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Diagnosis

I'm not convinced…

  • By sarajillianb

    After a year of diagnostic testing, I was finally diagnosed with seronegative rheumatoid arthritis. I was first referred to a rheumatologist after my hands and one elbow were swollen for no apparent reason. My first set of lab work came back with a positive ANA but negative ESR, CRP & RH Factor. In fact for almost 2 years now, everything has been negative except my ANA tests. They’re always positive, homogenous and speckled. My symptoms have been all over the place, changing from day to day. The only constants are that I’m always exhausted and something always hurts. I trust my Rheumatologist, but I have my doubts that we’ve found the problem.

    When I read the symptoms for RA, it makes sense, but when I compare myself to others, I don’t feel like I have RA. My joint pain symptoms are just slightly symmetrical. One side is always worse than the other. Above my waist, my right sided joints are worse than my left, and below my waist, the joints on the left are worse than the right. In every instance of swelling and pain, one side always presents before the other. The onset has never been the same.

    I guess I am just worried that I am taking all of these medications, but the problem is actually something else. For those of you who have had an “unusual” presentation of symptoms, does any of this make sense?

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  • By Mariah Z. Leach Moderator

    Hi Sarajillianb ~

    One of the most difficult things about rheumatoid arthritis is there is no one specific test that will give you a definitive diagnosis. Instead, diagnosing RA is done by a combination of tests, physical exam, and medical history. So it really does come down to your doctor’s professional experience and judgment to make a proper diagnosis.

    Because RA can present in lots of different ways, it also means that there isn’t really a “typical” presentation – other than the general fatigue and joint pain you mention. For most of us, RA is a very unique experience. My RA actually sounds somewhat similar to yours in that it isn’t symmetrical either. My left toes are worse than my right. My right knee is worse than my left. And my right shoulder is worst than my left. The good news is that working with my rheumatologist to find the right combination of treatments for me has led to a major improvement in my symptoms – which will likely be the case for you as well!

    And remember – if you aren’t feeling sure you are always entitled to get a second opinion from another doctor. Often times we need as much information as we can get to make the best decisions for our own bodies.

    Please hang in there and remember that we are here to support you!

    Best,
    ~Mariah~ (Site Moderator)

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  • By sarajillianb

    Thank you so much for your encouraging reply. I apologize for the delay in mine. It makes sense in that nothing is “typical” but it is also really frustrating at the same time. I think that part of my concern may have actually been denial, but over the past few months, I’ve become more accepting. I’ve been reading a lot of medical books and literature. I’ve charted my symptoms, and when I look at the big picture, it pretty obvious that it’s “rheumatoid disease.”

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