I have had severe and chronic neck and upper back pain for 7 years with no diagnosis. MRI shows nothing significant. 4 years ago my CRP level was 6.3 and now it is 10.6. My doc said <3 was normal, and he is sending me to a rheumatologist.
Wouldn't rheumatoid arthritis of the neck show up on an MRI?
If <3 is normal, shouldn't I have seen a rheumatologist when it was 6.3 instead of waiting until it reached 10.6?
What is the range for CRP and how high can it get?
I am so tired of being in pain and need answers. I'm only 43 and worried about what I can expect with RA and mad that i have wasted 4 years where I could have started treatment sooner.
CRP is a measure of the amount of inflammation going on in the body. Any kind of inflammation can cause an uptick in CRP, not just RA. My guess is, if the pain and inflammation has stayed only in your spine and not spread to other joints over the years, you don't have RA. Having said that, RA affects everyone differently so there's no way anyone can predict how the disease, if you have it, will progress.
RA can be low grade and chronic in some people, aggressive and ravaging in others. Some have one or two symptoms, other have 'em all.
RA can be extremely hard to pin down as a definite diagnosis, as there is no one definitive blood test for it. So try not to be too hard on your regular doctor. RA doesn't typically present itself only in the spine.
A good rheumatologist will look at a wide range of evidence - MANY blood tests perhaps taken over a period of time; x-rays; MRI; most importantly, laying hands and eyes on your sore joints/spine.
Some rheumatologists ascribe to the myth that RA doesn't occur in the spine. It definitely can, however if it's in the spine it's usually elsewhere, too. If you aren't having swelling, redness, pain or other typical RA symptoms in any other joints in your body, you could be suffering osteoarthritic changes in your spine, not RA. Osteo and rheumatoid are two very different conditions. Osteo is wear-and-tear caused by age, congenital deformity, or damage from an injury. Rheumatoid is an autoimmune disorder. Either on can cause elevated CRP levels. A rheumatologist is qualified to treat both types, as well as dozens of other autoimmune disorders.
Thank you for the info. It definately gives me somethign to think about. I am looking forward to the RA specialist, since my swollen and stiff feet and hands point to RA, but the MRIs have never shown arthritis. I have just never heard of anyone with RA of the neck.
MY CRP was 10.6. Anyone know how high the CRP test can reach? Is it on a 10 point scale.
I've talked with people whose CRPs have been in the high double digits, one in the triple digits. Webmd.com has a very informative article about the role of CRP levels in different conditions (don't let it freak you out, though!).
A rheumie will probably take several blood tests over time, as there are many things that can affect CRP level.
FWIW, after 45 years of RA and tons of swelling in my knees, my knee x-rays "don't look all that bad", according to my rheumie. RA is a very odd disease - A doesn't necessarily mean B as is true for so many other conditions. This is why so many patients have trouble getting anyone - even doctors - who believe them when they report debilitating pain.
If you happen to be on Facebook, check out the RA Chicks page. You'll find thousands of women there who know what you're going through.
Thanks Carolanivey for your words of wisdom. I can't get an appt. with a RA specialist until March, so i guess I will just have to keep waddling on. Every morning, and if i have been sitting too long, my feet are very stiff and wont bend, so i "waddle" or hobble until things loosen up. I have found that the Flector patches that i use on my back help the pain in my feet. I cut the patch in half and use 1/2 on the top of each foot. Pennsaid liquid helps my hand and neck, where the Flector patches won't stick well. Now, if the swelling would just go down in my hands before noon so i can wear my wedding band . . .
Wow are you an MD? Nearly everything you replied is incorrect! Not only can and does RA attack the spine, it can be centralized there. More commonly it turns out to be Psoriatic Arthritis as it tends to like the spine more, Particularly id spinal stenosis is present, or a ruptured disk etc but with Psoriatic Arthritis you would notice sausage toe and of course Psoriasis. Which is not mentioned.AS or Ankylosing Spondylitis commonly attacks in cooperation with either PA or RA, so with a C Reactive Protein at 10.6 (where my level is while taking Methotrexate, Humira, and Naproxen ) he surely needs to see a Ruhmetologist, but not necessarily at the 6.3 range usually before adding a diagnosis of RA or PA we want two or three consecutive CRP blood tests as it is a measure of ALL inflammation n the body including the sore knee from jogging the swollen elbow from tennis etc
Have you tried some place else to make an appt. with a Rheum. I have to travel quite a distance myself to see one.
Is your PCP willing to help out until you can get in to see the Rheum. (like order some lab tests, so some X-rays or MRI if needed)?
You may want to try heat in the morning when you are stiff. How long in the morning does the stiffness last? The patches are a good idea, but I can see how they won't stick to your feet. Have you tried a paraffin bath for your hands? If you don't have one, just run your hands under the faucet with warm water. However during flares, ice works better.
But ultimatally you need treatment by a Rheum. Hopefully your PCP can get things started for you. Know that you are not alone. People like me and Brokebackjack understand the pain you go through as well as others here. Hang in there.
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