OA vs RA do I have the right diagnosis?

twinkerton01 Member Posts: 4
edited 27. Apr 2014, 17:32 in Living with Arthritis archive

I have on going issues with back and joint pain since I was a teenager. I am now in my early 30's.

About 7 years ago I had a bad fall and when I was xrayed and then MRI scanned it became apparent that as well as having damage from my fall, I also had degenerative disc disease. I was in my early twenties when this was diagnosed. I had some physio and hydro therapy and then was discharged.

Since then I have had re occurrence of back pain, and mainly managed it through having therapies such as shiatsu and acupuncture and using pain killers prescribed by my GP.

Two years ago I had a flare up in my back pain and also had issues with my hands and my feet, i was experiencing aching, tingling and numbness I was checked for MS, and then they checked me for Rheumatoid arthritis.

I had blood tests done, but the rheumatoid consultant said that I didn't have a positive rheumatoid factor. i was seen by a pain consultant who said I had chronic pain and Osteo Arthritis and prescribed me gabapentin and amertriptolyne, both of which I've not had much joy with as on going pain killers.

Since my visit to the Pain Consultant I've had re-occurring flare ups of back pain, which usually also coincides with pain in my fingers, and feet. I also get knee ache but only in one knee.

When I have a flare up the pain is achey, I feel nauseous with the pain and I feel exhausted by it. When it happens it wipes me out, its usually alot worse in the evenings.

I find that hot baths, and hot waterbottles and heat bean bags help to alleviate the aching. Also Naproxen and Tremadol help the pain levels.

I would say that I have back ache pain every day, but during a flare up the pain is alot worse and I am effected in other area's of my body such as my hands, and for instance I am very pain sensitive, I could not have a massage as it would be to painful, I also find hugs or back rubbing painful.

I'm not sure if my symptoms are just those of Osteoathritus or if there is something more going on, should I ask to be seen again by a consultant?

It took me 12 months the last time I went through the system to be seen by neurology and then rhuematology and then the pain clinic, and finally I was just told that it was just osteoarthritis and all i could do was take pain killers and do mindful meditation.

I don't know if I should be asked to be seen again or if I'll just be told there's nothing else they can do.

I would really appreciate any thoughts or advice.



  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello, we're not docs so can't answer your question but we can relate our experiences or trying to be diagnosed: for some of us it takes far too much time.

    I empathise with you because I went for five years without treatment and it wasn't fun. From my experience the achy and exhausted feeling is reminiscent of an auto-immune arthritis flaring but one of the troubles with an auto-immune arthritis is that there are close on 200 kinds - it can take time to track down the culprit. I have a sero-negative form of auto-immune, psoriatic arthritis (PsA) which began in my left knee - now it's fairly widespread and OA has joined in thanks to the joint damage the PsA caused. I began in 1997 but it wasn't until 2006 that the PsA diagnosis was given - until then I had the umbrella title of 'non-specific inflammatory arthritis'. The label changed but the meds didn't.

    I lost a year being bounced between rheumatology and orthopaedics because nobody knew what was going on. The first rheumatologist I saw was adamant that I did not have inflammatory arthritis - at this time my left knee was around 22" in circumference, when I returned to see another rheumatologist a year later it was 27". He grudgingly concluded that I had some form of auto-immune arthritis and I finally began some meds. Far too little far too late for me so you fight your corner, girl, there is something amiss and you must ensure that they listen to you. Does anyone else in your family have a history of auto-immune troubles such as asthma, eczema, psoriasis or RA? DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • barbara12
    barbara12 Member Posts: 21,281
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello and welcome
    I was dignoised4 years ago with OA, like you had negative RA test..and in my early teens had joint probs ...I have OA in my spine fingers foot hips and knee..had one THR....sorry I am going on but your story sounds so much like mine..4 years on I am to see a rheumy next month...I saw one4 years ago that wasn't really interested...what I am saying is how complex Arthritis is..there are a few hundred different types..so if you think there are other things going on ask your GP for a referral...and keep a diary of anything you can think of to show them..I have found that you need to ask for things or they are not mentioned..good luck and let us know how you get on...
  • bubbadog
    bubbadog Member Posts: 5,544
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi & Welcome to the Arthritis Care forum family, we do support and advise where we can, my pain started when I was 12/13 yrs old, my leg just gave way and I just dropped to the floor like a sack of potato's! I was told it was growing pains!! After that I was still getting a lot of pain. My leg gave way one day on the way to work as I was stepping off a curb and I was told I had a ripped my cartilage muscle. I was put in a plaster cast. I tried to carry on working but the pain was to much, I eventually got sacked from my job and I changed G.P she started from square one and sent me for all types of tests. Go forward several years to when I was 25yrs old I was still suffering with horrendous pain and I had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, so my consultant sends me for a bone density scan. The results shocked me & my whole family I had Osteoporosis. Then another few years later I was diagnosed with inflammatory Arthritis in my hands, wrist and now shoulders. What I'm trying to say Twinkle is you could find it takes many years to get a proper Diagnosis and even then you could find other diagnoses being found after that.
  • DebbieT
    DebbieT Member Posts: 1,033
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi & welcome,

    I was diagnosed with both Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) & Osteo Arthritis (OA) aged 37, they'd been having a 'joint party' :wink::lol: Wow, that was a terrible joke!! :roll:

    A couple of years after I'd been diagnosed with the 2 types of arthritis I also had the added pleasure of Fibromyalgia (FM) being added to the mix. They think I'd likely had it for many years but it had become severe & made itself much more well known due to the years of stress & insomnia I'd had.
    I can't help wondering if this could possibly be one of ure culprits. They way uve specifically mentioned not being able to tolerate back rubbing & ure pain sensitivity.
    Do you notice any other sensitivities??
    FM has many symptoms but no one gets them all. Here's a few:

    Muscle & joint pain,
    Insomnia or sleep disturbance,
    Burning or tingling sensations in upper limbs,
    Vision changes,
    IBS (tho a seperate syndrome they can often be linked)
    Brain fog/fibro fog
    Difficulties finding the correct words for objects & places,
    Morning stiffness,
    Headaches & migraines.

    They sound a lot like many auto immune symptoms or just random illnesses don't they?? :shock: Hopefully a gp or Rheumy ought to be able to do a tender point test on you, there are 18 of them & with some careful history as well it's reasonable to think it could be ruled in or out for you.
    I hasten to add I'm not disagreeing with the others, I think you need to stick to ure guns too. U clearly think something else is going on .... U need to know for sure so follow it up. I just think fm ought to be looked at too.

    Good luck & please keep us posted.


    Xx xX
    Healing Hugs
  • trepolpen
    trepolpen Member Posts: 504
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi & welcome to the forum

    as a general rule RA dont affect some joints & your back problems being one of them , but there is other conditions that can cause this other than OA & there are other test they can do , like the HLA-B27 gene so I would ask your GP if they could check it

    the problem with a diagnosis of OA is that they will just give you pain killers & not the drugs to treat an auto-immune condition like Ankylosing spondylitis