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I have a constant ache with sharp pains in my shoulders and hands

Posted by magnoliakathy

In the morning I can't make a fist or even brush my teeth. My doctor said it isn't arteritis. This pain has been going on for many months.



Answers (1)
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The possibilities are so endless that we can go nuts with the little bit of information that you've mentioned.  I don't mean this to belittle you but to explain why we often ask as many questions as we do to go with all the other things we know about (but which I don't). 


For instance, in someone who's elderly (that's 10 years older than your current age), polymyalgia rheumatica or temporal arteritis can present w/girdle pain & weakness.  In other words, it starts by affecting the shoulders & hips and then spreads distally to the hands & feet.  Simple blood work can check for an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate.   Biopsy of the temporal artery is diagnostic.  Treatment consists of a long course of steroids.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory process whereas osteoarthritis is not but rather more from wear & tear than anything else.  Which makes we wonder about remote trauma, not with a controller but sometime in the distant past, like an old athletic injury.  On the other hand, RA can take up to 30 minutes to resolve every morning.  NSAIDs and prednisone are useful to take the edge off.  RA does increase one's risk for heart disease so it's important to follow & monitor closely.


Spinal cord injury and/or damage can occur in the neck region which would then present as neck, shoulder & hand pain.  Typically we would expect more description as pain running down the arm from neck down to the hands.


If your family doc can't figure it out, ask to be referred to a rheumatologist for a further evaluation (bring the test results that you currently have so that you won't to repeat them.

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