Could Your Rheumatoid Arthritis be Misdiagnosed?

I was blog-reading last night when I stumbled upon a most interesting article at www.LivingRheum.com.

This poor woman was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis only to discover 9 YEARS LATER that she was misdiagnosed! She really had Lyme Disease the entire time!  What?! Her Lyme Disease is now being treated with antibiotics, and slowly, life is getting back to normal.

How Often is RA Misdiagnosed?

So that got me thinking, how often does this happen? Well, one thing’s for sure, Jo-Ann wasn’t the first, and she won’t be the last.

According to healthcentral.com, lyme disease may be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms mimic those of other diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis.  Lyme disease is transferred through a tick bite; however, the bite may go unnoticed.  “A few months to years after the bite, joint inflammation, neurological symptoms, and sometimes heart symptoms may occur.”

Rheumatoid Arthritis Imposters

That’s not all.  I found several other diseases that are Rheumatoid Arthritis Imposters as well.

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Systemic Lupus
  • Gout
  • Pseudogout
  • Reiter’s Syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Polymiositis

You can find out more about them here.

So What Does This Mean?

They say an illness can trigger Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is what I think happened to me (I had the worst flu of my life just before the inflammation started).  So what I’m wondering is:

Is it possible, like in this Lyme Disease case, that the infection that supposedly “triggers Rheumatoid Arthritis” instead takes on the appearance of RA?  Does it actually remain a separate illness that can be treated differently?

Is that why some people have success with antibiotic treatments for RA?

I don’t know much about antibiotic treatment yet, but I guarantee that after reading Jo-Ann’s story, I’m ready to research and learn what I can about antibiotic treatment and its success rate.

What Should I Do?

Rheumatoid Arthritis research has come a long way, but there is still so much left undiscovered.  There are numerous ideas and success stories, so your personal research could take many paths, from diet to misdiagnoses.

Stay Informed, Keep Fighting, and Listen to Your Instincts.  You never know where you’ll find your answers.

So I Want to Know-

Were any of you likewise misdiagnosed?  I’d love to hear your story.

2 Comments

  1. Ginn
    Mar 9, 2012

    I very recently was diagnosed with RA. I took plaquinil and meloxicam for about eight months. Then the Doctor said I needed heavier treatment because my disease was progressing, so he gave me Methatrexate. I found out a day after taking the first dose, I was supposed to have a screening, and the doctor was supposed to give me specific instructions about how to take it, which alarmed me. Needless to say I went to another doctor. I had only taken two doses of Methatrexate. I felt terrible each time. (when I woke up the next day) I was more tired than ever, and hurt so bad I could barely get out of bed. The second opinion freaked me out. He said I didn’t have RA, I had Osteoarthritis, and it could be dangerous taking Methatrexate if I didn’t truly have RA. I’m very upset about this. How can a Rheumatologist not know the difference (between Osteo and RA) The second opinion doctor said the “Test” to distinguish between the two is this: Turn you hand over (palm down) and look at the top of your hand while covering your fingers. If there is no deformation in the uncovered part of your hand, you do not have RA. He made it sound simple, but nearly everything I have read is confusing me, because it sounds difficult to get a good diagnosis. I immediately stopped taking Methatrexate and have never taken another dose, because I was scared because of the way it made me feel. What should I do? I am now in the most pain I have ever had, and it is everywhere in my body. I had it pretty bad before, but never like this. Could the Methatrexate still be in my body? Could it have harmed me?

    • Angela
      May 18, 2012

      Ginn,

      I’m sorry you’ve had a rough go. Doctors don’t know everything, and I’m so grateful for all the information at my fingertips. Although it can be overwhelming to sort through it all, it is truly empowering.

      I’ve never heard of the palm “test” before. How interesting.

      I’m so sorry you’re in so much pain, and I hope you find something that helps. Have you tried eliminating sugars or juicing your vegetables? Those are two things that help me. Best of luck!

      -Angela