Sunday, November 08, 2009 ladygraycloud, Community Member, asks

Q: Is it possible to have MS and RA?

Is there the possiblities of having MS and RA--have terrible pain in my joints-shoulders,elbows,knees-hands--or are there mimicking symptons?

Any advice would help-going back to my nuero on the 23rd of Nov and would like approach this subject with him.

Thanks in advance


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Answers (3)
Vicki, Health Guide
11/ 9/09 1:46am

Hi ladygraycloud,

Yes it is possible to have both MS and RA at the same time.  I know it doesn't sound fair, but having MS does not mean you cannot have something else, too.

Lisa Emrich, who writes here on Health Central, not only has MS and RA, also writes for both of those sites.You will find her here and on the RA site.

I hope you find the answers you are looking for.  Good luck.

Lisa Emrich, Health Guide
11/ 9/09 12:13pm

Hi Suzanne,


As Vicki pointed out, I have both MS and RA.  Maybe I need to talk about that more.  :)


RA can involve any and all of the joint areas which you have mentioned.  Mine started in my hands, but my first major attack which we didn't know was RA yet occurred in my left shoulder which swelled up to almost twice its size and was immobile for awhile.  With my hands, the neurologist thought it was carpal tunnel syndrome and I was eventually referred to a hand surgeon (scary!!).  The surgeon treated the inflammation with steroid injections and later referred me to a rheumatologist.


Bingo.  I was diagnosed with RA on my first visit.  I had brought copies of all my bloodtests dating back five years (I always ask for a copy to be sent to me at the time the blood is drawn), xrays of my hands and fingers, and a history of my symptoms and the treatments which had been tried.


Something I've learned in researching comorbidities for a series of articles on is that fibromyalgia can cause joint pain similar to arthritis.  Also lupus causes wide-spread pain in some people.  The thing which is in common with these diseases is that they are treated by a rheumatologist.


It is wonderful that you are thinking ahead for your visit to the neuro.  Prepare a list of concerns, symptoms, and questions to discuss during your visit.  Oh, and of course, try to see if he is any closer to diagnosing MS yet (or some other neurological disease).


If you've got other questions related to MS/RA, please don't hesitate to ask.  I'm not really an expert but I can certainly share what I know.



Shani, Community Member
2/ 4/10 10:45pm

Hi Lisa,


I too have MS and RA.  I was wondering what medications you are on (if that isn't too personal a question)?  I have been on Avonex and Copaxone and now am being put on Betaseron (I had too many exacerbations on the copaxone and the avonex was just horrible).  On my last spine MRI it showed arthritis and degeneration of vertebrae...this is what I am most worried about.  Some days my back hurts so bad I don't want to move.  Any info you have or sites you can send me to would be great.


Thanks so much, and take care,



Lisa Emrich, Health Guide
2/ 5/10 11:12am

Hi Shannon,


So sorry to hear that the MS is not cooperating and that your back is hurting so much.  I am fortunate (so far) that RA hasn't caused any degeneration of my spine which I know that it has for others.


Asking about meds isn't too personal at all.  The onlly MS disease-modifying drug I've used is Copaxone but it went off of it (might start again) so that I could use Rituxan.  We're officially using Rituxan for the RA but my neurologist believes that it will help my MS which has been rather active in the past two years, although my last MRI was stable.


Before Rituxan (which I had just started in November), I was using sulfasalazine and methotrexate.  Plaquenil didn't agree with me.  I'm still using methotrexate which is supposed to be helpful for the MS as well (but I'm not so sure).


Since the Rituxan infusions, I have noticed that I don't seem to need as much neurontin as I did before and I haven't been as fatigued, both benefits on the MS front.  I take some other medications unrelated to MS or RA and will probably restart Copaxone after my next neuro visit.


As far as websites go, the community at MyRACentral (which is another HealthCentral site) is nice.  Also there is an active RA blogger community, two of my favorite RA bloggers being Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy and Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior.  That is, aside from Lene at The Seated View and Sara at Single Gal's Guide to RA who both write here at HealthCentral with me.  You can find more RA bloggers here.


The MS blogging community is very active and it would be too difficult to single anybody out, but you can find MS bloggers listed here.  Of course, you can pull up a chair and hang out here too!!


It's always nice to find more patients just like myself who live with both MS and RA.  I'm learning that there seem to be quite a few of us.  If you've got any other questions, please feel free to ask.

Carole, Community Member
2/20/11 11:32am

Hi, I took a blood test while at the neuro on my six month check up for MS and tested positive for RA.  Then I started having all the symptoms this past week and my family doctor did another test and yep RA positive again so the 22nd I go to a rumatologist.  I dont know how to spell that yet.  I can't take any steroids due to the fact that I have type II diabeties.  Now ain't that just fun.

good luck to you.

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By ladygraycloud, Community Member— Last Modified: 02/20/11, First Published: 11/08/09