Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

What Can A Rheumatologist Do For My Pain What My NS and PM Docs Can't???

Brief History: Four total lumbar spince surgeries. The last one in November 2013: Two level A/PLIF-L4/5 thru L5/S1. Post-op complication of fracture and collapsing of L5 due to extreme tight fit of intrabody hardware at that level. Have been on pain medications since surgery due to continued pain throughout lower back, right buttock radiating down right thigh to the knee, continuous. Currently doing weekly PT as well as Trigger Point Injections which have helped somewhat but not to the level of being able to go back to my employment (which as of the end of May, I have been terminated for: No Cause).
Has anyone been referred to Rheumatologist for their condition? If so, why, what procedures have you had, course of treatment etc have you had? And has it worked for you??

Sweating (too freaking hot n humid) Here In MA. Thanks For Any and All Input!! LeeLee


  • my spine surgeon sent me off to a rheumatologist. in my case, after 2 fusion surgeries (lumbar and cervical) i was still having a decent amount of pain. but right from the start my surgeon swore i had a connective tissue disorder. (actually, he was the only doc to come up with that possibility for several years... the rest thought i was nuts when i would mention it.) well several years, and alot of docs later, he told me to see a rheumatoligst because i needed anti-inflamatories and all the ones he would prescribe were causing my GERD to act up severely.

    anyway, long story short, or shorter in this case... new rheumatologist did tons of bloodwork and finally agreed with the surgeon. connective tissue disorder which causes inflammation. he gave me arthrotec to start with. but that didn't work well, and then we tried relafen. that one worked pretty well, and i was good for about a year.

    stomach decided to act up again, and i'm off the NSAIDs for now. but in trade, he started me on plaquenil to help reduce the inflammation. its an anti-malarial drug used for treating things like rheumatoid arthritis and such.

    its been about 5 months on the plaquenil and it does help. maybe not quite as much as the NSAIDs did, but its better than nothing. however, as things progress, i get more and more joint pain in other areas like my fingers and wrists. at this point, those are almost worse than the continuing back pain.

    hope this helps.
    Microdisectomy / hemi-laminectomy 6/2010 and revision 10/2010
    Cervical fusion C4-5 and C5-6 9/2011
    Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 6/2012
  • LeeLeeMccDeeLLeeLeeMccDee Boston MAPosts: 101
    edited 07/02/2014 - 11:57 AM
    God it sounds like an intolerable situation for you. So is the connective tissue disorder a immune response condition? I worked for an ophthalmologist (let go due to my condition) and we examined Plaqenil patients all the time due to a possible adverse reaction to the eye(s). I suppose it wouldn't hurt to go but I am very negative about starting any other medications.
    PM prescribed me Celebrex which is okay....frankly I prefer to take Advil which I believe works better but does cause gastric problems after a while. There is never an "easy out" but I am inclined to hold off on seeing the Rheumatologist for now knowing that just more tests and different medications will be introduced as a bandaid. I get so weary dealing with all of it.
  • EnglishGirlEEnglishGirl Posts: 1,825
    edited 07/02/2014 - 12:03 PM
    I hate all the tests! When I was sent to a rheumatologist it was just pretty basic blood taking. It's worth doing it just to rule things out. With treatable, progressive things it's best to know sooner rather than later. ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • LeeLeeMccDeeLLeeLeeMccDee Boston MAPosts: 101
    I totally agree with your point of view but like you, I hate all the tests. I hate not getting call backs, having answers to my questions be evasive and leading to other unanswered problems. It is such a process and having been to many a Dr in my life, pretty predictable about the outcome. I believe it's a process of elimination or rather that #1Dr is out of ideas suggesting you see specialist #2Dr having exhausted his/her ideas hence referring out again. I think if I had a definitive prognosis it would be evident with #1Dr. So in another words they have no freaking idea. So many of these joint/bone meds have really bad long term effects with the heart, liver and kidneys. Then we end up dealing with yet another problem. Grrrrrrrrrr
  • yes, connective tissue is in the autoimmune class of problems. i've seen my eye doc since i started the plaquenil. he said in all of his years combines with the years of all his other docs in the office, he's never seen a patient who actually had the side effects from the plaquenil. that's something since he's been practicing for alot of years. but its still a little worrisome when they say a potential side effect is vision loss. but the increase in pain when i'm off NSAIDs is bad enough i'll take the meds.

    i've been on celebrex. it will kill your stomach say was advil will eventually. i found it gave me stomach aches very quickly. i was good with advil or motrin for a long time. and i was taking upwards of 2400mg per day back then. i've tried prescription strength alleve. (naprosyn, naproxyn sodium, etc) that works wonderfully, but again 8-9 months later, daily stomach aches. Arthrotec has a secondary med built into the pill to help prevent the stomach problems. i found it just made my stomach growl like i hadn't eaten in a week at all time. very unpleasant feeling. relafen is one of the NSAIDs that is a low acid producer, and it worked well for a year before my stomach said enough is enough. I've had GERD through most of these stints on NSAIDs, but each time i get a flare up, it gets just a little bit worse, and takes a little longer to settle down again. hence the reason we've swtiched to plaquenil.

    seriously though, any time i've had to come off the NSAIDs, i've been miserable because of how bad everything flares up. I have issues with alot of the narcotic pain killers, so i don't take them very often. i'm kind of stuck with anti-inflamatory meds.

    Microdisectomy / hemi-laminectomy 6/2010 and revision 10/2010
    Cervical fusion C4-5 and C5-6 9/2011
    Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 6/2012
  • davrunnerddavrunner Posts: 478
    edited 07/08/2014 - 8:01 AM
    A Rhuematologist may not be able to do anything for your pain but may be able to help if you have any type of immune or inflamation disorder. They routinely treat patients with Lupus, and inflamatory arthritis as well as severe cases of osteo arthritis. I thought my joint pain was just a fact of life, have it in my fingers, hands, spine, knees and feet. I went to an ortho surgeon for a torn miniscus in my knee and he sent the cartlidge an tissue samples to a pathologist who diagnosed inflamatory arthritis, ( I understand there are over 200 types) rheumatologist put me on plaquinel, which I was on for over 2 years. also ended up with a benign tumor in my right knee and they had to remove the lining of the joint (very painful surgery) and then ended up with a full knee replacement.
    I also did a natural treatment with one rhuematologist, it's called a Myers infusion, it contains vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidents, it did really help with my energy level but not the pain or swelling of my joints. When I have a flare my feet feel like I am walking on broken bones. I did try Humira but didn't really see a change. Supposidly if they find the right biologic it can help reduce the pain associated with inflamatory arthritis. Side effects of them keeps me from wanting to try another one, plus sticking needles in my stomache, not fun.
    I'm currently waiting to see a rhuematologist at Vanderbilt to see if they can help identify the type of arthritis which may help in devising a long term treatment.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • I have been told on several occasions that I have 'Hereditary Degenerative Osteoarthritis'. I was referred once to a rheumatologist just to run blood tests to rule out rheumatism. I have a lot of inflammation in my bones & joints. I've had doctors show me on my scans/MRI the difference between my 'normal' bones & the inflamed ones & it's pretty extreme. I've never returned to a rheumatologist since my blood work came back negative. In your experience do you think a rheumatologist could do anything for me that my specialists can't? At the moment Diclofenac is the only medication I take for inflammation. I worry about the long term damage anti inflamatories can cause to my stomach, blood pressure etc.

    Rhumatologist is a door I'd closed thinking it was irrelevant to my case but I've been reading threads about false negatives & treatments & I'm now wondering... I'm young. I was in my early teens when first diagnosed with hereditary arthritis.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • LeeLee. Do you have inflamed bones & joints?
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • There are many treatments that they are more up on. The do a lot of different infusions that can help whether it's the Myers (which is all natural) or steroid or biologic especially if you have inflammation in you joints. The biggest problem I have with the rhuematologiest is I can't get in to see her in a timely manner when I have a flare and need an infusion to get it under control. My primary care Dr has given me injections of steroids when I'm in a bad flare and couldn't get to the Rhuematologist and it does help but not to the same extent as the infusions. It's worth going and talking with one to see if they can help you.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
Sign In or Register to comment.