Painful joints - Could it be RA?

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New Member

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 12/5/2008 6:28 AM (GMT -7)   
I'm really hoping someone can give me some insight here...  I'll try to be brief. :)
I'm a 34 year old female.  about 3 years ago, I realized I kept getting joint pain that would come and go without any injury.  The pain is only accompanied by very mild swelling, if any, and doesn't make the joints red or hot.  I usually have more than one joint flaring up at a time, and usually both left and right joint hurt, although sometimes at different intensities.  I'm currently having a lot of pain in both knees, my left middle finger knuckle, and both wrists.  The pain diminishes only gradually throughout the day.  It sometimes wakes me up at night, especially if I have my knees bent.  It seems to be tendon pain.  Sometimes I also feel really achy like I have a fever, although I don't usually have anything other than really low grade.  I'm really grateful that I can still function normally -- I know many more people are way worse off -- but the constant pain is really getting depressing.  I seem to go in cycles.  The bad times last 2-6 weeks, and I am usually pretty good again for 2-6 weeks. 
I have been to a rheumatologist last year, but I was seronegative for everything she tested, so she basically said come back if I get really swollen.  Oh - and last year when I was on the tail end of a flare, she did a bone scan.  Only one wrist showed up on that, and when I was sent for a follow-up MRI, it showed up as consistent with a tendon tear.  (And I had NOT done anything unusual to that wrist).  My PCP just took more bloodwork yesterday, including a CCP which wasn't done before, and I see the rheumy again on 12/22.  PCP is convinced something autoimmune is going on and suspects RA, but wants me to see the rheumy before putting me on meds. 
The last time I felt really good was when I was put on a short burst of prednisone last year.
Does this sound familiar to anyone?  Am I going crazy?  I feel like I'm too young to be this achy and old-feeling.

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2008
Total Posts : 285
   Posted 12/7/2008 7:17 AM (GMT -7)   
Hey Megank,
I am 33,(34 in a week) and I am going thru something similar. I started around February this year. My right hand pinky finger started aching, and sounds wierd but its got a short tendon so I put it down to that. Then it spread to my whole hand, then when my left hand started to ache too I knew something was up. My hands, both my wrists,my ankles, feet,knees, hips...well basically all my joints ache now. I have been to a rhuematologist and she has taken enough blood for test to make a new person LOL. I have also had x-rays.
In my blood work apparently the see that there is inflamation going on but cannot find any Rhuematoid Factor. They have tested for Lyme's Disease too, as far as I know. Anyway, I am definitely in pain, and the prescription of Plaquenil they gave me is holding pain down a bit (I know its working because long story short I missed taking it for 3 days and the pain got much worse) My rhuematologist ,and my family doctor are 'confused' if thats the right word at what could possibly be goin on with me. They have not came right out and said its RA but they ARE giving me meds for RA. I have tried, prednisone for a week it didnt ease the pain,and i have tried diclofenac sodium whatever that is and it didnt work, i have also tried indomethacin but that gave me violent headaches and I was told to stop taking that too. Only Plaquenil at 400mg a day is helping some. I am taking Tylenol 3 with codine to help ease the pain, but I only take that when I need it. I don't like taking medicine but will when the pain gets too unbearable.
So I am sorry I cannot help you, but I wanted to tell you that I kinda know what you are going thru. That we definitely know there is something wrong with us , we just need the medical professionals to figure it out. And YES being 34 and having a body that thinks your much older really sucks,and can get depressing. I am a mom of 2 little ones too and try my best to carry on because they dont understand why mommy hurts....
Good Luck Megan....keep being insistant with your rhuemy and tell them that you KNOW something is going on, and you cant go on like this. My rhuemy now has me on a list to get an MRI, just waiting for my appointment time.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 2113
   Posted 12/7/2008 7:45 AM (GMT -7)   
Megank-that sounds exactly like RA. Have you had CRP, RF, ANA etc...
You can be seronegative forever even if you have RA or like me you could be negative for months after symptoms start and then turn positive.
Keep a very breif journal of your symptoms to show to the rhuematologist.
Good luck with finding a diagnosis and getting treatment.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 1331
   Posted 12/8/2008 10:13 AM (GMT -7)   

Hi Megan,

It certainly sounds possible..and as Sj mentioned you can be negative forever since that has been the case with me.  I have been seeing my rheumy well past three years now, and have never had a postive test for anything.  I came down with a virus and a few weeks later the joint pain started and that was it for me, here I am.  My rheumy now says the word.."rheumatoid" and I also had the swollen joints before I started taking the stronger medications. I think another poster mentioned the Plaquenil and that is a fabulous one when you are first starting out, it does wonders for the fatigue. However, if you do take it, make sure you make an appointment for an eye exam before you begin taking it, since it can cause damage to your eyes (this is extremely rare) but I was one of those rare cases.

Please keep in mind that a good doctor will treat your symptoms and not just your test results.

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