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Living with Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)

PsA.... maybe?

Hey everyone!

I’m possibly about to be diagnosed with PsA. And… it makes sense after reading through this site and seeing how many other people have random collections of symptoms that turn out to be related to this disease.

I’m 50, mom with two kids, a creative professional in Los Angeles. Allergies, asthma. Mild colitis. I’ve always been active and felt pretty healthy most of the time. Except… a few months ago I woke up with a mysteriously gigantic knee. Fluid was drained three times, had all the inflammatory markers so my doc sent me to a rheumatologist.

She ordered a jillion blood labs and everything has been negative except for super high CRP and white blood cells all over the place. No psoriasis, not even a teeny bit. I just did the HLA B27 but don’t have the results yet.

Meanwhile, my second toe has swollen up like an angry pink balloon animal. And my ankle on the other side is puffy and painful. I’ve been on crutches for a few months, and now one of my wrists hurts so much I can’t even raise the weight of my own hand. Mostly I just scoot around the house on an office chair.

So… the plan is to MRI the ankle and if it doesn’t need surgery I’ll start Humira. It seems so crazy to go from basically fine to a biologic in just a few months but when I read stories about it taking years for someone to get a diagnosis I feel better about just starting it as soon as possible.

Thanks for sharing all your experiences! It’s been reassuring to read your stories.

Hello, Dr Sybil here: PsA.

Actually no, I am no doctor, and nor am I a betting woman, but if I were I’d put my money on you having PsA.

I still hope it isn’t but sounds very much as if your doctor is sure you fit into the inflammatory arthritis category & I guess that swollen toe is very PsA-ish, as in ‘sausage digit’.

You are so right, bypassing the all too frequent experience of years of symptoms without a diagnosis is a lucky break. Wishing you a great result with Humira and nice to meet you Magpie, welcome!

Thanks! I’m still hoping this is a weird perfect storm of…reaction to an antibiotic? But it does seem more and more likely to be an inflammatory autoimmune something. I feel like I can handle pretty much anything, I just really like to know what I’m handling.

Hi Magpie! The description certainly sounds an awful lot like inflammatory arthritis, and it’s great that the doctor is being so proactive.

You questioned whether this could be a weird reaction to an antibiotic. Probably not, but the whole thing could have been started by your need for an antibiotic. In other words, the infection could have been what set off the reaction.

PsA is a very confusing disease, it can be hard to know what you’re handling even years after diagnosis. Yet I reckon misdiagnosis is a lot less common than missed diagnosis.

Glad you’ve found us, there’s so much great information & support here. Do you feel well in yourself or is fatigue / feeling ‘blah’ an issue? Feel free to ask any questions or get a few things off your chest.

My first undeniable symptom (there were a lot more I’d managed to deny) was a huge knee. I was a complete mess but biologics have really turned things around - so that’s 5 years now of actually feeling like a viable human being instead of a miserable splodge. I like your rheumy already!

(Still hope you don’t have PsA … but sounds like you are acclimatising to this diagnosis).

The infection idea makes sense. I had an infected tooth (the tooth had cracked when I had braces as a teenager and has been giving me different kinds of trouble ever since) and it took two rounds of antibiotics to do the trick… and I never really felt well after that.

I definitely feel ‘blah’! And it just makes the rest of it harder to cope with…

But I am glad I found this group and I’m sure I’ll have lots of questions moving forward!

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Reactive arthritis will have similar symptoms, but should be able to be discounted by a biopsy sample of the area.
If it is PsA, the sooner you can hit it with meds the better, to prevent any further damage.
Good luck!

True… and the joint fluid from my knee was cultured for six or seven weeks and didn’t show anything. I’m starting Humira on Monday (after waiting for some biopsies to heal) and crossing fingers for a good response. I used to see those advertisements and think “Wow, I’m glad I don’t have to worry about taking something like that!” and now I can’t wait to get started.

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