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First appt with rheumatologist next week - what to expect?

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I am seeing a rheumatologist for the first time next week. I have had pain in my hands and feet for months. Sometimes it feels stiff, other times it feels like I have dropped something really heavy on my toes. I have had an absolutely unbelievable amount of fatigue as well. I saw my family practice doc, and she did a number of blood tests and put me on prednisone. The only blood test that came back abnormal was the C Reactive Protein (a general inflammatory marker), which was very high. Rheumatoid factor was normal. The prednisone made me jump out of my skin, but otherwise didn't help much. She recommended I go to the rheumatologist. I also have an itchy rash on my hips that comes and goes.


If it is something autoimmune like RA, how long does the diagnosis process take? In other words, is this going to drag on forever and still I won't know what is wrong? I feel horrible and lazy because I am getting very little done. The stupidest things wear me out.


Does anyone have any advice?




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Be prepared for lots of blood work. My R got the nickname vampire from the nurses at the lab lol. There are specific markers they look at for various autoimmune disorders, but do not expect a clear cut answer the first visit unless you have a high level of some markers. I had several markers for several conditions, but then the next visit those went away and others popped up, and now I have no markers. I still have symptoms, so I take Aleeve for joint pain, and I will go again in 6 months. Sigh. Medicine is as much an art as a science, and blood work is only one piece of the puzzle, the doc's expertise is another, your description of the symptoms is another, and so on.

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Depends on the rheumy, afa how long to get to a diagnosis/treatment.


My first appointment was a 45 minute one....detailed medical history, physical exam including putting my body into different positions (arms up high, hands pressed together, etc.) to check range of motion, and a lab draw. I think it was 5-6 vials total (smaller tubes).

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