Want help to find out what is causing this pain - NRAS


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Want help to find out what is causing this pain


I went to the hospital after referral to it I have bad pain in my left upper arm the doctor gave me an injection or I should say started too I screamed in pain as the pain in the left upper arm was worst than labour pains, the doctor could not understand what was causing such intense pain needless to say I never went back to the hospital I see my own doctor who is aware I have this problem but he too is stumped but he is also very reluctant to give me an injection into the upper lft arm due to the intense pain it would cause which the doctors freely admit there is severe pain but have no idea what it is my lifting is restricted due to pain I cannot lift the arm up beyond chest height and the hand will often if I am out be very very cold anyone any ideas as this has been going on for a couple of years and now it seems to be getting worse I have had a stroke some years ago and do have frequent TIAs I have NOT had another stroke and the pain is DEFINATLY not stroke pain as I live with that pain all the time so know how bad stroke pain is I am on morphine for the pain but would like to know if anyone has any ideas what this left arm pain,weakness and coldness is?

14 Replies

My RA started with a pain like you describe......18 Years ago. It was in my right arm between shoulder & elbow. It was absolute agony & after lots of visits to GP I eventually insisted on a referral to a rheumatologist & I was diagnosed with Sero positive, palindromic arthritis.......that is it comes & goes irregularly. Over the years it progressed to,RA.

When I had the pain I could move my arm backwards & forwards but I couldn't move it away from my body without excruciating pain.

I would have the pain for a few days.......then it would go away....only to return just as bad days or weeks later.

Originally I was given Depomrdrone injections in my thigh- not in the affected arm & eventually after many tests went on to Dmards.

I can well remember the agony......I do hope you manage to get some answers very soon.


Lesley_ann in reply to AgedCrone

Good morning,like AC thats exactly how my RA started in my right arm also. The only way I could lift my arm was by using my left arm to raise my right. Something you could ask your gp even if it's only to rule it out, as well as asking for the possibility of a xray or scan as Leonwp mentioned.

Good luck Linda x

Jeanslmn in reply to AgedCrone

I've been experiancing same think shoulder to elbow severe pain for months now I've mentioned it to ra consultant he gave me steroid injection in thigh for it didn't do much good it's still there nearly all time now in my right arm it's very painful very restrictive on movement my left and right hands take it turns to be extra painfull and unusable when really bad I cannot use them to hold a cup even some days I cannot dress or undress there so bad most frustrating to say the least ,I get to point where I think il have to learn to live with it all ,I mention it at RA clinic they shrug and say don't know why that is ?

AgedCrone in reply to Jeanslmn

I felt just like that...sat on the stairs crying in the middle of the night.......not able to get dressed for days on end as the pain in my arm was so bad I just couldn't move it away from my body.

That was 18 years ago but it is imprinted on my psyche how awful it was. As I said I existed for I think about a year ..maybe two.....on Depomedrone injections which worked for me...maybe you could ask the Rheumy to up the dose....I can't remember doses, but at one point I know I had 120mg jabs. That meant I could start to move my arm ..which did seem to be the right thing to do.

I then went on to Dmards (& Prednisolone which was a disaster & I have refused to have it ever again!)

I started on Sulphasalazine which did help with the pain, but made me sick.

The good news is that all these years later I have just( last October) gone on to Rituximab & it seems to be working.

My hands & wrists are achey & unreliable......but bearable & they look normal except for a bit of OA damage.

So all in all there is light at the end of the tunnel with this achey arm syndrome.

Can you talk to your Rheumy nurse & ask why you are either not put on a Dmard.....or what seems to work for a lot of people take oral Prednisolone for quick pain relief, but move off it FAST on to a Dmard.

You have to impress how much pain you are in & virtually refuse to go home until something new is offered.

I know I sound Bolshie....but been there done that - got the Tshirt....but I had to stand up for myself all the way.

Now...phone your Rheumy nurse & let us know how it goes!

Good Luck


Jeanslmn in reply to AgedCrone

I am on sulfasalazine and methotrexate everything's Woking again except this arm and hands problem now so will ask orbit on my next appoinment with consultant in April

I cant understand why you havnt had an xray or scan on this problem, if the doctor at hospital felt you needed an injection of some kind why did they not give you pain relief like gas and air to enable it to happen?, i have been to hospital with in excess of 6 fractures in one limb which was obviously screamingly painful but it didnt stop them from treating me.

I have never heard of pain in upper arm like this, but i have definately heard of it in a shoulder and with exactly the symptoms you have described, is it possible that you are suffering "referred pain"?. I am not a doctor, so im certainly not going to second guess diagnose something a doctor and a hospital cant solve on just a written description. But it is not right that you put up with this pain without offer of diagnosis or treatment. I really hope you get this resolved. No one should have to cope with the level of pain you describe.


My RA started in my shoulder as well! It was so painful I actually went to A&E on a Saturday night as I was convinced I must have broken my shoulder somehow.

I have exactly that shoulder issue due to RA. I can just about move it back and forward but lifting it away from my body i.e. Putting on deodorant or (doing a chicken impression type movement-not something I do often just an illustration!!) is impossible. Taking steroids at the moment and it's fine.

Your post is hard to follow without any full stops.

The muscles and tendons in the upper arm are connected to the shoulder. You can get pain in the upper arm caused by the shoulder. I have had it but the disability was worse than the pain. I only felt severe pain on movement. Even if I ignored the pain, I could still not move my arm.

You need an MRI scan on your shoulder. An ultrasound would show up a lot as well.

My shoulder if fine at the moment, following various treatments, but I suspect it is coming back.

It seems that it is RA in the shoulder and a lot of people suffer from it. It could be other forms of inflammatory arthritis though.

That is not necessarily the case. My pain BETWEEN the shoulder & elbow 18 years ago, was nothing to do with a shoulder problem. I had scans, Xrays & neurological tests with wires attached up & down my arm & my shoulder was fine

It was just the beginning of Palindromic Arthritis.....which can either work itself out & fade away, or progress to RA.....I was unlucky & went on to full blown SPRA, but in some people it doesn't progress & eventually settles down & goes away.

Only having a rheumatologist keeping an eye on how it progresses & providing suitable pain relief will give the answer.


Where have I said it is necessarily the case?!? I have clearly stated it could be other forms of inflammatory arthritis and that "you can get pain in the upper arm caused by the shoulder".

In most cases (probably over 99%), it is. For a time my shoulder pain cleared up but I had pain in my upper arm. This happened when I saw the rheumatologist, and I told him I thought it had cleared up and my arm was now the problem. I arrived at the appt with two Chinese herbal patches on my upper arm which gave good temporary relief. He said the muscles and tendons run from the shoulder to the upper arm, and inflammation in the shoulder will be felt in the upper arm, so he said it had not cleared up at all, just moved around. I used to put Chinese herbal patches on the upper arm as well as the shoulder regularly and these relieved the shoulder pain better than having the patches just on the shoulder.

The inflammation was confirmed on ultrasound and was also stated by the consultant radiologist, who did the the ultrasound and injected into the shoulder, that pain in the shoulder was referred to the upper arm by the inflamed tendons. The injection relieved pain and disability in the upper arm instantly. The nurse noted that when I arrived, I was holding my arm to my side and could not open the door and after the injection I had normal movement and could open the door.

Yours is a very rare case and not really relevant to the the OP.

Best wishes.

If the stroke affected the left side of your body, you may have what is a "subluxed" shoulder. This means that the mechanisms around your shoulder joint, because of muscle weakness, have become lax and stretched and the head of the arm's upper bone is not fully Meeting its counterpart in the joint itself. In other words, it may have slipped down a bit impinging on nerves and blood flow. Strengthening and use of a sling can give some relief, but you need an X-ray and a Physical Therapist who specializes in Shoulders. Not a doctor by any means, but a former Physical Therapist in USA. When pain is unbearable, use a sling intermittently till you can get the help you need.


Surely you should have MRI or at least x-rays before anything else except analgesics, because it could be from a number of causes. I know how debilitating a vey 'painful arm/shoulder is - everything little part of daily life becomes so difficult

Hope its better soon -

Was on methetrexate which was really good but attacked everythin blood liver lungs etc

So i had to come off now on sulfasalazine.which doesn.t work for me and my pain and swelling is awfull they have saidbthey would change to something else when i go to next app in march. But the last 4 weeks i have developed the same pain in my upper arms .can.t turn over in the night or take any weight. The pain is horrendous .haven.t been to doctors yet .keep telling myself its going to ease off. Well its not. Don.t no what to do with myself .its getting too hard to work .in the nursing home .just too heavy.please tell me what it is and that it will go. Gentle cuddles to you all x kathy

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