More a rant than a question

On Wednesday I had my first appointment with a Rheumatologist. She was very nice, and commented on my odd route to rheumatology (via the physio which my GP sent me to) and was clearly annoyed I'd been sent for physio in the first place. She thought RA was "likely" in my case and ordered blood tests and X-rays, but she also tested me for under active thyroid and sjorgens and I have to ask myself why hasn't my GP already done these tests to rule them out. It is 6 months since I first went to my GP, and, apart from feeling upset at my "likely" diagnosis, which I thought I had already accepted as the most likely outcome, I now have a hope that I "only" have under active thyroid. I blame my GP for this, and I'm really disappointed with their reaction to my symptoms. If they had ruled out other possibilities earlier, I could have concentrated now on learning to accept and deal with RA, but instead I'm still hoping its not, and if it is I'll be so much further back from accepting it, if that makes sense. Anyway, Rheumatologist gave me a steroid injection, and yesterday at this time my hands felt almost normal, so I think its helping.

Anyone else have GPs who didn't bother to test for other things?

7 Replies

oh dear lin hope it all gets sorted i had thyroid trouble and have since had it removed!! but my arthertis appeard to get worse after removel, my dr is crap i now having counselling coz she was so cold to me over something that happened in my past xxxx


Sorry to hear that, bad enough to have RA without the thyroid problems too! A bad GP is worse than no GP, and it sounds like you could do with changing to a new one. I know mine left me feeling that she thought I was just wasting her time

Sorry also for my rant. I knew the Rheumy wouldn't be able to give me a definite diagnosis, as there would be tests, but had thought that getting seen by a specialist, I would leave with a clear idea of whether it was or wasn't likely to be RA, and I would be able to start moving forward from there. I did get a clear sense that she thinks I have RA, but the tests for thyroid clouded it for me and leaves me still confused about what's going on. Some days I'm absolutely sure I have RA. Other days I'm just as convinced I'm mistaken, and most days I spend far too long thinking about it, instead of just getting on with life. Still, ranting over for today, sun's shining and I'm off to a concert at the Royal Festival Hall tonight!


Hi there,

One of the characteristics of RA is that it can be difficult to diagnose, and some of the tests can only be done by the consultant rheumy, and they have to consider other possibilities too. Yes it's a shame that your doc didn't at least rule in/out a thyroid problem, but even if that had been done & you'd been sent straight to rheumy you may not have got a more definate diagnosis any quicker. The reason that I was told is that because this is an incurable condition and is treated with very strong drugs they do need to be careful not to make a diagnosis of RA (or at least one of the inflamatory arthritis) unless 100% sure. A lot of us have had a period of wondering "have I or haven't I got RA?". Doesn't make it easier for you I know, as it's a rubbish period, but I think your let's get on with life attitude is the best one to have! Hope sun keeps shining for you. Polly



If it's any consolation I have a rubbish GP too. Mine diagnosed metatarsalgia (pains in the feet!!) and sent me to a chiropodist. It took 2 years and a trainee GP visiting the Practice to diagnose RA. By looking at my hands and my knuckles.

I diagnosed my own Sjogrens by reading a leaflet with a strange title. I was bored during a very long wait at the Rheumatology Clinic. I suddenly understood why my eyes stung and my glands were swollen all the time.

As for denial, - I am still hoping they are wrong about my RA some days, when I feel good. And that's 20 years later!


Hi Lyn - my GP was a lot better by the sounds of it than yours but the rheumy left me as "inconclusive" first time and second visit I was diagnosed - but quite hesitantly. He kept asking me what I'd like to be done and turned everything into a rhetorical question e.g "so what would you like to do - shall we try you on Methotrexate or Sulphasalazine then?" which made me feel so uncertain - as though I was leading him rather than just getting a diagnosis first.

Polly is right of course - it is better that they are sure - and many of us on here have thyroid problems which of course your GP should have checked out first that's for certain. But GPs are much easier to change than rheumys so at least it sounds like it's the right way round. And as someone who is currently fretting about the side effects of Methotrexate on me - the uncertaintly continues to dog us even when we are on the drugs - ie was it really serious enough RA to justify taking this horrible, toxic medication?

I have been exactly where you are now and am just starting to accept that I do have RA but nothing that is happening around me makes this any easier. I've just had to decide to go with the flow and stop torturing myself mentally. It is the worst time that you are at because of the limbo - and you can't fully tell yourself that you've got it if you haven't been told. But coming to terms with the fact that your body is changing radically means that it doesn't matter really if it's because of thyroid or hormonal shifts (or menopause in my case) what matters is that you start to accept your body's new limitations and try your hardest to seize the day whenever you can. It is still taking up a hugely disproportionate amount of my time and all of my thinking from morning to night but am hoping it won't be forever. Take care and keep us posted. TTx



I have underactive thyroid for many years and RA for only a few. Seems odd that one could be mistaken for the other?? The sympthoms of RA are quite different aside from the fatigue, which is a different type of tiredness with RA, well I feel it is and I have had both active.

Thyroid problems are easily treated with medication and bi annual checks. RA on the other hand is much more complicated. My thyroid was diagnosed not by T4 testswhich are the norm, but by an anti body test.

Anyhow, The best of luck, I hoep it turns out you do not have RA after all that would be great. I have said it before G.Ps with the best of intentions are not the ones who should be treating RA or suspected RA. If you want to be assured about Thyroid problems you should really see an endocrinologist. Follow ups are OK with GP, but the endo should assess and prescribe & review at least once a year.

I have not heard of sore hands/wrists, inflammation,stiffness with thyroid???

weight gain, heavy periods, dry eyes, eyebrow loss, dry skin, fatigue, weak nails etc are assoc with U/A thyroid.

Best wishes, Gina


Sorry that you are still waiting to find out what is causing your problems. It does sound like you are in the right place now. My GP was also hopeless when I first went about my aches when I was 27. He told me I had growing pains and to take ibuprofen! Growing pains at 27??

Luckily he worked in a practise and I just requested to see another GP a few months later when it was getting worse. I cried with frustration and got a blood test out of it. Which showed a Lupus indicator. But it was enough to get me to hospital and then a diagnosis of RA. It took over a year before I was on a stable treatment that worked. I hope you get the answers and treatments you need very soon.


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