Doctor examining the finger nails of a psoriatic arthritis patient

How I Received My PsA Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in 2003. Funny thing is that at the time I wasn’t looking for a new diagnosis nor was I questioning whether or not I had PsA. My diagnosis was more of a being at the right place at the right time type of situation.

In the beginning- early signs of PsA

Looking back I can clearly see when symptoms from psoriatic arthritis began presenting themselves in 1999. But they weren’t severe and didn’t occur often enough to pursue medical attention at that time.

As early as my teens, I recall occasionally breaking out with psoriasis, but like my PsA symptoms, it wasn’t enough to disrupt or impact my life.

I didn’t seek medical attention until 2001 when a full-blown psoriasis flare broke out and covered my entire body. Armed with a prescription cream I soon had the rash under control. I, my primary care physician, and soon after OBGYN all dismissed my other symptoms as hormonal and stress as I was having difficulty becoming pregnant. Once I did become pregnant, those symptoms decreased significantly and were no longer impacting my life. However, approximately one year after the birth of my daughter they returned with a vengeance.

What’s up doc? Finally seeing a rheumatologist

I went from someone who exercised every day to not being able to leave my bed or the couch for days on end. Nothing made sense. It hurt to walk, I could barely stay awake, and my fingers/hands hurt so badly that I would cry every time my daughter wanted to be held or needed a diaper change. With these symptoms getting in the way of caring for my family, I scheduled an appointment.

After multiple tests, I returned to my doctor to hear his diagnosis. To my surprise, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a disease that I had never heard of until that day and one that would forever change my life.

After three failed treatments and a ridiculous amount of weight gain from those treatments, my primary doctor referred me to a rheumatologist.

A closer look at my nails

While at my first appointment my rheumatologist and I discussed not just my current symptoms, but my entire health history. After sharing that I had to have an ingrown toenail removed that summer, he asked to look at my nails. He then said he’d run tests to back up his suspicions, but he was confident they would show what my nails and symptoms were telling him, that I also had psoriatic arthritis.

As I said, I didn’t have to push for this diagnosis because I wasn’t even looking for it. My years of begging for answers for other things would soon follow, but this was the easiest diagnosis I have ever received.

To this day, the diagnoses that have come easy were made from doctors who didn’t rely on test results alone. They listened to me, examined areas that I would never have thought of asking to be looked at, and using the test results to confirm or rule out other illnesses. I had my PsA diagnosis in just under 5 months from when I initially sought relief from my symptoms.

How long did it take you to receive your diagnosis?

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