Discussions By Condition: Medical Errors

A sleep disorder that thinks it's arthritis?!?

Posted In: Medical Errors 24 Replies
  • Posted By: chaosconnect
  • July 4, 2008
  • 08:07 AM

I am currently a university student. In December, 2006 I noticed that I was having wrist pain. Being a farm kid, I attributed it to some unknown injury and ignored it. By March of the following year, the pain had not abated. In fact, it got so severe that I went to see a doctor at a walk-in clinic. He informed me that I had tendentious and should take ibuprofen until it healed. So I did.

Unfortunately, it didn't heal. So I went to see another doctor. He ran a bunch of blood tests, discovered my esr was through the roof (esr is how fast your blood separates into white blood and everything else, mine was moving too fast). So he hummed and hawed and gave me a tentative diagnosis of seronegative rheumatoid arthritis. That was last september.
By this time the joint pain had moved to include my ankles. By January I was feeling fatigued, my knees and shoulders were also being impacted, and my wrists had worsened to the point where I lost my ability to handwrite.

Now I saw another doctor, a rheumatoid specialist, and he tells me that I don't have rheumatoid arthritis but instead I have a sleep disorder. (That was ~a week ago)

His theory is I hurt myself, which prevented my body from hitting lvl 4 sleep (aka delta sleep). This is the important stage that resets you and makes you ready to get up in the morning. Then, because I was missing this stage, my esr built up, which caused my joints to hurt. My muscles didn't start reseting themselves, so they are also a little tender. So my prescription is soft music, meditation, and light exercise.

Now this sounds like a happy ending, but there are a few factors that have me head banging.

1. I figure that if I had a sleep disorder for that long (1 1/2 yrs.) it would have had a severe impact on my ability to concentrate, aka my grades, which didn't drop. In fact they got a little better...

2. If I am missing the stage he thinks I'm missing, it is pretty much the equivalent of napping instead of sleeping. Now if I was napping was my primary form of sleep for over a year, I think I'd have some pretty noticeable psychological backlash. Yet I haven't. My moods are stable, my emotions are stable, yes I've had a few bouts of anxiety, but chronic pain takes the blame for that. My 5 senses aren't playing any tricks on me, and though my energy levels are lower, I am still alert and able to file things into my long term memory. And I haven't had any psychotic episodes and bitten anybody.

3. It is possible that the sleep disorder is something new that was caused by my *mysterious pain* or by the steroids my 2nd doctor put me on. So it could be a secondary cause (don't get me wrong, I'm rooting for primary, but you can understand why I am a little hesitant to immediately believe)

So I'll try the music and the relaxation, give 2 months and if it doesn't get any better I'm gonna riot. It'll be great. I'll keep you updated

But in the meantime has anyone ever heard of anything like this? Does anyone have any more information or similar experiences?

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24 Replies:

  • That was a very strange hyphothesis. I would get a second opinion from another rheumatologist. You can get arthritis as a result of an infection, it's called reactive arthritis. It can be very severe. Do you remember having any serious infection before it all started? Have they ruled out Lyme?
    Felsen 510 Replies Flag this Response
  • I haven't had any infections, though I'm not sure if anyone has considered Lyme. I'll bring it up. Doctors here aren't exactly competant.
    chaosconnect 15 Replies Flag this Response
  • I have read here at this forum that it’s important to choose the right test for Lyme, obviously not all are reliable. I hope that someone else can answer this. If nobody does, post your story once more at I cannot get a diagnosis. Please help instead. I have a feeling that there are more people reading posts there than here. Many patients with positive Lyme test don’t remember any tick bites.I really hope that you’ll soon get help. I wish I could help more. Good luck!
    Felsen 510 Replies Flag this Response
  • Or just ask blaze, although i tend to doubt its lyme, this seems to be a diagnosis used to fit any symptom. like oh you have a rash.. must be lyme. Oh your legs are numb... must be lyme. oh you have a headache... must be lyme. And by the way the tests can come back negative so join this website... its sort of strange, personally i wouldn't tell people they have lyme unless they have a headache, numbness, and a rash, or whatever the symptoms are. So, my advice would be to google lyme symptoms, and, if by some miracle your symptoms match, then go ahead and ask blaze (you can just go on the i can't get a diagnosis forum and post something saying lyme, and then ask which tests and i'm sure blaze will give you the info you want). Meanwhile i will see if i can find anything else. Oh, and yes there are quite a few more people reading posts on the i can't get a diagnosis help forum.
    qwertyuiop123 453 Replies Flag this Response
  • try this link http://symptoms.wrongdiagnosis.com/cosymptoms/ankle-pain/arthritis-like-symptoms/wrist-pain.htm
    qwertyuiop123 453 Replies Flag this Response
  • I tried the link but I'm in the clear for any of those syndromes... My x-rays are clean, and I don't have a rash, swelling, high blood pressure etc. And I'm pretty sure I haven't been bitten by a tick. Weather here isn't right for them. :D. which is good. Ticks are icky.
    chaosconnect 15 Replies Flag this Response
  • Oh, sorry Chaosconnect. I didn’t see that you’re in Alberta, Canada. You don’t have any ticks there because of harsh winters, of course. I missed that. Then it can hardly be Lyme. I agree that ticks are the horror of the world.
    Felsen 510 Replies Flag this Response
  • Thats okay, felsen, it happens. Besides, I could have gone travelling or something. My old doctor thinks the specialist is wrong and says the sleep disorder as a cause is totally out. He's still crying RA. So I'm gonna go look for a 4th opinion.
    chaosconnect 15 Replies Flag this Response
  • sorry it was like midnight when i posted that, i realize it doesn't make much sense now. Could the pain you are in be causing sleep disorders? My dad has pretty bad sleep apnea and hasn't gone to the doctor despite my stepmom telling him he stops breathing during the night, and he is still able to function normally, though he is often tired and will sleep on the couch, but he has to get up at like four in the morning to go to work, so idk. I think it is possible to have a sleep disorder and not be affected too badly.
    qwertyuiop123 453 Replies Flag this Response
  • what more information can you give us about your symptoms, it seems like the pain has gotten quite a bit worse to the point where it is debilitating, are your joints stiff in the morning, do you get fevers, is there a lot of inflammation, redness, anything else you can think of.
    qwertyuiop123 453 Replies Flag this Response
  • I have a little bit of puffiness around my wrist joints, but it doesn't hurt, nor is it red. Thats it for swelling and redness. Humidity, changes in weather, and cold cause a severe increase in symptoms. In february I needed a cane to walk any good distance but now that its summer I have days where I don't hurt at all. I get a sharp pain in an affected joint when (a few hours before) the weather changes quickly and severely (a nice +5 one day, and a snowstorm the next etc).Cold is really bad though. If I hold something pulled out of the freezer my arm pulls a sensitive tooth. Its a deep ache that shoots up to my elbow, the same feeling you get in your teeth if you bite ice cream, except in my arm. It goes away right after I set the offending object down.Use of joints also increase pain. Strain from weight (lifting) or repetitive tasks (writing) increases pain in joints involved. Long periods of inactivity also have the same effect. If I go to the movies I start to hurt in my knees especially after about an hour. Movement helps relieve the pain, until I move too much...sighOccasionally I get these flash fever things. I'll feel hot, feverish and out of it for maybe a half hour or so then it goes away. They are very very very infrequent. It might just be a stress trigger though. (I get colds when I'm stressed or short on sleep).The affected joints pop. Like when you go to the chiropractor pop. In the morning just as I wake up my ankles usually feel weird. Not achy, but as though someone is squeezing them really tight, just enough to cause discomfort but not quite actual pain. It goes away after I wake up (usually after a minute or so).Injuries to said joints take forever to heal. I was in a movement class and pulled my shoulders rolling. It took three weeks for them to heal up, and they soon became affected by my whatever. I've sustained similar injuries before and they took a week to heal, max. Plus I had to dope myself up before bed on motrin or the pain kept me up. Normally it should only have bothered me when I was active. So injuries are a bigger deal.Thats all i have for now. If i think of more I'll let you know.Oh, blood test came back too. Everything perfectly normal, kidney function, liver function, electrolyte levels. Cholesterol was high, but thats a diet thing (I My esr has gone up though. (in normal people its between 5-15. My last test pegged me at 43:eek:) other than that, I'm shiny. Though I think my current doc might be writing me off. He said the sleep disorder as a primary cause was crazy for the reasons I was leery of it, but he's sticking with arthritis. He gave me some sleep pills for when I need them and as many pain killers as I want. But he told me it is now my responsibility to get my blood tested yearly (yup, yearly, not monthly) and that was it. So I don't think he's going to bother pursuing other avenues despite the little support for this one (the specialist may have bluffing with the sleep disorder, but I think he probably got the 'not RA' part right. Afterall, he's an RA specialist, not a sleep therapist:confused:) I'm currently arranging to see another doctor and get fourth opinion. With a little luck it will match one of the previous three.
    chaosconnect 15 Replies Flag this Response
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  • Here's one for you. I was doing this. Are you folding your arms, so that your hands are under your jaw while you are sleeping. Thus your wrists are bent over? Basically you are sleeping in a modified natal position. I did not know I was doing for a while and really made my wrists ache. Did not know why. Finally woke up one morning in that position hurting and realized what I was doing. I have sleep apnea and have not heard the hypothesis. Yes you will be tired and achey, but not in one joint. Could be arthritis or gout like symptoms. A natural treatment is to drink black cherry juice. Can get a whole foods and some grocery stores. Works for me when the joints start hurting. I have had flares of RA and regular arthritis and gout too. I have metabolic issues.
    Abbydoodle 138 Replies Flag this Response
  • Sometimes I sleep funny, and when that happens I wake up with my hands asleep, so it irritates it but I don't sleep like that often. I move a lot when I am asleep any way. Plus there is no way I am folding my ankles under my head as I sleep. I'm just not that flexible. :pI will definately pick up some black cherry juice though. Thanks for the tip.It is for sure not gout. My sister has gout and the symptoms are way different.
    chaosconnect 15 Replies Flag this Response
  • Ahhhh. If your sister has gout then you have enlightened us. You do definitely have issues in your family. The black cherry juice and also tart cherry juice suppose to help. Tart cherry juice was more expensive so I started with black cherry juice. After three quarts, I felt so much better. I even lost a lot of fluids because of inflamation. It may affect digestion and cause diarhea or loose stools. After the initial diet change, I was okay. When I was really hurting bad, I downed an 8 oz jar of the concentrated black cherry juice -- I was desparate. There are more than one type of gout and arthritis. So if you have history in family good luck.
    Abbydoodle 138 Replies Flag this Response
  • My family history, this is a little messed but my older sister by 3 years has gout, my younger brother by 3 yrs has osteoarthritis (he broke his arm really really like lucky to still have a hand badly as a kid, and that is what is causing his osteo.) and I have whatever. No one, and I mean NO ONE else on EITHER side of my family has arthritis, including my 104 great grandmother. We are the first people in the memory of the family to have arthritis, and I have a big family. So family history is out. And Gout is a a metabolic/ lifestyle affliction. Its caused by a build up of uric crystals. RA is an autoimmune disorder. Her being venerable to Gout, genetically speaking, doesn't in any way relate to me having RA. Its like if your uncle has parkinsons and you get cancer. The causes are to different to associate the diseases. Just really really bad luck.My Moms side of the family doesn't die. Period. I think there are sleep issues, diabetes (I don't have it for sure) and some mental duress.Dads side: Cancer (4/6 of my grandma's sisters, including grandma, have died from it.) Potassium deficiency (tested and still clean), heart diseaseOther than that, my family is relatively healthy. All major surgeries have related to injuries. No arthritis, except my siblings. Nothing else funky lurking around either...
    chaosconnect 15 Replies Flag this Response
  • I respect some of your postalations but they don't match what my geneticist says about Gout and arthritis families. But I have a rare disorder and most of the patients that have what I have have similar disorders and pains. As far as sleep disorders, people make to many assumptions about them and don't pursue treatments. Sleep apnea can cause migraines, auras, seizures, body pain because you do not have the proper amount of oxygen in your body -- ammonia and nitrogen hurt you, plus other toxins build up. You may think you are operating at your best, but until checked, you will never ever know. I thought I was. I was really surprised once started the machine. But because of other complications I still had the joint pains and such. I am on so many other medications -- that is when it was suggested to try the cherry juice to remove the uric acid crystals. And no matter what you think, you may be building up. But then again if you do repetative actions day after day, you are aggrevating them. I have found that because of other problems in body, it can take tendonitis and neural problems up to 1-2 years to heal. Suggest trying Active B-6 P5P/PAK from Country Life. Nutrionist had me on this and my husband after spinal surgury. It really worked. Doctor told him pain would never go away, this erased the pain and the nerve healed. Good luck.
    Abbydoodle 138 Replies Flag this Response
  • Well, your geneticist is probably a better source of information than I am. I'll wait for a diagnosis before i start playing with pain killers though. I did a number on my stomach when I got a "you have tendinitis, take these till it goes away."I for sure don't have sleep apnea. The doc figured I just wasn't hitting deep sleep. And I have been distressing before bed and sleeping deeper. I don't even hear my roomie in the mornings any more. Thanks for the advice though
    chaosconnect 15 Replies Flag this Response
  • I understand about taking pain medications. I try to avoid. That is why I take the cherry juice. And active B-6
    Abbydoodle 138 Replies Flag this Response
  • Based on a lot of the diagnosis type shows I've seen on Discovery Health, it seems like some of the harder things to track down are ones that blood tests don't show but maybe a urine test would. If you have an abnormally high amount of something in your urine like a vitamin, it could mean your body is somehow not absorbing it and could cause a host of things. If you want to get the one doctor to shut his trap on the sleep disorder you could try a sleep study (although if you don't have good insurance I imagine that is a bit pricey). As fare as the RA have they run the auto immune and RA type blood panels? My understanding is that some of that is not always accurate like in the case of MS or Lupus where things can hide. Best of luck.Marianne
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • August 28, 2008
    • 11:44 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • oh my god, I am searching for solutions to solve my sleep disorder, but it looks like many having same kind of troubles. This is really weird.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
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