Newly diagnised - are these symptoms normal?

MickeyJoints
MickeyJoints Member Posts: 11
edited 26. Jun 2014, 05:05 in Living with Arthritis archive
Hi All,

I posted this in the new user thread but it was suggested I post this here as well.

I'm a 56 y.o. male who is fairly healthy with a medical history of renal stones, hepatitis A + B (+ve immunogloblins and -ve antigens), hypertension (controlled with amlodopine). I'm not overweight and do exercise with dog walking. I enjoy a vegetarian diet with white meat now and again. We are a salad first household.

About a year ago I started noticing quite a bit of pain in my joints of my hands, especially the left hand. I'm right handed and while there is some discomfort there too, it's my left hand that give me the crippling horrors. And, I dread to add, in my toes and feel. While not bursting in to tears with it, I've come pretty close and would have if I'd not been so angry about it. I've developed nodules in a couple of places, but I only have pain in the nodules occasionally. I've been to my GP who said, yes, that's OA. Thanks for that. The RH factor in a blood test was -ve. No referral but I'm not sure who I would need to see at this stage of the condition. I'm taking glucosamine and chondroitin with codliver oil but I can't honestly say I think they're helping.

What I'm looking for I guess, is confirmation that the symptoms I'm having are normal for OA. I've been reading here some of the descriptions of the pain and they are all too familiar, albeit much worse than mine.

On waking up my hands are as functionally useful as a couple of paddles and I apply ibuprofen gel to help recover movement. The pain during the day can be negligible but there can be periods when there are sharp stabbing pains in the fingers and joints. This can last a hour or two. My hands have had a swollen feeling for the past year and full range articulation of the joints is difficult, but not impossible.

So there is constant low level pain in the joints of the fingers and into the hand when typing and generally moving. When applying pressure across the joints (like when making the bed) it can cause me to drop the pillow (aren't they nasty things for OA!) and generally whimper or suck air in between the teeth.

Is this description all too familiar for everyone? I suspect it is, but I'd like to hear from others that this is indeed normal OA. Not withstanding that there are variations for all...

Thanks to all of you being here!

Mickey

Comments

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,278
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello Mickey and welcome to the forum. I can hear your pain and frustration and a touch of anger coming through as well it might. It sounds as if you lead a healthy life despite your other health problems and might reasonably suppose that arthritis would take the hint and leave you alone. Ah, if only :roll: However, the healthy lifestyle will help you to cope with it. The exercise will keep the muscles strong so they, in turn, will support your joints better and reduce the pain. The good diet will keep your weight down so, again, it's less work for those dodgy joints. And, just as important, it will protect you against other problems such as diabetes, heart and stroke which would be bad enough in themselves but would also make your arthritis harder to live with. So, well done on that :D

    You want to know if what you're experiencing is 'normal OA'. I can tell you it's normal arthritis but my RA and OA merged together so long ago that I find it hard to distinguish between them now. I can tell you that there are inflammatory forms of arthritis that are sero-negative. They are harder to diagnose and do occasionally get overlooked for some time and treated as OA. The blood test that your GP did won't tell if you have one of these. You would need to see a rheumatologist. It might be worth printing off some of Arthritis Care's info http://www.arthritiscare.org.uk/PublicationsandResources/Listedbysubject and, on the basis of that, asking your GP for a referral. Sadly, if it is, indeed, OA then your GP will treat it with pain relief and you will have to put up with it. If it's an inflammatory arthritis the rheumatologist will give you some meds designed to hold the disease back. They won't take away all the pain but will stop things getting worse quickly. Good luck!
    "The deeper sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain." Kahlil Gibran
  • DebbieT
    DebbieT Member Posts: 1,033
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello & welcome Mickey,

    I have both OA & Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) which is a sero negative type that SW has mentioned. I test negative for the Rheumatoid Factor too but do have an autoimmune, inflammatory arthritis. Mine were diagnosed together wen I was 37 years old.

    I completely agree with SW that it's worth asking ure GP for a referral to rule out other types.
    I find my PsA causes me more stiffness in the morning than my OA does. I describe my PsA pain as like shards of glass running in my veins they then feel like the glass all collects together at joints & crash & grind against each other ... It's awful. OA feels more like a deep bone pain to me.
    I hope that makes sense!! :lol:

    Good luck & have some virtual (((hugs)))

    Xxx xxX
    Healing Hugs
    Debbie.x
  • barbara12
    barbara12 Member Posts: 21,107
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello Mickey and welcome
    Its around 5 years ago now when my GP said you have OA,I was referred to a consultant..and had xrays and scans, so you must ask to be referred.I have learned that you don't get anywhere with GPs unless you ask, after 5 years I have just seen a Rheumy because of the spread of OA so they have done all the bloods and MRIs..I am waiting for the results..the reason I tell you this is I was referred because of the stiffness and swelling in my hands ...arthritis is so complex and very hard to determine what type people have,,make a list of all the pain and swelling , then when you eventually see a consultant you will be harmed with all the info...good luck and please let us know how you get on
    Love
    Barbara
  • daffy2
    daffy2 Member Posts: 1,713
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi Mickey. What you describe sounds all too familiar to me, alas! The stabbing pains I found a real problem as they would happen so suddenly and so sharply that I ended up dropping things. I became more considered in my approach to picking up and holding things - reaching slowly rather than just grabbing, and trying to have two hands holding because I didn't usually get both playing up at the same time. More recently catching knuckles when using handles on doors has become an issue so again I try to think about the angle of attack to minimise the risk! I have had to rethink my choice of handles on a replacement kitchen and try them out in the showroom before making the decision as I realised my preferred choice was likely to hurt most times I used them.
    It's not easy and it's not fun, but as you'll see from reading the forum posts there are often ways round practical problems - and a real sense of satisfaction when you find such a solution.The emotional side of things is more difficult but there's always support here for when the going gets tough from the folks who have been there, done that, and got the Tshirt(but can't wear it as they can't get it on!)
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,278
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    And, what's a bit odd, but good in the end, all these things that daffy has listed, we get to do automatically in time. I hadn't realised until I read her post :roll:
    "The deeper sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain." Kahlil Gibran
  • MickeyJoints
    MickeyJoints Member Posts: 11
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi, and thank you all for your responses!

    It does seem that the support is vital with this condition. I don't know many folk with OA so getting a sympathetic ear(s) is reassuring that there are others in the same boat. Although we'd all like this boat to be empty and sunk!

    What daffy2 was saying about strategies for gripping and moving I recognise. I mentioned bed making and taking the time to lift things carefully to avoid stress across the joints; not lifting the kettle at an awkward angle; pulling lids off tins with my right hand instead of the left to avoid the stress through the wrist; making sure I walk the dogs with them pulling straight down my arm rather
    than being yanked backwards or having my fingers bunched up in the lead handle... I'm sure there are worse than me and I've yet to experience it badly as other do.

    And barbara2, your comments about arthritis being complex is what I'm starting to understand too. I was not aware of the psoriasis variation.

    As others have mentioned too, getting on the back of the GP sounds like an obligatory tactic. I'm also heard of hearing with hearing aids (I wear them most of the time) and know that they need pushing with that too. Worthwhile getting some confirmation of what it's not, as well as what it is.

    With the exercise aspect, does anyone get relief with Tai Chi? I've practised it for many years, on and off (currently 'off'), and that would certainly help to maintain better movement all 'round. I guess a tendency is to protect your joints from pain, thus limiting movement, which is not what's good.

    Just re-reading the post and DebbieT's comment "the glass all collects together at joints & crash & grind against each other" sounds apt! I was thinking yesterday of how to describe it so someone and came up with the idea of sandpaper with tiny needles, instead of the sand, rubbing across the joints and along the bones in the fingers and up to the wrist. Ok, so the sand and needles thing is familiar for most people.

    Question: Does it have remission and relapse phases? Seems that I can have a good week and the next is horrible. I would guess that being an auto-immune condition, this pattern is what should be expected.

    Thanks again for your thoughts and comments.

    Mickey
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,558
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I can't remember the last time I had a good week but my definition of 'good' has altered over the years. :wink: Neither can I recall my last pain-free day and that is a huge relief because it has stopped the longing for something that will never happen again and the reminiscing about how it felt.

    We do have to adjust our way of life as these things get a greater hold on us. I have changed all my kitchen kit, my iron and ironing board, the way furniture is arranged, the way I cook and clean (I now have help with that) and I have to pace myself with everything (I got that wrong on Sunday and am still paying the price; even seasoned old hands like me get it occasionally wrong). It's not easy but necessary. DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,278
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    You say you have been diagnosed with OA. That's not an auto-immune condition. There are over 200 kinds of auto-immune arthritis but OA isn't one of them :) You can read about the different kinds here. http://www.arthritiscare.org.uk/PublicationsandResources/Arthritisbasics/Typesofarthritis OA doesn't go into remission and / or flare in the same way that an auto-immune form of arthritis does though you will have good days and bad days depending on many factors, Tai Chi is regarded as being beneficial. http://www.arthritiscare.org.uk/LivingwithArthritis/Self-management/exercise-and-arthritis

    As for 'getting on the back of the GP sounds like an obligatory tactic' I'd have thought that would be immensely counter-productive. We have a disease for life and the more we can work with our health professionals rather than put their backs up the easier that life will be. As I wrote previously, the simple blood test done by GPs doesn't rule out sero-negative versions of auto-immune arthritis so, if you've any fears on that score, then make an appointment with yours, take some info from the AC Publications and say why you think you'd like to see a rheumatologist. This is just being sensible and informed and working with the GP. There doesn't have to be any antagonism..
    "The deeper sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain." Kahlil Gibran
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,558
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Sticky is absolutely right, you need your GP on your side but it is true that there is not much to be 'done' as such in the early stages of OA. There are around eight million or so arthritics in the UK (the majority of whom have OA) so you're not alone in having to cope with it. It seems mighty unfair that in this day-and-age there is still a disease out there which few understand and which cannot be treated. Any form of arthritis is degenerative, progressive and with us for life. I am one of the l'ucky' ones who has both sorts, an auto-immune which has led to OA so my life is grim all year round. Get in! :lol: DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben