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Anne asked...

Leg and arm pain

I have had terrible pains in my legs and arms, also suffer badly with cramp in my hands and feet. I am currently seeing a rheumatologist but after doing numerous tests, he can't decide what's wrong, he says it's some kind of connective tissue disorder and has left it at that. I am at my wits end, sometimes I can hardly walk. I am considering paying for the tests to be done again privately, just so fed up now. I don't think he really knows how much pain I am in. I am limited to what medication he can give me as I only have one kidney, the left kidney has removed due to cancer. Can you give me any advice please.

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The answer

Thank you for contacting us. It does sound as though you are having a very difficult time with these symptoms. Pain in the arms and legs and cramping could be attributed to several possible problems, I can see that your Rheumatologist has suggested a connective tissue disorder of some kind based on his assessment so far. Sometimes we find that imbalances in the level of salts or iron in the blood can produce similar symptoms to yours but this seems to have been ruled out in your case on the tests done so far. Your specialist will have been able to look for any imbalances on your blood test results where they will have been identified if present. It may be worthwhile having a chat with your Rheumatologist again to express how difficult you are finding both the symptoms and their effect on you. 

If no diagnosis is forthcoming however it might be worth bearing in mind that there are some muscle and nerve disorders which can cause similar symptoms to yours and this could merit some discussion with your Rheumatologist if nothing specific remains forthcoming in terms of the cause of your pain and cramping. If you still feel that the problem is not resolving or fully understood after talking it through with your specialist you might like to consider asking for a referral to an internal medicine specialist. These are specialists who specialize in diagnosing problems where a diagnosis is unclear or not found; your GP should be able to facilitate this for you. 

With regard to the pain you are experiencing given your previous history with your kidney limiting what can be given to ease this pain it may also be worthwhile to ask your GP or specialist for a referral to a pain clinic.  There they will be able to make a thorough assessment of your problems, arrange any further tests required and implement a treatment plan with you. These clinics specialize exclusively in pain that is hard to manage so you could find this very useful for you. 

Regarding your difficulty in walking if it is related to the pain you are experiencing then good pain management could also help to improve this for you. If, however, you are experiencing weakness and loss of function in one or both of your legs then a physiotherapist may be able to recommend a course of physiotherapy for you. 

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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