What causes RA

Hello everyone,after reading the comments about smoking, I was wondering what bought your RA on.I have spoken to many sufferers at clinics,and a lot of them,like me believe sudden shock can trigger it of(in my case ,my mum and husband both died suddenly within 5months of each other,my husband was only 48,and I believe the shock started it) prior to this I was a fit healthy non smoking lady.i have mentioned this several times ,but it don't think much research has been done.it would be interesting to know if anyone else out there has any idea what may have triggered it off.

16 Replies

  • I think by the time we get to 50 or older, most of us will have clocked up a whole host of potential triggers. Perhaps with young people the triggers are likely to be a little easier to identify.

    I have psoriatic arthritis and I believe stress is an accepted trigger. I hate thinking of myself as stressed-out, but of course the word stress can refer to physical stress as well as the mental or emotional variety. But to be honest I've had my fill of all types. Difficult childhood ..... long hours and overwork in a job I'd stopped enjoying .... and then surgery on my foot, involving bones. Timing wise, full-on PsA came hot on the heels of the foot surgery, no pun intended. But I first had symptoms at 16 and the way life had been in the preceding years it's no wonder.

    There's also the 'sheer bad luck' option .... though as my Mum ended her life quadriplegic due to MS I still tend to think I've got off lightly.

  • That's interesting I had my first bad flair up when my husband died but thinking bact my feet had hurt for a good two years before that they say we inherit it from down the family line but I am the only one I know to have it.

  • Hi

    This is quite a common question to us here on the helpline and anecdotally I have spoke to many people who, like you, feel that their RA was triggered by physical or emotional trauma.

    The articles on this link look at the possible causes of RA and I hope will be of interest to you. nras.org.uk/possible-causes...

    Best wishes


  • With autoimmune diseases in at least three of my four grandparent lines, and almost every adult in my extended family having some kind of inflammatory arthritis, I think it would have been highly unlikely that I didn't end up with it. I have ankylosing spondylitis, and I do think that never having been pregnant did hold off the worst of it until menopause, but then it hit with a vengeance.

  • Autoimmune diseases run in my family unfortunately. My mum and auntie have MS, there's three or four others with RA and another auntie has endometriosis. I can't think of a specific trigger as I'm sure I've had it since childhood and I can barely remember what happened yesterday let alone 15 years ago 😂

  • No one else in my husbands family have RA or any other auto immune diseases. His mum lived till she was 97 and a part from a bit of arthritis lived a healthy life. My husband doesn't smoke, drinks little alcohol and has a healthy duet. He has alway run and enjoyed sports. He started with Paladronic rheumatism in 2000 following a lot of stress at work. In 2008 he witnessed me in a bad cycling accident. A year later he had progressed to full blown RA and was put on methotrexate. He now notices if he is stressed then a flare follows. Perhaps more research needed into the links between stressful events and RA?

  • I had musculoskeletal pain from childhood I would lie in bed crying being told the pain in my ankles, knees and wrists was rheumatism. As I got older and started working I had back, neck and shoulder problems. Always had intercostal pain too. Worked very hard as a nurse , worked with polymyalgia rheumatica and lots of other joint pains. Retired at 59 with RA, looking back it developed a lt earlier. My last few years at work were hell, constant pain, constant stress. I now don't know how I got through it. In that time my parents died, many loved aunts, uncles, cousins and friends died. Then my lovely husband....... I felt like a Weeble, Weebles wobble but they don't fall down. That all sounds awful but I've had a lot of wonderful times, my beautiful husband, children and grandchildren. Regarding stress being a factor in RA, not sure but something must spark our immune system to turn on us. Definitely needs some research. I know there is a familial element, my mum and sister are evidence. I pray to god my children have their dads genes and don't take after me in that respect. Love and good wishes to you all and keep taking the pills xxxx

  • I have always thought that stress and shock triggered mine, I had no symptoms or RA at all - then within the space of 23 months I lost my entire family, both sons and my husband.

  • Oh my goodness what an awful thing to happen. It's a wonder you are still standing. For that to happen then develop RA is a blow too much I can understand why stress could be a link with you. Don't know what to say., platitudes do not cover what's happened to you. My work and health stress seem nothing compared to yours. Love and prayers to you. Carol x

  • Thank you for your comment, I'm so sorry for your loss, makes mine seem trivial.Its a struggle, coping with loss ,trying to make some sense of it all,then being struck down with an incurable illness,it's as if we're being tested to our limits,don't know if there's a God,but I think we've had our fair share of grief for the time being.hope your meds are helping,and you are not feeling to bad.x

  • The first thing my RD consultant asked me was, on my first visit, if I had had any recent shocks or upsets. My husband died very suddenly [we were at the theatre taking my granddaughter to the pantomime] a year before. The consultant seemed to disregard this as being too far away but I guess vague symptoms had come up earlier which I put down to old age!

    I wouldn't wish RD on anyone but it would help us if a high profile person had it so that it would be talked about in the media and may be the start of more research into the disease?

  • So sorry to hear of your loss. Like you I was fit as a fiddle until my dear Mum died then my health has had a big nose dive.I have RA ,Fibromyalgia and Antiphospholipid Syndrome.I,ve had other autio immune things too.My consultant asked me If I had lost anyone and said this was probably cause to kick start the RA on.If I lost my husband I would be joining her too as he is my rock.

  • I think stress can be a trigger. I think having children can be a trigger (changes in hormones and joints get loosey-goosey for childbirth, then tighten up again). I also heard of something like friendly fire, where your immune system is triggered to respond to an actual problem, but doesn't stop once it's dealt with the problem, instead it moves on to attacking healthy cells... I'm sure there are even more theories than that.

    I had two kids in 21 months and my second was only 5 months old when I fractured a toe. From that moment on, my pain got worse, spread to both feet, then both hands... Was diagnosed when my youngest was 10 months.

  • I got a very sore throat one weekend then following that my left hand the knuckles on hand started turning red and and one of the knuckles grew large, but with no pain then the following week the knuckles on right hand started turning red too. I thought it was something to do with the cold weather it was January then. I left it a few more weeks then because the large knuckle was becoming tender I went to my GP who thought maybe Gout/RA. The results came back then I had positive RF factor and very high anti ccp. Luckily very quickly referred to Rheumatology and diagnosed within 2 weeks.

  • This is an old strand but I thought I would join in with my experience. I developed Fibromyalgia after a tooth extraction. My dentist actually diagnosed it. I had a crown smash a couple of months ago and some heavy dental work after that. I started getting joint discomfort not long afterwards and a herpes infection down the side of my face where I had treatment. Again th dental work does seem to have been the RA trigger

  • I am a firm believer that severe emotional distress caused my RA.

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