"Where there is creativity, there is hope." ~ Donna Karan


by - Monday, September 06, 2010

For the last four years my joint pain has been labelled with the name polyarthritis. All blood tests and scan results have come back negative. I was diagnosed with non-effusive inflammatory polyarthritis. This basically means that my joint pain is a result of inflammation in my body of which the source is unidentifiable. Non-effusive means that there is no evidence of joint erosion's (damage) or fluid build up. Little did I know that this would all change.

When I was diagnosed my rheumatologist (okay, from now on I am using rheumy when possible because it is just too long!) said that it was a matter of a waiting game, trialing different drugs and keeping an eye out for elevated blood tests to see what path the joint pain would take. Although I have joint pain in every joint apart from my hip, earlier this year I noticed that the pain in my hands was becoming more of a concern. Daily things that are so often taken for granted such as opening and holding things, shampooing my hair or washing my face have gradually become a painful and some days impossible mission. Overall I have also noticed a drastic increase in my joint pain and joint stiffness and mobility are progressively becoming worse.

In the last few months I have been waking up to puffy and red joints, especially affecting my middle and little fingers. The camera doesn't capture it that well but you get the picture.

Aside from the occasional puffiness, my hands appear 'normal'. The sharp pangs of pain aren't visible on the outside and often I have wondered what is happening on the inside. In May of this year I found out. I tested positive for rheumatoid factor and MRI results proved my pain! My pain is REAL.

MRI scans revealed inflammation in both my wrists and fingers as well as fluid build up in my wrists and a possible joint erosion in my left hand. Yikes! Here is what inflammation looks like.....

It's all the white stuff in my finger and wrist joints just in case it isn't obvious. So that is what my hand looks like on the inside. Pretty.

In the written report the radiographers questioned if I had ever injured my left hand and no, I have never injured or broken anything in my life so in light of this my rheumy suspects that I have a joint erosion as a result of the arthritis. It sounds kind of scary to think that I have a joint erosion in my early twenties! So what does this mean? Probably rheumatoid arthritis. For me to be officially diagnosed and therefore qualify for stronger drugs, I have to have confirmation of a joint erosion and as scan results were not able to clearly indicate this, repeat scans next month are in order. My rheumy informed me that joint erosion's take years to form and therefore years to show up on scans and mine is just starting to show so next month it should be confirmed.

After years of misinformed medical professionals telling me that I had a 'nothing' type of arthritis, my rheumatologist states that I have a serious type of arthritis. So what is my given diagnosis at present? Effusive inflammatory polyarthritis/suspected rheumatoid arthritis.

At a recent visit to my rheumatologist we discussed my sudden weight loss. All necessary tests have come back negative so only one cause for my weight loss remains. Rheumatoid arthritis. In light of this my rheumatologist thinks that I just may not need a repeat MRI scan after all....................

to be continued....

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