This is my very first post here, so hello everyone.
I've been having issues with my hands for the past two years, and finally brought these issues up to my doctor at the urge of my fiance about two years ago. The issues I was experiencing were joint pain, occasional swelling around the joints, and stiffness. I didn't initially think arthritis because I was 25 at the time the symptoms started to appear. At one visit to my doctor's office, a PA took a quick look at my thumb (which was giving me problems at the time) and said "yep, thumb sprain", and that was it. She didn't even asked if I had been doing any activities to even sprain my thumb.. It got to the point I just stopped bringing up the pain because it seemed like no one really wanted to investigate into it (although I didn't really push as hard as I should have). Fast forward about two years later and the pain is much worse. At another visit to the doctor's (for something else), my doctor (a different doctor than at age 25 for insurance reasons) did take the time to listen and evaluated my symptoms as arthritis in my hands. She recommended taking Tylenol Arthritis. Fast forward several months later, and I'm taking several doses of the medicine each day and it's really not doing anything at all, and the pain seems to be getting worse...especially laying in bed at night. I finally made an appointment JUST for that problem and after seeing that my left index finger middle joint is particularly swollen, an RA/Lyme Disease blood test is ordered, and a prescription for Naproxen is ordered. The results came back negative for the blood test, so my doctor suggests seeing an Orthopedic Specialist so they can do a x-ray of my hands. I get that done, and the specialist's assistant (the specialist couldn't seen me) told me that everything looked normal on the x-ray, other than a narrowing of the space between my joints in my hands which she tells me doesn't really tell them anything. "You're fine - don't worry. Just keep taking your naproxen for the pain. You're too young for osteoarthritis", she says. She also told me that sometimes women have RA symptoms but absolutely no signs of RA in blood tests.
I can't begin to explain how confused I am. The joints in my fingers constantly hurt, and I notice how it's affected the things I do. I play the piano, and when I have to reach a wider span, it's like murder on my pinkies. My joints are knobby and thickened. I don't want to seem like I WANT something to be wrong with me, but I feel like everyone is giving me the brush off because of my age. "You might" this, and "maybe" that. It's beginning to make me think like I am just crazy.
There has to be someone out there who has gone through the same thing as me...right? What do you do when you feel like no one will listen?
The following 2 users give hugs of support to: pumpkin83 Applegreen (03-31-2011), Eburt (04-01-2011)
Hi there, Pumpkin, and welcome to the healtboard!
I am 20 and I was diagnosed with arthritis (kids edition- JIA) 6 years ago. My doctors didn't want to believe something serious was wrong with me as I was only 14, so all I got was a month off of PE. All my bloodwork is negative, too. At the moment, I stop after evey line I write to rest my fingers as they are stiff, painful and weak, but I know that there will be better days.
As I am stubborn, I make my doctors listen, because I know my body and I can tell when it hurts because of the arthritis and when other activities are to blame. You have the right to be interested in every step of your treatment and get a second opinion. Every case of RA is different (atleast that's what they say when I ask why they won't give me different medicine ) and you know for a fact what you feel.
I can only wish the best for you. Don't give up!
You need to see a rheumatologist. They are arthritis specialists. Time for you to be watched.
25% of patients with RA are negative for the rheumatoid factor. Many have no blood factors at all and it's called sero-negative RA. Many have none at first but they eventually develop. Or you can have the "old time" factors that go positive(like increased sed. rate and WBC's). I have the "old time" factors(what they used before the new tests came in) that are positive and was diagnosed through an MRI. X-rays can't show the erosions of RA but an MRI can.
These disorders can take time to develop and as a result, can take time to diagnose. Rarely does someone go in the doc's office and come out with a definite diagnosis. It can take years. Observation is the key and not testing.
So see a rheumatologist and have the doc start watching you and hopefully treating you for your symptoms. They can at least treat the pain.
You symptoms are very classic of rheumatoid arthritis but it needs to be watched carefully so when they do figure out what it is, they can begin treatment as soon as possible. Good news is, if it's RA, they have some great new drugs to treat it that can stop it in it's tracts. I know....I'm on them.
Your story sounds so similar to mine, I'm 24 and my Doctor has dianosed me with Polyarthritis so far. I have experienced the same sort of swelling as you, I had random swelling in my right ring finger, then when that went away I got swelling in my right thumb. I would try to get in to see a rhuematologist ASAP, since if you have swelling and pain you could also be having damage to your bones. When I first experienced pain, stiffness, swelling in my right wrist, I went to the ER due to the severity of the pain and had an x-ray. At that time only inflammation in the joint was present. I got diagnosed with tendonitis.
This misdiagnosis set me back for a long time because I treated it the way it is reccomended to treat tendonitis. However, while I was waiting for the "tendonitis" to go away, the inflammation was destroying my carpal bones. After looking for a good second opinion, I'm now seeing an excellent GP who sent me for an MRI immedietly, without which they never would have seen the erosion in my carpals. I am now also under the care of a Rhuematologist as well as a hand specialist.
I highly reccomend you try to get a referral to a Rhuematologist, and a hand specialist. A rhuematologist will be able to prescribe you stronger, more effective drugs. Naproxen is just an NSAID, if it turns out you have a type of inflammatory arthritis then you may need drugs such as disease-modifying anti-rhuematic drugs, like hydroxychloroquine, methotrexate, sulfasalazine, &c.
I found in my case that naproxen alone wasn't enough to deal with the pain, so far the only thing working for me is prednisone.
I started to teach myself the piano a few months ago. The mobility and flexibility in my right hand was damaged by the inflammation (muscule atrophy, contraction, &c), but it's been improved by playing the piano.
Keeping your hand moving is better for arthritis. It's very hard to do if you're in a lot of pain like I was, but if the naproxen is relieving some of your pain then when it's feeling better play the piano. It's important to keep your strength up because it will lead to less pain. This I'm finding now myself.
hey so i got rhumetoid arthritis when i was 18 im now 21 and when i first got it i was in severe pain and was only told to take tylenol then naproxen. It is ridiculous to give such light painkillers when your going through so much. Because it is only your hands ask for corticose injections in your hands beleive me it will help tremendously. Also maybe a low dosage of prednisone. I am very young and i have gotten corticose shots in both my hands and wrists due to pain and also my ankles and it makes alllllll the difference.
wish you luck