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Podiatrist for possible RA?

Hello, I'm new here and have NOT yet had a diagnosis of RA but have symptoms and family history. My worst symptom right now is toe joint pain (bunions, angled toes, calluses). My doctor has referred me to a podiatrist. Is this a good place to start? Would he recognize RA symptoms? When is someone usually referred to a rheumatologist?! Thanks.

  1. Hi Donna,

    I was not referred to a rheumatologist by my family doctor until my fingers and wrists showed symptoms and she ordered blood tests. However, the rheumatologist said my forefeet showed the worst damage from RA on the outside, as well as erosions in the xrays. And in retrospect foot problems were my first symptoms.

    I imagine a podiatrist would recognize symptoms and refer you to a rheumatologist but you might need blood tests first. I don't know if a podiatrist would order those or refer you back to family doctor / GP for the labs. Anyway, I wish you the best in finding answers to your health problems. Being diagnosed was the largest hurdle for me and it took years.


    1. Hi Donna, there are specific diagnostic criteria that doctors use to diagnose RA. You can read about them at this link - Toe pain alone is likely not enough for a diagnosis. If you suspect RA, you can ask your general practitioner about it and share the diagnostic criteria with him/her. Usually a GP will refer but any doctor can also refer. Jane also has some good advice. Hope you get a clear picture of what's going on.

      1. Thank you both for your replies. The diagnostic criteria is VERY helpful!!

        I do have stiffness in my hands/fingers in the morning which gets better shortly after moving. And have regular back/hip/knee pain (I don't know if that's related).

        My first "sign", I guess, would have been Raynaud's syndrome which my PCP confirmed is a possible pre-cursor to RA.

        My father's mother had horrible RA, but so far no one else in my family has any signs.

        Thanks again 😀

        1. Unfortunately, autoimmune diseases are notorious for being difficult to initially diagnose. Symptoms may creep in here and there over many years only to fully reveal itself years later. I hope you get a clear picture of what's going on.

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