Thanks JFG and LU and all..... It would seem we're all on the same page. It is indeed a fine line to walk, between enough movement and too much - and enough rest and too much. Fatigue adds another dimension. Sometimes that "line" has more to do with crashing into fatigue and weakness, than pain. But I have fibromyalgia also. I do get frustrated with the difficulty in nailing down these autoimmune problems.
After the fibromyalgia dx, I herniated a lumbar disc, and my back has never really recovered. A couple years after that the connective tissue disease problems started and after 2 plus years on Plaquenil things are better, but not great. I also have Celiac disease and have been gluten free for 18 months - which seems to have helped reduce my inflammation (at least in terms of the CRP/ sed rate ( or perhaps that's due to the plaquenil).
I'd like to find a good physical therapist who is familiar with this balancing act and be shown how to do some specific strengthening exercises, tailored to my problems. Another needle in a haystack search, I'm afraid. Before all these problems began to add up, I was able exercise and work and garden and travel without difficulty. I miss those days.
For now, my official diagnosis remains UCTD with rheumy leaning towards RA. Plaquenil has helped, but not enough. He didn't do the HLA- B27 - but I kind of wish he would - even though that's not a slam dunk either. Degenerative disc problems run in my family as well (father, mother and sister), and my 31 year old son, who is extremely physically fit, injured his back (also in the lumbar, SI area) and was told by the physical therapist he had the back of a 45 yr old. My Xray showed degenerative changes, but not necessarily inflammation, as in sacroiliitis.
Anyway - thanks for the thoughts and the clarification. Wishing you all good days with less pain to contend with.