could this be RA? rheumy says no

I am a 32 year old female. After an especially strenuous yoga class two weeks ago (which involved a lot of upper body poses ie pressure on elbows, wrists, neck) i started getting stinging pains in my fingers and wrists of both hands (and to a lesser extent the elbows). The pain only lasts for a few seconds and seems to emanate from the knuckles and small finger joints but when i press down on the joints there is NO tenderness.

On consulting Dr Goolge (i suffer from health anxiety!), all signs (esp the symmetrical joint pain) pointed to RA (i already have autoimmune thyroid). However, I do not have any obvious swelling, redness or morning stiffness (and no tenderness to touch). I am even able to crack my knuckles without any obvious pain.

To put my fears to rest I went and saw the rheumy who (based on a physical exam) said there is no swelling or tenderness in my fingers and that my joints are fine. He thinks the pain is coming from my bulging cervical discs (made worse by yoga) - ie some sort of nerve compression. He suggests I start physiotherapy.

I want very much to believe him but these pains are really freaking me out - to the extent that i wake up at night with my finger stinging (almost like an electric current feeling). Should i get a second opinion? - the rheumy did not order any xrays or bloodwork (although i did have my ANA, CRP and ESR tested in Feb and all were normal). Or should I just accept his diagnosis and try and ignore the pains (and hope that it is indeed some kind of nerve related pain - which according to my physiotherapist doesn't usually occur on both sides).

Any opinions would be much appreciated!

5 Replies

  • It is too hard for anyone here to say brendala - we aren't experienced enough with the symptoms of others and RA/ RD can begin in any number of ways.

    If it is RD it will get worse and show itself up in synovial swelling and stiffnes probably. I have to say that initially my pains didn't show up as swelling or heat but it was in both my wrists and knees and prevented me from navigating stairs etc. Then it became pollyarthritis and I never knew where I'd have it from day to day. Finally it settled in my hands about six months from onset and after another three months I was diagnosed because by that time the synovial swelling was quite clear.

    I did and still do have the stinging pain you describe but I think in my case it is from inflammation in my soft tissue that presses on my nerves. My inflammation markers (ESR and CRP) are usually high. In my fingers I think it is early OA for me as it's in the top joints closest to the nails.

    I hope this helps.


  • I had similar pains and it was cervical spine bulging. Do ask for MRI scan to confirm it and eke getting checked up , hope it sorts soon xx

  • I have learnt during my RA journey symmetrical doesn't necessarily mean at the same time, just averaging over a year it will affect both sides equally. I asked my Rheumy about this as I was going through a phase of getting wandering pain here and there, not on both sides at once and he told me this. xx

  • I would suggest this is a pinched nerve in your cervical spine.

  • Thanks all for the replies.

    Update - I went and saw another rheumy who (based on a physical exam) arrived at the same conclusion (no RA). He also did an RF test which was negative (and a B12, folate test which was also normal).

    Has prescribed some vitamin supplements and clonazepam (similar to valium i think).

    i am relieved of course. Meanwhile the pains continue - will try physiotherapy.

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