Worried about going to GP for help- age 21

Hello, I'm new here. I've just turned 21, and I think it's likely I've got arthritis. RA runs in the women in my family, and starting early too. My grandmother/great-grandmother were both diagnosed early 20s, and my 16yr old cousin has also been diagnosed with RA. I'm the only women who hasn't!
I've had joint pain for years, but my family have always dismissed it (despite mum having arthritis!), and it has been getting worse in the past year or so. I was getting close to trying to go the GP earlier in the year, but then Covid-19 so obviously will have to wait. But I'm really worried about not being believed, particularly because of my age (21). My university has a doctor's surgery attached which I go to so they are used to students my age, but I'm worried they will think I'm too young, even with the family history. I'm also worried if I'm not bad enough. My pain comes and goes, sometimes I'm fine and sometimes I'm in a lot of pain with different joints. Sometimes the pain is worse for a couple of hours/days then goes, and sometimes it's more low key and lasts longer. I'm also getting clumsier and dropping things even more, and sometimes spill drinks all down myself because I don't have the wrist control. I get pain mainly in both wrists, both hips, both ankles but also knees, big toes and thumbs. My concern is that because sometimes I'm not in pain all day every day and because I can go all my day to day things fine that I won't get any help. But some days I do need to take rests and stop doing things, or I drop/spill lots of things.
Does anyone have any advice, or things to ask for at the doctors to try and get a diagnosis/help?


  • AlanM
    AlanM Member Posts: 46

    Hi @em3681

    welcome to the forum and I hope you find the information and support you need. It's a very welcoming place!

    You are struggling with what you believe to be undiagnosed rheumatoid arthritis having dealt with joint pain for a number of years. You're also worried about being believed, both by family and by healthcare professionals.

    If you haven't already, please have a look at information for young people on the Versus Arthritis website, https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/young-people/. We have Young People and Families services across the UK, who work with various age ranges, e.g. in Scotland, we work with young people up to the age of 25. However, it might worth having a chat with our Helpline (0800 5200 520), who can talk you through your worries and preparing for the GP appointment https://www.versusarthritis.org/get-help/helpline/.

    Your experience of fluctuating pain and its disabling impact is shared by people living with rheumatoid arthritis. However, as you don't have a diagnosis, it is important that you talk to your GP but build your confidence about describing symptoms. Again, talking to our Helpline staff could be helpful.

    You're dealing with a lot at the moment and the forum is here as a good source of information and support. We are delighted to have you here and look forward to seeing you post.

    Best wishes


  • em3681
    em3681 Member Posts: 3
    Hi Alan,
    Thanks for the suggestions, that's really helpful. I wasn't too sure if I could get support in other ways because I don't have a diagnosis, but now I might try.
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520

    Any GP worth their salt should take you seriously given the well-established familial link. GPs nowadays tend to be better informed about auto-immune arthritis in all its guises so arm yourself with information, be polite but firm in asking for blood tests and, in your case, a direct referral to rheumatology. GPs cannot diagnose an auto-immune arthritis because they only know a little about a lot. Rheumatologists know a lot about a little. Good luck! DD

    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben