What Could Be Causing My Joint Pain?

I have seen my personal physician, a hand surgeon, a chiropractor, and a rheumatologist for this, and none of them can figure out what is wrong with me. I have been tested twice for Lyme, lupus, and arthritis, and all three have come back negative both times. I’m a 22 year old female with no history of severe injury or health problems.

Several months ago the joints on the left side of my body suddenly started to hurt. Most affected were my left wrist and knee, both of which have been injured in the past – tendonitis in my wrist two years ago, mild knee injury six months ago, but neither had given me problems till then. Also affected were my shoulder, elbow, knuckles, and ankle. The pain comes and goes in waves. Exercise and movement seem to make it worse, though staying still does not make it better. It gets worse all the time despite my taking a prescription anti inflammatory every day. The doctors have given me no painkillers. (Out of room for question, will add more details.)
It is severe to the point where I get very little sleep anymore, and have little appetite. I’ve lost five pounds in the last three days (I have very fast metabolism, but this is still abnormal for me). It does not hurt all the time, but when it does I am unable to focus and generally incapacitated if I am at work (I am a secretary). I have been limping regularly as putting weight on my left leg seems to make it worse. In the last few days my right leg has also started hurting, and the pain has started to spread out from the knees all the way to my feet and groin. My right arm is completely fine so far.

I’ve no idea if it’s relevant, but I do have other chronic health problems. I have mild-moderate asthma, vocal chord dysfunction, chronic dry eye, and acid reflux. I have suffered from a chronic stiff neck accompanied by pain for years, though I’ve always assumed that was caused by stress.

If anyone has any idea what might be causing this pain, please tell me. Thank you.
Appropriately enough, I have forgotten to mention a few other symptoms that I have been experiencing: short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and confusion/disorientation, as well as muscle spasms and occasional pins-and-needles tingling in my fingertips. I’ve no idea if all of this is related or perhaps just due to sleep deprivation. The rheumatologist also mentioned to me that my blood tests showed that there is no inflammation.

The rheumatologist suggested that my pain is caused by tendinitis, though he gave no explanation as to how I would suddenly develop tendinitis all over my body without having engaged in any notable physical activity. There is no swelling or other outward physical symptoms, and my family has been very unsupporting, implying that I may be faking this for attention – this is incredibly difficult to deal with and I’m desperate to find a solution. I appreciate the suggestions so far, thanks very much to all who can help.

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  1. Billie77, 25 November, 2009

    It’s possible you may have a condition called Fibromyalgia.

    Here is a brief list of common symptoms of this disease:

    Chronic pain throughout the body
    Burning, numbness and tingling
    Tenderness when pressure is placed on or around the neck, elbows, hips, thighs and knees.
    Sleep disorders
    Chronic fatigue or exhaustion
    Facial Pain
    Jaw Pain (TMJ)
    Memory Loss
    Irritable Bowel
    Tension or Migraine Headaches
    High sensitivity to foods and medications (allergic type reaction).
    Minimal tolerance to heat and cold
    High sensitivity to bright lights and sounds
    Hair Loss

    Because symptoms develop gradually, this disease is often misdiagnosed. It is often diagnosed as a repetitive strain injury; sleep disorder condition, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis or any other type of medical problem. Based on the American College of Rheumatology a person is diagnosed with Fibromylagia when he or she suffers pain throughout the body for at least three months and has 11 out of 18 tender points present.

    I suggest you see a different rheumatologist and see if you can get a fresh approach to your problem. the medication that is now being prescribed for this condition is called Lyrica and many people feel that it helps tremendously.

  2. Tamara, 25 November, 2009

    I suffered through years of seizures and chronic pain before my Lupus was diagnosed. Apparently this is the norm. If one rheumatologist won’t work with you, and you can afford it, find another. You could also have chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia. Hope you get better. You are in my prayers.

  3. Chris, 25 November, 2009

    The tests for Lyme disease are very unreliable, in some cases missing over 50% of cases.
    I suggest you see a Lyme literate MD who can look at you’re symptoms, history, etc and do some more reliable tests to see if you can have Lyme or not.
    You can find one on the "seeing a doctor" section of Lymenet here: http://flash.lymenet.org/

    I have had it for 5 years, during this time tested negative 3 times and positive 5 times – the tests are absolutely hopeless.

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