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A very painful shoulder, could it beRA??

For the last couple of weeks I've had a really painful shoulder which seems to travel a long my collar bone. It's worse during the night, I can't sleep on it & in the mornings, I can't put my arm up, to brush my hair or shower etc. It eases off during the day, luckily it's my left shoulder. I've got a lot going on at the moment & think that the RA is being affected because of that,I've got a lot of pain in all my joints, the shoulders a first. Has anyone got this or had this? Is it RA? I can't take painkillers they play havoc with my stomach. I'm at loss to know what to do & is this it or will it go. This awful illness is a real pain in more ways than one.

6 Replies

Hello Caza

I'm so sorry about your shoulder pain. If you haven't obviously "hurt it" in any way then I think it's quite possibly to do with the RA. It could, of course, be the beginning of a non RA related "frozen shoulder" . I have shoulder trouble and I read about "frozen shoulders" which apparently are most common in the non-dominant arm (I'm guessing from your blog that you are right handed)? Have you tried rubbing anti-inflammatory gel into it if that's something you can tolerate? For me Ibulieve Max Strength certainly helps take the edge off the pain except when it is really bad. I would check with the pharmacist or GP before using it though to make sure it's safe with any other meds you might be taking. Alternatively I find that Deep Heat (or similar) is very soothing if you (and others around you can cope with the smell!).

It's my left shoulder that's the problem too and I find that, if I am lying on my back, resting my left arm on a thickish pillow by my side is more comfortable. Or, if I lie on my right side, I find that putting my right arm across me and resting it on a pillow by my right side can be helpful. A hot water bottle or wheat bag laid across the shoulder is soothing too I find, if you can bear the weight of it on your sore shoulder.

Do you have a rheumatology nurse you can speak to who might be able to arrange physio for you more quickly than a GP could? At my hospital it's possible to self-refer for physio and to be seen quite quickly and maybe the same is true of your hospital. The physio would be able to assess the problem and to advise whether it might be helped by physio or whether a steroid injection into the joint might be beneficial. They would also be able to refer you back to rheumatology for an x-ray or scan on the shoulder if it was thought necessary.

Really hope your shoulder improves soon Caza.



Thanks Tilly for replying, yes I'am right handed. I can't use gel or cream, I come out in awful blisters when I've tried it before. Ive never been told about a nurse,so I'm guessing they don't have one or think I don't need one. My GP won't see me with anything to do with RA,she said she doesn't know enough about it & that's why I have a consultant. I'm not seeing him until October,he's pretty good & has responded to a couple of problems I've had in the past by phoning me,when I've written to him.

The hot water bottle works a treat. I'm just hoping its a blip & it'll go away! x


i currently have a frozen shoulder, but have also had ra shoulder - the rheumy suggested the frozen shoulder was ra related but i have had one previously too so i'm not so sure.. however i found that my TENS machine really helped and keeping it mobile. hope you get some relief and try to keep it moving


Thanks,I will look up frozen shoulder. Once I get going its ok a bit tender but alright but during the night & mornings agony. I'am under a lot of stress at the moment so guessing its triggering the RA. It's all quite new to me so just trying to get to grips with this new way of life. I'm never sure really wither to rest a painful joint or keep moving it. x


Hi, I get a lot of pain in my shoulders and it is the r/a that causes it. It can be really sore one day and then a bit easier the next. I have had steroid injections into my shoulder a few times and it does help. I find massage is very helpful. If you can't always get some one to massage it for you then you could think about getting a massage cushion. I got one from ebay and it only cost around £25 and it does ease it a bit. If it contines to bother you then i would try and get an earlier appointment. x


That's strange you should say that,it's so much better today & I don't know why. I'm guessing that if it was injured or a frozen shoulder it wouldn't get better overnight. It was so painful yesterday morning & today it's fine. Very strange. Thanks for your reply x


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