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Symmetrical and asymmetrical joint pain and swelling


Looking for a bit of advice and perhaps see if anyone else has experienced similar symptoms.

I was diagnosed with RA 2 years ago but have lived with joint pain for 10.

Currently meds are not working and i have symmetrical joint pain/swelling that travels between hands, feet, knees, wrists etc and often at multiple areas together. Each week is different.

My other symptoms are the ones I have more questions about. My left knee is painful and swollen and my right elbow is similar but with the added restriction of movement, I cannot straighten fully or touch my shoulder. I do often experience joint pain in the other knee or elbow but I would say for the most part the issue is asymmetrical.

Without a daily dose of prednisone my left knee and complete lower left leg and foot is swollen, and my right elbow more swollen and painful to move.

If RA is notably diagnosed as a disease effecting joints of the body in a symmetrical way: Is this generally correct or could my symptoms be from RA. Or if not, what else could be causing the asymmetrical symptoms.

I am struggling to get an appointment with a rheumatologist within 3-4 months (previous one, hospital closed rheumatology department). Any advice or shared experience would be really appreciated.

Thanks so much,

  1. After thirty plus years of RA I can say that in my case, there are no hard and fast rules the RA follows. Pretty much full stop. Every time I think I have discovered something my disease will or won’t do or respond to, within a month it breaks the rule. It’s kind of the hallmark of the illness - its unpredictability. Your illness sounds exactly like mine has been at some points in my illness… er… career? Either way, if I were you I’d keep a symptom journal and then present it to your rheumatologist when you see them next. It will help you remember and you might even notice something you didn’t before. Just remember - you are definitely not alone. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help! Keep on keepin’ on, DPM

    1. I can't offer better insight than Daniel already did, but I want you to know that we're thinking of you, !

      Being in pain just stinks!

      The only advice I would give you is to call that rheumatologist's office and ask to be put on the cancellation list. That way, if someone cancels, you may be able to get in sooner than 3-4 months from now. It requires some flexibility in your schedule, but it can be worth it if it shortens your wait time.

      I hope you can get in and great treatment VERY soon!

      Best, Erin, Team Member.

      1. Hi . Just to follow up on what Daniel was saying about there being no hard and fast rules, I found this research article which found that "Prevalence of asymmetry in joint damage in RA was 13–16%:",to%20symmetrize%20than%20seronegative%20patients. I can also tell you (and your doctor should be able to provide further information about) that symmetry does not mean that what you feel on each side or the damage on each side will be the same. My wife, Kelly Mack (a contributor here), was, like Daniel, diagnosed as a child and has had the disease for decades. The damage is symmetrical in that it is everywhere, but she just had a left shoulder replacement. It was worse than the right. The right ankle has constant pain ... you get the point. Those textbook definitions for RA rarely hold across the board for individual cases. That said, all of this makes for good questions for the rheumatologist in relation to your specific symptoms. Hoping you get some answers and, more importantly, some relief soon. Best, Richard ( Team)

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