Last year, I woke up one morning and realized my hands were swollen and painful. My primary doctor ran some labs and my RA factor came back slightly elevated at 18. I was referred to rheumatology. A year later and multiple lab tests later, my RA remains slightly elevated, now in the 20s. My ANA, ESR, CCP, and CRP are all negative. My rheumatologist still thinks I have RA despite this. I’m really hesitant to take the drugs as I’m very scared of the side effects. I’m even more hesitant because I’m not confident in the diagnosis of RA because my labs are negative. My dr diagnosed me based on the following symptoms: family history (parent and sibling) of autoimmune diseases, morning weakness/stiffness, very weak grip, especially in the mornings. Finger pain in both hands. Extreme fatigue some/most days. I have chronic microcytic anemia, Reynauds, dry eyes, and neck/shoulder pain. I keep reading stories from people who have RA and they way they describe their pain is not how I describe mine. My pain is manageable, my finger pain is more “throbbing” in nature and I have no swollen joints. My hand grip definitely feels weak though, and it’s difficult for me to make a tight fist, especially in the morning.
I don’t take any medication at this time. I do have pain throughout the day but it doesn’t debilitate me in any way. I have no nodules or any physical characteristics of RA.
I’ve been prescribed plaquenil. Should I wait until the disease progresses more before I take it? My doctor thinks I should start it now before it progresses, but I worry that I may not have RA and may do more damage to my body if it’s a wrong diagnosis. Again, the pain is not that bad and manageable. The initial swelling I had last year lasted about a week and then went away, never came back.
Does anyone have a story like mine? Who has taken plaquenil and what kind of side effects do you have? My dose is only 200mg once a day. I’m 35 and thin. Thanks!