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Do I have any serious rheumatological disease?

Q: I have been struggling with my health for almost four to five years. I began having, what I thought were, neurological problem a couple of years before my first child birth. My health was pretty good except for two episodes that involved persistent head tingling and a sudden development of migraine headache. The neurological symptoms got worse about a year after my child was born. I started twitching and jerking a lot. After my second child was born, my lower back started hurting and still does. The pain is around the tail bone and involves my groin muscles and affects my feet and legs too. I have had stiffness and trouble walking at times. My chest hurts and the pain extends to my shoulder blades. I have started having trouble with my muscle functions such as passing gas, coughing and yawning. Nearly two years ago I had a false positive ANA with a family history of thyroid and lupus. I have been convinced by a doctor that its not lupus, but they don't know what it is. One doctor even told me to give up on finding out what it is. Do I need to have another ANA? And is there anything to worry about? Please help.

A:It is always difficult to make a diagnosis only based upon what the patient has described without the benefit of cross-checking and clarifications and reviewing the other systems. But, one important point related to rheumatological disease is that if the symptoms are persisting for more than 1 year and still on physical examination the rheumatologist does not find anything positive then, it is unlikely to be anything serious. This simply means that most of the serious crippling or killer rheumatological or systemic autoimmune diseases show up within 1 year of the onset of symptoms. Therefore, my guess is that you are unlikely to have any serious systemic disease. I also feel that the symptoms that you have described are likely to be due to a condition called fibromyalgia but before that diagnostic label gets stuck with you, you would require to be seen by a qualified and experienced rheumatologist to get your medical history in greater detail and go through the review of systems carefully. If the diagnosis of fibromyalgia gets confirmed then, there is effective treatment available to make you feel better.


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