Re: Negative tests, so what is it?
Chances are you have widespread osteoarthritis. It doesn't have to be RA or another inflammatory arthritis to hurt and cripple you.
When we talk about sero-negative Ra, it means that none of the specific tests for Ra are positive...the Rheumatoid Factor or Anti-CCP. But you will have a raised sed rate and CRP, low hemoglobin and hematocrit(anemia) and a raised white cell count. Sero-negative does not mean no abnormal blood work at all( a common mistake even among medical pros).
But the #1 type of arthritis out there is OA and it can hit early. I started to develop it in my late teens. Research is being done into early on-set OA as a possible disease process in and of itself. By your age, I was walking with a cane due to bad knees. I've had 14 knee surgeries including bi-lateral replacements at age 47. And I had surgery on both shoulders for OA at 54 followed closely by 2 spine surgeries for OA. I find out tomorrow if I have 1 or possibly 2 more spine surgeries again for OA. After that, I think it will be my ankles. OA hurts incredibly badly and is very disabling...and the blood work is all normal.
I don't know why people think if they hurt it must be something like Ra when OA is so prevalent and can be so crippling. I also have RA(and secondary Sjogren's Syndrome) but those developed just in the past 7 years(right after the shoulder surgeries)but those 23 ortho surgeries are all from OA...not Ra. It is OA destroying my joints, not Ra. There are meds to help RA and SS but nothing seems to slow or even treat OA. All they can do is help you with pain and mobility and eventually replace them.
You'll still benefit from the care of a good rheumatologist as they can help to manage the pain and disability until such time as surgery is needed. Mine has a heart of gold and has been a real life saver. Not much he can do but keep me comfortable but he's been great at doing that. So do go. If it's OA or Ra or anything else, you'll need a good rheumy.