Pain after exercising : Does any one else have joint... - NRAS

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Pain after exercising


Does any one else have joint pain and swelling after exercising. I usually do a short and slow walk and only suffer some stiffness after. However, since I have gained so much weight because I can no longer run, I tried to power walk for one hour. After the power walk my shoulders froze, my elbows became swollen, my knee were on fire. Now my lower back is in so much pain I can't stand up all the way. I used to be a distance runner. I used to be so strong. Now I'm tired and I hurt. I keep reading about others who still workout with no problem. I was diagnosed a few years ago after ignoring my symptoms for 5 years before that. Please let me know I am not alone.

17 Replies

I think you may remember when you were a distance runner if you ever took time off for the holidays or a break in your training for any reason and tried to go out and run for an hour the next 48 hours you would be pretty darn sore.

Whether or not one has RA I think the recommendation is to build up training on an incremental scale. If we gain weight from forced inactivity that puts even more stress on our joints and muscles.

I don't think RA can always be to blame for our pain, although it definitely doesn't help. My only suggestion is to build up to an hour by starting with 15 or so minutes and adding a few more minutes each week realizing if you didn't have RA it's very possible that you will have pain until your body gets stronger.

I think the worse thing would be to stop exercising altogether thinking that you will be causing damage or in a hell of a lot of pain after doing it. You can always ask a physical therapist or your doctor to design a plan for you based on their recommendation.

I think the saying goes, those who can exercise should and those who can't shouldn't. But the idea is to build up and have goals to reach rather than tackle it all in one day. If you do that you may be surprised to find that exercise is indeed possible and incredibly helpful.

I wish you the best.


Hidden in reply to Lucy11

I am no fool. This pain is way different than what I experienced as a distance runner. I am not "sore". I am suffering. I just wanted to know who else felt this. Please do not belittle my pain as after work out soreness. Not everyone suffers RA the same way. I know a lot of this is from my RA.

Eiram50 in reply to Hidden

Like Lucy, I'd be if the thinking if it's hurting, do less but continue to do it? Not sure Lucy was attempting to belittle your pain, merely to take the time to respond to you and offer her experience and advice.


Hidden in reply to Eiram50

I felt she was belittling my pain by calling it soreness. I didn't ask for any advise. I just didn't want to be so alone anymore. People always ask me "what's wrong with you" all the time. I was hoping to find compassion and friendship on this site not another person who tells me it's not real. That I am just sore. My feelings were hurt. I was an athlete. I know the difference between soreness and frozen shoulders. I know how to exercise. The point is that I can't.

Eiram50 in reply to Hidden

Having been on this site fir a while, my experience is that people offer support and advise, if they feel it may help, in response to people's posts/ pain/ questions.

I haven't experienced people belittling others and I'm confident that's not what Lucy intended.

However, I hear what you are saying and I will bear it in mind.

Lucy11 in reply to Hidden

Belittle? Nope, not my intention.

I know a little about what it's like to be an athlete and watch your body betray you.

I was on the podium in the Hawaii Ironman two times. I held a pro license for a short while until RA slowly started to reveal itself. I've raced my bike in the mountains more days than I can count.

I have had two surgeries on both feet. I have bone erosions in all of my toes and in four knuckles on my hands. If you want an answer to 'does anyone else ever feel the way you do after training?'

Then, ok, I can answer, yes. I couldn't walk without pain. I couldn't swim more than 500 meters for many many months as my shoulder would be in agonizing pain. Now, I can swim 4,000-5,000 meters at a time. Ride again, a lot and I'm starting to jog again.

It took 18 months and loads of patience and quite a lot of pain along the way but more importantly it took getting my RA under control with meds.

My brother in law is an orthopedic surgeon for athletes and my sister is a PT. What they often see are people who were once athletes that have RA doing too much too soon and then giving up because they think they are doing damage. Or, like you, flare.

One thing that happens is our muscles atrophy with this disease and with the forced time off. If we don't build up our muscles again with modified workouts given to us by a PT or doctor and then try to tackle a longish workout, (along with the added weight we gained) then our weakest link, for us it's our joints, are going to take the brunt of it. If we build up the muscles surrounding our joints they can help protect them. My brother in law says it's not unlike an athlete without RA who had take time off and didn't build his base back up. It's not soreness we feel but the analogy is the same--ours just happens to be a lot of pain in our joints.

So, no, I didn't mean to belittle you. I only answered because I have experienced it first hand and have a brother in law who see loads of people taking off big bites and getting discourage and quitting. Please don't assume I think all RA is the same. I never said that, nor alluded to it. I only wished to add suggestions because it's close to my heart but you only wanted to know if others felt the same. My mistake. Apologies.

Hidden in reply to Lucy11

Thank you. I feel so lost sometimes. Doctors who ignore you, family who don't understand, friends who stop calling. I hope you can understand my frustration. I appreciate what you wrote. I will not be posting again. I am too sensitive for it I think. I do appreciate that you explained what you meant. I understand you now.


I used to distance run as well. And swim. And mountain walk. Now I can barely walk most days. If I try and 'power through the pain' I get worse. I can't 'work out' - even if I build up slowly, because of the damage I've done to my joints. If I manage even bits of exercise one day, I pay for it with joint flare ups. As runners, I guess we're used to going through the pain barrier- but it doesn't work for this. Rest and pacing is the key! I ignored my symptoms too, for various reasons, and this means I have permanent damage. Possibly this is the same for you? I'm so sorry you are in this position- but know that you are not in any way alone. It is so tempting just to 'go for it' but the disease strikes back! I've learnt to live more slowly- more carefully. I hope you find a way through it x

Hidden in reply to LizzieR

I love you!!! I am so glad that I am not the only one. You were like me, a runner, mountain bike and all around fitness nut. I even did power yoga after every run. I could not do it now for the world. I even tried gentle yoga but it too caused my joints to flare up. I too barley walk most days. Thank you for backing me up.

Bloody yoga. I'm told so often that it is the answer to my problems. I used to do it three- four times a week. Now getting on the mat would be a work out! You hang in there. This disease is a different kind of marathon x

I don't have RA, but PsA. I have to say pain after exercise is my biggest bug bear. I love to go on long walks with the dog, but recently even short walks cause pain and exhaustion.

The other day I went swimming...I love swimming, its the only place I feel no pain. I roared up and fown the pool. I was I absolute flipping agony for days afterwards!

I need to swim daily really.

Hidden in reply to Nettac

Thank you for you input. It's good to know I am not alone

I was never a runner but I was extremely fit, swam for a club badminton tap dancing etc... I loved all exercise apart from running!! This last year I decided to try & forget about all this RD business & get back in my fitness gear. Well a year of yoga once a week with a little bit of practicing in between aquafit twice a week & a long walk twice a week housework lots of looking after little ones & not forgetting looking after my friends two labs for a week. Well I really wish that I could say that my joints are the better for it but I can't 😔 For the last couple of nights I haven't been able to sleep for the pain ( I cannot take painkillers) & I've had to roll out of bed, not a good look 😳 My joints are most definitely worse after exercise so why do I do it, well it makes me feel normal & I really enjoy it

Hidden in reply to Caza

I am glad for you. I walk every day just to get outside. It's the only thing I can still do. Pain sucks!

I am also struggling with this issue. I used to cycle 70 miles a week, walk everywhere and swim. Now it's a very different story. On Friday I did some gardening, yesterday I went for a walk with my dogs, today I'm in a lot of pain lying in bed dreading having to stand up! I'm trying to come to terms with the new me and "pace" myself, I really dread that phrase! But I need to be sensible now as I'm paying too high a price, moderation is my new buzz word lol.

Your not alone. Good luck

Paddisons take on exercise and RA.

I'm a personal trainer, 48 years old, and I was diagnosed with RA about 15 months ago. I run or swim daily, but for 12 months pre diagnosis and for the first 6 months of treatment, I couldn't always get downstairs, let alone run! I wouldn't class myself as an athlete as such, but I used to be able to knock out a reasonable 10k in 45 minutes. It was grim and frustrating. I did however learn to compromise and manage to work around it. If my knees were bad, I'd get in the pool and use a pull buoy, working upper body only. If my shoulders were giving me hell, I'd run, or get in the pool in fins and use a kickboard, or do backstroke without using the arms. It wasn't ideal, but it was better than nothing. I'm much better now (on ssz and hcq), and while some days it's a slog, and I know I'll never get close to the times I used to do, I can still run/jog, and for that I am eternally grateful. I also do a lot more weight training for the muscles/joints which I vary depending on how I am and I've seen huge improvements in my strength (not bad for an old girl). Yoga is supposed to be very helpful and is something I would like to take up, but unfortunately I never seem to have the time.

As hard as it is, focus on what you can do, rather than what you can't, and take things slowly. It took me a while to get my head around the whole concept, but I'm getting there.... and I'm sure you will too.

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