Rheumatoid arthritis pain with no joint inflammation

Hi everyone, i'm new to this site but am in need of some help please! I was diagnosed with RA 6 years ago and have been stable for the last 2 years. Suddenly about 8 weeks ago I woke up with severe pain and stiffness and have had trouble doing anything at all - this coupled with the terrible fatigue. I went to the Rheumatologist today and she said that I have no joint inflammation at all and so can't understand why i'm in so much pain. Has anyone experienced this before? I'm beginning to think it's all in my head. Thanks

21 Replies

  • could you have fibromyalgia as well as ra??, this could explain the symptons x

  • I have the same problem, pain and stiffness but no swelling. My consultant just says it is part of the disease and tells me to take cocodomol, I won't because I don't like the stuff so I take Paracetamol.

    I have been taken off Diclofenac and put on Naproxen instead which does seem to help. It's just drug after drug all the time though, too many toxins, not good.

    Hope you get an answer soon, if you do let me know and maybe I can tell the Consultant what it is. ha ha

  • What about speaking to your GP? He/she may be able to throw some more light on the situation. I'm not saying your rheumy consultant is wrong - just that your GP is another opinion - also, your GP may suggest a change of drugs as Slatch has. Mine changed me from naproxen to diclofenac some time back.

  • Please can I ask if you was on a dmaid as well as taking diclofenic, not sure if I can take them both.

  • I've had RA for over three years and apart from some slight swelling on my hands I haven't really had any swelling at all, but I have had lots of pain and stiffness in lots of joints I have asked if that means that I won't get bone erosion but have been told it can still happen. RA affects everyone different. Paula x

  • Hi everyone, thanks for all your replies - you've all convinced me i'm not going mad. Summer: thanks for the info on fibromyalgia, no-one has mentioned this as a possibility but looking at the symptoms it could be a possibility. Have a good day everyone x

  • Hi EmMogs. Welcome to the site. I do get pain with swelling in my joints but sometimes just pain on its own. When was your last blood test? If there is inflammation, it will show in the blood results. Worth a word with your GP about it and if no recent test, get one done. LavendarLady x

  • Hey Em,

    When I first went to the GP and was diagnosed with RA, I only had severe pain and stiffness, no inflammation at all! The swelling did present later on after about 10wks of constant pain. Im surprised your Rheumy is confused by this, did she send you for a blood test?

    Hope your feeling a bit better,


  • Hi,

    I too have times were I flare and have no swellings but my blood results still show high inflammation levels and I still have tender joints, if your doctor is doing a das score they should check tender joints too, I've had high das scores with no swellings.

    Take care

    Julie x

  • No its not in your head.The same thing has happen to me in the last two visits with my Rhummy.....I have pain 24-7 and havnt been in remission in nearly 10 yrs so i can relate...no its not in your head and don't let anyone make you think it is...Pain is real,,inflammed or not!!!!!!,,Cathy

  • Hi - I also had pain and stiffness everywhere, but only my wrists and ankles were a little swollen. After being told there was no evidence of inflammation, I had a some thermal imaging to confirm a raynauds diagnosis , and the inflammation actually showed up as hot spots! You could see clearly where I had the pain! the hot spots didnt unfortunately extend to the cold bloodless places where the raynauds was....

  • I was diagnosed with RA and Fibromyalgia about 3 years ago but just last month my Rheumatologist told me that I don't have RA or any other kind of arthritis because my blood tests are normal. I can no longer work because the pain and stiffness is so bad it causes depression and chronic fatigue. He says I just have Fibromyalgia even though in the beginning my bone scan showed arthritis in all my joints.

    I was just reading on line that RA tests are not reliable and you can have it without swelling. Going to be looking for a new Dr.

  • Hi Bodypain i have just been to my rheumatologist and she is saying the same to me nothing shows up in my blood but my scans showed i have ra i also have fibromyalgia, i dont believe that i just have fibro i have awful pain but no swelling in hands or feet but some times i want to chop them off, i had to fight for the firsst year to get a diagnoses, so i am going to fight again, i cant believe it i was diagnosed as negative ra not positive, i think it comes down to money?? Hope you get some answers soon

  • I have the same problem and the doctor is thinking that I don't really have RA. I have all the RA symptoms except inflammation.

  • I have been unsuccessfully trying to get a diagnosis for my son (now 18) for about 3 years now - he has pain & swelling in his wrists and fingers and it has become worse over the years. We have been to 2 rheumatologists, he's had barrages of tests and retests but no diagnosis! There was a theory that it might be hypermobility but I think that was just clutching at straws. Inflammation never shows up on any of his tests yet he is in constant pain and his joints are visibly swollen. Any advice or suggestions?

  • Hi. I haven't read the replies yet but will. I am new, too. After searching web I came upon your concern and instantly felt the need to share. I am a 49 year old female. I have been suffering with pain in my right wrist for less than six months now. My aunt had severe rheumatoid arthritis and my sister, 52 years of age had it. I have not been diagnosed. I feel fatigued and sometimes my whole arm hurts. My wrist is in constant pain all day today. I don't have any swelling in any area of my arm which is why I am so much more concerned. About two months I started developing acute actinic keratosis. One particular area right on my wrist in question was biopsies. I got the tesults today and it is yet another actinic keratosis I will have frozen off. I am scared that the pre cancerous keratosis is worse than expected. tjus particular site was a scar-like keratosis which I read can cause nerve damage. I also heard air conditioning can exacerbate the pain if rheumatoid arthritis and thus is the arm that faces the air conditioner at night. I am actually released that you don't have swelling. Although painful, I am hoping I have arthritis and not cancer. God bless.

  • I can't stand AC in the car on my arms! Makes them ache.

  • Sister has it not had it

  • This is happening to me too and the nurse kindly gave me a steroid injection which does bring some relief!!

  • I have got so much pain in wrists arms and have no swelling, curious to know if you found out why this is.

  • i was diagnosed by my gp with RA 4 months ago because of terrible pain and stiffness..he did lab work and found it in my labs..i can feel sweeling in my knees and fingers but cant see it. My gp sent me to a reumatologist which took 3 months to get in and when i finally got in i didnt even get to see the dr. i saw an intern..and he told me that because i didnt have all of the symptoms that he doesnt think i have RA and says its osteo arthritis..but i dont understand why it would show up in my labs then.. but he did send me for more lab work..Alot more..this friday i go back and i am interested to hear what he has to say.personally i dont think its osteo..i know my own body and it tells me its more than that.

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