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13 Responses to “How is Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosed? Part 2”

    1. Jenny L. says:

      I think it is correct to say that some doctors just don't put the pieces of the puzzle together because they don't know what the whole picture looks like. It is unfortunate that so many doctors I have seen have had no answers to what was causing my pain but were satisfied to just send me on my way with "nothing". That is just wrong!! Are some practices becoming too large for good patient care? Is medicine about helping PEOPLE or about doctors MAKING MONEY?
      I believe the key to my diagnosis was persistence in knowing my own body and how I KNEW I felt….I didn't give up until I got an answer. I found a doctor who listened to me as if I was the most important patient he had and didn't let me go until there were answers. Although, not necessarily the answer that I wanted to hear (after at least a decade of searching), it is an answer and now I can focus on treatment and prevention of damage. For that I am thankful.

    2. Kelly says:

      Well said, Jenny.
      I wish your dr would start a special school to train doctors to be such good listeners!

    3. andrew says:

      Your blog lends evidence to the fact that we still don't know that much about RA. And that leads to confusion in diagnosing and treating it.

    4. Kelly says:

      Yes, Andrew I agree.

      But, it I think it is easier than ever to learn now thanks to the 'net.
      We can learn from each other at the speed of cyberspace. But, how can we get the "medical establishment" to hear what we are saying about whatever we understand of RA is?

    5. andrew says:

      I love your idea about mining patient data from online posts about onset and symptoms. There are bias issues but it would certainly be a rich data set. There are similar data mining strategies done in business, industry, and education. Hmm…now you got me thinking…

      My doctor never mentioned the seven criteria. But looking back, I now know that's what he was looking for with all the forms, tests, xrays, and interviews. I met all but nodules and positive RF test. But I also had other symptoms that both he and my general doc used to lead towards a diagnosis. Those were iritis of both eyes, extreme fatigue, and chronic hives. Neither are on the ACR list. Fortunately, once it was clear it was RA, he acted quickly.

    6. Kelly says:

      Andrew,
      I am glad your dr did as you said. You were lucky AND blessed.

      Now, professor, keep plotting and help me figure out how to "mine the data" and help others! Yeah!

    7. Steve says:

      So true on your email. I had three doctors tell me I have Seronegative RA, OA, and fibromyalgia. The first doctor changed taking my insurance so I went to another one. He qualified me and continued the medicine treatment before he strted not taking questions or listening anymore.
      My third RA has been a gem up until now. She had put me on biologics and kept me on Methtrexate for almost a year now.
      Just recently she started getting a little grumpy and at one point said to me with my wife present, I don’t think you have RA since the labs are always negative. However it started with both hands, feet, then knees. Fatigue and chronic severe pain has been with me since. I have 7 symptoms of the required 4 for RA. I guess RA doctors get tired of hearing us complain it hurts so much could you please fix it. Thats when there attitude changes. I heard this from others. OH well, I have it in writing I have the big three and if you look at my deformed swollen hands and feet, that should give them a clue. I hope they understand it does not have to be Seroposative to be RA.

      • I’m not sure whether you read this other post yet, Steve. Last year they published new “guidelines” for RA diagnosis. Here’s a link to that post. I agree that you already have your diagnosis, but I’ve heard stories like yours more than once just like you said. Some visible symptoms improve with medicine & the invisible ones don’t and some doctors seem to lose patience with patients saying, “I’m not better.” It’s a progressive disease; most of us don’t feel “better.” And I completely agree that “seronegative” only means we need better tests. I was called seroneg by one doc even though my Rf had been high before and the anti-ccp remains off-the-chart high. The Enbrel had temporarily suppressed Rf, while not affecting symptoms. Many patients have told me that their Rf goes up & down while damage continues.

    8. Kelly says:

      did you ever hear of anyone with RA having severe neck tightness and dizziness (and headaches)?

    9. Jamielynn says:

      The part of my diagnosis that has been a puzzle for me is the fact that my rheumy did not even check my SED, CRP or Anti-CCP. The only blood work she was concerned about was the Rheumatoid Factor and that was negative. She ran some other blood tests but none of the RA tests. She went purely by observable physical symptoms, medical history and the length of time these things had been going on. I have not read of another patient being diagnosed without the above mentioned blood work being checked and this has led me to doubt my diagnosis at times. Then I began to question myself as to why the blood work would have mattered either way, negative or positive, and I realized that whatever the results would have been would not have mattered in the face of documented episodes of recurring inflammation and swelling, pain, Iritis and fatigue. So I think I had become a little programmed into thinking these tests are the end all and be all of RA diagnosis because everything that I read told me so.

      This just amazes me because so many people get “stuck” in limbo because of these tests and I didn’t even have to have them done and I’m not that bad off physically or pain wise compared to others with RA. The inconsistency of RA diagnosis is horrible!

    10. Kelly Whitehead says:

      January of this year I injured my back as the months went on I started having swelling of my joints. I saw my family doctor she ran some blood work and as I waited on the results I was getting worse. My fingers are swollen, knee caps and sever pain shooting through the knees to my ankles into my toes. My blood work came back auto immune ra, I was referred to Washington State to see a ra doctor. My appointment lasted about 15min and she said I looked fine and go home. When I asked her why my fingers didn’t look normal and my knees and ankle are visible purple and swollen. Her reply was you much be cold, WOW I am speechless and feeling hopeless. I need some advice because at this point I don’t want to see another doctor, but my figures are getting worse and my knees are extremely painful.

    11. Diana j ortega says:

      Hi i was told in 1982 that i coulndnt have no more kids and in 1990 i was was hit with osteperoises arthirits now im 52. And i have to get ahip replacement on right hip but now on my left ankle on the back bone i have like a golf ball and now it hurts is it arthritis

    12. Kelly says:

      This was a good read. I’ve had so many symptoms and I was sent to a neurologist, who I know wasn’t listening to a word I said. I was beyond frustrated. Month and months of pain and fatigue to the point of tears. I became depressed and I have withdrawn from the public and my life. A few weeks back I happened to be talking to my aunt who I don’t see often , told her how I was feeling. She asked me to see my cousin Micheal who is a doctor. He is a bit far. But I thought he was a GP. But no he is an RA doctor. I went. His partner saw me first, my cousin was on vacation. My tears flowed and the pain by that day was more than I can handle . She examined me and took blood and gave me prednisone. A week later I had some relief. I went back on the second week and saw my cousin. My blood work came back negative , but every other sign is RA including a family history on both my maternal and paternal side. How frustrating. No diagnosis with out a positive test? He kept me on prednisone for next two weeks to be slowly reduced over two weeks. I’m petrified when these meds are done. I feel pretty good right now. Not 100 percent but 60 percent better than I was and that’s huge. So is the blood test the factor in a diagnosis?? I go for X-ray tomorrow of hands feet and lungs. I know my cousin knows that this is RA. But he can not diagnosis without a blood confirmation. It’s crazy. People will start to think they are going crazy. This much pain and no way to prove it. Or diagnosis when there is no positive blood work yet.

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