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Opinions, please help?!
An_241274 posted:
So for about 3-4 weeks now, I have been having a lot of pain in my finger and toe joints. It's mainly in the knuckles of my fingers, but sometimes in my hand, too. And my toes hurt, mostly the big toe. Occasionally bigger joints will ache, like knees, etc. I have been taking 800 mg. ibuprofen two times a day and 1000 mg tylenol in between, without much relief. I usually wake up a bit stiff and the pain is throughout the day, worse at times. I am due for my yearly physical on Monday and called my PCP to let them know what was going on. Along with my normal blood work, they are also now going to check an ANA, Rheumatoid Factor, Lymes, etc. I have not been exposed to any illnesses, etc that I am aware of. I am otherwise a fatigued, healthy 29 year old.

Does this sound like RA to anyone? I know everyone's experiences are different. I'm scared to find out it's something, but don't want it to be "nothing" either because this pain sucks

Deni37 responded:
Hi there! Please see my post below yours regarding "undifferentiated arthritis" to see a (too long) explanation about what I've been going through over the past year and a half because, like you, my symmetrical polyarthritis came on suddenly and the pain, stiffness, and swelling was not responding well to prescription NSAIDs (Naproxen) that my Primary Care Manager put me on for 6 weeks. she ran the initial bloodwork for RA markers and Lyme disease, which all came back negative. She was reluctant to refer me to a Rheumatologist, but I returned to her office weeks late with painful, stiff, and swollen fingers and I insisted on getting a referral to a Rheumatologist because I knew something was definitely wrong with me. I had been healthy my entire life and never had that type of pain in my fingers, hands, wrists, toes, and feet. I also knew it was NOT caused my any overuse or sports injury! I got the referral and you will see by my "story" that my 1st & 2nd (current) Rheumatologists have told me I have an "undifferentiated" arthritis, meaning they aren't sure from which connective tissue disease, but mst Ikely seronegative RA or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. As you will see from my "story", I haven't had much evidence from my bloodwork to dat to help prove which disease I truly have, as a highly positive ANA (1:640) could be due to SLE, RA, or other CTDs. But that ANA combined with my clinical signs & symptoms of inflammatory arthritis was key to me being treated from Aug 2010 to present. It's taken a lot of time & patience to find the right combo of meds to relieve my pain, stiffness, and swelling, but we are pretty close to being there. I never would have the minimal pain and full functionality of my fingers, hands, and wrists without the expert care of my dedicated Rheumatologists who took my signs/symptoms and personal medical history and complaints seriously and treated me accordingly. Please insist on a referral to a Rheumatologist regardless of what your bloodwork shows. Sometimes, as in my case, these chronic, systemic, autoimmune, connective tissue diseases take time to figure out, which can be very frustrating.... But good Rheumatologists will try hard to do that, and, moe importantly, treat your symptoms & complaints to get you felling better again. You are ultimately the one who will have to decide which medications you are willing to try, based on the risk:benefits of each of them. I have been on quite the assortment, when I was formerly someone who never took any meds other than an occasional ibuprofen pill and vitamins. It has been difficult adjusting to my new "normal" which includes taking at least 8 Rx meds each day now, but I know that we didn't get here overnight, and this combo of meds is what is working best at this point in my disease to best control the pain, stiffness, and swelling. please make sure that your Doctors take the pain factor seriously too; even without observable stiffness and swelling, the joint, tendon, and muscle pain associated with these CTDs can be disabling, and the pain can be alleviated with the right combination of meds. I am finally down to a 1 or 2 on the "pain scale" (1 to 10, where 10 is the worst) from an 8 a year ago, but it has taken much patience & perseverance on my part. Lastly, besides doing your own research into these CTDs, please seek a support group in your area as soon as you have any clue as to what you might have. The Arthritis and Lupus Foundations have a wealth of useful information and support groups that can greatly assist you. I attend my local Lupus Support Group even though I may have RA vs SLE; they still have a lot in common either way when it comes to battling chronic pain & fatigue, especially with these "invisible" systemic, chronic diseases. Keep the faith, take it one day at a time, and remember that you are not alone in your journey. good luck with your Doctor and remember to get a referral to a Rheumatologist no matter what!
Marzipana responded:
Your symptoms do seem like they might be some kind of arthritis...but you will really need to be tested and examined to confirm.

Don't be scared---getting a diagnosis is the first step to figuring out what's wrong and getting treatment, which will hopefully stop the pain, or make it manageable!

I had finger and hand pain, and put off seeing a rheumatologist for some time (this is kind of a typical story!) but I finally did, got a diagnosis, and started a medication. It's only been three months, but I am significantly improved, with very little pain and swelling at this point.

Good luck---my advice is, if your PCP suspects any type of arthritis, get a referral to a rheumatologist. They are specialists and up to speed on the latest research, treatments, etc.

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