I am a 22 year old female who, until recently, was extremely active and healthy. I was working out about six times a week and rotating between yoga, Pilates, cardio, and weight training.
Around January of 2010 I started experiencing horrible pain in my right knee. After taking some time off from the gym and still experiencing chronic pain, I made an appointment with an orthopedic knee specialist. I had x-rays done and was told that my knee looked beautiful (structure-wise I guess) and that I probably had something called Femoral Pain Syndrome or Runner’s Knee. He recommended physical therapy, a knee brace, and said I should be fine in a few weeks. He also prescribed me a six-day dose down anti-inflammatory pack, even though I told him no swelling had ever occurred.
I took my meds, went to physical therapy as instructed, and did my exercises religiously. I was also told to ice my knees as well. After about the first week of physical therapy, my right knee pain became worse and I called the physical therapist. He told me to cut down on the number of reps for my exercises and to continue icing my knee. After about two weeks of physical therapy, and still seeing no improvement, I began to experience the same exact pain in my left knee.
This obviously confused me because I was pretty much inactive minus my PT exercises yet I was having the same horrible pain in my left knee now. I told my physical therapist who instructed me to now do the exercises on both my knees. About a week after that I was in such horrible pain I could barely walk. I spent an entire weekend on the couch with my legs propped up because for some reason, the knee pain was worse when my knees were bent. I couldn’t keep them perfectly straight either, so it was a tricky, annoying, and painful balance to get my knees feeling as best as they could.
After that, I went back to a different orthopedic knee doctor in the same practice to now get x-rays on my left knee as well. Once again, the x-rays showed up better than normal and I was told to continue PT. Right before the doctor left I told him my right elbow was starting to hurt a little bit and asked if I should be concerned. He checked it out briefly, said I was perfectly fine, and sent me on my way.
About two weeks later the pain in my right elbow, the same exact pain that I was experiencing in both my right and left knees, began to worsen. I was beginning to notice a trend and became very worried. I then had a blood test done by my primary care physician and my results showed that I had pretty high ANA levels. My doctor was very concerned and thought I may have Lupus or another connective tissue disease, so she sent me to a Rheumatologist to get more extensive blood work done. In the meantime, I was prescribed a different type of anti-inflammatory medication, just in case. It didn’t help at all.
The first Rheumatologist I went to asked me several questions, took my blood, and prescribed me yet another different kind of anti-inflammatory medication. Three weeks later, and still no better, I went back to the doctor to get my lab results. My blood work came back negative on everything, and I mean everything. The Rheumatologist went over pages and pages of my blood work and showed that everything was either negative or in normal range. Confused by my blood work, he wanted to test me again, and even tested me for rare diseases such as Lyme disease. Once again, all of my results came back fine. He did think I had hyper flexibility though, which may cause the pain, but didn’t say much more about it.
By this time it was the middle of April and my pain had now focused in on both my knees and both my elbows. A family friend suggested I see a sports medicine doctor, so I did just that. There I had x-rays taken yet again and was told, yet again, that my knee structure and elbow structure was in perfect condition. He seemed to believe that nothing was anatomically causing my problems and suggested I get a second opinion with a different Rheumatologist. Just to be certain though, he gave me a cortisone shot in my right knee and said I should feel much better in 4 to 5 days if it was injury or physiologically related. Much to my dismay, the cortisone shot didn’t help at all.
This led me back to another Rheumatologist who took my blood again. He agreed that I had hyper flexibility but thought that my pain was more physical than autoimmune, despite the fact that the anti-inflammatory medicines, cortisone shot, and physical therapy did nothing at all to help ease my pain. More so, I periodically take prescription pain medicine for my back (I have scoliosis) and the pain medicine also did not help my joint pain.
My latest lab results came back fine and I have currently been on medication for Fibromyalgia. The pain is still very present and very painful and I am obviously more than frustrated and upset. I am 22 years old and I just want my normal, active life back.
To be clear, the pain I am experiencing is a chronic pain, hurts worse when bent, and is extremely sensitive to touch. I can pin-point exactly where the pain is (it moves around the knee and elbow joint) just by touching it. I can also feel a constant throbbing pain without even touching my knees or elbows.
I have not been responsive to icing it, physical therapy, several anti-inflammatory medications, a cortisone shot, prescription pain medication, and fibromyalgia medication. I have never experienced any sort of swelling nor do I feel stiff in my joints. It is just a constant, horrible, sometimes throbbing pain that will not go away. Also, the only change in my lifestyle or daily medications around the time my pain began was my birth control. I have no idea if this could be the cause of everything, but I switched from Tri Sprintec to Ocella about 3 to 4 weeks before my pain started. Could this be related at all?
I am begging for someone to help me. I need a Dr. House immediately to help solve this horrifying medical mystery. Please, if anyone has any advice, suggestions, or anything, please let me know. Thanks.