The pain was so unbearable that Bill Woods was willing to do whatever it would take to find relief. He found it at Mercy Clinic Rheumatology – Carthage.
Woods, 76, of Rogers, Ark., began having symptoms about six years while he was working in a retail furniture store that required some heavy lifting.
“I had extremely strong pain in my shoulders, arms and hands to the point that I was unable to do my job and couldn’t function,” he said. “My biggest problem was the inability to grip. It was very painful. It came on pretty quick. I couldn’t sleep and wasn’t able to rest well.”
Woods was referred to a rheumatologist and could get in quickly to Dr. Anne Winkler in Carthage.
“At first, I didn’t know where Carthage was, but I didn’t care,” he said. “I needed relief and would do whatever it would take to get it.”
An examination and a simple blood test helped diagnose Woods with polymyalgia rheumatica, an autoimmune disease. The inflammatory disorder typically results in an acute onset of muscle pain or stiffness, usually in the neck, shoulders, upper arms and hips, but which may occur all over the body. Patients usually are older than 50 and most commonly in their 70s and 80s. About 1 in 1,000 people have it.
At the first appointment, Dr. Winkler asked Woods if he was available to return the next day. He asked her why.
“I want you to hug me because I’m going to cure you tonight,” Dr. Winkler told him.
Woods was prescribed prednisone, a steroid that can treat many diseases and conditions, especially those associated with inflammation.
“It was the first full night of sleep I’d had I months,” Woods said. “I was well. I had no pain. Overnight, it was gone.”
The drug has many side effects, so the goal is to wean patients off it as quickly as possible, Dr. Winkler said. Woods indicated he suffered no side effects.
“Literally 24 hours later, they’re a new person,” said Winkler, who along with Drs. Mark Jarek and Melinda Reed can see a new patient within a few weeks. “No one wants to feel like that any longer than they have to.”
Woods also was prescribed hydroxychloroquine, a slow-acting medicine that takes two to three months to see results. While prednisone brings quick relief, hydroxychloroquine helps prevent recurring symptoms.
“A couple or three doctor’s visits and I was home free,” he said. “Everything was fine for six years.”
Not only was Woods able to return to work, but he also helped with extensive renovations of a building at his church.
Now retired, Woods started having symptoms again late last year and learned that the condition can recur after several years. He returned to see Dr. Winkler and experienced the same quick results.
“It makes us really happy, because our goal is to get people better,” said Dr. Winkler, who sees patients like Woods from throughout the four-state area.
“Now I’m spoiled with the care I receive here,” he said. “I’ve realized how great Dr. Winkler really is, as well as everyone at Mercy Clinic Rheumatology in Carthage.”
For more information about Mercy Clinic Rheumatology – Carthage on the McCune Brooks Campus, 3125 Dr. Russell Smith Way, call 417-359-2675.