What about Classic Rheumatoid Arthritis? | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

What about Classic Rheumatoid Arthritis?

What is classic rheumatoid arthritis

Wondering about a classic Rheumatoid Arthritis

Almost one year ago, I asked Is There a Typical Rheumatoid Arthritis? That was the night I sat in a hotel room reading case studies about Rheumatoid Arthritis in the DIP joint (fingertip) after a not-so-enlightening visit with a character I now call Dr. Dip.

I had no idea whether I had classic Rheumatoid Arthritis. My joints didn’t read any books. I didn’t know many other RA patients personally. My blog was only a couple of months old. My website was still a daydream.

Dr. Google was the best doctor I’d met at that point because he was totally objective. Doc Google never said, “Joints don’t do that.” Or “You can’t get RA there.” Or “You don’t look sick to me.” I just searched and found. Black and white.

Is there a classic Rheumatoid Arthritis?

It’s been a year of the same thing over and over: asking and searching, finding and reading. But some things are not the same. I’ve read tens of thousands of comments and emails and messages from RA patients all over the world. Some I’ve talked to on the phone or in person. A handful of them have become good friends of mine. Their lives have informed me.

What else is not the same? I finally got over the heartbreaking visit with Dr. Dip and found courage to try yet another rheumatology specialist. I found a good one whom I’ve learned from.

What else is new? The American College of Rheumatology changed the guidelines used to diagnose Rheumatoid Arthritis. You can read how I reported on that blockbuster last October in a series about defining RA and why it matters. The ACR guideline is where most doctors look if they want to find out what classic Rheumatoid Arthritis is.

What else? My RA is another year older and another year worse.

What are classic Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms?

Just how many patients does it take before something is considered typical? Can we figure out once and for all what typical or classic Rheumatoid Arthritis is like? If anyone should know, I say it’s the patients. We know our own RA and we actually listen to and believe one another.

  • What do you think are the 6 most classic symptoms of RA? I know there are dozens of different symptoms, so try your best.
  • What are your own most significant symptoms? I know it’s hard, try to keep it to 6 or fewer.
  • Do you think your own Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms are typical? Does your doctor?

This week, I realized that meeting Dr. Dip was enlightening after all. If that guy hadn’t acted like such a typical dip, I might not have been so aware of this problem.

Recommended reading:

Kelly O'Neill Young

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked over 10 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly by on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over thirteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

90 thoughts on “What about Classic Rheumatoid Arthritis?

  • August 2, 2010 at 9:25 am
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    1.Stiffness IN all joints 2.swelling warm inflammed joints in all joints 3. fatigue 4. body aches 5.eye itching. 6.depression. the main ones for ME.

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      • August 2, 2010 at 5:39 pm
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        I have never ever heard of the eye itching symptom but my eyes itch all of the time and just assumed it was allergies. I was going to get allergy meds for it but just refuse to add one more med to my arsenal. Just something to make me even more tired even though they say allergy meds are non drowsy.

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        • August 2, 2010 at 10:23 pm
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          Cynde, Have you seen the ophthamalogist? It could be caused by dryness (Secondary Sjorgren’s syndrome). My RA doc did not find mine – I had to be assertive about this. Eitherway, an eye doc is a good idea for RA pts every year.

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          • August 3, 2010 at 5:39 pm
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            Thanks Kelly, I just never ever thought eyes itching had anything to do with RA. Now, I must say that strangely my contacts have just popped out of my eyes when they haven’t done that in the 30 years I have had them. Probably because my eyes are so dry. I guess I will add it to my list of dr. calls.

          • August 3, 2010 at 7:20 pm
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            Cynde, have you tried any OTC eye moisturizers? They have watery ones for day and thicker gel ones for night. Sometimes, that’s enough and you won’t need one more script! Also, my eye dr. told me to take Omega3 for my eyes and it helps when I do it regularly.

          • September 27, 2010 at 11:38 am
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            My eyes are always driving me crazy. I have to put the dry eye ointment in them every night. If I fall asleep or forget to put it in at night I have so many problems the following day. My eyes are so dry its like sandpaper rubbing my eyelids. I used to use Puralube ointment, but they stopped making that. I use Refresh P.M. now because it has the metal applicator that puts out a smaller amount at a time. If you love your pillow cases I suggest getting an older one for the top pillow because the ointment does get on your eyelashes/pillow at night. Good luck everyone!

          • September 27, 2010 at 11:48 am
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            Thanks, Kari. Me too. I use a gel. It has helped.

    • August 2, 2010 at 2:49 pm
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      eye itching? really? My eyes drive me CRAZY! I had never heard that was a symptom of RA. They itch and get randomly goopy and teary. Wow. I’ll have to ask my doctor next time I’m there.

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      • August 4, 2010 at 11:55 pm
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        My eyes water all the time. Never occurred to me it was RA related!

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  • August 2, 2010 at 9:48 am
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    I think it’s the feeling of malaise. That “hit by a truck” feeling that lasts longer than a typical bout with the flu.

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  • August 2, 2010 at 9:50 am
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    I have a question for you and since you are have my up most resepct I could not think of anyone else I would want to ask. I am soon going to start Rituxan infusion and I was wonding if you knew anything about it or have any experence with it. Thanks you for being there for all of us.
    Dave

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    • August 2, 2010 at 7:32 pm
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      Dave, we have lots of friends of the site who are on that treatment. It’s helped many of them to do better with RA. It is a personal decision as I wrote recently here.

      If you have not had success with the TNF inhibitors which are usually tried first, then you have 3 choices to try a completely different mechanism – IL-6 (Actemra), blocking T cells (Orencia) or B cells (Rituxan). The each have different risks & the problem is there’s no way to know yet! which one your type of RA will respond to. There is a risk of a rare brain disease PML that some say is linked to Rituxan so you can look that up. But there have been only about a half dozen cases out of may thousands of patients so it’s rare – like I said, they all have risks.

      As for me, I ask my doc’s view, read, and pray & just choose. Then I trust that I did the best I could & expect the best. Not very scientific. Here’s a link to a post that compares several of them in case you haven’t seen it. Here’s a Rituxan post.

      Reply
  • August 2, 2010 at 9:55 am
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    Hi everyone, here are six of my most common symptoms:
    1- swelling in the joints. 2- chronic joint pain and stiffness. 3- chronic fatigue. 4- Insomnia. 5- joint deformaties. 6- muscle pain and weakness & nerve damage.
    OMG….I could continue with a huge list but will leave it there.
    Take care everyone xx

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  • August 2, 2010 at 10:13 am
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    Fatigue, swelling, stiffness, depression, loss of mobility, indescribable pain.

    Nausea, fatigue, stiffness, pain, depression/frustration, isolation.

    I don’t actually see a doctor because of my lack of insurance. It seems to be a normal thing for me though. I’ve had RA since age 4 and it hasn’t really changed that much.

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  • August 2, 2010 at 10:14 am
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    1. Pain (and lots of it) in several joints. 2. Stiffness after any period of inactivity, worse when waking. 3. Chronic exhaustion or fatigue. 4. Loss of motor skills or inability to manipulate small joints. 5. Depression. 6. Insomnia.

    In my case, the pain in my feet when I woke up was what first really got my attention and forced me to accept that something was very wrong. It wasn’t until a year later when I had my diagnosis and began to understand more about this disease that I realized all the other symptoms had been present for quite some time. Now, I recognize that my body had been symptomatic of RA for at least 4 years prior, and all the while my Primary Care Physician was treating me for everything from Hypothyroidism to Shingles.

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  • August 2, 2010 at 10:23 am
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    Short and (not so) sweet: 1.chronic pain 2.rapid joint destruction requiring replacement or fusion 3.functional limitations

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  • August 2, 2010 at 10:28 am
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    6 most classic symtoms
    1-shear exhaustion
    2-swelling of hands and feet and knees, etc
    3-stiffness in the morning for more than an hour
    4-pain, stiffness, swelling after working all day
    5-depression
    6-difficulting being mobile

    my 6 most significant symptoms
    same as above including migraines and blurred vision

    yes, my symptoms are typical. I hear a lot of the same. My joints are beginning to show damage in my feet and hands and somedays I can barely walk or do steps.

    I also have Fibromyalgia and a goiter in my thyroid so I am hypersensitive to all drugs so I am having difficulty finding one that I can tolerate and works. I suffer a lot but, keep on going. I hope all find a good Doctor and good treatment.

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  • August 2, 2010 at 10:28 am
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    NOTE: I have a doc appt – I’ll moderate your comments shortly. 😎

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  • August 2, 2010 at 10:29 am
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    Before my own dignosis I knew a bit about RA (enough to know it is an autoimmune condition and not the same thing as OA) and would have said the “classic symptoms” are twisted “pretzel” joints, pain and severe disability. That’s because the only person I knew to have RA, my BIL’s late grandmother, was severely affected and those were her visible symptoms.

    Now I guess I’d say the six “classic symptoms” are pain in multiple joints, fatigue/decreased stamina, decreased range of motion (particularly in shoulders and/or elbows), morning and/or evening stiffness, swollen/”puffy” fingers, and some degree of deformity of fingers and/or toes.

    My own six main symptoms are fatigue, knee pain, left shoulder pain and decreased motion, off-and-on swollen fingers, one swan neck/mallet finger, and metatarsalgia (pain in bottom of foot beneath toes.)

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  • August 2, 2010 at 10:31 am
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    Good morning, Kelly! “Typical”? Here ya go: pain, swelling, joints, etc. How’s that? 😉 That’s about what most docs look for, isn’t it? I’d say my top 6 are 1) pain in joints, 2) swelling in joints, 3) knots in muscles or near connective tissue, 4) headaches, 5) secondary Sjogrens (dry eyes & mouth), and 6) this is a relatively new symptom for me, but like Lora said above, it’s malaise. If you follow me on Facebook, you recently saw I referred to the feeling as “wonky.”

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  • August 2, 2010 at 10:50 am
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    * What do you think are the 6 most classic symptoms of RA? I know there are dozens of different symptoms, so try your best.

    Joint pain,
    fatigue
    feeling “feverish”
    Swollen, puffy joints
    Nodules
    Stiffness

    * What are your own most significant symptoms? I know it’s hard, try to keep it to 6 or fewer.

    Joint pain
    Fatigue
    Swollen, puffy joints
    Hoarseness

    * Do you think your own Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms are typical? Does your doctor?

    My first rheumy told me that I had all the classic symptoms and the positive RA factor was the icing on the cake when she diagnosed me. My current rheumy is not so great at talking but he does say that my joints look good. 🙄

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  • August 2, 2010 at 10:55 am
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    What it is?: 1. Chronic pain (mine feels like its always been there but just kept getting worse over the years/decades); 2. chronic fatique (even little movements take everything you have); 3. nodules that pull the skin and/or push against the joint (ones that group themselves are the worst); 4. swelling (that makes fingers and toes look like sausages cooking with such heat that they feel like they’ll explode); 5. sleeplessness/insomnia; 6. rotating fingers and toes (the pull that makes you wake up crying); 7. spinal damage (yup, joints there too).

    What is it not?: 1. weight loss (if you can’t move…?); 2. fever; 3. “RA Positive” results (just open your eyes and see for yourself).

    What doesn’t get addressed?: 1.Fear. Knowing what I have is so mild by comparison to others that I sometimes wonder if 1) I’ll be strong enough to cope, 2) mentally prepared for the ‘no longer’s and the dreams lost, and 3) supported enough to be cared for as it swallows me whole.

    What gives hope?: 1) Your website give comradery, education and suggestions – I’m grateful; 2) the laughter of my children; and 3) changes in analysis, recognition and treatment for RA.

    What I hope for?: A cure soon enough for me to enjoy some of it.

    Reply
  • August 2, 2010 at 11:04 am
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    Does anybody else get splits in the ends of their fingertips? I do and they get so sore I can hardly stand to touch anything! My fingernails are like tissue paper no matter what I do, nail hardening polish, calcium, gelitane capsules, vitamins, etc. I think it is the bone fragments working their way out of the ends of my fingers, that is what it feels like, just like there is a peice of glass in there! Very painful, red and irritated! Anybody else?

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    • August 2, 2010 at 7:01 pm
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      Hi Jane! Sorry for your sore fingertips…try rubbing un-refined shea butter GENTLY onto the cracks in the fingers and on your nails…make sure it is un-refined (it will not be bleached white) Best if you go to a natural health store type or there are places you can order it thru (herb shops like Mountain Rose, etc) on line. This stuff has worked wonderfully for me, I use it all over the place and on my horses to for “boo boos” Good Luck! :heart:

      Reply
      • August 5, 2010 at 12:01 am
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        I just experienced this iin 3 nails – forefinger and both great toes.
        I am so thankful to talk with you and others on this site. I don’t feel so isolated now.

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    • September 27, 2010 at 12:42 pm
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      Jane, Can you take Omega 3 i the form of flax seed oil or meal? I have suddenly developed strong, no-split, fast-growing, hard fingernails, and I think it’s the flax seed. Can’t hurt, and helps joint pain, too.

      Reply
  • August 2, 2010 at 11:05 am
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    Hello all. This is my first post here. I’m so glad to have found this website, and all of you!

    1. Constant pain 2. swelling and stiffness in joints 3. fatigue and muscle weakness 4. dry eyes and mouth 5. a feeling that something isn’t right, that your body isn’t functioning properly 6. depression, feeling overwhelmed.

    There’s more, of course. 🙂

    Reply
    • August 2, 2010 at 5:26 pm
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      I so agree with you on the feeling that things are just not right in your body. I say that all of the time! Just feel off. So glad to read that somebody else feels that way.

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  • August 2, 2010 at 11:23 am
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    The only thing’s typical for my hubby were the blood test results and the eventual bone damage.

    The first atypical thing is he is a male. Less than 10% of men get R.A. That delays diagnosis.
    Then the other eapected typical symptom is that it affects both sides of the body at once as in, if you get it in one elbow the other will flare up the same time or very soon after. Hubbies doesn’t. His disease has been described as wandering.

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    • August 3, 2010 at 8:20 am
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      My pain started in my right hand fingers and right side toes and generally even when the left side is bothering me I only see visible swelling in those right fingers and toes.. I also have other joints that come and go with pain. Generally mild. I was diagnosed within a week of my first symptoms after the blood tests came back but have never seen myself as fitting the bill when I see how ravaged other RA patients are. I do have 2 joints in the right hand that are causing my fingers to twist very slightly approximately 1 year after diagnosis but other than that I seem to be doing pretty well.. I do wonder if starting methotrexate so quickly has not slowed it down or if in fact I just am lucky and have a very slow progressing disease. It started off so dramatically but most of the time I can almost convince myself I don’t have it.. I also have confirmed dry eye and take steroid drops and other lubricants as they certainly do drive me crazy.

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  • August 2, 2010 at 11:40 am
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    For me I would list my six as;
    1. Extreme stiffness, upon waking and or after being still for any period of time.Causing extreme pain!
    2. Fatigue/Malaise
    3. Inflammation, causing extreme pain.
    4. Low Grade Fevers
    5. Sudden onset of inability to move any and all joints!Causing extreme pain.
    6. Deformity

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  • August 2, 2010 at 12:29 pm
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    1. swollen joints…awakening the “I didn’t even know I had a joint there” feeling! 2. Fatigue 3. Loss of use/deformity of joints 4. Stiffness after periods of inactivity, most severe in the morning 5. PAIN from all the above 6. Loss of/changes in voice

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  • August 2, 2010 at 12:32 pm
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    Early on: redness, swellng, pain worse after use of affected joint, morning stiffness, fatigue, loss of strength and agility
    Later: pain, destruction of joints, deformities of joints, heart problems possibly associated, Sjogren’s syndrome, neuropathies of legs, Reynaud’s Syndrome, wasting of muscles, ruptured tendons, many surgeries–and in my spine: scoliosis, stenosis, spondylosis, sciatica,osteoporosis, compression fracture, unstable cervical spine, as well as both kinds of arthritis.
    We’re looking at 54 years here, during which I raised children, supported myself with music performance, etc., etc., and still write and do photography, so don’t let this frighten you too much. You can still have a wonderful life–just that’s it’s challenging.

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  • August 2, 2010 at 12:59 pm
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    Sudden onset of unusally harsh pain usually in hands and or feet.
    Constantly having the feeling like when I had just gotten over a very high fever, the drained, dazed, and I give up feeling.
    Having unrelated pains in different areas so that people think you are crazy and just lack attention.
    Depression and a feeling of hoplessness as you begin to see there is no end to this and no one cares because you have no name for it.
    One day out of no where it just takes your body down, you cant function at all hardly , I became like a rag doll and limp all over, just getting up and grabbing what ever you can to go to the restroom and falling back into bed. for me this lasted 3 days.
    Not being able to hold on to things or getting ahold of something and you cant let go of it.

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  • August 2, 2010 at 1:19 pm
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    Very suddenly, within weeks, and persistently since (1-3/4 years): Sharp pain in shoulders, clavicles, forearm tendons, wrists, base of thumb, and forefeet; clicking and sharp twinges at base of skull; not able to raise arms or grasp things; spongy wrist and thumb joints; general malaise and weakness. Also, at onset loss of voice for a month.

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    • August 3, 2010 at 1:08 am
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      Ginger, I have the same at the base of my skull every day. I hope you can get your dr to keep an eye on this – it can be unsettling, can’t it?

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      • September 27, 2010 at 3:27 pm
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        I know this is going to sound stupid, but I was having the exact same pain at the base of my skull. I was used to sleeping with two pillows, but I switched to one new pillow (it’s a feather foam hybrid) and the pain went away. I don’t know if it’s coincidence or not, but it hasn’t come back.

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  • August 2, 2010 at 1:44 pm
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    In no certain order, joint swelling and stiffness, fingers hooking, pain, big time fatigue, extreme stiffness in my wrists and ankles, periodic numbness in my hands.

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  • August 2, 2010 at 2:50 pm
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    Okay six things, 1. Joint pain starting to be all over 2. Lack of strength in hands 3. Unexplainable Swelling of joints(no matter the weather)4. Fatigue 5. Deformity 6. Spinal Fusion(they call it degenerative disc disease) I say it sounds like RA to me. I like Lora saying Malise, pretty much somes it all up. I also feel anger, sick of there being more Unknowns then Knowns when it comes to RA, Angry that it as taken away the one thing I love to do, RUN , but it wont take away my Spirit. I will not let this beat me. I stop doing not because of RA but because of exhaustion.
    ” REFUSE TO LOSE “

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    • August 2, 2010 at 10:27 pm
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      Tom, I have the Degenerative disc thing too. I hear that a lot. Wish I knew how “typical” it is. Oh, I’d love to run! I don’t really get to exhaustion because I’m stuck at the starting line by pain/ weakness. Fight on! :soldier:

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  • August 2, 2010 at 2:51 pm
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    Top 6 for me: FATIGUE, muscle pain all over, stiffness, tendon pain in hands and feet, joint pain, feeling like people just don’t get it.

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  • August 2, 2010 at 2:58 pm
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    I’d say my main symptoms would be

    1. joint pain in pretty much all joints, although fingers and toes are constant and the others pretty much come and go
    2. stiffness
    3. weakness
    4. fatigue
    5. malaise (I never realized this was a symptom of arthritis until very recently. I had a breakthrough and though “I wonder if just feeling GROSS is a symptom of RA?” Looked online and surprise! Honestly it made me feel better to know it’s not all in my head)
    6. some deformity, mainly limited right now to my knuckles

    As far as whether my doctor thinks it’s “normal” RA– she’s never said otherwise. We’ve never really discussed it.

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  • August 2, 2010 at 3:07 pm
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    Also, I have a pointy painful nodule that sticks out from the side of each wrist. Typical? Don’t know.

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  • August 2, 2010 at 5:37 pm
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    I think of course the joint pain, swelling and stiffness is pretty much typical. Besides those I would say horrific bone dropping fatigue, feeling like your body is just off and not right, depression and isolation, feeling sick to your stomach and fluish, and the constant sharp locking and crunching, popping of your joints without warning. They just about bring you to your knees in pain. You can move a certain way 20 times but it is that 21st time where without warning it hits you with a sharp pain that feels like somebody is stabbing you with a knife.

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  • August 2, 2010 at 7:08 pm
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    Wow, looks like we all just about have the same “Stinky Six” symptoms….I can’t add any more but in some weird way it is rather comforting to know we are all in the RA boat together. The physical pain is enough but add in the fatigue, depression and loneliness…it is STINKY! Glad we can comiserate together, it helps! :razzmad:

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  • August 2, 2010 at 7:40 pm
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    6 classic symptoms (my opinion)
    1) fatigue
    2) swelling
    3) joint deformaties
    4) Nodules
    5) chronic pain
    6) stiffness

    My own significant symptoms (in order as symptoms began occuring)
    1) Itchy, watery eyes and very red.
    2) Chronic pain in forearms, then shoulders, hips and then jaw.
    3) shooting pains that almost feel like a static electricity x 10 in different areas at different times.
    4) Low grade temps.
    5) Respiratory infections repeatedly due to low immune.
    6) Inflammation setting into hands, feet, etc.

    I do not know if I am typical. I know my doc is puzzled at the aggressive nature of my RA. I do not know any different though. My Mother, Grandmother and Uncles all have/had very aggressive RA. When my family does it. We do it up GOOD!!;) I have Sjogrens syndrome and fibromyalgia as secondary diagnosis’s. The destruction this dreadful disease has done to my body in the last few years does not make me feel typical. But, please someone tell me what is typical.

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    • August 2, 2010 at 7:53 pm
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      Wonder why he is puzzled? Can you ask him? I hear this a lot. folks say: My doc is puzzled. That was my reason I went in search of a new doc a while back – Doc kept saying “I’m puzzled.” Why? It was unsettling to hear over & over.

      Your symptoms seem much like the rest of ours…? Just venting, Char. Thanks for participating my friend.

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  • August 2, 2010 at 9:32 pm
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    I would say that I’m pretty much in a remission. My second in 12 years. I’m hoping this lasts longer. I’m not going to STOP taking the metho just because I feel good. That was the mistake I made last time. My pain is mostly gone except after prolonged periods of activity. So I would say that my top 6 symptoms are fatigue, fatigue, fatigue, fatigue, malaise, malaise. Were it not for those 2 symptoms, I don’t think I’d feel that bad.

    I hope the rest of you can find you way to where I am so that your top 6 symptoms are only 2. I’ve been where all of you are, and stay focused, determined, move when it hurts (trust me, it helps), and think positive. Envision yourself in remission. I told myself I would get here each time. read everything you can about RA, ask your doctor and if you don’t get answers, ask other doctors. I interviewed docs several years ago when the one I really liked had an issue and shut his practice.

    Fatigue and malaise. I guess it’s not SO bad. And maybe being almost 50 means no matter how good my health is, I wouldn’t be able to do what I did at 25, right?

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  • August 2, 2010 at 10:21 pm
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    Joint pain/throbbing, swelling, and redness.
    Joint stiffness.
    Fatigue.
    Skin inflammation and redness (some itching)on my forehead.
    Depression.

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    • August 2, 2010 at 10:28 pm
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      Thanks, Brandi. 🙂
      Do you think the depression is caused by the other symptoms?

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      • August 8, 2010 at 6:22 pm
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        I think the depression is from the fatigue and from the idea of RA and the fears I have for the future. I had noticed that once the doctor added methodrexate to my regime I had a marked improvement in the depression. Also my husband is starting to understand more, that helped too. When I get really fatigued, then I cannot pretend anymore that I am not worried. I think it is multifaceted. My rheumy actually wanted to put me on antidepressants straight away and send me to a counsellor. I was able to handle it myself. Since I have found this site, I go here when I am hurting and depressed. It has really helped to know that everyone else is going through the same thing.

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        • August 8, 2010 at 8:23 pm
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          Brandi, I’m glad you are finding support here and with your spouse. The need for anti-depressants & counseling is common w/RA and nothing wrong w/ that. However, finding information & understanding may address the root problem as you show.

          Plus, your improvement w/ the mtx demonstrates another very important point: That the depression of RA is usually greatly improved if symptoms are relieved. Patients are depresssed because of their physical pain and limitations – not the other way around.
          Great discussion points Brandi. I’m glad you’re here. 🙂

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  • August 3, 2010 at 6:26 am
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    My typical RA consists of:

    1. severe pain in multiple joints: hands/wrists, toes, hips and shoulders are my worst right now (that could change tomorrow).
    2. extreme fatigue
    3. constantly feeling flu-like – “like a truck ran over me”
    4. limited range of motion
    5. weight gain (due to lack of ability to really get moving, and being unable to go shopping for good healthy food that takes time to make. not an excuse, but I have found it very difficult to come home from work and make a nice meal…it’s whatever I can find that is quick and easy with minimal clean up)
    6. DEPRESSION

    This disease has beaten down a once, very strong woman. I try to fight it everyday, but at the end of the day it comes to me taking my vicodin and going to bed.

    Kelly and this site have helped so much thru the really rough patches. I know I can work thru this one day at a time, but knowing I have to deal with this the rest of my life is very frustrating.

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  • August 3, 2010 at 6:27 am
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    BTW, my eyes drive me crazy! I thought it was all allergy related, but maybe there is more to it.

    Thank you to Kelly and everyone else on this site….just for being here.

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  • August 4, 2010 at 11:52 pm
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    So grateful to find your site!
    1. Pain in hips, feet, hands; 2. Fatigue; 3. Weakness; 4. Experiencing “The Usage Principle”; 5. Stiffness; 6. Sadness that I can’t do things I want to do.
    Starting to fight back!

    Reply
    • August 5, 2010 at 1:03 am
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      Welcome aboard, warrior Phyllis. It’s a little easier to fight together.

      Reply
  • September 27, 2010 at 9:43 am
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    6 “typical” RA symptoms?? Gosh I hate even thinking about trying to answer it.
    1) Pain in joints (usually occurring on both sides of the body) ie, both hands, both knees, both feet, etc.

    2) Swelling in said joints

    3)Markers in the blood

    4) Fatigue

    5) Malaise

    6) Joint deformity

    OK, having posted those, we all know that there is NO typical RA. I thought there was at some point, but after hearing everyone talk about their experiences, we’re all different. I have 4 of the six above…but almost no swelling even when I am in excruciating pain and my levels are up. I have very little joint deformity, none that is easily seen by others. I have issues with my throat. And I almost always have a low grade fever at night. Another biggie for me is Depression…its almost as debilitating as the RA some days.

    I think my symptoms are as typical as the next person, by my Rheumy has already said I have Atypical Rheumatoid Arthritis…just because I have little to no swelling.

    Reply
    • September 27, 2010 at 9:52 am
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      Thanks, Kathy. Have you already read the ‘swelling” post in February? About 150 comments to look over. How do you feel about what your rheum doc said?

      Reply
    • September 27, 2010 at 10:11 am
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      Yeah I read it Kelly, a few months back when I was at my wits end and in tears thinking I was losing my mind. I know that my Rheumy doesn’t doubt the RA as my levels are always high and I have so many other symptoms. I think he just doubts how much pain I am in as there is no swelling and what pain I’m in he thinks my possibly be FMS. I find it frustrating, and maddening. The article and the comments helped though as I know that there are many of us out there with so called “Atypical” RA. I just have to keep pushing and being an advocate for myself, which has always been a problem. I’m one of those who just nods and says ok whatever you think. When I see him in October, I’ve got a list started for him of questions I have…and all the symptoms I’ve had over the last several months.

      Reply
      • September 27, 2010 at 11:11 am
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        That is exactly what I thought you meant. Not that the dx is doubted, but that your symptoms are attributed to other things. This is exactly what I hope to reach the docs about. You know they actually debate whether a patient can still have pain without visible swelling. It is an academic debate with them. I just want you to be encouraged to know you are not alone nor unusual in your situation. :heart:

        Reply
  • September 27, 2010 at 9:47 am
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    First I wanted to say thank you to everyone that wrote about their symptoms, because I have been newly diagnosed and I thought some of the things that I had been feeling where just everyday life.
    Here are some things that I have felt.
    Fatigue like no other
    Pain and stiffness
    Tingling in my hand
    Swelling and redness
    Not getting a good nights sleep
    Eye itching

    Reply
  • September 27, 2010 at 9:50 am
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    I was diagnosed 18 months ago from an ultrasound on my finger joints as there was no rhumatoid factor in my blood tests .
    here are my 6.
    1.stiffness in morning and after rest or just sitting for a while.
    2.Joint pain, mostly fingers,but wrists, shoulders, elbows knees & feet
    3. Joint swelling
    4. Tiredness and being able to sleep & sleep.
    5.Disfigured joints mostly in the fingers
    6.Sore and tender achillies tendons

    Reply
  • September 27, 2010 at 10:06 am
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    Narrowing it down to 6!
    1. Pain in joints-anywhere from a mild ache to feeling like my bones are being crushed.
    2. Hot, red swollen joints. So hot I can feel them through my clothes, though this is much better since my meds kicked in.
    3. Feeling flu-like. Running low-grade fevers when I am in a flare and feeling generally crummy.
    4. FATIGUE! Unlike anything I have ever felt. Never quite goes away unless I am on prednisone.
    5. Stiffness. Comes and goes. Sometimes have none. Sometimes only lasts a few minutes. Sometimes am like the tin man. Can’t figure this one out–though it is worse when my disease is more active. Doesn’t necessarily correlate with other symptoms.
    6. Hmm–only one more? Dryness. Dry mouth, dry eyes, dry everything. Probably secondary sjogrens. Or maybe medication side effect. Drives me crazy.

    Reply
    • September 27, 2010 at 10:12 am
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      I’m not your doc, but Secondary Sjogrens seems typical to me too. Thanks for the input.

      Reply
  • September 27, 2010 at 10:08 am
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    My 6 Symptoms:

    1. PAIN! Pain in my collarbones (shoulders actually), hips (unable to lay on either side) shooting pains down my shins. Morning stiffness.

    2. TIRED/MALAISE! Tired all the time, feeling like I am moving in slow motion, exhaustion, unable to walk around. Feeling sick, feverish, bad, awful, like the flu.

    3. PHANTOM SENSATIONS! Up and down my spine, almost as if someone was running their hands up and down my back.

    4. SKIN RASHES & HOT FLASHES! I developed skin problems, something that seemed like pimples on my face, red face, rashes on my right ring and middle finger. Hot flashes, flushing, feeling feverish. Possibly allergic reactions to nightshades.

    5. INSOMNIA! I was up all night! I was in too much pain to sleep, I cried A LOT!!!

    6. DRY EYES! Dry red eyes and sores inside my nose.

    During the time that all of these things were happening I was going to school full time and had just given birth to my fourth daughter. I repeatedly went back to the PCP only to be told that there was nothing wrong, it was anxiety, post partum, bla bla bla. It was none of those. It was RA.

    My two years of misdiagnosis caused me a lot of emotional distress because it left me feeling that there was no end to or relief from the horrible physical pain I was feeling. It left me feeling hopeless.

    Since my diagnosis by my rheumy, my PCP and others (who don’t have RA) have said to me:

    “RA comes on suddenly”.

    The fact was my blood test showed I had the RA factor almost 9 months before I was told about RA (after I said I thought I had lupus they re-checked my blood work) and sent to the rheumy. In my mind I think:

    When you develop RA why don’t you let me know if it comes on suddenly? I don’t think it does come on suddenly.

    Reply
    • September 27, 2010 at 10:11 am
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      Thank you for sharing, Ruby. Mine came on slowly over many years and then got much worse suddenly shortly after a childbirth. I have heard of many different patterns – maybe there is more than one “typical” pattern, but many people say they had symptoms for years before diagnosis. Do you have a new doc now?

      Reply
  • September 27, 2010 at 10:49 am
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    RA started with hands and fingers that didn’t work properly. RA ongoing is Sjogren’s syndrome and dry mouth. RA is medication side effects and bad interactions. RA is limitations on all aspects of my life. RA is fatigue, thick and gluey, as clingy as a scared two year old and just as hard to get away from.

    Reply
  • September 27, 2010 at 1:23 pm
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    6 most common symptoms…fatigue, swelling, stiffness, redness, low grade fever, pain.

    My most significant symptoms…pain, fatigue, restlessness, lack of strength.

    I would consider my ra typical. My rheumie hasn’t described it as anything other than ra.

    Reply
  • September 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm
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    Joint Pain (Mostly bi-lateral) Very specific pain NOT diffuse
    Hands
    Feet
    Shoulders
    Hips
    TMJ
    ———-
    Pain can be all of these things Burning Aching Sharp & Dull
    ————————————-
    Morning Stiffness…(a misnomer I am stiff most of the time
    —————————–
    Lumps or Bumps…in Wrist & Feet
    ——————————
    +ANA Anti Nuclear Antibodies
    Sl. Elevated Sed Rate…(Only caught it elevated once
    Normal inflammation markers…which confuses the “Medical Folks”
    RF Factor Negative
    Anti-CCP negative
    According to my Rheum Doc…this is totally unimpressive
    ———————————————–

    Reply
  • September 27, 2010 at 2:07 pm
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    Oh goodness I forgot the biggest one…FATIGUE !!!

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  • September 27, 2010 at 2:08 pm
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    the indescribable pain – the all consuming cannot think straight hurt.

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    • September 27, 2010 at 2:47 pm
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      That one I know about. True. Now to get everyone else to believe in it.

      Reply
  • September 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm
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    From reading the other comments it seems like although there are commonalities, there is really no “typical” RA patient. The symptoms and responses to treatment are so varied!
    I was diagnosed finally about a year ago (after two years of my health going downhill and the pain becoming increasingly worse). For me the top six symptoms are: 1. Pain in joints (Doctors always ask me which so… neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, knees, feet, toes mostly) 2. Stiffness 3. Mind numbing fatigue 4. Swelling of joints 5. Corresponding muscle weakness around whatever joint is bothering me 6. Any cold lasting weeks and triggering asthma.
    There’s also the issue of changes happening internally so that my doctors feel that the RA is affecting my kidneys, liver and heart. This has stablized for the moment however.
    The good news is that my treatment of Methotrexate, Plaquenil and Folic Acid seems to be working fairly well — as long as I also get enough rest (up to 14 hours some days), stay away from salt, stay hydrated and keep my sense of humor.

    Reply
    • September 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm
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      Thanks, Rosa. Good points. I’m glad the treatment is working for you.

      Reply
  • September 27, 2010 at 10:07 pm
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    mine seem just a little different…i dont know i hope i’m not alone with this but here it goes..

    1. cronic hives..sometimes as big as dinner plates!!
    2.cricoaryenoid (sp) arthritis..the worst thing in my life.
    3.pain..pain everyplace
    4.fatigue
    5.burning joints/hands
    6.swollen lymph nodes/fever

    Cricoarynoid arthritis was the worst thing i ever experienceId in my life!! and its something thats hard to get info about…but thanks to Kelly I found it here!..Since i started MTX I havent had it again..(thank goodness)
    I’ve had plursy 3 times in 2 years…its hard to find info about that as well…then theres Hives..barely mentioned ever…wonder why? I should add since MTX hives are all but gone…I never want to be with out it again..lol
    Almost forgot….never had swelling except once when i was coming off prednisone.

    Kim

    Reply
  • September 27, 2010 at 10:10 pm
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    forgot to say nodgles…i have those as well…under my toes and on my fingers…yikes!!!do they hurt!!

    Kim

    Reply
  • September 29, 2010 at 3:54 am
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    * What do you think are the 6 most classic symptoms of RA? I know there are dozens of different symptoms, so try your best.

    1) Swollen, hot joints. Sometimes, even with meds, the heat that can generate from a joint area can make my other skin feel ‘cold’! Moderate levels make it feel as if I’ve stuck the joint in very, very hot water for a while.

    2)Joint pain. From general aching and stiffness at best, to sharp in the joint pain that feels like someone has got a sharp needle or knife and driven it in there. You cannot describe it. I also have Osteoarthritis, which pre-dates my RA – and there is NO comparison.

    3) General fatigue. A job that used to take minutes can now take hours, or even days, and I can sometimes sleep for a week!

    4) Morning stiffness, and end of day stiffness. Not to be confused with point 2 I talk about. These are different in that I effectively ‘seize up’ all over, inc. muscle stiffness while asleep, and as the day wears on, it begins to return. The more I do, the quicker that happens.

    5) Finding that I need to surround myself when sleeping with soft pillows. I’ve also had to go for a mattress foam top, because I felt like I was sleeping on concrete, even though it was a new mattress that was fairly soft.

    6) No strength in hands or fingers (severity changes each day). This means opening jars, pill bottles or even trying to pop a pill out of a foil packet becomes a marathon.

    * What are your own most significant symptoms? I know it’s hard, try to keep it to 6 or fewer.

    1) Joint pain.

    2) Fatigue.

    3) Swelling and heat from joints.

    4) Lack of mobility.

    5) I have real problems now with rashes. Have to really watch my washing powder for example (have found only 2 I can use so far, both environmentally friendly that is great, but cost a fortune).

    6) Regardless of where I sit, or lie – never being comfortable for long.

    * Do you think your own Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms are typical? Does your doctor?

    Yes, although my Rhuemy took ages to decide it was RA, because I was showing Sero-neg bloods. But did treat with RA drugs to begin with (which I always found strange, if they didn’t think it was RA). I can’t remember the name they gave to begin with, but after time, they modified their diagnosis. I’ve always thought I had RA though when reading others symptoms etc, because for the most part they have nearly always mirrored mine.

    Reply
  • March 11, 2011 at 9:38 am
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    Number One: Malaise
    Number Two: Pain A. Hands, B. Neck, D. Shoulders, E. elbows, F. Sciatica
    Number Three: Degenerative Disc Disease A. Neck B. Lower Back
    Number Four: Itching A. Giant Hives B. Morning Palm itch C. Dry Eyes
    Number Five: Depression with swelling and burning and freezing of A. Hands B. Feet
    Number Six: Feeling this bad with a negative RF & SED rate normal….Feeling invalidated just an invalid….

    Reply
    • March 11, 2011 at 11:15 am
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      Sorry I forgot there has to be a Number Seven… Sweating profusely feels like a fever.

      Reply
  • April 16, 2011 at 8:15 am
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    1. Joint pain – ranges from annoying achiness to sharp pain; swelling only occurs in hands.
    2. Significant joints affected: hands (all joints – recently including several DIP), feet (almost all joints), ankles, knees, shoulders, neck and one lower rib
    3. Unbelievable fatigue / malaise but sometimes anxiety (maybe Enbrel?) Rheum seems to doubt the level of fatigue
    4. Red hands, often feel like on fire
    5. Itchy eyes
    6. Degenerative disks in lumbar region and neck

    Note: Even though foot x-ray considered “normal,” bone recently protrudes from side of foot, sometimes painful

    Diagnosed one year ago

    Reply

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