got to the Doctors, they were convinced it was aches and pain from dancing and performing, and due to only being 21, arthritis wasn’t even questioned. But, knowing my own body and dancing my whole life, I knew it wasn’t just ‘aches and pains’. During this period of trying to find a correct diagnosis, I also lost a lot of weight in a short space of time, and was seriously fatigued, two common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. After numerous appointments and tests, I was officially diagnosed. My Doctors and I tried many different types of medication, including steroid injections to ease the pain. By trial and error, we discovered that methotrexate was the best fit for me.

Whilst the symptoms got better, during the process of diagnosis, I missed a lot of time at dance college, and many days was unable to even get out of bed, which was a huge struggle for me. I hated going into college just to sit and watch, and feeling like people wouldn’t believe me if I told them I was a 21-year-old with Arthritis! I was also scared that this would put a dent in my dance career, and I would have to stop completely.

Fast forward three years, I was able to successfully graduate from dance college, and with a good support system, alongside regular check up’s, my symptoms are now fully managed. Whilst I do get the odd day of discomfort and pain, it is nothing when compared to how I suffered previously. I am grateful that I have been able to keep it under control but will always continue to monitor it closely.

London, UK