One arm and shoulder very painful, but not on the... - PMRGCAuk


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One arm and shoulder very painful, but not on the other side.


I ve found in the past few weeks, one arm and shoulder painful (the right one), but the other side is almost good. Has anyone else experienced this, just wondering if its due to overwork, or being aggravated by swimming or it is this crazy thing called pmr. Comments welcome, thanks.

25 Replies

I have one shoulder, my right one, and the top of my arm that is very painful. The rheumatologist said it was tendonitis.

I had pain pain at the top of one arm before (amongst all the others) before diagnosis and now that I'm reducing the steroids, I have more discomfort on the other side. Also my left inner thigh is more sore than the right one.

This does sound very familiar! I had a very painful right shoulder, went to GP and it was thought that I'd done some damage thro' heavy lifting (maybe) and was told to see a physio. Within a week the left shoulder was just as bad and shortly afterwards the hip-girdle gave up and I was practically disabled and unable to sleep for more than an hour! At this point, I got a private specialist appointment and PMR diagnosis followed in less than 48hrs.

Sincerely hope you haven't got the dreaded PMR but you may have to see a rheumatologist to confirm, one way or another!

Best Wishes however it turns out

l have the same problem with my right arm and shoulder. I find that if I can manage without using my right arm to either carry or pick anything up (which is difficult) the pain lessons, as soon as I use it again the pain gets worse. Sorry I can not explain why this is happening, but I just thought to let you know that you are not on your own with this problem.


I doubt it is directly PMR, that is almost invariably bilateral. It could be that you have the bursitis that is often found in PMR worse on that side or that you have a rotator cuff problem or tendonitis on that side.

Gypsylass in reply to PMRpro

Hi PMRpro

First of all a big thank you for all you do on the site. Was diagnosed over 4 year ago with PMR now with the dead slow method I'm down to 2gm pred but I am suffering with painful right shoulder and right hip/ girdle considering the pain before pred it's bearable but only just. Will it ever go?

Thank you in advance.

DorsetLadyPMRGCAuk volunteer in reply to Gypsylass

Hi Gypsylass,

I'll add my five eggs if I can - would think that if you have pains one side only it could be osteoarthritis.

I have arthritis in left knee, left shoulder (both pre GCA), pain masked during Pred years, but now back with added vigour! Also think may have it in lower back, left hand side again! although could be because knee makes me walk slightly lop-sided! Jury still out on that.

In answer to your question - will it ever go? Think the answer's no, but it is manageable. Now where have I heard that before?

Life's a bore at times, innit!

Gypsylass in reply to DorsetLady

Thank you very much, and your advice is logical as had hip shoulder and knee problems b4 but never as bad guess pred masked it all. As I only take dithydrcodine I really don't think it's doing much for pain any suggestions please?

PMRproAmbassador in reply to Gypsylass

In that case it is POSSIBLE it is the PMR and you have simply gone a bit too far with the reduction. Some people do find the dominant side suffers more because they use it more (assuming you are right handed that is).

I also get shoulder and hip pain on one side when my myofascial pain syndrome flares - one side starts and eventually the other will join in if I'm daft enough to try to ignore it.

You could try a higher dose for a couple of days and see if it makes a difference. Then work from there.

Gypsylass in reply to PMRpro

Thank you so much. I feel all my hard work over past 3 months it took me from 3 and a half pred till 2 would be for nothing. Is it possible to go back to 3 and a half for a few days then back to 2 gm????

PMRproAmbassador in reply to Gypsylass

it all depends on how you look at it whether it would be for nothing. If it really is that you have gone too low - then NOT going back slightly might make the whole thing for nothing if it then results in a return of symptoms. Pred hasn't cured the PMR, it has been managing the symptoms - there is no cure, you have to wait for it to burn out and go into remission which it does for 75% of patients in 2-6 years.

There is no reason why you can't try a higher dose for a few days and go straight back to where you were. Steroids are often used at relatively high doses for 5 days and then stopped - you just go back to your baseline, doesn't matter if that was zero or 2.5mg or 10mg.

Gypsylass in reply to PMRpro

Took your advice feeling much better thank you. Xx

Reethebeat in reply to PMRpro

Thanks PMRpro. Its so good to bounce our health issues on this site. After reading Kate Gilberts book last night think Ive got tendonitis in my right arm, so still staying on a low dose of Pred but having a massage tomorrow with a lady who knows about PRM. Thank you for all you do. Much appreciated.

I have been trying to get a diagnosis for nearly a year for a painful left shoulder. Seeing 6th dr today who is an Ortho pain dr. Will let you know what I find out. Theses overlapping problems are very difficult as no one knows much about PMR.

bunnymom in reply to bunnymom

Dr thinks it could be tied to disc in back.Off for more tests!

PMRproAmbassador in reply to bunnymom

Or to spasmed muscles - but I suppose an x-ray may show the difference!

Hi. I too have very painful shoulder and arm on the right side. My rheumatologist today injected my shoulder so hope it does the trick still hurts at the moment

I too have pain in right shoulder whereas other side is quite good. I put it down to the fact I am right handed. I have had PMR for over two years, started on 15mg and now down to 5mg. However the pain in right shoulder never completely goes. I have a window of about 4hours after taking Pred when I can do some gardening, ironing, walk the dog etc but after that its down to painkillers to help with other chores or just sit and watch DVD's and rest my arm ! I cannot put weight on right arm at any time, so its just a gentle movement to get things done. I am getting used to using my left arm for some things although it takes much longer and a bit clumsy !! Your pain could very well be tendonitis if you don't have any of the other PMR symptoms. You need the blood tests done. Good Luck......Mazz

Reethebeat in reply to mzz70-70

Thanks Mazz for that. I think its tendonitis after reading Kate Gilberts book. Had blood tests done on a regular basis and they seem fine. Having massage tomorrow so as she knows about pmr hopefully this will help. Good luck with your arm and shoulder.

Strangely enough this is how my fibromyalgia started. Many of the symptoms for fibro and pmr overlap.Since then the pain and tenderness I experience is more generalised, with pins and needles in hands and feet and nerve pain especially in arms and legs; but the right arm and shoulder are definitely the worst.

bunnymom in reply to Chihuahua1

Gosh I hate to hear that.

Chihuahua1 in reply to bunnymom

Don't be put off by what I have just posted as it is treatable and I would rather know than not. I am just starting on a new medication today, whose name escapes me at the moment, so hopefully it will go to remission just as the pmr did..

That sounds hopeful then.

I find the pain in the beginning was the typical areas including leg/ankle aches and cramps all at once. I am trying to get it right. Gentle Tai Chi and also stretches in water helps. I don't know for sure but balance is important re movement. What is done on right is done on left in a sequence. Keeping in mind breath and flow so i can move my muscles

Something to do with alignment do you think? The pumping arm movements of swimming strokes makes my shoulders very tense. But then i may not be swimming properly. Don't have to tense muscles i believe now to get jobs done. When there is a flare though I might ask if there is any muscle power when there is resistance bending and straightening behind the knees for example.

If PMR is vascular (vasculitis) near joints in nature then i wonder if there is more stress on muscles and other areas affected as flow not as good, = tension and flares. The pain can appear and moves around depending what i am doing or not doing. In February it was behind my left knee more and then my right one joined in. SO tricky!

Not always willing to be regular but for me a regular set of stretches and breathing does help me even things out. Referred pain can diminish. I think a range of motion is what i'm after. Especially as i want to get the circulation moving. The Tai Chi teacher has suggested doing a Tia Chi walk thru the garden. Haven't got the sequence sorted yet. And what will the neighbours think? Oh well !

I want to push past the pain and keep muscle tone as X3 doctors have said you can't do yourself any harm as this is PMR. Is this mind over matter? What is it they don't get about pain? I am taking care though with the regular gentle options. I guess it is a juggling act.

Many thanks everyone.

PMRproAmbassador in reply to Sunny465

X3 doctors are wrong as well as being right. You CAN do yourself harm in that when you really overdo it the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) can be so bad and long lasting you are unable to do anything - which may be fine for a day or two but it can last for weeks. And then you can't do anything significant - and go backwards so that you start at the beginning again once the pain has improved.

If you start small and increase slowly until you find the level that JUST causes DOMS the next day and stabilise at that first, you can then add a few minutes per day until you get closer to your normal. I used to do that with skiing - but of course it started new each winter.

"Training" involves tiny tears being made in muscles doing exercise, it leads to DOMS and then that heals over the following days, leaving the muscle stronger and able to do more. In normal muscles they protest they are being overused and you stop. In PMR-affected muscles they are unable to signal they have had enough and you develop much more severe DOMS as a result. And they don't heal the same way.

So you CAN hurt yourself - what the doctors don't understand usually is the physiology that probably lurks behind PMR. (I say probably because there are no studies I know of). Not to mention a total lack of appreciation of what autoimmune disorders actually do to us. Physically - never mind mentally.

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