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Old 03-20-2011, 10:24 PM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Gainesville, FL, USA
Posts: 31
Breadbird HB User
Question First Rheumatologist appointment: what should I expect/ask?

I am 26 but have suffered with chronic pain for 5-10 years but have never ask a doctor about it until two weeks ago. My doctor thinks I may have rheumatoid arthritis but said i was not a definite case. He referred me to a Rheumatologist which I go to see for the first time later today.
My GP already had some lab work done: hand x-rays and blood test to check for rheumatoid factor. Both test were "normal" which I'm assuming means there were no signs of RA on the x-rays and I don't have rheumatoid factor. I will clarify this with the rheumatologist.
I was not convinced that I have RA before the inconclusive lab results. I think that if I don't have RA I may have fibromyalgia (or both if I do have RA). But I know fibro is extremely difficult to diagnose and there are no lab teat that can be done for it.
Here are my symptoms and the reasons I'm not sure it is RA. I have had pain and stiffness in my finger joints and one toe at least since I was 16, possibly farther back than that. I also have constant pain in my shoulders that keeps me up at night, this has been going on for at least the past 6 years. I have mire minor and less constant pain in my lower back, hips, upper arms, and occasionally my legs, particularly the ankle area. I also have a lot of nerve issues especially in my lower arms and lower legs (wrist and ankle area) I'm pretty sure I have RLS but have never been diagnosed. I have occasional tingling and muscle spasms in various parts of my body. I also get optical migraines at least once a month and a lesser headache at least once a week.
Many of these things could be either fibro or RA. I also have some other non-pain related symptoms that have been connected with fibro but could just as well have no relation to my other symptoms. I also have scoliosis and carpel tunnel which I'm sure contribute to some of my pain and discomfort but not all of it.
I doubt RA because I have never had swelling, tenderness, or warmth in my joints and the only thing that has been debilitating is the carpel tunnel. But I do have an extensive family history of RA. I have been doing a lot of research on RA and fibro and have learned that fibro is often mistakenly diagnosed as
RA. I want to make sure I get the right diagnoses but want to know what I can do to help the doctor(s) figure it out.
I have some idea of the kinds of test a rheumatologist will do (or is suppose to do). But I do not know what questions I should ask.
Please help me.


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