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Newbie waiting to see GP

Hi. I'm a 41 year old mum of two, and teaching assistant, and I already have one autoimmune condition that affects my thyroid. I have had a sudden onset of stiff painful joints (ankles, knees, fingers/wrists and to a lesser extent elbows and the top of my spine). I'm usually very active and strong person but I'm struggling to open screw caps and cut tough food! The pain and stiffness/swelling varies through the day and from day to day. On Tuesday I could run up a flight of stairs but by Weds morning I was hobbling about! Since I already have an AI condition I have made the soonest GP appt I can (Tues) and am trying to make the most of the long weekend in the meantime.

I am aware of the limits of a self-diagnosis but for now I am working on the theory that RA is a strong possibility and would welcome any words of wisdom about how to approach the GP appt and what to expect.



6 Replies


Sorry you find yourself here.

I guess we all wish we had no need to be here, but my goodness, this site has been my lifeline the past few years since diagnosis.

There is no definate test for RA, but a consultant will look at blood test results and clinical symptoms to make a diagnosis.

Your GP will most likely order some blood tests, prescribe you some anti inflammatories and refer to a rheumatologist. GPS can't diagnose, only a rheumatologist can do that.

Waiting times for rheumatology seem to vary hugely in different areas. I got to " choose and book" and had my first appointment about 3 weeks after referral, so quite good I think.

Good luck and do let us know how you get on.


Get some blood tests done by the GP & if it's at all likely it's RA get an appointment to see a rheumatologist ASAP.

Whinge if you have to....but getting swift treatment could be a lifesaver.

Don't be persuaded to "wait & see"... You need to be on top of things for your job & your children.

Hope you see a caring & sympathetic GP on Tuesday....if prescribed Prednisolone try to get off it ASAP.

RA is not the end if the world but rheumatology consultants are thin on the ground so you may need to push to get an early date to see one.

Good Luck hope all goes well

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Have a look at the NRAS website page on diagnosis. Keep a record of what is happening and take photos of any swollen joints. You could be lucky and just have a reactive arthritis which will recover!


Some GPs know little about inflammatory arthritis, and can be inclined to shrug it off as age/menopause (although you're a bit young!) or wear and tear. Sometimes you have to be politely pushy to get them to refer you. My GPs surgery had a policy that you had to have had symptoms for more than 6 weeks, and at least one obviously swollen joints before they would refer you. Which given that waiting time to get an appointment with rheumy can be 18 weeks it's a bit rough.

Rack your brains to remember if there is any family history (there's a weak genetic link), note down your timeline, symptoms and anything you have tried to relieve pain.

Also sometimes you do have to be a bit direct - a fine line to tread as some GPs resent well informed patients. But ask if the hospital has an early arthritis clinic that you can be referred to as you've read that the earlier the treatment the better the long term outcomes.


Echoing the value of taking a photo of any red/swollen joints and a note of how each painful joint has affected your normal activity.

I found that every activity from walking to cleaning my teeth could vary from day to day, especially at the beginning, and I've got a compulsion to say " I'm fine" or "it's not too bad" instead of focussing on the worst days. Which is OK for general conversation, but not good when you want an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment!

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So things have settled a little over the last few days but I'm still getting the stiffness and pain first thing which gradually subsides over the day. GP has sent me off with a bunch of blood tests to have so we will see what comes from that. Have been reading lots of other posts on here and gaining lots of useful insights 'just in case' so thanks everyone. :)


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