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Possible RA, Any advice?

Hi everyone,
At the end of last summer I woke up with stiff, swollen hands in the morning about 4 months after the birth of my daughter. I didn’t think much of it, until it kept coming back in the morning and would feel better after I showered. In October, I saw my PCP and he thought it was hormones and I didn’t think much of it. At the beginning of February, my hands flared to the point that they where so stiff, weak, and swollen I was unable to open a jar. I still was not experiencing much pain at this point. My PCP then ran multiple bloodwork tests and gave me a shot of steroids. My symptoms magically disappeared and once again, he thought it was hormones. My blood work was tested for RF and Sed rate were both negative/normal. I received my first covid vaccine at the beginning on April, and my hands flared again a few days later. This time I have pain/ swelling between the joints of my fingers (I’m guessing it’s a tendon) and in between on my knuckle. I went back to my PCP and of course, more steroids and tests. The steroids did not help as much this time and more blood tests were ordered- CRP, ANA, Lyme, CCP. All have been negative/normal. I received my second vaccine, and now I have joint pain everywhere else (feet, ankles, wrist, knees) one week later and exhausted. I have been referred to a rheumatologist, however they are unable to see me for a month and a half. I am going to try to find something else sooner. I know serronegative arthritis exists and I’m asking if anyone else has had similar symptoms, and any helpful tips for me if I am diagnosed ie food to stay away from, losing weight, medication, exercising? I’m trying to stay positive (but of course, it’s difficult). Thank you!

  1. hi there. Thanks for your note - I imagine this is a bit of a scary time for you with all of the ambiguity about what is causing your symptoms. I know it doesn't change what you're experiencing but I want you to know that your potential RA journey is something that unfortunately is fairly common in the RA community. It can take a while to get a clear diagnosis. It sounds like you're doing everything you need to right now. You asked about if anyone has experienced anything similar - one thread that may be of interest is an ongoing one where community members have discussed any potential link between RA flares and receiving the covid vaccines. https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/forums/covid-vaccine-and-ra-flare Just note that RA treats everyone a little differently so one person's experience might not be yours, but there are some varying perspectives there. I'm also sharing our editorial on RA treatment that you might appreciate! https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/treatment - Reggie (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team Member)

    1. Hi . Sorry you are having these issues and the difficulty getting a proper diagnosis. I don't know if anyone has mentioned to you that, for those susceptible to RA, pregnancy and childbirth can serve as a trigger. This article notes that "Pregnancy floods the body with a number of hormones and chemicals, which can trigger the development of RA in some women. Women who are susceptible to the disease may experience it for the first time immediately after giving birth:" https://www.healthline.com/health/rheumatoid-arthritis/pregnancy#remission. In addition, as you prepare for your first appointment with the rheumatologist, I thought you might be interested in this article from our contributor Tamara on what to expect: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/what-to-expect-at-your-first-rheumatologist-appointment. If you have additional questions this community may be able to help with please don't hesitate to ask. We are here for you. Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

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