Shoulder pain

Hello, for the last 8 weeks I have had a painful shoulder that's getting worse, to the point where I'm having to be really picky about what I wear (something I don't have to pull overhead) and brushing my hair etc is causing pain. Can you get RA in your shoulder? It's making sleeping a chore as it wakes me up when I move in bed. Is it worth seeing if I can get it scanned or x rayed or something?

13 Replies

  • Hi

    I had real problems with both shoulders when I was first diagnosed three years ago. The pain was excruciating but when I started mtx it seem to calm down a bit. Still not 100% but bearable at the moment. I'm serverely affected in my hands and feet now.

    Discuss with your nurse or consultant for advice.


  • Hi, unfortunately RA can affect any joint. It affected my shoulders more than any other joint. I had months when I couldn't move my arms away from my sides because of it......miserable agony!

    I had steroid injections into my shoulders and at one point some taping/strapping to take the pressure off the joints and try to stop damage. My RA is well controlled now and after months of building up the muscles again, my shoulders are ok now.

    I think it may be worth contacting your rheumy nurse and see what they suggest.

  • Worth a call to your rheumy nurse. They can be affected - I have had mine injected with steroids a few times. Farm

  • We tend to think of RD affecting hands, feet, hips & such but unfortunately any joint can be affected potentially. I had a steroid injection in my left shoulder a couple of weeks ago, it only lasted a week but it did ease the pain & it's not as bad as before. I have it in a sling when sitting to take the pressure off & that's helping. if you have a GP in your Practice who's adept at steroid injections that might be a good stop gap until you're next seen by your Rheumy or nurse.

  • I have had a flare in my right shoulder for 5 days now, (following my left playing up 2 weeks ago). I am off my MTX until Tuesday as I failed my bloods. See Rheummy consultant on Thursday.

  • I'm new here, but to answer your concern...I had (have) the same ISSUE. This past summer I had physical therapy and one shot of cortisone and what a difference!!!! I can now raise my arms and my pain is minimal. Now if they could do something for my poor crooked hand!!!!

  • Yes. It is frequently affected. It was amongst the first of my joints to be affected.

    Strangely, though most people like you complain about the pain, my worst symptom was total disability. I have various things which all helped in varying degrees - gentle exercise and movement, Naproxen very minimally which enabled the exercise, Chinese herbal medicine but particularly the herbal patches. I also had an ultrasound-led cortisone injection. It is important to do it with ultrasound as this targets the inflammation. If an injection is done randomly, it will not be very effective and won't last. Mine lasted 10 weeks at about 90% effectiveness. You can only have about a maximum of four injections - the cortisone affects glucose tolerance and is not a good thing, so it is important not to waste it on a random injection. It caused me severe thrush which I am prone to.

    Finally, what did it for me was a combination of conventional medication taken along with Chinese herbal medication. Strangely, this started working from the first day and there was a miniscule improvement each day. Unfortunately, I can no longer get my Chinese medicine (unless I go to Hong Kong). My shoulder currently is wonderful and far more flexible than I can ever remember, even before the RA. I am doing all sorts of things like backstroke swimming, stretching and every movement possible. I don't think it will last though. My other shoulder had also been affected but I did not realise it until I started to move it properly.

  • I've had this, my physio diagnosed this as arising from overuse of arms when using sticks to compensate for my knees. She gave me exercises which did help movement and pain. So I'd recommend physiotherapy.

  • Yes I've had it in my shoulders, knees and hands. Shoulders were the worst as, like you, I couldn't sleep or turn over in bed.

    It's under good control on mtx now thank goodness. Best wishes, hope you get some relief soon.

    Ally x

  • R A attacks any joint. I worked for 3 months with a frozen shoulder - silly thing to do i know. Steroid injections didn't work. Had day surgery for a sub cranial decompression. Put simply - they shaved a bit of bone from my shoulder and haven't looked back since. Nag your consultant for a possible x-ray although meds may do the trick. Good luck xxxx

  • Is it possible that you have developed tendonitis in your bicep? When I was first diagnosed, I had pain in both shoulders that made dressing myself difficult. With RD treatment, the pain in the shoulder joints has improved tremendously. However, I now have bicep tendonitis that is extremely painful some days. During the day, it hurts worst when I reach behind me and do certain other motions. But when I keep my arm close to my body, it is not as bad. At night, it hurts most when I lay on that shoulder or when I pull the covers up. This pain extends down my upper arm sometimes and has only affected one shoulder, whereas the original pain was both. An orthopedic doctor was able to diagnose this by exam. He has given me a topical creme to apply 3x a day. It has provided some relief, but if I still have issues after a month, he will try a steroid injection. I hope this helps. You should most certainly get it checked so that you can get relief somehow.

  • The shoulder is a complex joint, don't try to self diagnose. My wife has had two operations on her shoulder. Best to get it checked out.

  • Thanks all, sorry if I confused anyone I do already have RA and on methotrexate and hydroxychloroquine for it

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