I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in approx. March of '10. At the time I had muscle and joint pain (a 10 on bad days) and I had confusion, tired all the time, and insomnia. A few weeks ago I started to notice that my right arm was spasming and my hand and fingers were numb. Then, yesterday I was awoken by the pain from spasms in my entire back, both arms, neck, sternum and jaw with numbness in both hands. My knees and ankles were also aching quite a lot. I just started with a pain management doc who ordered blood tests on me to determine that there was no other cause of my symptoms. She said I could possibly have rheumatoid arthritis. So now I am beginning to wonder if I just have rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia or possibly both. Just wanted to see if any of you have been through this and have any wisdom to impart. Thx.
RA can start in a variety of ways. I began with tendinitis all over my body.
I would see a rheumatologist for more testing and monitoring. Your spasms could also be a spinal problem and they can test for that too. But there is no one test that tells you, you have RA. It is a collection of symptoms that tells them what is going wrong.
And since early treatment is so important, being watched by a rheumatologist makes sense. Ask your PM for a referral to someone who is patient with their patients.
It doesn't sound typical but nothing about RA is typical.
I can't really say anything about RA, however, I've had many of your symptoms. Mind you, I was seeing a Rheum and developed worsening low back pain, all kinds of nerve pains, etc. Turned out I had spinal stenosis with spinal OA, DDD, disc herniations, blah blah. But then it started in my neck area. On and off as well, I would sometimes get severe pain in a certain area of the back of my neck; I had spasms all the time, which also spread. My face even spasmed to the point that my cheeks & mouth corners were being pulled . My left shoulder was so bad & painful, it seeemed like it was out of place. I would cramps & spasms in my throat, esphogas, it would feel like someone was wringing my neck trying to choke me. My spasms even spread to my hands, my hands wouldn't even stay open. I've had bouts of what I now know was (and I still get it) nerve pains in my fingers and sometimes in my arms. Many times I would wake up from sleep with both arms completely numb. Now...even though my Rheum KNEW what was wrong with my lower spine, or at least partly knew (he had suspected some other conditions as well, but never mentioned those again), he was of the thought of "one thing at a time". So it was like, because I had low back problems, I wasn't supposed to have my upper back and/or neck investigated??? Well, anyway, he kept mentioning Fibromyalgia to me, referrring to my neck & other upper body symptoms. Then every time I went to his office, he would inject me with lidocaine all up & down and around my spine into all my back & neck muscles. You know when you're in severe spasms, you can feel tender there. I guess to him, I couldn't possibly have something wrong with my neck, it just had to be Fibro. Mind you also, he would give me up to 12 of these injections in one visit. Each injection was considered a "surgical procedure" as per my health insurer at the time, and it was over $300 for just ONE injection!!! SO there you go. THe more I think about this, the more I think it was perhaps a cover to to get my doc more insurance money. Well, now a few yrs later and I've still been getting the neck problems on and off except it's gotten more chronic and more painful at times. Come to find out...YES I do also have stenosis, DDD, and herniations in my neck. My neck has also changed shape and completely straightened....which I'm not told could have been due to my severe spasms. Ohhh, but no....my prior Rheum always said it was Fibro. I never knew just how much damage "Fibro" could do.
I do just want to say, though, I am certainly NOT dismissing Fibromyalgia as a disease or anything. Maybe I do have it, but....all those symptoms I had (and still do get) in my neck and spine (deep inside my spine also, not just my muscles) was not caused by Fibro. THat Rheum had prescribed me Lyrica, which I know is a Fibro med, but the only thing it did was slightly help my nerve pains, it did nothing else. I've also read in medical literature that meds for autoimmune disease and other arthritis do not help with Fibro. I've read steroids do nothing for Fibro, but yet steroids are truly my miracle drug...well, at least out of the meds I've taken. So anyway, my point is that your symptoms could be due to many other things, not just Fibro. With your spasms and arm & finger numbness, the first thing I thought of was some sort of spinal compression, not Fibro. However, spinal compression can be caused by different things as well, such as all kinds of different types of arthritis, disc hernniations, cysts, stenosis, etc.
At least your PM is trying to investigate it further for you. What type of doctor was it that diagnosed you with the Fibro?
I have had RA for 7 years (diagnosed at least), Fibro for 5 & DDD diagnosed 6 mo ago. I have had several of your symptoms and I'd say it sounds as though you have more then 1 disease going on. I had tingling and numbness in my hands and fingers for years, finally the inflammation in my elbows from the RA damaged both ulnar and median nerves. I had then surgically fixed and it's a slowly getting better. I would go to and keep seeing a good rheumatologist. It does take a patient one when you've got so much going on. I don't have the RA factor (about 20% of those with RA never do), but yet se verbal joints have been destroyed by rheumatoid and I've lived with classic symptoms for ten years.. so do keep that in mind Good luck!!
I am so sorry to hear you are not well.
Your spasms and numbness in your hand and arm may related to your neck problems. I go through this myself and know this situation very well.
Back spasms (depends on location) may relate to your either neck or spinal problems as well.
Hard to mix 2 together: fibro and RA- totally different pains an symptoms. One may think pain is pain, what can be different, but unless you have both, you can't determent which is which.
I am glad you are going to see a specialist and go from there. Make sure you in a good hands and get a proper treatments.