Acute onset, post-viral arthritis

Hi, I'm 52 and developed an acute onset attack of RA after having persistent and resistant throat infections last winter. I literally went to bed fine and woke up barely able to move. I could hardly walk for the pain in all my joints and couldn't hold a cup, my hands were so swollen and painful. Long story short, my CRP was dangerously high, my GP ended up putting me on steroids and sent an 'urgent' referral to a rheumatologist. She told me I'd get a phone call from them but as it turned out I was sent an appointment in the post for two weeks later and by the time I got it, the symptoms had more or less completely gone. That was early in the year and since then, whenever I have a cold or other viral condition, my joints get a bit achy and feel a little unstable. However, this week, they're much more painful (although nothing like as bad as the first time) and I don't have any virus that I'm aware of. I'm going to call my GP in the morning as I thought it was getting better but took the dog out a wee while ago and when he pulled on the leash on seeing another dog, could hardly hold him. My hands don't look swollen but feel tight and my ring is tight where it's normally loose. All my other joints are painful too. Anyway, I'm naturally worried that the initial episode was not a 'one off' as the rheumatologist hoped, and wonder what I can do to help minimise or delay the effects of this on my joints. I'm looking into RA diets, etc, but any advice from someone who has experienced something similar would be so welcome. The RA blood test was negative and there is no family history of RA.

9 Replies

  • My advice would be take pain meds and anti inflammatories until you can see your Dr. My first flare was after having swine flu, I spent 3 weeks in hospital and was told I had CFS. It took another 2 years before I was diagnosed with sero+ RA. Don't give up, there is help out there ☺

  • My advice would be to ask to be seen again and see what "hold off" dose they could recommend. I dtarted like you after a throat and ear infection then all my symptoms vanished. A few months later i got a serious chest infection that hit me very suddenly and left me without the strength to get up stairs. I am certain to this day that my body digging deep to find the means to fight that infection triggered my RA and it followed along right behind it with an urelenting vengeance, my consultant acted quickly but suspected it could switch off as fast as it came but im afraid nearly 5 years down the line it never did and now the joint destruction i have is extensive. I hope for you this isnt a trigger and i have to say the consultant did state that mine was exceptional (oh lucky me!).

  • I had strange on and off joint pain for about 8 years before my RA diagnosis. I would wake up one morning and be unable to hold a cup of coffee, the next day I would be fine. I'd go months to a year feeling normal and then my ankles wouldn't work. My doctor would say I must of strained my arms, wristes etc because everything would go back to normal.

    Looking back, I wish I would of been tested for Ra. I did not know my aunt had RA as she never told anyone. She suffered in silence. I wish I would of been started on a low dose of hydroxychloroquine (one of the milder dmards). They say 20/20 hindsight is wishful thinking.

    I wish I would of known of my wonderful aunts RA. I would of been more helpful to her. I would of been aware of my strange symptoms and maybe I would not be suffering now.

    I do not mean to tell you that you must start on a mild dmard to halt any progression. This is your choice. I just wish I had.

    take care


  • Hi,

    Have you been checked for Strep throat (Streptococcus). I ask because I had repeated bouts of this before developing rheumatic fever as a teenager and getting it treated may help hold RA off at arms length for longer.


  • Thanks for the reply, Ali, yes, I had throat swabs done and am prone to strep throat which has always cleared up quickly in the past with penicillin but nothing cleared it the last time. I did also get an ENT referral but by the time I actually saw the ENT fella, the sore throats had gone. Do you think I should ask for a swab in the absence of symptoms? As mentioned below, I am fortunate enough to have an appt with the rheumatologist on Friday.

  • Looking at your diet to see if there are things that influence how you feel is well worth a try. Too much sugar, combined with wheat can make my hands and wrists swell up almost as I watch.

    Unfortunately there is no easy way to determine what to avoid other than by eliminating things and reintroducing them. We are all different, but meat, sugar, wheat / gluten, dairy, citrus, coffee, tea, preservatives, artificial colourings are all worth investigating...hope you find something that works for you!

  • My symptoms started a couple of months after having shingles. I had had similar symptoms in the past that went away. RF negative. But this time was here to stay. I followed another path as they thought it was another problem but ruled it out and referred to a Rhuematologist. Whereby RA was diagnosed earlier this year. RAF was negative but Anti CCP positive. Anti CCP is a relatively new test and is specific to RA. Whereas RF is more generalised to other rheumatic conditions.

    See your GP

    Hope you sorted soon


  • Thanks Matilda for your reply. I was lucky enough that when I saw the rheumatologist in March, he said if I had a recurrence of symptoms, I should call them direct, so after posting yesterday, my brain caught up, and while I admit my current symptoms aren't as bad as the initial flare up, they are life-limiting, insofar as I can't go on the long walks my dog needs and indeed have difficulty even handling his leash, he's a big GSD. So, I called today and the consultant called me back, we discussed my symptoms and he's seeing me Friday morning out with his clinic, which is VERY good of him. I've to get bloods done tomorrow, CRP, FBC, LFTSs, U&Es and Uric Acid. When I see him I'll mention the Anti CCP. Thanks again x

  • Oh, and I can't really take anti-inflammatories as I am mildly allergic to aspirin ... Mind you, I have taken ibuprofen, on occasion, for bad headaches as that's all that works and as long as I take it on a full stomach, I don't tend to get the allergy symptoms of wheeziness or puffy, watering eyes. But I'm concerned this will negatively affect any potential treatment for RA should that be necessary.

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