Stress/traumatic event?

I was just wondering if anyone else feel that their autoimmune issues were triggered by a traumatic event?

I first got hyperthyroidism after a particularly awful time. And then PsA abd bowel issues kicked in!

Just interested. Obviously no meed to talk about event.


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35 Replies

  • Hi Nettac, I am scheduled for infusion this morning so preoccupied but there are several studies out linking Post Traumatic Stress of first responders and autoimmune disease. It is very well established in a number studies. I will find you links later if the other members do not beat me to it lol

    I can attest from a first person perspective that it is absolutely a mitigating factor. Not only in triggering onset but flares as well. Time to get close to Buddha and learn to meditate 😜I am total triple A personality.

  • Thanks so much for response. I would be very interested in links.

  • If you google PTSD and RA there are many. The one I referred to was a study of first responders in 9/11. Very easy to read😁

  • Thank you

    Read with interest.

  • In 1989, I had severe PSTD after the loss of my baby. While suffering with PSTD for a year, I was diagnosed with MS. (Thankfully my MS "just went away")

    I was then diagnosed with RA in 2014 after another traumatic time in my life.

    Who knows if there is a connection? I used to believe there was a connection, but I also understand that people can suffer such trauma & never develop anything autoimmune.

  • Sorry for your loss.

    I'm guessing that although many people who have experienced severe distress/stressors may bypass autoimmune issues, I suspect they may be hit by other health problems.

  • Hi Nettac! My RA "started" with the year of the broken arms. My youngest broke his arm just below the shoulder joint, was out of school for 4 months(school wouldn't allow him back until healed), daughter-in-law pregnant, daughter broke her elbow for the first time on the day the baby was born-the elbow abcessed and an two weeks before that I broke my hand and an wrist. I had hand surgery and 4 different diagnoses Before my PCP got in the act and said its RA and you're going to see my mentor.


  • It's only my opinion and I have have any evidence to substantiate it but I do free that ongoing stress and/or a trauma, physical or mental, could be linked to disease. Like I said, just my view.

  • I had a gastric band doctors believe it maybe the cause

  • I think sometimes surgery can cause it. Surgery is a traumatic event after all. I never fully recovered after my knee ops. Everything suddenly flared up!

  • I suspect it might be trauma, but also having a susceptibility to the illness.

    Thanks for all your replies.

  • I do feel my autoimmune issue was caused by extreme stress. I was forced out of a career by the boneheadedness of a superior. I spent 8 years, almost 12hrs per day, oncall 24/365. No real time off as phone was an electronic leash so to speak.

    Left job, had injuries to both ankles around a month later. Symptoms started right after that, almost 3 years ago now.

    Diagnosis of seronegative inflammatory arthritis, Still's disease, with signs of Castleman's disease. Only being treated for symptoms of inflammation at the present time. On Actemra now for 9 months and inflammation is mostly gone, albeit, so is the cartilage in my knees and ankles. One year ago mri showed full thickness cartilage in knees and now show grade 4 chondromalacia patella. Meaning no cartilage left. Presumably from a combination of inflammation and cortisone shots to the knees.

    Start at a pain clinic Wednesday to see what I can do to limit pain in knees and feet.

    All of this was I fell brought on by stress then trauma to the ankles. Kinda crappy how the body works.


  • Yes. My Rheumatoid disease started six months after the death of my father. It was a particularly difficult time as he wanted to be at home, but only had a terminal diagnosis 9 days before he died, so we got no end of life nursing care. I was working full time plus nursing him through the night, so burning the candles at both ends.

    I threw myself into my work after he died, remember some of my team saying they couldn't keep up with me, I was going at 200mph. It was a particularly stressful job and I was working 40-50hr weeks.

    Then the straw that broke the camel's back. My husband got made redundant. Complete shock. He heard on the Monday. I woke up with an odd stiff wrist on the Friday. On the Saturday I woke up with all joints in my hands, wrists, elbows completely locked, followed swiftly by ankles, feet and knees. So that was the start of it all.

    Over the years I've had bad flares after emotionally traumatic events, family deaths, son going to university etc, difficulties of caring for my Mum at home for 8 years. So yes, I'd say mine is defiantly triggered by traumatic events.

  • Sorry yo hear of all your losses. Life certainly shake a person up!

  • Yes definatly hope you are not in too much pain xx

  • Hey Nettac,

    Hope you're having a good day.

    It seems like a massive amount of people with Autoimmune Diseases find that Disease activity rears it's ugly head shortly after a period of Chronic Stress. I've looked into this quite a bit over the last few months and there's a lot of research that has been done on the topic.

    If you go to:

    Just start searching for things like:

    Cortisol Rheumatoid

    Cortisol Diabetes

    Cortisol Sclerosis

    Cortisol Lupus

    etc etc

    Cortisol is the stress hormone that plays a role in bone health and also regulating the Immune System. When we suffer from long periods of stress, our bodies produce more Cortisol and increased Hormone levels in the body stress out the Immune System. This appears to be one of the reasons why Rheumatoid Arthritis seems to get so much more severe for many people after pregnancy and during Menopause. Increased Hormone levels in the blood put the Immune System on a state of high alert.

    There's a lot of research produced to support the theory that Rheumatoid Arthritis occurs as a result of DNA damage or a Genetic Mutation, but the Genes and DNA won't express the symptoms of RA unless they are exposed to certain environmental factors.

    This is the Science behind the reasoning why a lot of alternative treatments focus on Diet, Stress, Exercise and reducing exposure to environmental Toxins.

    If we can reduce exposure to all the things that put our Immune System on a high state of alert, theoretically symptoms should dramatically reduce and many people have managed to reverse RA using this strategy, or at the very least significantly reduce symptoms.

    All of this stuff is a lot easier said that done, but at least there is a lot of knowledge out there backed up by Science that people can now use to try and get better.

    There's a lot of information available online on how you can influence the production of certain hormones in the body including Cortisol.

    I'm no Doctor, but based on what I've read, it would make a lot of sense that symptoms would dramatically improve if we were able to normalize Hormone levels in the blood and reduce exposure to inflammatory foods that stimulate the Immune System.

    As the Immune System gradually starts to come down from a high state of alert, symptoms get better and better.

    If you want to go really deep down the rabbit hole, I recommend doing some research into how the HPA Axis can impact the Human body and the role that HPA Axis has on Autoimmune Diseases.

    Good luck. :)

  • Thanks so much!

    I'm pretty much convinced that mine was triggered by long term appalling stress, and then triggered again after an operation. Interestingly my bowel was also messed up. And I got horrendous rashes!

    I'm a bit better, though can't shake the exhaustion. I kind of feel instinctively, that if I fix whatever's going on in the gut, things might improve.

  • Hi Nettac,

    The same thing happened to my wife. It was trigged by a very stressful period in her life. She fell out with her parents 3 years ago and hasn't spoken to them since which deeply upset her. She also worked a really stressful job that involved a lot of long hours and traveling and she hated it.

    The straw that broke the camels back was buying our first house. It turned out to be one of the happiest times of our life, but the actual buying process was extremely stressful. Like clockwork, RA symptoms started to appear the week we started moving house.


    I've been going deep down the rabbit hole of how Gut Bacteria have an influence on the development of RA, Cancer, Autoimmune Disease and pretty much every other Disease on earth. It's got to the point where the evidence is so overwhelmingly strong that I don't think they can keep a lid on it for much longer before it hits the mainstream.

    One of the biggest things that sold me on this was something I recently discovered called "Quorum Sensing".

    If you Google that it will probably make you feel even more certain that your RA could be down to Gut issues.

    Scientists have basically discovered that the Bacteria that live inside us can control how our DNA and Genes express themselves. The Bacteria can also communicate with other Bacteria in the body by sending chemical signals. It's almost like our Bacteria can post letters to each other!!!

    This is an important discovery because it means that Disease is not caused by damaged or mutated DNA and Genetics like we previously thought. It means that Disease only develops when certain strains of Bacteria send chemical signals to cells which tell the Mitochondrial Bacteria in cells to cause DNA and Genes to behave in a certain way.

    If people can find a way to normalize their Gut Bacteria, the Bacteria would no longer send messages to Mitochondrial Bacteria telling them to express Disease symptoms present from DNA or Genetic damage and mutations.

    Previously Medical Science believed that our Genetics dictated our destiny, but it now appears that the Bacteria have a much bigger impact on our health than our Genetics.

    If we can better understand Quorum Sensing and learn how to influence it, we could effectively reverse or prevent almost all Diseases.

    When I learned about Quorum Sensing I became convinced that restoring a diverse population of bacteria in the gut would also go a long way towards reversing RA or at the very least dramatically improving symptoms.

    A Swedish University did a Microbiota study from Fecal matter samples of 180 newly diagnosed people with Rheumatoid Arthritis and they found that over 90% of them had SIBO [Gut Dysbiosis]. SIBO is an imbalance of Gut Bacteria.

    They compared their Microbiota to that of a randomized control group of mostly "Healthy Individuals" and they found that the people who suffered from RA had abnormally high populations of certain strains of Bacteria in their gut. One of the strains that were abnormally high was Staphylococcus aureus. The bacteria responsible for Staph infections, MRSA and Septic infections. Staphylococcus aureus is also an antibiotic resistant strain of Bacteria.

    This means that these certain strains have more of a voice in the human body than other strains of Bacteria. They have much more of an influence in how our Genes and DNA express themselves.

    We know for a fact that we can change the composition of our Gut Microbiome through Diet, Exercise, Stress Management, Meditation, Exposure to animals and different people etc. Even traveling to different places causes our Gut Microbiome to change! Surely these factors will have an impact on RA symptoms?

    If someone suffering from RA works really hard to restore their Gut Microbiome to that of a "Healthy" person, does that mean their RA disappears because they no longer have the population of Gut Bacteria that is normally seen in 90% of people who suffer from RA?

    People have been able to reverse RA through lifestyle changes and there has to be a biological reason why this happens. Nothing is a coincidence.

    I can't wait for the day when an organization takes a large group of newly diagnosed people with RA into a research environment and starts to measure the effects that certain lifestyle factors have on their symptoms and disease progression.

    I think it will happen eventually, but right now it's tough because this kind of research would cost a ton of money and there's not a pharmaceutical company on earth that would be willing to fund it.

    RA medications are currently a $100 Billion industry, so I don't think we will see this kind of research done properly unless a large charity like Arthritis Research UK decide to invest a lot of money in it.

    I also think there will come a point in time when the NHS and Insurance companies will come together and work in collaboration to research stuff like this in an effort to cut down on the mounting costs of medications that they often have to prescribe to people for a life time. Right now it's difficult for them to focus their attention on research like this, but I think eventually it will come to a point where they will try to save money long term, by spending a lot of money on research in the short term.

    I think Healthcare is in a paradigm shift right now and I think it will happen eventually, but it takes time for large organizations like the NHS to change treatment methods that have existed for decades.

    I think if enough of us reverse RA naturally, our Rheumatologists will start to take notice and this will eventually trickle up through the NHS and people will start to take notice.

    It has been proven that Type 2 Diabetes, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Celiac Disease are Autoimmune Diseases that can be reversed by eliminating triggers. I think large Healthcare organizations and charities need to do more to discover the triggers for other Autoimmune Diseases like RA.

  • Interesting. Looking that up! Thanks.

  • I totally agree , I was diagnosed w/Thyroid and RA issues around 2009 major life stresses then.

  • I was interested to read something recently on childhood trauma, and later autoimmune, mental health issues, and other illness. Also how the body remembers pain.

    Not the same thing, but I do wonder if my body has got so used to feeling pain that it doesn't know how not to feel it anymore!

  • Hi nettac

    Was this a price of research you'd read regarding childhood trauma and later AI issues?

    I'd be hugely interested in reading this if you have a link?

    Take care


  • Hi

    One of the articles I read was call Trauma Transference Syndrome. I've read a few articles (used to work with abused kids). There are many articles out there on later illnesses in people who have experienced childhood trauma.

    If you just type the title in Google it should throw something at you.

    I can't remember the others I read, sorry.

  • Thanks nettac

    As a children and families social worker, I'm always very interested in current/ new research. I'll have a look.


  • Tough job!

    I think the stress of working with difficult families had an impact too! Couldn't do it again. You have my admiration!

    I think the basis if the article is that the body remembers pain.

  • I'm pretty sure my RA was bought on by stress. Mum was pronounced terminal and rapidly went down hill after contracting the JC Virus through having chemo. From a strong lady in April to a disabled blind person suffering epileptic seizures by the time she passed away in the September. Shortly after my dad went off with a woman he met. Then 14 month later my daughters father died aged 44 and five months after that her stepdad was murdered aged 41. Not long after my shoulder joints locked but I put it down to work (my sister and I ran a pub) then my knees started then I woke up and couldn't move. I was head to toe stiff and in pain. My knees are OA and RA everywhere else. Been going to see the rheumatologist for 16 months who kept telling me it was post viral arthritis but now agree's it's RA. Going to see him again next week, hopefully this time he will start me on proper meds and not just fob me off with naproxen and mild pain killers.

  • Really sorry about your Ma, and all the other sad things that have happened. I do hope that you regain your health soon.

  • Thank you you too xx

  • I also have thyroid..... My RA came on when my beloved Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

  • Sorry about you Pa. Hope you are recovering.

  • Seems like a goid many of us feel things were brought on by stressors!

  • Hi Nettac,

    Mine was definitely triggered by stress that is what my doctors think. I have loss my cousin, Mom, Sister and Uncle within a 2 1/2 year span. I watched both my Mom and Sister pass away, which literally sucked the life out of me. That I personally think, has triggered this awful disease. Both my Mom and Sister had Auto Immune illnesses as well. So Genetics played a factor as well. I hope you feel better soon!!

  • Really sorry to hear of your losses. I think grief xan knock the stuffing out of a person.

  • Hi,

    Looking back I can see the horrendous stress I was under when mine started. My job was far too full on and I was being bullied by my boss at work. She gradually chipped away at me, my confidence plummeted and I was really too drained to stand up for myself. I remember being so unhappy I went home one day and just laid on my bed crying, not knowing what to do.

    The final straw was having to have my beloved dog pts as she had a brain tumour. I've never felt so stressed and so low.

    I handed in my notice with no new job lined up. Luckily one of our directors refused to accept it and made some major changes. My boss was moved on and life has been so much better.

    I am convinced stress triggered the onset of my RA.

    Now if I have a particularly stressful week my health reflects that - there is a definite link.

  • Hi Nettac,

    I'm positive that the start of my slippery slide into both Osteo and Rheumy was a 6 month long post-op Strep infection about 13 years ago. Have had a one or two off/record chats with medical staff, both of whom agree that there is some relationship, but nobody will verify officially. Funnily enough, my GP at the time said something very strange, he said not to sue the hospital that did the operation, as I might need support 'some time' in the future and if I sued it would be remembered. I never forgot this strange comment but have never given it much credence. Whether physical or mental I do believe that our bodies will store shock until such time as it will show reaction, and that sometimes that reaction can be slight - a cold sore on the first day of a holiday after a stressful time at work. Or something huge - your total immune system poisoning your body after PTSD or life threatening infection.

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