Has anyone ever heard of RA being triggered by a trauma to the body, such as breaking a bone?

This may sound like a weird question, but I was fine until I broke my right wrist at the beginning of March, and even whilst still in plaster started to have stiffness and pain in the fingers of my right hand. Since the break has healed the stiffness and pain have remained, and this has now spread to the other hand, my toes (especially the big ones), knees, elbows and shoulders.

The physio refused to touch me any more and referred me back to the fracture clinic, who said the bone had healed fine and there was nothing more they could do.

My GP has now referred me to a Rheumatologist, and says he now feels the broken wrist was a red herring and he suspects I may be in the very early stages of RA or some other inflammatory disease.

I was just wondering if anyone else had ever heard of RA being triggered by this sort of thing, as my physio did hint that things can be triggered if they are already lying dormant.

14 Replies

  • Hi Magswat

    I've always suspected this and think mine was from shock...infact other auto-immune things such as psoraisis are know to be triggered by shock/trauma. Hope you get sorted as soon as possible since the earliest the problem is caught the better the outcome for you. Wishing you all the very best. Don't let ANYONE fob you off; keep on until you get sorted out. Good wishes. Hopalong

  • I think this happened defintly for me,as 3 yrs ago I broke my metatarsal in my right foot,last December I started suffering terrible foot pain,just under bone which I broke !! I got fobbed off with a number of ailments,nothing helpes,but in April fingers started getting stiff then knees and shoulders.i really do believe mine was triggered by my broken metatarsal,it must have been lying dormant underneath,and then it triggered it off.i am convinced this was the start off it,and I asked my gp and he said very likely too.wot a bummer for us for breaking a bone eh mags want !!!!! Love Michelle xx

  • No one really knows what triggers RA so it's as likely to be triggered by a fracture as by a particularly distressing event such as a car crash or a sudden bereavement as it is by having a baby or menopause I think. So the answer to your question is yes I'm afraid - I think a fracture probably can trigger RA in someone who has the disease lying dormant in them. Hope it's not for you but if it is then the sooner you are diagnosed and treated the better so your GP has done the right thing and sounds really good for referring you this soon. Good luck. Tilda

  • I think it is true as I feel at work about a year n a half, from a broken chair n landed on my bottoms n I started to hav lots of aches n pains in my bk n wrists....after lots of X-rays n MRI .....I was diagnosed with RA......

  • Yes definitely i fell down 3 stairs was told i'd broken my leg and fractured the other one and then my wrist started hurting so they plastered that too so i had all three limbs in plaster before i'd had enough as the other wrist then started hurting too!! I went private and they scanned me and took off all the plasters and said i had RA and no broken bones the x rays taken had shown old breaks not new ones!!! RA can be triggered from a bad fall and "luckily" we had caught it early just as it was starting so it came on thick and fast from there and i was put on high dose everything right at the start and am doing pretty well with Enbrel injections just 3 years down the line now! A Real shock to start with but once you deal with it and get a good consultant it can be okay. Good luck x

  • I believe my RA was triggered by stress, so I am sure that it could be triggered by stress to the body.


  • I was diagnosed with RA when I was 2 years old (I'm now 56!) - I had fallen down a flight of concrete stairs which was reckoned to be a contributing factor (I'm surprised I'm still alive after a fall like that though!).

  • Many thanks for all your replies and good wishes. My physio certainly thought this could happen, but when I mentioned it to my GP he kind of dismissed, but at least he is taking me seriously and has referrered my fairly promptly. I have also had a lot of stress over the last couple of years, including losing my Mum, so this may all have contributed.

    Many thanks again for all your replies. I will let you know how I get on with the Consultant.

  • Makes you wonder.....broke my right wrist in two places and ended up having joint completely replaced nine years ago and things have gradually gone down hill from there. Have RA /polymyalga and my wrist is a nightmare at the moment x

  • Yes, Magswat, I came out of remission at age 16 when I had my wisdom teeth removed. I really believe that stress is a big precurser to RA.


  • RA is an autoimmune disorder, and autoimmune disorders can easily be triggered by stress. That doesn't mean that they are caused by stress though, as you would probably still end up developing the RA even without the broken wrist. i think you have a good GP there who is considering the fact that the broken wrist could have been a red herring. Good luck with seeing the rheumatologist.

  • I am really interested in your question and in what the others have said magswat. I too have heard of this and when I was talking to my Mum recently about when my RA started, I remembered that around the time it began I fell down a set of concrete steps in the garden and really hurt my knee. I didn't think I had broken anything, so just hobbled around and tried to ignore it until it got better (which it did), but it was around this time that my RA symptoms started. What I now know to be RA symptoms waxed and waned for a bit but they really got hold the day after somebody trod on my foot. I know that probably sounds daft but I can pinpoint the start of symptoms "proper" to that day. After a "little bit" of wine we decided for some reason to see if we could replicate "Riverdance" (those were the days lol) and someone trod heavily on one of my feet. I "retired hurt" just thinking I would have a bruised foot in the morning but the next day, both feet were stiff and painful - and I never looked back RA wise (and that was 17 years ago). Given that RA is an auto-immune condition, it makes sense to me that when physical injury, or stress, signals to the body's immune system that it needs to "swing into action" in those predisposed to RA it could be the trigger.

    Right, I'm rambling so I will stop now lol except to say that I am really pleased you are being given the support you need from the medics/physio and that your GP is referring you to a rheumatologist. Hope you get some answers soon.

    Tilly x

  • Hi ive only been recently diagnosed as having RA earlier this year but my symptoms started about October last year. Had a rough year, last year as mum had gone through her 2nd knee replacement at 60 year old and was then diagnosed with ovarian cancer! Her knee replacement collapsed due to the chemo and we went through a few ops before the cancer was eventually removed. She is still on the mend from her cancer and her knee ops but i do think its scarily uncanny that my rheumatoid arthritis started about same time or just after as mums cancer diagnosis!

    Thankfully mum is on the mend.


  • my rheuamtoid started 6 months after a knee injury that I did at work, the Ra started in the injured knee and spread like wild fire round my body. yes, RA can be triggered by injurys and then the Ra does not heal. nightmare !!

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