Maybe RA, maybe not... blood work

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Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2012
Total Posts : 75
   Posted 9/7/2012 9:05 PM (GMT -7)   
I'm new and was hoping for some info or opinions on my 'mystery' aching while I wait for my appointment in a month.
about two months ago I started to notice slight loss of sensation in my fingers. Nothing major, just dropping pens and such.
Three weeks ago, my hands started hurting. Wrists, fingers, everything. At first my GP thought it was Carpal Tunnel. I went back in two days later for cortisone shots and after talking some more about my aching, he decided to do blood work and he put me on Celebrex - which has not touched it. Since then, I have had one major anxiety attack, aching moving up into my arms, elbows occasionally, and yesterday my knees felt weak, like they needed to be popped or something. Today they are aching along with my calves. All the aches are on both sides.
Today I had a very intensive hand-use day at work then had to spend two hours at Walmart walking around while getting new tires installed, then a 45 mile drive home. Now I am aching EVERY WHERE - wrists, arms, legs, knees..

I am not stiff in the mornings. In fact my hands only slightly bother me in the mornings. As I start using them, the ache sets in and doesn't stop. There is no visible redness or swelling. As the day goes on, the worse it gets.
After my results came in, he referred me to a Rheumatologist and said my blood work was 'inconsistant'. My diagnosis is basically 'something is wrong, go see this guy', lol.
Anyway, if anyone has any opinions, I would be glad to hear them. I don't know what to think. I have a toddler & FT clerical job and I am just getting so frustrated with my inability to do anything very long... .plus I have a boss who doesn't seem to believe in 'non-traditional' illness. If you aren't bleeding or running a fever, it must be in your head.

I am a female in my mid-thirties, no family history of RA, Lupus, Fibro, or other autoimmune issues.

Here are the results I got, expected ranges in parentheses.

SED RATE 10 (0-20)
T3 104 (90-200)
FREE T4 1.17 (0.73-1.95)
TSH 0.3 (0.5-4.7)


IgG: 3 (0-20)
IgM: 56 (0-25)
IgA: 9 (0-35)

COMPLEMENT C3: 125 (83-177)
COMPLEMENT C4: 41 (12-50)

WBC: 16.1 (4.8-10.8)
LYM: 4.9 (0.6-4.1)

MID: 1.6 (0-1.8)
GRA: 9.6 (2.0-7.8)

LYM% 20.7 (20.5-51.1)
MID% 9.9 (1-20)
GRA% 59.4 (45-95)

Doc said since my percentages were in range, the other high readings were really of no concern.

RBC were all in range.

PLT 201 (130-400)
MOV 10.0 (7.4-10.4)

Urinalysis was negative for proteins and whatever else they checked.

How can I be in so much pain with a normal SED rate? My blood draw was one week from the onset of the aching from hell. Right now, I couldn't really tell you if I still have reduced sensitivity in my fingertips... mostly because my hands just ache too much for me to notice.
I am also losing thoughts. I will be in mid-sentence and my thought-train just gets totally de-railed. Or I find myself having to really think hard when asked something, forgetting if I did something, forgetting what I was about to do (more than normal at least!) And I am tired. Not falling-asleep-at-my-desk tired, just no energy.

Sorry for such a long post... I just really needed to get this out of my head. I've read several pages of posts here and have found a lot of useful info. I'm open to anyones opinions, even a simple "You're not crazy" would help too!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 2472
   Posted 9/9/2012 5:58 AM (GMT -7)   
You are not crazy! But RA can make you feel that way because it is quite the trickster.

I am sero-negative which means it does not show up in my blood.

The only time my sed red and CRP was high- it was off the charts high and that was during my horrific onset that rendered me a complete invalid. As soon as the meds kicked in and the RA was controlled I had normal results.

Even during that period of time when I had 12 hr. pain cycles that felt like someone was sawing off all my bones at the joints and I could not move a centimeter without wanting to scream out in pain, during a different part of the day suddenly I could walk alone and feel good enough that I would think to myself-I think I can go to work tomorrow! This never happened because by morning my joints were frozen up and I was in severe pain. I did think I was crazy.

RA is not only diagnosed by blood tests. As a general rule your pain should be symmetrical, you should feel stiff in the morning (During onset I was very stiff- now by the time I get to the shower I'm pretty much loosened up which makes my doctor say I am in remission), some people have a lot of swelling some don't. Joints will feel hot and have a red appearance, I forget what else. Although while I was living it I never would have spoke these words- I am lucky to have had such a horrific onset because it enabled the doctors to DX RA and it got me on meds within 2 weeks. MTX and a high dose of daily prednisone tripped my immune system back to where it should be keeping my RA at bay.

I am a lucky one. There are other people who have bodies that will not respond to meds and I feel for them more than anyone knows. Having experienced what they go through on a daily basis for a few months makes me almost feel guilty to say I have RA and experiencing aches and pains that are annoying but for the most part let me do what I want to do.

I wish you all the best in finding out if you do indeed have RA and if so getting on a good treatment plan that will afford you the success that I have achieved.

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2012
Total Posts : 75
   Posted 9/9/2012 7:22 AM (GMT -7)   
Thanks, Weary.
I had a pretty good day yesterday and was able to get the house cleaned & picked up. This morning I'm paying for it, but the house is clean!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 2472
   Posted 9/9/2012 1:38 PM (GMT -7)   
yeah-as time goes on it becomes the new normal.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2012
Total Posts : 50
   Posted 9/9/2012 7:14 PM (GMT -7)   
My r.a. is not controlled yet. I do feel fortunate to have a physician and his nurse practitioner who started treating me right away when I came in with symptoms. I was the one who was disbelieving I had this. Actually still having a hard time accepting it because as with some, mine is sero negative. No inflammation on my blood work . But my clinical symptoms, the fact that my younger brother, uncle, great grandmother all had it, and my mom was diagnosed in her 70's with Lupus, caused them to start treating right away. My hand x rays showed osteoarthritis too. oh yay.

My biggest difficulty right now is fatigue. I live in a condo and I used to be able to whip thru and clean it in 2 hours. Now, I have to take it in sections and spread it out because I can't go for 2 hours straight. That is frustrating. Carrying groceries is another pain, literally. Missing work and/or being late because I can't move in the morning is difficult also.

When this first hit, I had slept for 12 hours and when I woke up I couldn't move. Everything was stiff. My feet hurt, cracked just trying to walk . My hands hurt and just gripping the steering wheel on the car was painful. Now what I notice is that I am getting weird pains at night at rest. My left foot, the bone leading up to the big toe was really hurting in the middle of the night. Like a cramp but in the bone. My hands hurt pretty much all the time. Of course I am on a lap top for work, holding the mouse, typing, or even holding my cell phone. Hurts.

I've been on methotrexate now for 2 months and I don't feel better. I was on 30 mg of prednisone at first for 10 days and then the prescription was to stop, no taper. The day I didn't take the prednisone felt like I had been hit by a truck/wall. Everything hurt, my spine etc. So back on the prednisone I went. Tried again but with a taper, nope. So now I'm on 10mg a day. Not sure if I really need to go higher because I'm still in pain.

It's off to the doctor's this thursday for me so I hope to get more direction then.

Like Weary said, this disease is tricky. It doesn't act the same in everyone. It is supposed to start in your hands and feet but that's not always true. People can have a severe beginning overnight and others it can creep up. My brother started in his late 20's and it took them a few years to diagnose but his is a severe case. Lots of joint issues, surgeries. He's now on Enbrel which seems to control it very well for him.

I'm glad you were feeling better. Hopefully the rheumatologist will be able to diagnose and prescribe and you will be on your road to recovery !!

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2012
Total Posts : 75
   Posted 9/9/2012 7:33 PM (GMT -7)   
Yes... Driving, ugh. We live 45 miles from the nearest towns (and the closest rheumatologist is 100 miles away), I drive a lot to see my parents, grocery shop, etc. the last few drives have been difficult.
It seems every joint pops now too, my elbows, knees and wrists. This morning I didn't wake up stiff, but sore, and my arms & legs feel like I did a hardcore workout, usually a pain I welcome!

I know I'm not saying anything y'all don't know. Being surrounded by people in real life who don't really get it/believe it, this is a good place for me to get it out of my head.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2010
Total Posts : 2472
   Posted 9/10/2012 6:47 PM (GMT -7)   
you are right- here is the place to vent. Non RA people just do not understand and they will try to one up you every time. I never discuss RA anywhere else anymore.

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2012
Total Posts : 75
   Posted 9/11/2012 9:30 PM (GMT -7)   
One thing I want to throw in here, back in 2007, I was diagnosed with Hashimotos.

Nov 2007 result was:
Thyroglobulin AB: 233.0 (<40), and I was slightly Hypo.

And now, according to this recent lab, it's just... gone with a slightly Hyper TSH? I wonder if I should retest for that or if the 2007 lab was wrong? I was on meds for 6 weeks, my thyroid numbers swung the other way, I was told to stop meds, I did, then my numbers went into normal ranges, I felt pretty good and I have been fine since.

Will a Rheumatologist test full thyroid function as part of their regular 'what's wrong/what's not wrong with you' routine?

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2012
Total Posts : 75
   Posted 9/13/2012 9:15 PM (GMT -7)   
Just an update. Pain is moving around. Now my knees are constantly affected; walking too much & stairs are pretty uncomfortable.
Then today my feet... mostly the TOP of my feet are hurting, kind of tender to the touch. Every now & then a twinge of pain shoots through a toe or finger. I'm having small muscle twitches, more than usual I guess, in my calves, hands & arms. My forearms & calves still ache like I worked out.

Yesterday was the worst day I've had to date. I was in tears by 10AM at work. Some how I made it through the whole day, but when i got home, I popped a hydrocodone-10 & went straight to bed. I just couldn't move or think anymore. My wrists & hands were throbbing. After a couple hours I still hurt but the throbbing had stopped.

The two really bad days I've had recently occurred the day after I had some wheat after not having any for a few days. I do believe there is a correlation there.

My GP faxed over the FMLA paperwork today in which he checked the box "Yes" where it asked if I would need to miss work for treatments, OR need a reduced schedule OR work only part time. He elaborated that flares will require me to stay home and while I am at work, any hand use over 10-15 minutes is not recommended due to the pain it will most likely induce. He indicated a rheumatic disease and that a referral to rheumatologist has been made.

He's supposed to call me tomorrow so I can update him on my symptoms and get clarification on the part he checked "yes" on. I would LOVE a reduced schedule right now. After lunch I am just sooo done. But, I have no paid leave left. FMLA will keep my FT status and insurance active even if I am on FMLA ordered PT or Reduced schedule, but my paychecks will suffer. Our baby sitter charges the same rate whether she keeps her half a day or all day. All this scares me. I am in a clerical job... you can't really get much more "light duty" than that. We get maybe 10 phone calls a day, and they are all for my boss, so I can't even just be a call taker. We are the Treasurers Office for a small county. There is only two of us, me & the elected official. She fought hard last year to get me on full-time (I was originally part time), and now this happens? This is really starting to freak me out a bit, it's like the FLMA paperwork kind of cemented the fact that yes, this is a serious problem. Of course I know that, but seeing it in writing just kind of brings it home.

A typical work week has been this:
1-2 manageable days. I ache but I can get things done without too much discomfort.
2-3 moderate days - i can make it but it is difficult. I need to stop and take several breaks to rest.
1-2 "holy crap just shoot me while I am curled up in the corner crying" days.

And through all this? No visible inflammation. No swelling.

Anyway, thanks for letting me vent some more.

Elite Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 14475
   Posted 9/14/2012 11:10 AM (GMT -7)   
Your pains sound a lot like lupus or fibromyalgia.
Have you've got a solid diagnosis yet?
Do you get rashes or redness out in the sun? Or feel weak and pain increases in the sun?
Speckled ANA usually means lupus, sorry.

I have Lupus, Fibromyalgia and OA. You sound so much like me on bad days.
Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Glaucoma, Asthma, and Allergies

When life throws you lemons....
Pick them up and throw them right back at them! :))

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2012
Total Posts : 75
   Posted 9/14/2012 12:07 PM (GMT -7)   
No, I have no rashes or sun sensitivity. I spend quite a lot of time outside on the weekends and I work under fluorescent lighting.

I haven't had a diagnosis yet, my first rheumatologist appointment is next month. All this started happening the last couple weeks of August.

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2012
Total Posts : 75
   Posted 9/24/2012 5:14 PM (GMT -7)   
Still dealing with joint & muscle pain.
Went back to my GP so he could check up on me and he said he could feel a little bit of fluid in my knees.
He drew some more blood & is having then take a closer look at my WBC's and if that comes back ok, he will probably be referring me to a hematologist to see if they can find out why my WBC is always elevated.
He gave me Volteran to try & hydrocodone to help at night.
So, to recap, I am still dealing with pain in wrsits, fingers, elbows, arms, knees, ankles (that one kind of comes & goes) and calves, tiredness, not sleeping well, hand trembling slightly when holding my phone to look something up... pain is worse after doing something with them. Brain fog. Lot's of rest & non-use relieves some of the pain. Volteran has done nothing that I can detect.
No real swelling or redness. If I had to say what the worst pain is, it is my arms & hands.
I woke us this morning with the feeling both my arms had fallen asleep. They were back to normal after a few minutes but have felt somewhat weak since then.
Rheumy appt first week of October & hopefully this recent bloodwork results will be in tomorrow. It was only a CBC though, I believe.
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