... be consulted first?
Many autoimmune disease have similar symptoms so a rheumatologist will usually do several labs to help figure out the source. Some autoimmune diseases are more difficult to diagnose than others. These are the ones they normally run.
Rheumatoid factor (RF)
Cyclic Citrullinated Peptide (CCP)
Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)
C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
Antinuclear Antibody (ANA)
Aside from the labs they will usually X-ray you hands and feet after examining the individual joints.
As far as going directly to a rheumatologist, many times your GP will refer you to one if they feel you have inflammation issues based on a physical examination and or high inflammation markers i.e. sed rate and CRP.
Hello nana6262; You already have a very good answer, And with all you have had to go through already I agree it's time to see the RHEUMATALAGIST AND let them run the test you need done and find something that is going to give you relief you have fooled around And have not had much luck at all. I wish you the best keep in touch and please see what you can find out before it gets even worse. Chuck1957
Something else to consider, if you are referred to a rheumatologist. Don't expect to be given an autoimmune diagnosis on the first visit.
It took me 3 years of being followed by a rheumatologist before I was diagnosed with systemic lupus. Like the other members above mentioned they did lots and lots of blood tests.The more important blood tests were CBC, SED Rate, ANA & Liver/Kidney functions.
I was also sent to other Specialists depending upon my symptoms. For example I was sent to a neurologist because I had myoclonic spasms and epilepsy. I was sent to an orthopedic doctor & a hematologist as well.
Finally, after I was followed by my rheumatologist for approx 3 yrs I was given the diagnosis of Lupus (SLE).
The good news though despite not having a diagnosis my rheumatologist did treat any signs and symptoms of which I was suffering from.
For example, I was prescribe Plaqunil to suppress the immune system and I was given other appropriate tests and medications as the doctor deemed necessary.
Bottom line is have patience if you go to see a rheumatologist. Let the doctor treat you accordingly.
When you come right down to it it doesn't matter what they call it as long as the doctor is treating the symptoms and the pain.
Best of luck
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