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Is rheumatic arthritis the cause of my problems?

Q: I am a 36-years-old female. Since the past two years, I have had pain in my feet and fingers. Now the pain has extended to the knees, ankles, wrist and occasionally the elbows. The pain in the feet and fingers has gone worse. Though it is not like pain, it is not comfortable for me to hold my hand/fingers straight out. The pain and stiffness in the morning is less if I sleep with my fists closed. The strength in my hands has also decreased. On discussing this with my doctor, he prescribed a bood test. The result was negative for rheumatic arthritis. I also have Crohn's disease (IBD), but have been in remission for 5 years. I would like to know if there is something other than rheumatic arthritis that would cause these problems. Please suggest.

A:Your symptoms are rather typical of inflammatory polyarthritis. This could be related to your past history of Crohn's disease or, it could be a separate disease like rheumatoid arthritis. Do remember that there are a large number of causes of inflammatory polyarthritis. Only a trained and experienced rheumatologist can make a diagnosis after appropriate clinical assessment. Therefore, you must immediately try to find out a rheumatologist (physicians with specialised training in the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions; not orthopaedic surgeons). Most doctors have little or no training or understanding of joint diseases. Therefore, there are high chances that you will get misled if you go to other doctors. In rheumatology, inflammatory polyarthritis is considered an emergency. It should be immediately seen and assessed by a rheumatologist for proper and effective treatment. Also, remember that there is absolutely no proof of any of the alternative systems of medicines being effective in this condition.


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