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More than just a sore knee: Danny's diagnosis

Danny Hargrove is a 46-year-old certified paramedic/EMT from the village of Chipman, New Brunswick. His experience with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) began when he was 44.

One day, he started having trouble bending his right knee. His knee became so sore that he couldn't walk on it. Both Danny and his family doctor thought that he might have injured his knee, since he has had injuries before due to his job and his active lifestyle.

But one week later, Danny's left knee was also affected. Danny returned to his family doctor, who suspected that Danny might be having a problem with his sciatic nerve (a large nerve that runs from the spine to the feet). Another 2 weeks later, Danny's knuckles became swollen to the point where he couldn't even make a fist. At this point, Danny's family doctor did some blood tests. Based on the blood tests, Danny's family doctor was leaning towards a diagnosis of RA and requested an appointment with a rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in RA and similar conditions).

To diagnose RA, your doctor may ask about your symptoms and perform blood tests, imaging (such as X-rays), and a physical exam. While there is no one test that can definitely confirm whether you have RA, and although Danny may not have received all of these tests, there are a few important blood tests that are used in the diagnosis of RA:

  • ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate)
  • C-reactive protein (CRP)
  • rheumatoid factor (RF)

A high ESR or CRP means there is some type of inflammation going on in your body. This could be due to RA or another condition. Rheumatoid factor is used in the diagnosis of RA because it is present in most people with RA.

Your doctor may also use a new test called anti-CCP to check for RA. Similar to RF, anti-CCP is present in most people with RA. However, RF and anti-CCP are not found in everyone with RA, and some people who are positive for RF or anti-CCP do not have RA. RF may also be negative early in the disease.

Unfortunately for Danny, his appointment with the rheumatologist was not for another 6 weeks, and during that time, his condition got much worse. The pain medication that his family doctor prescribed helped, but eventually, Danny reached the point where he couldn't work, sleep, or even move around without a great deal of pain and stiffness. When Danny's family doctor saw how much RA had disabled Danny in such a short time, he found a way to get Danny an immediate appointment with the rheumatologist. The rheumatologist confirmed that Danny had RA and started him on treatment with medications for RA.

If you think you might have RA, speak to your doctor to find out for sure. It is important to seek treatment for RA as soon as possible since joint damage can occur quickly and may be permanent, so don't quit trying until you're able to see someone who can help you. Don't suffer in silence - early treatment can help you get better control of the disease, prevent joint damage, and maintain joint function. Talk to other people living with RA, find an arthritis support group, and get more information. Information will help you understand more about the disease and feel more in control.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

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