First of all, sounds as if you may need a new rheumatologist. If you can't get proper education and questions answered in a professional manner, than he's not doing his job. Second, no need to panic just yet! The ANA test does rule out lupus, but can also be used to rule out certain autoimmune diseases . Sometimes the immune system malfunctions and will produce antibodies that attack your own tissues and cells. When this occurs, it is considered an autoimmune condition. A +ANA is associated with severe autoimmune diseases such as SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus), rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile RA, and autoimmune hepatitis amongst others. Symptoms of SLE can include arthritis, rash, and thrombocytopenia (low platelet count). If you have all three, you probably have Lupus. You need more diagnostic testing. Ask for an ANA and then if that is positive, which it probably will be with the RA, ask for these, an anti-dsDNA and a anti-SM. If these are positive, a diagnosis of Lupus can be made. You may also want to read up on the signs and symptoms of these conditions since they can cause positive ANA's. Sjogrens disease, scleroderma, Raynauds disease. Seriously, if you are concerned, your rheumatologist could have told you all this. I am a Certified Medical Assistant and I had access to this info from one book. You doctor can ease your anxiety by reassuring you that with RA, you probably don't have Lupus, but hey, lets order three simple blood tests to rule it out. Oh, one more bit of advice, with the RA that you have and obviuos symptoms that are scaring you into thinking you have Lupus, take the Enbrel. It it doesn't agree with you or show improvement, you can come off with doctors ok. Hope I helped and I hope you don't have Lupus! Good luck.
Thanks for the welcome! I know that it is tough to find an MD that you feel you can trust and know will do the right thing for you. I have a rheumatologist who I started seeing when my arthritis issues started occuring and he's quite good. In my area, there are only two rheumatologists, one man, one woman. My first referral was to the woman who saw that I was a 24 year old on Paxil and immediately said I was "faking". I got a second opinion from the male MD who immediately put me on Mobic, Plaquenil, and a dose of Prednisone. I got the help I needed from him and haven't had need to see him in a while now. I too have an extremely awful immune system. My biggest issue is Ulcerative Colitis, I also suffer from GERD, allergic rhinitis, chronic sinusitis (my surgery was July 04), chronic fatigue, anxiety/depression (hey, what 26 year old wouldn't be depressed with the health of a 70 year old!), dysmenorrhea, Vitamin B-12 deficiency, lower back spasms, and a couple other minor issues. Most recently, because of the back pain, I had an MRI which showed subligamentous disc herniation at L3-4 which is impinging on the thecal sac, hyperostosis of the facet joints (excessive bone growth), and degenerative disease. So now I am going to yet another specialist next week for that. I am lucky that I am a Certified Medical Assistant and my PCP is the actual physician that I MA for. She listens to all my needs and knows that I pretty much know my own body. I can take it upon myself to order bloodwork that I feel I need. I always have to check my ESR (sedimentation rate) and CMP because of the Ulcerative Colitis anyway. I pass that invitation onto anyone here as well, as far as information is concerned. If you don't have access to an MD, I can ask her any questions that you'd like answered. We have actually had three positive ANA patients in the last month so we've been dealing with that a lot. So, I look forward to hearing any questions and coming back soon!