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Waiting for a diagnosis from the doc.... RA? Something else?

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tango-tee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-14-10 08:13 AM
Original message
Waiting for a diagnosis from the doc.... RA? Something else?
In the late fall I went to see an orthopedic specialist for a stiff, painful, swollen joint in one finger of my right hand, which just wouldn't get better. He x-rayed, said it was not broken, took a blood test and said I had RA.

Went to my doc who did a complete physical. My RA factor is negative, and I am supposed to go back to the orthopedic specialist. However, in the meantime, all the joints in my fingers are swollen, and my right foot now hurts terribly as well. I'm having a grand old time trying to make it to the subway stop early in the morning in all this snow, let me tell you.

The pain is at its worst in the mornings, then gets better during the daytime. Hot water, such as in washing dishes, helps as well. Lately, there is weakness in my wrists, for example, I have a rough time turning a key in the lock. To lift a bottle of dishwashing liquid, I have to use both hands.

I've tried checking on the internet, but have come across so many illnesses that I'm about to turn into a hypochondriac!

For a few months I've also had a slight rash under my nose, extending downward to the lips. A light cortisone cream given to me by my doc has made that disappear, though. I had already suspected lupus...

I simply don't know anymore.... my only wish is to receive a definite diagnosis of what is the matter. Then the doc and I can see about a course of action.

Thank you so much for letting me vent. This uncertainty, in addition to the pain, is driving me around the bend. I checked into getting in to see a rheumatologist - 3 month waiting period.

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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-14-10 11:29 AM
Response to Original message
1. Waiting sucks, but that's what you're going to have to do
There are a lot of possibilities out there, RA and gout among them. You could also have some osteoarthritis, appearing at younger ages now thanks to the increase in sports like running. A rheumatologist is your best bet for figuring out which of the usual alphabet soup you might have and designing a treatment plan to help you retain as much function for as long as possible.

Rheumatoid factor tends to wax and wane, so it's not unusual to have a positive test one time and a negative test the next. There is a whole battery of tests that can nail it down better as well as tests for the inflammation process, itself.

In the meantime, while you're waiting, OTC NSAID drugs like Motrin, Aleve, and Orudis, as well as plain old aspirin, can cut inflammation and relieve some of the pain. You do need to take them every day to build up a steady blood level, though. Also ask your GP whether or not you can get a mild narcotic to tide you over until you can get in to see the rheumie.

As for turning that key, go to a hardware store for a tube of graphite and squirt it into the lock. That will lubricate the lock so that the key practically turns itself. Use graphite, not any oil. Graphite doesn't evaporate and get sticky.
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tango-tee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-15-10 01:19 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Warpy, thank you so much for sharing your perspective.
I have trouble with having patience. If things don't go my way, it drives me up the wall.

No signs of gout according to the physical. BP is great, no problems with blood sugar levels or anything else.

But whatever is causing this awful pain seems to be evolving "out there" somewhere. I think it is hard for me to accept sudden limitations, because at age 57 the last time I was really sick was 16 years ago with an abcessed tooth. Nothing since then. Zero, zip, nothing, nada, niente. And out of the clear blue sky there is my body letting me know it's "there" and something is not right.

I appreciate your thoughts. If it's okay with you, I'll keep you posted on what's happening.

Sending you hugs...

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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 09:23 AM
Response to Reply #2
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marybourg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-13-10 05:12 PM
Response to Original message
4. If you haven't made the appointment with the rheumatologist, do.
They are really the only ones who can give you a diagnosis and some real help if it's an autoimmune disease. After you make the appointment, indicate that you'd like to be called if someone cancels (if you can in fact manage that) and you've got a good chance of getting in sooner. Let us know how it goes.
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tango-tee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-22-10 01:04 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Thanks...
...for some reason, the pain is gone for the most part, but I've now developed a horrible rash on my face. It extends from the eyebrows, along the nose, upper lip and chin. It itches and burns like crazy. Have an appointment with the dermatologist next week. I wonder if it might be a reaction to the medication I've been taking?
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revolution breeze Donating Member (510 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-25-10 08:40 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Not to alarm you,
Rashescan be a symptom of Rheumatoid Arthritis. It affects all connective tissue in the body, including the skin. Hope all is well. RA sucks (I have had it since I was 14).
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marybourg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-01-10 06:29 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. Have someone take a picture of your face, or take one yourself
facing a mirror, just in case it's gone by time you get to the rheumatologist. It could be important and he/she might have a different take on it than the dermatologist (speaking from experience).
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tango-tee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-02-10 10:25 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Great idea, thanks!
The dermatologist says its rosacea, a chronic skin condition.

I'm supposed to use nothing but a very mild cleansing fluid and lukewarm water on my face. Plus a cream the pharmacy mixed according to the dermatologist's prescription which I'm only supposed to very sparingly apply only to the affected areas. And stay out of the sun as much as possible.

That was a week ago today, and it has improved quite a bit within such a short time. At least it isn't flaming red any more. Doc says to have patience, patience, patience.
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ohheckyeah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-31-10 11:48 PM
Response to Original message
7. You aren't by any chance taking a Vitamin A supplement are you?
I had a doc put me on Vitamin A....I don't remember what for. Within a month or so I had symptoms similar to yours. I happened to be watching a news show one night talking about Vitamin A and side effects. I quit the Vitamin A and the symptoms went away.
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tango-tee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-02-10 10:31 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. No special Vitamin A supplement, only one plain old multivitamin pill per day.
I'm glad you just so happened to see that show! Sometimes there are fortunate coincidences. It is so frustrating to look into the mirror and go "gaaah!!!".
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ohheckyeah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-04-10 04:48 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. I was glad I saw it, too.
I hope you find out what's wrong and can get some relief.
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