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What It's Like Having Both Cerebral Palsy and Psoriatic Arthritis

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When you have cerebral palsy, you hope that is the only health issue you face in life. But the fact is we have to face other health issues such as premature aging and family genetic conditions, just like everyone else. This became apparent to me five years ago when I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis.

What is psoriatic arthritis, who gets it and is it common in people with cerebral palsy?

According to the Arthritis Foundation:

“Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that primarily affects the skin. But about 30 percent of people with psoriasis also develop a form of inflammatory arthritis called psoriatic arthritis (PsA). The body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, in this case the joints and skin. The faulty immune response causes inflammation that triggers joint pain, stiffness and swelling. The inflammation can affect the entire body and may lead to permanent joint and tissue damage if it is not treated early and aggressively.”

While arthritis is common in people with CP, psoriasis is not. In my case, it’s more to do with family genetics and I was the “lucky” one in my family to get it. When you have psoriatic arthritis and CP it’s like having evil twins in your body, and they don’t enjoy each other’s company. When the psoriatic arthritis is in a flare-up, the CP is trying to fight it and acting like CP does. I battle psoriatic arthritis by taking biological medicines and even a small dose of a chemotherapy drug.

After five years, the psoriatic arthritis has taken away my right knee to the point where it is bone on bone. I will be having a full knee replacement in a couple weeks. A big part of getting ready is staying physically fit, so it will make recovery easier for me. Staying active in and out of the gym has been my number one priority over the last few months. Although it is very hard because of my knee, when I’m in the gym I’m working on core and strength training. When I’m not in the gym or able to walk due to the pain, I put on YouTube and do chair yoga for stretching and breathing. With all I’m doing beforehand, I’m hoping the recovery process goes well, so that six to nine months after surgery I’ll be able to do things I enjoy doing without the pain I have now.

Getty image by Darkbird77.

Originally published: October 1, 2018
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