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Elbow pain

I have been referred to a Rheumy by my GP due to stiffness and pain in my fingers. My appointment is in 10 days. Since I saw my GP last (8 weeks ago), the pain and stiffness in my fingers is worse, and is now also in my wrists, elbows, feet and ankles, and shoulders and neck.

I am not sure if the shoulder and neck pain are connected, but they do seem to be getting worse at the same time as the other areas.

Over the last couple of days I have had almost constant pain in my arms. This seems to be radiating from my elbows, but goes down my arms into my wrists, hands and fingers, and up my arm into my shoulders. My elbows are have been getting stiffer and more painful over the past couple of weeks, but over the last couple of days I have noticed quite a huge difference. I am sat here now and I have pain from my shoulders down to the tips of my fingers and it is starting to get me down. My elbows hurt slightly on movement, and more if I try and lift anything or twist my arm. Does this sound like RA?

Does anyone have elbow pain that affects the arms, hands and shoulders too, or do I have more than one thing going on here? The muscles around my elbows are very tender, too. Is this normal wit RA?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Mags x

7 Replies


Dont want to diagnose RA but I have RA and do get quite bad pain in my elbows for seemingly no reason, i.e. I havent been lifting anything or doing signalling with my arms! I get pain and stiffness in neck and shoulders - heat pads really help that. I dont necessarily get all in one go, sometimes its just elbows, sometimes just neck and shoulders etc. but until the consultant sees you and confirms diagnosis, try rubbing Volatrol on the painful parts - it has really helped me. It's an anti-inflammatory that is easy on the tummy because you rub it in. Even if in pain, try gentle stretching and careful left to right movements with your neck to keep the joints and areas supple and mobile.

Good luck at the rheumy - remember that if it is RA, there is loads you can do to help and minimise the effect of the disease.

Lynn x


Hi Mags, sorry to hear you're going through this as waiting for diagnosis is a very stressful time. Hopefully you've not got ra but if you do there are medications which will be of great help to you and minimise damage to your joints. Has your doctor run any blood tests to speed things up as I know mine ran tests for rheumatoid factor and esr(inflammation) before referring me. When my ra had it's first real flare it affected my fingers and wrists first then spread to my arms, shoulders heels, balls of feet and toes. Without the correct treatment it was very very painful. Having said that with the right treatment it is not painful anymore so don't let me worry you. Hopefully your doctor has prescribed anti inflammatories for the pain while you wait to see the rheumatologist. If not go back and ask for some and something to protect your stomach as well. Try to rest when you feel the need but also keep active as it will help your joints. I went swimming regularly while waiting and it really helped me physically and mentally. Good luck to you and I hope you get some answers soon.

Paula x


I started off with pain in my right wrist and knuckles which spread up my arm on outside towards my elbow but by no means am i saying you have ra.

It is a scary time and hope you get sorted out soon.



The areas of pain that you are describing are probably far more consistent with spondyloarthritis than with RA, but thats something that only a rheumatologist will be able to tell you. Whatever, its still inflammatory arthritis, and a lot of the treatments for both conditions are similar. Definitely make a note of all the painful areas. I have downloaded a body map (pictures of front and back bodies) and coloured in the painful areas - coding them with different colours for the bits that are always sore, and the bits that are only intermittently sore, or not as bad. It was a real help to the rheumatologist last time I saw them, and she said that the points I had coloured in were all classic enthesitis points (for spondyloarthritis). Also google enthesitis - thats pain at the point where tendons join onto bone, which is spondy, rather than the more usual synovitis (pain within the joint) that is RA. Interestingly, enthesitis points often overlap with fibro tender points, which is why a lot of people end up with a wrong fibromyalgia diagnosis first.

The other good thing about doing a pain map, is that if you put the date on it, you can do another one later and then compare how things have changed for you.


This is such a good idea. Thank you earthwitch. Hugs Mags. x


Hi Mags

Obviously you'll know more once you've got a diagnosis one way or another, but it sound like the problems you've described in your elbows could be RA. It can affect any joint in the body and causes swelling of the synovial fluid within the joint. The swelling can push on the surrounding soft tissue, which can cause muscle pain, but equally this could be a separate issue, so it won't be easy to tell until you get a diagnosis.

Waiting can be one of the hardest times, but as others have said, you can manage the symptoms while you wait with painkillers, anti-inflammatories and also applying cold or warm packs to painful joints.

Once you have a diagnosis, if you do have RA and want to talk this through with someone, please feel free to contact our helpline on 0800 298 7650 (Mon-Fri, 9.30-4.30) and of course I am sure you will get a lot of support from this forum.

Kind regards


(NRAS Helpline)


Thanks everyone for your lovely, and very informative, replies. My arms are a bit better today, but my fingers are worse and my knees are a bit sore and stiff too. I also feel stiff in my lower back and hips, but wonder if this is just a bit of old age creeping in and nothing to do with everything else. It's very easy at the moment to attribute every little ache and pain to the suspected RA. I am trying very hard not to get obsessed, but I can just feel my body gradually giving up on me and it's quite worrying.

Ah well, only 9 more days to go and then I may start getting some answers.

Thanks again for all the replies.

Mags xx


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