Referral to a rheumatologist

Wendywells Member Posts: 4
edited 1. Jun 2014, 19:05 in Say Hello Archive
Hi everyone and happy Easter!

My GP has just referred me to a rheumatologist, i'll give you a brief resume why...

I'm 40 years old and for years I've had achy ankles, knees and wrists/hands and hobbled out of bed and downstairs, taking a while to get going, but put that down to playing netball 3 times a week and being a working mum to 2 teenage boys (I'm a teaching assistant but due to qualify as a real teacher this summer). I've had several netball related injuries over the years - bad grade 3 ankle sprain, wrist sprain, fallen heavily on my elbow, several finger injuries, but have always recovered and just got on with it!

In November last year, I would wake during the night and after napping on the sofa with the most excruciating pain in my right writs that would radiate up my arm. I put up with it - again thinking it was normal for an active person, but ended up going to the GP surgery when we broke from school at Christmas, mainly because my wrist pain was making writing painful at school. I saw a locum doctor who despite my protestations said i'd sprained it and sent me away with anti inflams. As predicted, there was no change so I went back and saw another GP who did the finkelstein (? spelling) test and diagnosed De Quervains tendonitis and tenosynovitis and referred me for physio. The wait was so long for NHS physio that I paid private and saw a therapist for 6 weeks but again no change, so he suggested I went back to the GP. She said that there was nothing further she could do as I needed cortisone injection into the tendon to treat it from the inside, so she referred me to orthopaedics at the hospital. He confirmed the diagnosis and made an appointment for cortisone under ultra sound.

Long story short now - think you might be nodding off - doctor who performed the ultra sound asked me about join pain and said there were several areas of inflammation, actually in both wrists rather than just the one that was causing pain and in his opinion the ultrasound findings suggested that further tests were needed to see what the underlying cause of pain was.

I'm now in a splint to immobilise my thumb and due to have a custom made one fitted on Tuesday which I need to wear 24 hours a day for 4-6 weeks, to repair the painful tendon I had injected. Obviously I've also been told to stop playing netball immediately! I have a copy of the letter sent to my GP which says that the ultrasound found significant tenosynovitis of the ECU and digital extensor tendons and that a referral to a rheumatologist should be made, which I have a date of the 15th May.

I'm getting myself in a right tizz, reading far too much and matching my symptoms to RA - the internet is a dangerous tool! What can I expect from a rheumatologist? Is the ultrasound enough to diagnose RA or could it be something else? My mum as oesteoarthritis but no history of RA, although she's going through a bad patch at the moment and has been sent for an X-ray on her hands and bloods to rule out RA.

Sorry it's so long, I needed a rant!

Wendy x


  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,297
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello Wendy and please don't apologise. There are times when just setting things down on paper helps and I guess we've all done it - and still do.

    We're not docs and can't diagnose but it's good that someone has put two and two together (In your case about 6+6 :roll: ) and come up with the right suggestion. If you do have RA, or some other auto-immune form of arthritis, then it needs the right medication to hold it in check. I guess it's possible, with your history of sprains and other injuries, that it could be OA but that usually sets in at the site of a break not a sprain. Anyway, the rheumatologist will decide. I honestly don't know how as it's so long since I was diagnosed but, if you re-post on the Living With Arthritis forum, someone who has been down that road recently is almost sure to come along and help though it is a bit quiet over the Bank Holiday.

    I would urge you strongly not to google all this stuff except for trusted sites such as this, NHS Direct, Arthritis Research UK etc. There's a lot of scary misinformation out there. If you'd like to talk it over with someone you could always ring our Helpline people. They're no more able to give a diagnosis than we are but, just as writing stuff down can help, so too can talking.

    Auto-immune diseases like RA can run in families but just as one is not bound to get one even with a family history, so there's no guarantee not to get one if there is no family history.

    You might find some of Arthritis Care's 'Publications and Resources' helpful. It's a small, grey, button on the top right of the page.
  • Boomer13
    Boomer13 Member Posts: 1,931
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Wendy;

    I have a similar history to you. I was a horse rider and coach, worked full-time in a very physical job until I injured a wrist. In time other joints became affected and after a very long time, I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis.

    Another member did a very good job with a thread for first rheumatologist appointment. I'll find it and bump it up for you.

    Take care and try not to worry too much. It helps to chat with us on the forum.
  • barbara12
    barbara12 Member Posts: 21,279
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello Wendy and a warm welcome from is worrying and most of us on here have been through this stage..Arthritis is so complex, I have had OA for 4 years now but die to see a Rheumy to see what else is going will get lots of support from the lovely people on here..make sure you keep a diary of pain and anything you think might be relevant and take it with you..wish I had done on my first one..good luck and let us know how you get on.
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello, it's nice to meet you but I am sorry you have had to find us. I didn't see a rheumatologist until things were far too advanced and even then he wasn't convinced I had an auto-immune form of arthrtitis - I proved him wrong. :wink: I have psoriatic arthritis, osteo and fibromyalgia but just about manage to get on with things: I am currently struggling mightily with my asthma but, once I'm 'better' I will return and answer you properly. I wish you well. DD
  • mzjones
    mzjones Bots Posts: 38
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Congratulations on the referral to a rheumatologist. I need to see one to manage my autoimmune diseases. I say congrats because in my experience, they are so hard to get in to see. I am waiting until August for my appointment. :shock: I'm hoping they can get to the bottom of my symptoms and get me to feeling better. Best of luck to you!