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Arthritis and Rheumatism

This may not be the right place to ask this..

04/16/2009

Question:

I am a 30 year old woman with wandering joint pain. I have been dealing with this since I was 20 years old. When I was pregnant with my son, suddenly I`d wake up and one of my shoulders (it affects both) was so painful I couldn`t raise my arm at all. The doctor labeled it bursitis, gave me a sling and called it a day.

As the years have gone by, it`s only gotten worse. However, it`s moved to various joints, to include my knees, my elbows, my thumbs, my wrists and my foot. When I`d finally had enough, I went to my doctor, a joint in my foot painful, swollen and red. The performed a painful draining to rule out gout, as well as blood tests to rule out rheumatoid arthritis, lyme disease and lupus. Ten years later, the pain is still unexplained.

The frequency with which a joint will become painful has increased over the years, to the point where sometimes I feel much older than 30, walking with a limp because I woke up with my knee in pain, etc. Additionally, I am starting to grow concerned about my overall health. This past year, I`ve been sick more than the last ten years combined, having bronchitis and strep currently (my last bout of bronchitis was six months ago). In addition to the bronchitis I currently have, I am dizzy. Not dizzy when I cough, but dizzy when I stand, dizzy when I lay down, dizzy when I sit. I honestly feel like I have been drinking, when I haven`t had anything, to include cough syrup.

Despite being intimate with just five men in my life and always been careful, never having one-night stands, etc., I actually went and was tested for HIV, concerned that my immune system wasn`t behaving itself. Negative.

My doctor referred me to a Rheumatologist for the joint issues I`d been having, but he told me to come back when my joints are actually in pain/swollen. The only problem is that I need a referral every time I see a specialist with my health insurance and the Rheumatologist has been backed up every time I called. Additionally, I don`t want to take more time off of work.

I know that no one can diagnose me over the internet, but does anyone have any ideas of what could possibly be wrong with me that I haven`t already been tested for? I feel like this is worsening with age and, at this rate, I`ll be wheelchair-bound by 50. Please. Any advice you can give would be appreciated.

Answer:

Thank you for visiting NetWellness. On this site, we try to answer general questions about health but cannot diagnose or recommend treatment.

Between now and your next visit with your Rheumatologist, there are several historical features that you may want to consider and share with your physician:

1. Do you have psoriasis or a skin rash that could be psoriasis?
2. Do you have pits in your nails?
3. Have you ever had an inflammatory eye disease (e.g., uveitis)
4. Have you had daily low back stiffness for 6 months?
5. If so, how long does it take to 'loosen up' your back upon awakening?

For more information:

Go to the Arthritis and Rheumatism health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Raymond  Hong, MD, MBA, FACR Raymond Hong, MD, MBA, FACR
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University