Could it be arthritis?

Violet58
Violet58 Member Posts: 7
edited 13. Jul 2019, 05:13 in Living with arthritis
Hello to all, my first post here.

I have several joint boney issues which so far have/are being controlled with hyaluronic acid (knee injection), glucosamine, magnesium and more recently turmeric. My knees, back and shoulder have all improved.

However, nothing is helping the stiffness and pain in my hands, particularly my finger joints.

Sometimes it's difficult to open my fingers, sometimes difficult to make a fist. I used to enjoy cross stitch but find this very difficult now.

They're not swollen, not red and so far haven't been diagnosed.

My Nan and my maternal aunt both had RA.

My protein reactive blood test is only 11 so not sure this is anything.

Other than a painful hand that is difficult to use.

Help appreciated with thanks

Comments

  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 3,636
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello and welcome Violet58 to Versus Arthritis Community Forum

    So sorry to read of your issues with your hands, it's all to familiar with arthritis. We have many of forum users with similar problems who can offer some good advice and support. Hopefully, you will have a proper diagnosis soon.

    I've found this link that may be of help to you:-

    https://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/system/search-results.aspx?keywords=hand+joints

    Please feel free to contact our Versus Arthritis Helpline 0800 520 0520

    Enjoy the forum

    John
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    if there is a family history of RA (or any other kind of auto-immune inflammatory conditions) then ideally you need a referral to rheumatology for clarification. RA etc is caused by an over-active immune system and all the OA 'treatments' you've been using is not going to bring that under control.

    GPs know a little about a lot whereas rheumatologists know a lot about a little; I have psoriatic arthritis which is a sero-negative form, i.e. no rheumatoid factor is present in my blood, but my inflammation markers were high which gave the game away. I am in my 23rd year of that and my 8th of diagnosed OA. Currently I am sick and tired of both of them but as they ain't going anywhere I need to pull up my big girl brave socks. DD
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,098
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    You are clearly worried that this might be RA or another form of autoimmune arthritis and I think that's a reasonable worry from what you say. This might help https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/

    The family connection is to be taken into consideration. It sounds as if your GP might have done the CRP test and decided you don't have an autoimmune form of arthritis. But levels can change and, if it were me, (It isn't. I know I have RA :wink: ) I'd be asking for an appointment with a rheumatologist. If your GP is unhelpful remember you can see any other in the practice.

    It might not be RA. It might be OA which a GP would deal with. But I think it would be wise to try to get to the bottom of it.
  • Violet58
    Violet58 Member Posts: 7
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I last saw my Rhumatologist 2 months ago, she injected one knee with the hyaluronic acid, which has really helped.

    I mentioned the pain and stiffness in my finger joints, she said she didn't think it is RA because they're not swollen or inflamed. Even though there is a family link. The CRP is 11 so they're not worried about that.

    What is the next step? An x-ray? A different blood test?

    I should add I am a diabetic, on insulin for 50 years so I don't know if that could be a factor.

    Thanks for replies and any further help.
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I apologise for my unhelpful reply, I was unaware that you were already under the care of a rheumatologist. My rheumatologist ignores my OA (and also me, I haven't seen her for over two years) , the GP likewise with the PsA.

    There are around three hundred auto-immune inflammatory conditions so maybe it's something else, perhaps the beginning of carpal tunnel, but we are not docs, just practising arthritics. I am sorry I cannot help. DD
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,098
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Violet, I'm not quite sure where we're at here :roll: :lol: Rheumatologists normally only deal with autoimmune forms of arthritis such as RA but you write of 'last time' you saw yours so, presumably, it wasn't just a matter of referring you to see if you had an autoimmune type as you've been more than once. So is it that you have an autoimmune type but that what you have in your hands isn't? Or possibly she decided you have OA in your knee and maybe, also, in your hands. You don't need to wait for another rheumatology appointment for an x-ray. Your GP could arrange one. Certainly, an x-ray might help to determine what's wrong with your hands.

    I don't think you said if you were on any DMARDS (Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs). If you have an autoimmune form of arthritis I'd have expected you to be on one or more (methotrexate, sulfasalazine or somesuch). Unfortunately, it's quite possible to have both RA and OA. I've done it :lol: But it's also possible that, despite the genetics, you don't have RA.

    Your raised CRP levels could be due to the diabetes. I believe it can cause raised CRP.

    If you make an appointment with your GP (s)he should have got a report from the rheumatologist so might be able to cast more light on what's going on in your hands. And, if appropriate, ask for an x-ray. I hope that helps a little.
  • Violet58
    Violet58 Member Posts: 7
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Violet, I'm not quite sure where we're at here :roll: :lol: Rheumatologists normally only deal with autoimmune forms of arthritis such as RA but you write of 'last time' you saw yours so, presumably, it wasn't just a matter of referring you to see if you had an autoimmune type as you've been more than once. So is it that you have an autoimmune type but that what you have in your hands isn't? Or possibly she decided you have OA in your knee and maybe, also, in your hands. You don't need to wait for another rheumatology appointment for an x-ray. Your GP could arrange one. Certainly, an x-ray might help to determine what's wrong with your hands.

    I don't think you said if you were on any DMARDS (Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs). If you have an autoimmune form of arthritis I'd have expected you to be on one or more (methotrexate, sulfasalazine or somesuch). Unfortunately, it's quite possible to have both RA and OA. I've done it :lol: But it's also possible that, despite the genetics, you don't have RA.

    Your raised CRP levels could be due to the diabetes. I believe it can cause raised CRP.

    If you make an appointment with your GP (s)he should have got a report from the rheumatologist so might be able to cast more light on what's going on in your hands. And, if appropriate, ask for an x-ray. I hope that helps a little.

    Thank you for your answer. I've been under a Rhumatologist for about 18 months, firstly because of a back issue and I had an MRI for this. It was decided that I had Spondylolisthesis and that I needed an operation to "cage" the slipping discs and decompress. I decided I didn't want to have an operation so have been trying alternative pain relief, eg. tens, turmeric, magnesium and glucosamine. These treatments have helped.

    My knees started giving way and were painful so these were xrayed and MRI'd. Nothing showed up so the Rhumatologist injected with the hyaluronic which again has helped.

    As for my hands these hand been getting progressively worse over the months, if not years. So far apart from mentioning to the Rhuma I haven't had any xrays.

    I've worked with computers all my working life so am also wondering if it is RSI. Other than that, as yet I have no idea what is causing the pain and stiffness.
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,098
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    To a total layperson (me) it would seem that you have Spondylolisthesis (which I'd never heard of previously) in your back, maybe osteoarthritis (OA) in your knee and RSI in your hands but that doesn't explain why the rheumatologist is still seeing you. I'd have thought you'd be under the auspices of orthopaedics or even neurology but perhaps, in view of your family's history of RA, the rheumatologist wants to keep an eye on you.

    This is what NHS says about RSI and its treatment. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/repetitive-strain-injury-rsi/ I think most of it would apply to OA in the hands too. Exercises to counter the repeated positions might help and, if it would help, employers do have to make changes in the workplace for employees with medical conditions.
    "Reasonable adjustments in the workplace
    An employer has to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to avoid you being put at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled people in the workplace. For example, adjusting your working hours or providing you with a special piece of equipment to help you do the job."
    https://www.gov.uk/rights-disabled-person/employment
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I'm wondering why a rheumatologist is dealing with what sounds like an osteo area but what do I know? Apparently spondylolisthesis can clear up, wouldn't that be good? At least I know with what I have there's no hope of that. :lol:

    As another layperson it sounds to me as though Sticky has not the nail on the head with her unofficial diagnoses. There are around ten million arthritics in the UK, the majority of whom have OA: it's frighteningly common and not the sole preserve of the elderly. My carpal tunnel might have been caused by my arthritis or it might not. I neither know nor care: stuff happens and you get it fixed as best you can. I'm a great fan of surgery for achieving that. DD
  • Violet58
    Violet58 Member Posts: 7
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    dreamdaisy wrote:
    I'm wondering why a rheumatologist is dealing with what sounds like an osteo area but what do I know? Apparently spondylolisthesis can clear up, wouldn't that be good? At least I know with what I have there's no hope of that. :lol:

    As another layperson it sounds to me as though Sticky has not the nail on the head with her unofficial diagnoses. There are around ten million arthritics in the UK, the majority of whom have OA: it's frighteningly common and not the sole preserve of the elderly. My carpal tunnel might have been caused by my arthritis or it might not. I neither know nor care: stuff happens and you get it fixed as best you can. I'm a great fan of surgery for achieving that. DD

    Following on from my original post, my GP asked for an xray, a blood test and an ultrasound.

    The CRP was slightly lower at 8.4 (last time 11). The anti CCP was 7.0 (so I think this is negative) and the Rhumatoid Factor was 3.5, so again negative.

    The xray showed nothing, the ultrasound which was particularly checking for RA also showed nothing.

    I'm seeing the Rhumatologist next week (as a follow up to previous appointment).

    So I'm stumped as to what is causing the pain and stiffness, and difficulty with my fingers manipulating properly.

    Ibuprofen has helped with the pain, but not the normal operation of my fingers. Even cutting vegetables is becoming a problem.

    Thanks for all previous replies.
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,098
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Well, it's good that you're seeing the rheumatologist next week and thank you for the update. It does all seem to point to OA but the rheumatologist is far better placed to pronounce on that than I am. Sometimes OA doesn't show much at first on x-rays.

    I hope you'll get a more definite diagnosis. Do remember the value of exercises if it's OA or RSI. (Is your rheumatologist aware of your work?)

    As for veg prep - there are devices to help in any good disability store including online ones. Sometimes it's a matter of horses for courses. I keep trying new knives but always come back to two 'old faithfuls'. I'm best with a long knife. That way, I can hold the handle with one hand and apply pressure at the other end with my other hand. There are also veg chopping 'machines' too but I don't use them. I favour small, whole potatoes but prepare larger ones by chopping them in half, removing top bits the placing the large, flat, former middle bit onto my chopping board and peeling with downward strokes from my large knife. Rice and pasta are easy. I use this type of veg peeler for carrots, parsnips etc https://tinyurl.com/y2dwyyfp love asparagus (just break it :lol: ) and, increasingly, pay a bit extra for ready cut spring greens, kate etc. Mushrooms, I just wash. Onions can be tricky on some days. Ditto garlic so I keep some dried onions and frozen chopped garlic for those days. I rather ike a leek, carrot and potato pie so I keep Mr SW for leek prep :wink:
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    OA is my thinking too. My inflammation markers are small and bear no relation to the swelling in my knees and ankles which is OA-induced, that swelling goes away with rest and voltarol whereas the auto-immune inflammation affects the whole body and doesn't.

    I have PsA in my fingers and elbows, OA in my wrists and one shoulder. Both kinds are also present in other joints, it's all a barrel of laughs. :| DD
  • Elmbow
    Elmbow Member Posts: 80
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    This isn't going to be particularly helpful but I just wanted to say, contrary to the impression you might get here, rheumatologists do deal with ALL issues associated with the musculoskeletal system; joints, bones and connective tissue.
    Osteoarthritis is so common that it would be impractical for OA referrals to be routine, as well as unnecessary in most cases. But I know of several rheumatologists who specialise in osteoarthritis. It's all down to the individual. And your case sounds a bit more complex than average, plus you need to rule out autoimmune diseases first. Again not really helpful but I don't find it at all unusual that you are under a rheumatologist.
  • Violet58
    Violet58 Member Posts: 7
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Elmbow wrote:
    This isn't going to be particularly helpful but I just wanted to say, contrary to the impression you might get here, rheumatologists do deal with ALL issues associated with the musculoskeletal system; joints, bones and connective tissue.
    Osteoarthritis is so common that it would be impractical for OA referrals to be routine, as well as unnecessary in most cases. But I know of several rheumatologists who specialise in osteoarthritis. It's all down to the individual. And your case sounds a bit more complex than average, plus you need to rule out autoimmune diseases first. Again not really helpful but I don't find it at all unusual that you are under a rheumatologist.

    I live outside of the UK and here if there is any indication of a bone issue, whatever that might be you are always referred to a rhumatologist. As I said I've been seeing one for some time, and a neurosurgeon as the issue of back surgery came up. However, with all the supplements I am taking, glucosamine, turmeric, magnesium they seem to be helping with pain everywhere, except my hands :|
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,098
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    It might be wise to run the medications and supplements you take past a pharmacist for interactions. Taking turmeric along with NSAIDS, which also slow clotting, might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Plus, ibuprofen is absorbed more quickly when taken with magnesium so the combination may incur a higher risk of gastrointestinal irritation. The news on glucosamine is better. A study showed that arthritis sufferers could reduce the amount of ibuprofen they take by also taking glucosamine. Best to ask a professional, though.
  • Violet58
    Violet58 Member Posts: 7
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks for that info. I will mention it when I have the appointment.

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