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Autoimmune disease

What were your early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis?

21 replies

Pythone · 20/02/2018 07:49

I'm going to the GP tomorrow and I'm nervous. The symptoms I have are:

  • Trigger finger in both ring fingers - I wake up in the night with my hands clenched into fists and have to "unsnap" these fingers
  • Noticeably swollen joints on my third and ring fingers, esp on the right
  • Yesterday I noticed I couldn't make a fist with my right hand (this is what prompted me to make the appointment); I can't now, and trying to causes pain
  • Increased tiredness and intermittently feeling feverish


I've had problems with dry skin on my hands in winter for years, so I just put down the swelling and stiffness I've had over the past few weeks to that. I also have ongoing effects from a serious illness which include fatigue, so I thought the increased tiredness was because of that.

Does any of this sound familiar? Thank you.
OP posts:
Pythone · 20/02/2018 07:54

Just to clarify - it's the lower finger joints that are swollen, not the distal ones.

OP posts:
ImListening · 20/02/2018 07:58

Hi I got diagnosed about 10 years ago but feel I’ve had it for much longer if that makes sense as things that used to bother me before - aches, chest pains sort of went once I was on medication. However I was seeing them for another autoimmune disorder & for me it was oh I also have this this & this that the blood test for RA were done. Dry skin & eyes is also Sjogrens which I also have.

Medication - I’ve had 3 different ones- seems to have settled it a bit more now but obviously I have flares.

Also know your triggers. For me no gluten, not going out in the cold unless I have to, dressing up warm & heated blankets mean I can function. Also listen to your body - if it doesn’t want to work that day it won’t! Well at least not for me.

Good luck.

PoppyStellar · 20/02/2018 08:22

Am not a doctor but it all sounds highly probable for some type of arthritis. If you have skin problems as well as swollen joints it could be psoriatic arthritis (PA). If your rheumatoid arthritis blood test comes back normal it might be PA as PA doesn’t show up on this blood test.

The good news is that there are lots of really good drugs for all types of auto immune arthritic conditions now which can help to keep the conditions under control (I should know, i’ve tried most of them!)

Best of luck getting it sorted.

Fintress · 20/02/2018 08:44

I have RA but it was an acute onset, I had no symptoms beforehand. However with RA the joints tend to get red and feel hot as well as being swollen. As Poppy said there are a lot of great treatments available. Hopefully for you it's not RA. You can still have RA with a negative blood result (seronegative). Good luck Flowers.

Pythone · 20/02/2018 08:55

Thank you everyone.

I don't have psoriasis, so I'm hoping it won't be PA. I'll update after I've been to the doctor.

OP posts:
Pythone · 21/02/2018 16:06

Quick update - I'm having a blood test and am going to be referred to a rheumatologist. Fingers crossed! (or not, as the case may be...)

OP posts:
ImListening · 21/02/2018 18:46

Good luck. It’s better to know than be worrying about it all!

Pythone · 21/02/2018 19:05

Thank you! I'm really glad that the doctor took it seriously and didn't just send me home with paracetamol!

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Fintress · 21/02/2018 19:12

That's good news you have been referred, hope you get a quick appointment Flowers.

Pythone · 21/02/2018 20:56

Thanks! He said it shouldn't be too long. It feels like the pains are spreading more every day.

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Fintress · 21/02/2018 23:16

Get a wheatbag if you don't have one. They are good for easing aches and pains, especially for your hands when you wake up.

Pythone · 22/02/2018 11:04

Thanks, I will get one! Hot water helps my hands, BUT it makes the dry skin worse, so it's a bit of a catch-22!

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DreamingofSunshine · 25/02/2018 06:43

I put a very moisturising hand cream on before the wheatbag.

I was diagnosed with RA last month, sero-negative. It's tough but I'm starting to feel better from the drugs already.

MaureenMLove · 25/02/2018 14:03

I kept going to the doctors with what I thought was tennis elbow, followed by frozen shoulder, followed by carpal tunnel and then he decided a blood test and rheumatoid appointment.

It is RA. Started taking hydroxychloroquine on 20th December and haven't had a major flare in my hands since. My feet have joined the party now though and they are dreadful at the moment.

Got an ultrasound next Friday for hands and feet and then they'll decide if I need methotrexate as well.

Can't say I seem to have any particular triggers. Makes no difference whether I'm out in the cold or eat certain things. I had a lovely relaxing weekend last weekend. Stayed in the whole time in the warm. Dozed on the sofa and ate lovely food by my DH. Woke up Monday morning and wondered what I'd done in my sleep to give me a sprained ankle. I literally couldn't put any weight on it at all. Sad

MaureenMLove · 25/02/2018 14:06

Oh yes and hot for me too. They say hot or cold on affected joints, but the thought of cold fills me with dread. Strangely, if I get a flare in my hands, I do the washing up! Bit of a mini hydrotherapy session helps a lot.

Fintress · 25/02/2018 14:35

Hope the meds control it well for you Dreaming and Maureen. It's a bloody hideous condition. I don't have any triggers at all, nothing seems to exacerbate it and I've had it long enough to find out. Thankfully mine is under control and has been for a long time and I lead a pretty normal, active lifestyle. I have had 2 knee replacements at a fairly young age though, best thing I ever did.

Pythone · 25/02/2018 18:52

Oh yes ImListening, I forgot to say in my update that the doctor said that quite a few things I've had in the past or get from time to time are probably related to the autoimmune issue! In a way it's nice to know that there is a reason behind seemingly random health issues.

Like you MaureenMLove, I thought that my various joint pain issues were due to other things - overuse or just getting older (I'm in my 30s, though, so hopefully not at that point yet!), and dismissed them as something I'd just have to live with until the weird stuff started with my hands.

DreamingofSunshine - I'm glad to hear the medication is working for you! How were you diagnosed? My blood test results aren't back yet, but I'm hoping that if it is RA then it's seropositive, just so I know for certain - unless there's another test they can do for seronegative?

I accidentally overdid it yesterday - nothing too strenuous, just a day out with a friend, but I woke up this morning in pain and had to go back to bed for 3 hours!

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MaureenMLove · 28/02/2018 17:30

I've only had to go back to bed once thankfully and I think that was more because I'd been awake nearly all night with a severe flare in my shoulder. I did make the effort to go to work, but bailed out after an hour.

My feet are bloody sore today. Quite greatful, that I got a work snow day, so I didn't need to put shoes or boots on.

Got an appointment for ultra sound on my hands and feet next Friday, so we can see how bad it is. I don't look physically swollen, but the US will see what's going on. Possibly moving on to methotrexate next month.

ImListening · 28/02/2018 17:34

Just a warning - I found the side effects for methotrexate to be completely vile. I put up with It for 5 years till I said enough! If you can’t cope with it after a couple of years insist on changing

MaureenMLove · 28/02/2018 17:50

Thanks. I'll certainly bear that in mind. I guess because I only started medication in December, it's a waiting game to see what combination works best. So far, the hydroxychloroquine has been great on the top half of my body weirdly, but not the bottom half.

My friend however, who was on it was fine for ages, suddenly started coming out in a rash when she went out in the sun. She's on salazaparine and methlytrexate now. Haven't heard of salazaparine yet.

MaureenMLove · 28/02/2018 17:55

So, just checked that one out and it's called salazopyrin. Her spelling was wrong!

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