Recently I gave in and went to see a rheumatologist after more than 3 months of intense morning stiffness and swelling of my hands (especially around the PIPs and MCPs) and wrists which improved during the day but never went away. It had gotten to the point where I could no longer open small lid jars (decreased strength), do my push-ups or pull ups (pain and limited wrist motion), and OTC products (Tylenol, Advil, etc) weren’t working. I can’t take Aleve due to the severe esophagitis it induces. I didn’t want to write a prescription for my self-diagnosed (without) lab arthritis.
BTW, all the lab work came back negative with the exception of a slightly elevated sed rate and very weakly positive ANA. The rheumatologist was impressed with the swelling, pain, and stiffness and was as surprised as I by the normal lab work. He thinks (and I agree) that I am in the early presentation of rheumatoid arthritis. He wrote a prescription for Celebrex and told me to continue with the Zantac I was already taking (thanks to the Aleve). The Celebrex is helping.
*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*