Unsure how to proceed

PartyChief Member Posts: 2
edited 28. Nov 2023, 14:10 in Living with arthritis

I guess my story started some years ago when I noticed that my wedding ring would not come off. That's become my indicator for when I'm having an inflammatory flare up.

I become concerned around the start of the pandemic when I started to avoid shaking hands, not because of the virus, but because it hurt. First the hands and then the feet, and then every joint.

I eventually went to the doctor when I started having trouble getting out of bed in the morning, lifting my leg to step into the bath or experiencing strong pain after doing odd jobs in the garden.

Doctor wanted to focus on my hands, they took bloods and tested for RA marker among many other things but all the results were OK. This went on for quite some time and the only suggestion I got from the doctor was to take Paracetemol. The only thing I find that takes the edge of the pain is a combination of Tramadol, paracetamol and ibuprofen. Anyway in my last visit I was told there was nothing to be done and I should learn to live with it, lovely doctor.

They did agree to x-ray my hands and the surgery receptionist was good enough to tell me the results, signs of joint wear and tear and arthritis. Well I knew this myself given I can feel the misshapen and painful joints, shame the doctors never once physically examined my hands.

So here I am now, 30kg overweight, as no more gym for quite a long time. Finding it much more difficult doing my job and not knowing where to go from here.

Is there any way to see a specialist without a referral from a doctor? Somehow I doubt it but have to ask.


  • CarylW
    CarylW Moderator Posts: 233

    Hello @PartyChief

    Welcome to our online community. We are a friendly group of people and I hope you find us a useful place to ask questions and read about the experience of our members.

    It sounds as if your doctor is not giving you much help, and that the pain which started in your fingers and hands is now affecting every joint. You also say you are finding it difficult to do your job and have gained weight.

    You ask if it is possible to see a specialist without going through your GP? If you are willing to pay, you may be able to get an appointment but it is not advised.

    I am attaching links to some information from our website and you can explore many more topics there. I hope that you will get some response from members of the community with direct experience similar to yours.

    Do keep posting and let us know how you get on, you are very welcome to ask us about the things that are affecting you.

    Best wishes


    Need more help? Call our Helpline on 0800 5200 520 Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,601

    Hi @PartyChief ,

    I'm not an expert on OA (osteoarthritis) as mine came on the back of RA (rheumatoid) but, in terms of seeing a consultant, in my experience you get to see an orthopaedic surgeon when surgery is deemed potentially necessary.

    From the forum, though, i think that people are now, sometimes, referred to an MSK specialist via a Pain Clinic.

    Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on one's outlook, with OA, most of what can be done is in our own hands (no pun intended) - Exercises, diet, weight loss if needed, no smoking. Don't confuse exercises for weight loss and 'fitness' with exercises for joint maintenance. They can coincide (swimming and cycling are good) but what we need is usually more boring and doesn't require a gym. Also weight loss, I think is now established, as 80% diet and only 20% exercise. We had a lady on here who lost a very large amount of weight despite being confined to a wheelchair.

    I think you're unfortunate to have such widespread OA but the x-rays, and concentration on your hands, is/are probably because the damage done by OA is different to the damage done by RA (or other inflammatory forms of arthritis) and RA damage often shows soonest, and most clearly, in the hands.

    I know it sounds tough but I tend to regard so-called 'painkillers' as a last resort as one becomes tolerant of them and then we just need more and more to achieve less and less.

    My advice would be to listen to your body, occasionally ignore it 😉, go with the flow, ask to see a physio for exercises (meanwhile, those on this site are very good), eat healthily (no junk - OK, just occasional junk! ) and, if necessary, take some pain relief.

    It's not easy but it can be done and life can still be fun.

    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • Jane68
    Jane68 Member Posts: 29


    Can you ask to have a consultation with a rheumatologist via an E Consult at your drs surgery? I unfortunately had to pay privately last year as my Dr said blood tests showed it definitely wasn't RA and told me to take ibuprofen 3 x a day for 3 months and then go back.

    I then learnt you can be Seronegative with RA which I am. Once diagnosed, i was able to be transferred back as an NHS patient.

    The consultant told me it has to be treated aggressively to prevent joint damage.

    I hope you can get some help 🙂