Traci Johnson Hernandez, 41, was first diagnosed with eczema as a child, then with psoriasis. She developed degenerative arthritis then began having psoriatic arthritis symptoms and was formally diagnosed at 39.

Traci's Story:

I was actually diagnosed with eczema as a child. As I grew older, I was then diagnosed with psoriasis, which runs in my family. I am 41 now and I was in my early 20s when I was diagnosed with it. I have two types of arthritis, degenerative (diagnosed at age 36) and asymmetric psoriatic. I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis at age 39. It all started in my right foot. I was walking around a fair all day and had to soak my foot upon getting home that evening. It was sore, tired and swollen.

As the days went by, it worsened. One of my toes became quite swollen and I was unable to bend it. I went to the podiatrist, who ran tests for gout, hepatitis, etc. He wondered if I might have psoriatic arthritis, as he had a friend with it. He sent me to a rheumatologist, who diagnosed me. I have been going to her ever since. I was put on naproxen at age 36 for the degenerative arthritis, so she kept me on that for the psoriatic arthritis. After a while though, it wasn't working, so I was placed on prednisone. It worked for a bit, but the swelling returned shortly after I finished the prednisone.

I was placed on it again and also placed on methotrexate. I started off with four pills, once a week, but was increased a few times and I now take 10, which works for me. It took a good six months or so for them to take full effect. Until they did, I continued to limp around.

I was unable to walk down a flight of stairs correctly. I couldn't stand on my tiptoes and I couldn't kneel due to the swelling behind my knee. It was quite difficult to pump gas. The pad of my foot was always tender and sore, and the shoe on my right foot always felt two sizes too small. By the end of the day, I felt like I had a clubfoot. It was painful, uncomfortable and honestly, a big nuisance. I have always been a walker, and having that pain really dampened my spirits. I took it day by day and kept hoping the methotrexate would kick in.

Sure, I wish I didn't have arthritis at such a young age, but I am doing so much better now. I still have stiffness after sitting for a while and I am a better weather predictor than the TV weathermen. But I can walk now without limping and I am grateful for that. I can actually wake and get out of bed in the morning now. I realize there is no cure and this will worsen over time, but I am staying positive and counting my blessings. I can't do all the things I used to do but I am certainly not like I was before.

Her word of encouragement: Count your blessings – and medication helps.