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    Old 05-09-2005, 01:20 PM   #1
    South656
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    Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Hi Everyone, I am trying to find out more information on what is going on with me. I will start from the beginning I guess. About a month ago, I had delveloped "cellulitis" which are dime sized lumps that ususally develop in the legs and is caused by a breakage in the cell wall, from what my doctor tells me. She gave me some anitbiotics to take and they cleared up and went away in about 10 days. Since then, I have noticed that I have been having some EXTREME joint pains. The pain first began in my left knee which is where my largest lump started. It was to the point, I couldn't put on shoes and socks without experiencing some INTENSE pain. I went and saw my doctor again and she perscribed me some prednisone for the pain and swelling. This help tremendously. She also ran some blood work and found that my ANA came back positive at 1:40. Also, my results stated that I have a high risk for inflamation as well. She then refered me to a rheumatologist. In the meantime, while waiting on my appt with the rheumy, the pain seemed to shift from my knee to my ankles. The pain got so bad, I had to call my doc and get some medication for the pain. When I finally got to see the rheumatologist, he screened me extensively for everything. I had x-rays taken of my feet, as well as extensive blood work taken. I was told that I have an auto-immune disorder and that my white blood cells rather than fighting off bacteria and infections, tend to mistake my own tissues and cells for bacteria and weaken my immune system.

    The rheumatologist informed me that I have a hypo thyroid problem as well. Which caused weight gain and abnormal cycles and things, all of which I have experienced over time. Since I visited the rhematologist, the swelling in my ankles has increased tremendously and has become numb and cold around the ends of my feet and HOT around my joints and ankle bones. Just last week, I was experiencing hot/cold flashes to where my teeth even began chattering and my foot began to tingle and feel like it was stinging. I went back to my doctor and she had never seen anything like it before she said. She was very concerned but did not know exactly how to handle it. She put me on more prednisone and ordered me to take some biaxin and since the swelling has gone down a lot but it is not bruising really bad. I went to the hospital last week also, doctors orders, to take an ultrasound of my veins to make sure that there was no clotting, and there didn't seem to be.

    I am a 23 year old female and am not sure why this is all happening to me. I just want to know what is wrong with me and prevent any more pains of this kind. It is terrible. To me this sounds like RA, I have atleast 4 of the symtoms it takes to be diagnosed with RA, so that is what I believe it is. I have read a few things on lupus, but am not sure whether it could be that or not.

    If anyone has any ideas, or has experienced any of these symtoms, please feel free to comment and share your much appreciated knowledge on this!

    Thanks and have a great day!

     
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    Old 05-11-2005, 03:18 AM   #2
    teachergirl64
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    Re: Rheumatoid Arthritis

    It sounds like you definitely have something autoimmune going on, but RA isn't the only "lovely" that causes joint pain. If you have good insurance, I'd asked the rheumatologist to run a full lupus panel and antibody tests for Sjogren's syndrome. You didn't say if your doctor had checked your rheumatoid factor. A definitive diagnosis is sometime years in the making so don't give up in frustration. You are on the right track and make sure you get a copy of every lab and put it in a file. It sure helps you keep up with what is going on and makes them readily available for other doctors to see if you need them.

    The ACR's traditional criteria for diagnosis RA are as follows:1. Morning stiffness > 1 hour.
    2. Arthritis of 3 or more of the following joints: left or right PIP, MCP, wrist, elbow, knee, ankle, and MTP joints.
    3. Arthritis of the wrist, PIP or MCP joint.
    4. Symmetrical involvement of joints.
    5. Rheumatoid nodules over bony prominences or extensor surfaces, or in justaarticular regions.
    6. Positive RF factor.
    7. Radiologic changes including erosions or bony decalcification located in or adjacent to the involved joints.

     
    Old 05-11-2005, 06:02 AM   #3
    South656
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    Re: Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Thanks for your comment Teacher Girl. My doc did actually test for RA factor and it came out negative. So I am not sure what it is that is going on with me anymore? Seem's like no one, no doctor can pin point what the problem is and it is very frustrating. At this point, I just want to know SOMETHING even if it happens to be bad news, like lupus or something. U know? That is a very good idea about keeping all of my records and things that have been done on me in a file in case. I will definately do that. Thanks again for your help with this! I'll be sure to let you know the outcome next week when I go back for a possible diagnosis after the blood work has been broken down. Thanks!

     
    Old 05-11-2005, 07:19 AM   #4
    Donte
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    Re: Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Hi South656 - hope you're feeling better today - You only need to have 4 of the criteria. You can still have RA without a positive RF. I definitely have RA. I have arthritis in the wrists, fingers, elbows, ankles, toes and sometimes the knees; the morning stiffness which for me is more like the all day stiffness; and the MRI of the wrists and hands show erosions from RA. But, I've never had a positive RF. I've had a positive ANA up to 1:160 (which is now negative). My doc thinks I have RA and lupus because I have a lot of lupus symptoms too. I also have had hypothyroidism for about 10 years (taking Synthroid).

    I started Plaquenil over two years ago and until about six months ago, it worked wonderfully for me. But, my pain and stiffness came back with a vengeance, so now I've been taking Methotrexate with the Plaquenil for the last six weeks and I am finally getting some relief again. I hope it lasts!

    I guess the point I'm trying to make by telling you all this is that even if they don't know whether it's lupus or RA, they should at least give you a prescription of Plaquenil. The treatment is pretty much the same for both and it should help you tremendously.

    Good luck and please keep us informed on your diagnosis and treatment.

     
    Old 05-11-2005, 07:58 AM   #5
    South656
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    Re: Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Hi Donte- thanks for getting back with me on my problem. I need all the help and advise I can get right now. Waiting is the worst part I think. Not knowing...kinda scary. I will definately keep the Plaquenil in mind and mention it to my Rheumatologist next time I see him. I read up about it and it seems to be similar to what I am taking now. I am on biaxin and prednisone (for swelling and inflammation). My family doctor just recently prescribed me some synthroid also for my hypothyroid issue. Eventhough my swelling and pain have definately improved, I believe the prednisone is causing some type of reaction for me. My face gets really flushed, hot and red all over. This just started happening yesterday, so I am assuming that it is just starting to really kick in, that is why I am experiencing the side effects. No sure. But I will definately keep you posted on the outcome and my diagnosis. Thanks so much for your comments, they are greatly appreciated!

     
    Old 05-11-2005, 01:53 PM   #6
    Donte
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    Re: Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Yes, the Prednisone being a steroid will make you feel funny at times. I had a hard time breathing taking it. I didn't like that at all. Luckily, I didn't have to take it very long before the Plaquenil kicked in. The Plaquenil is what they call a disease modifying agent. It will slow the process of the disease, but will not reverse any damage or anything like that. What are you taking the Biaxin for? Does your doctor think you may have some kind of infection as well? You may be having a reaction to that as well. I cannot take Biaxin; I have had a bad reaction to it in the past such as flushing and feeling faint and very nauseous.

    I know it's super hard to wait to find out what's wrong. It is a scary thing to hear that you have lupus or RA. You have this insecure feeling like you don't know what your future will hold now. I understand. Hang in there...

    P.S. - do you have terrible fatigue too?

     
    Old 05-11-2005, 05:00 PM   #7
    South656
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    Re: Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Hi Donte-

    Yes, I do feel tired a lot. I have an hour and a half commute to work every morning and I do find myself falling asleep and being very fatiqued at times. But it may just be b/c of the drive time. I am not sure. But today more than usual, I feel like my foot is beginning to swell up again. My rheumatologist instructed me to take only a half a pill twice a day b/c he didn't want to risk the side effects it may cause me and since I have reduced the dosage I have felt like it is coming back. So it may be what is in fact helping me more than anything. My doc perscribed me biaxin b/c she thinks this is stemming from a bacterial infection and she wants to try and clear up any unecessary problems. I think I am just going to start back taking the normal dosage of 2 pills a day like my family doctor originally told me to take. I don't want to relapse anything I don't have to. Thanks for your reply. I'll keep ya posted.
    Hope your doing well...

    South656

     
    Old 05-11-2005, 05:13 PM   #8
    gramhasit
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    Question Re: Rheumatoid Arthritis

    I read these boards every night to see if I can get any insight to RA and have a few questions. My 72 year old mother was recently diagnosed and has a "flare" since November. Fact: She too has Hypothyroidism. Question: Does the synthroid help the RA symptoms any? Fact:She is on Prednisone 20mg qd, Plaquenil and Methotrexate. Question: Has anyone ever heard of "steroid" crisis? If she misses her steroid dose she gets all shaky, cold and weak. It is VERY strange. Do any of these medications cause a salty taste to food?

    Thanks for any input....anything will help, it has been a long 6 months!

     
    Old 05-11-2005, 05:33 PM   #9
    teachergirl64
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    Re: Rheumatoid Arthritis

    I can't help you with the synthyroid question. Sorry....

    Quote:
    Question: Has anyone ever heard of "steroid" crisis? If she misses her steroid dose she gets all shaky, cold and weak.
    It's very important that she NOT miss her dose of steroids. Once you start taking it regularly, your body quits making it and depends on the pill. You can't live without that hormone. That's why you have to taper off when you are getting off of them. You just can't quit cold turkey.

     
    Old 05-12-2005, 07:27 AM   #10
    Donte
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    Re: Rheumatoid Arthritis

    gramhasit - In answer to your question whether or not Synthroid helps RA symptoms, in my personal experience, the answer is no. I took Synthroid long before I ever experienced any RA symptoms. I agree that she could feel shaky if she misses a dose of steroid. Steroids are definitely no fun to take. I would ask her doctor if she could start weaning off of it since she's taking the Metho and Plaquenil. One of the benefits of taking Metho and Plaquenil are to avoid having to take steroids. Good luck.

    South656 - Well, one good thing by taking the antibiotic is that by the time you finish your dosage, you'll know if it's because of an infection or not. If you're still having symptoms then it's probably not an infection. RA and lupus can cause extreme fatigue. There are some days when I just can't function; although those days are few since I've been on the Metho.

     
    Old 05-12-2005, 10:01 AM   #11
    South656
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    Wink Re: Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Donte
    gramhasit - In answer to your question whether or not Synthroid helps RA symptoms, in my personal experience, the answer is no. I took Synthroid long before I ever experienced any RA symptoms. I agree that she could feel shaky if she misses a dose of steroid. Steroids are definitely no fun to take. I would ask her doctor if she could start weaning off of it since she's taking the Metho and Plaquenil. One of the benefits of taking Metho and Plaquenil are to avoid having to take steroids. Good luck.

    South656 - Well, one good thing by taking the antibiotic is that by the time you finish your dosage, you'll know if it's because of an infection or not. If you're still having symptoms then it's probably not an infection. RA and lupus can cause extreme fatigue. There are some days when I just can't function; although those days are few since I've been on the Metho.
    Donte- Yeah I think your right about the antibiotic. I am actually starting to feel much better lately. Stiffness and pain has lessened a lot! I skipped my dosage of prednisone last night b/c I didn't like the side effects it was causing me, but after a few hours I started feeling bad again...my foot felt stiff and tight again. So, I went back to taking the normal 2 a day dosage until I go back to the doc next week to find out my results.

     
    Old 05-12-2005, 08:53 PM   #12
    teachergirl64
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    Re: Rheumatoid Arthritis

    I asked my PCP why my joint pain was so much better when I was on antibiotics (thinking I wanted to try antibiotic therapy) and he said most antibiotics contain an anti-inflammatory property.

     
    Old 05-13-2005, 09:22 AM   #13
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    Re: Rheumatoid Arthritis

    South -
    Not to try to explain away all your symptoms, but you are where I was last year. Until I finally got my hypothyroid diagnosis. Almost all of your symptoms could be attributed to low thyroid production (except the ANA). My joints and muscles feel so much better now and I no longer have any sensations/tinglings/numbness. HypoT can cause neuropathies too.
    Check out the thyroid board and see the lot of symptoms it can cause. As long as you take your synthroid on time every day - you will feel better in a few weeks.
    Just trying to help....
    hrtofluv

     
    Old 05-13-2005, 10:36 AM   #14
    Donte
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    Re: Rheumatoid Arthritis

    South656 - Although your thyroid problems can cause some of these symptoms, as hrtofluv said, it does not cause a positive ANA and one other interesting thing to note is that people with lupus tend to have thyroid problems as well. That's one of the reasons why lupus is so difficult to diagnose and is called "the great imitator", because it mimics so many other diseases. Your thyroid could be the sole cause of your problems, but then you still have the positive ANA, which needs to be addressed if your problems don't go away with thyroid treatment. As I said earlier, when I was first diagnosed with hypothyroid, I had no lupus/RA symptoms, other than fatigue, which was thought to be because of the hypothyroidism. I got worse over the years even taking the thyroid medicine and started having the joint pain, rashes, swelling, positive ANA, etc. Now that I've waited so long, I have erosions that show up on the MRI of my hands and wrists.

    Your doctor should know the next step for you. It's important to tell him the whole history from your very first symptom/problem so he can try and accurately diagnose you. It could possibly be that you have more than one thing going on. If you don't feel that your doctor is being aggressive enough in treating your symptoms, find another one until you are satisfied.

    Good luck!

     
    Old 05-16-2005, 06:28 AM   #15
    South656
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    Smile Re: Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Thanks guys for all your comments! It helps a lot hearing about other people's symptoms and how they deal with it. Makes me feel like I'm not the only one. Well I'm feeling better than ever lately since I've been on the thyroid meds aswell as the antibiotics and prednisone. So, something must be working for me. Today is the last day of my prednisone, so I hope my body doesn't react weird when I stop taking it. I go back to my rheumatologist tomorrow for my review and I get my blood test and x-ray results back. So I am anxious to find out what all started this whole thing and if it was all related to the thyroid problem. I'll be sure to let you know once I find out my results. Thank you guys for keeping me sane during this long week of waiting on test results and lab work to come back. Helps just knowing other people have been through what you are going through and can guide you in the right direction. So I really do appreciate all the advice. Talk to you all soon.

    Take Care,
    ~South

     
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