Hi Loren31 - Welcome to A2K...
<thanku Flying Squrrrl JPB - here...>
hmmmmm Loren... to be honest, I'm not sure what a C4 test is... are you in USA? Perhaps the tests are called by different names there. I'm in the UK and I have blood tests done each month but no C4's. CRP and a zillion others - but really unsure how to advise you about that particular test.
So, from my experience only over last 20+ years: I have SLE, RA, Raynaud's plus the possible, but not likely, onset of Chron's - plus a few other little lovelies too. <Yes, yes, if I were a horse, they'd shoot me
> However, talking about your specific problems - well - first up the joint pain is likely caused by inflammation (that may sound a little obvious) - with the array of tests that can be done, including very simple ones like ESR and PV - that can show if there is 'activity' going on in your body.
Specifically for SLE -
it all sounds very scary when you start to read up on things that you may or may not have... really scary... but you have to remember that you will most likely not have all the symptoms...
If it helps any...it was my Gastroenterologist that ordered the tests...he also ordered a CT with contrast...a endoscopy and a colonoscopy...my syptoms have been going on for about 7 years but have become even worse in the last year...I have flair ups of lower abdominal and back pain...my belly bloats to the point of looking pregnant....I have joint pain...sometimes sharp chest pains....and Im tired ALL the time...even after nine hours of sleep. I also have reynauds so my feet are always cold and purple.
ok... the endoscopy and colonoscopy - that could be to determine or rule out a whole other diagnosis. The colonoscopy will let the doc see whether you have any ulcers in your colon, they can take biopsies (don't worry, you will have sedation and it doesn't hurt at all) ... with SLE, you can have apthous ulcers in your colon which can be also be indicative of Chron's - diet is a huge factor with Chron's and there are a few threads on A2K that discuss Chron's. I had these procedures done in Feb this year - and it was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be (again, another poster has written about this and I can find the link if you want to read thru it). The endoscopy can also see if you have stomach ulcers (or heliobacterium) which can cause the bloating etc - or they could determine (by ruling out other things) that you have irritable bowel syndrome - again, diet factors in that greatly. IBS can cause huge abdominal swelling - and yes, it's horrible, painful and you can look as tho your pregnant - this can come and go depending on how you moderate your diet and also, stress levels.
Lower back pain... can't assist in that department - that's about the only place I have not suffered any joint problem with - but I do know from other posters how terribly painful it can be.
If you can/wish to, can you tell me if you are on any medications? With joint pain, often NSAIDS are prescribed - for me - they caused more problems - 3 stomach ulcers with Naproxen (Naprosyn) and ibuprofen... but for many people, they can give immense relief. I've been on immunosupressants (methotrexate) for 14 years-ish - that works for me much better. Do you take any pain killers for your joint pain?
Chest pains... can't help with that one either.
The good thing is - the doctor is taking your symptoms seriously by ordering these tests and I really would advise that the only 'real advice' you should take on why they have ordered the tests and what the possible diagnoses could be, is from the doctor who is treating you.
The worst symptom I struggle with, is fatigue. That just knocks me down and takes me out on a regular basis. The only thing that can be done about it - is rest, when needed, rest rest rest.
Keep talking if you need to have a vent.
It is invariably harder to 'not know' what is wrong than it is to deal with with what they/you 'know' to be wrong. I hope you can talk with your doctor for reassurance as soon as possible - reading up on possible diagnoses can send you spiralling and can churn your tummy up too making the symptoms worse.
You've had your symptoms for a number of years now so you are used to dealing with the daily onset - try and think that when the doctor explains or determines a diagnosis, that that is the signpost to getting the help you need to try and combat any disease. You can and will do that - once you know what you have to battle with - you find it in yourself to deal with it.
Vent away Loren - I don't know if what I've said could be help or a hindrance to you - but please know that you're not alone feeling crahp and, tho that doesn't make it any easier for you, there's usually someone around to listen if you need to have a shout. Enjoy your good days as best you can - I do understand that unpredicatably of these symptoms is a pain in the bahookie... you never know if the next day is going to be a good one or a bad one - but I will say, it's really, really not all doom and gloom if you have SLE, despite it being a nasty... trying to keep a positive focus DOES make a difference - (well, for me it does).
<disclaimer - I'm not medical at all... just an experienced loud and fairly-informed patient
ps: if ya knew how many times JPB and a couple others got PM's from me saying "dayum, it's the immaculate conception again, I look pregnant..." - ha... dontya just loathe that!!!!!>