Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Friday, August 03, 2012 amiew, Community Member, asks

Q: Inflammatory arthritis: can it cause muscle fatigue?

I am a 38 year old female just recently diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis. My rheumatologist wants to wait for a specific diagnosis (he thinks it could be psoriatic or rheumatoid).  Either way, my inflammatory markers were high and I'm having a lot of symptoms (similar to MS).  I am feeling a great amount of muscle fatigue in my arms (mostly) and my legs.  Is this normal with inflammatory arthritis?  I am having trouble lifting my arms, writing, buttoning, etc.  I also have joint pain, but it is minor compared to the muscle fatigue. It feels like I've been lifting weights and have hit "muscle failure".  I am also having tremors/shaking.    Is this normal?  

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Answers (4)
V, Health Guide
8/ 4/12 9:36am

Hello, Amiew,


We are not doctors here, but we can speak from experience w/RA and other autoimmune diseases.  I have RA, and I have weak muscles, but I think that is mostly caused from years of not being treated, and not being able to exercise. I do have to take muscle relaxants when I flare because my muscles and tendons do cause a lot of pain. I also have Fibro, so that is another factor to consider.  We have at least one member who has RA and MS.  There are so many autoimmune diseases that can cause overlapping systems, that it takes a while to sort it all out. I'm sorry you are having these symptoms, but the quicker you get treatment, the better your outlook will be. Please feel free to ask anything you would like or write a SharePost about your experience.  We are here to support one another.




amiew, Community Member
8/ 6/12 12:00pm



Thanks for your response! 



Leslie, Community Member
8/ 6/12 7:02am

He wants to wait for a specific diagnosis to treat? So he has diagnosed undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis but hasn't started any treatment? Please tell me he is treating you with something and has some sort of plan until he can decide what it is you have. Prednisone? Extreme muscle fatigue can be an alarming symptom. I experenced this myself when I was taking statins as a side effect and again when I first got RA although I have to say that the muscle weakness with the statin side effect was considerably worse than what I have with the inflammatory arthritis. I would agree with V that with RA some of the muscle weakness seems to be frm not being able to exercise or exert force with your joints because of pain which in turn leads to deconditioning but some of it seems to be inherent to the disease. There seems to be some damage to muscle and tendon tissue from inflammation when you are really in a high flare. I'm certainly not a doctor and I'm just talking from what I feel happened to me. There are lots of other things that can cause muscle weakness so it's important that your doctors rule out other causes. In my case, when I experenced muscle weakness from the statin therapy, it took my doctor a while to realize what was going on. I became very ill very quickly and the answer was right in front of our face but I could hardly get out of a chair without help before we realized it was the medication!

amiew, Community Member
8/ 6/12 12:15pm



Wow!  What an awful experience you have had with medication. My rheumatologist did begin me on treatment (Mobic, which is an NSAID). He wants me to take it for three months, and then we will re-evaluate.  The muscle weakness has been my biggest complaint all along. I'm not experiencing a lot of pain, just muscle weakness, joint inflammation (minor), and nerve symptoms. I have seen a neurologist, had many tests (MRI, EMG, Nerve conduction studies) and MS has been ruled "unlikely".  All of my symptoms began suddenly, at once, about 6 weeks ago.  The other, and most troubling, issue is bladder and bowel incontinence.  I've been through those tests as well, and it was determined that there is nerve damage in the abdominal nerves.  My drs believe that the systemic inflammation is perhaps pressing on the nerves, muscles and tendons which is causing all of the probems.  I am very annoyed because I don't like to slow down and this is cramping my style :)  Any input or thoughts are greatly appreciated.



wheeliegirl, Community Member
8/ 9/12 12:45pm

Hi Amiew. I'm one of the people here with RA and MS. I can say based on my experience that at time some of  my RA symptoms feel like MS symtoms. Such as the fatigue,vision troubles,bladder and bowel troubles,muscle fatigue,joint pain.

It was easier for me to  get my RA diagnoses than the MS. Your team of doctors (PCP,Rheumy,Neuro) all have to work together. My RA was diagnose within 6 months but the MS that took years. I have to say that the only reason my MS diagnoses took so long was because my MS lesions are very small .I still have doubt even now if my MS diagnoses is actually correct even though I've progessed to what he believes is SPMS. There are many MS mimics.

All that being said I hope you don't have MS or RA . But I hope that you doctors do find out what it is soon.


Lisa Emrich, Health Guide
8/19/12 9:39pm

Hi AmieW,


I have experienced severe muscle weakness in the past but it was indeed related to MS.  My RA behaved more like carpal tunnel syndrome before it was diagnosed and that also caused some limited muscle weakness.


Reading one of your responses below, I see that you have been evaluated for MS.  The EMG and nerve conduction tests would be used to eliminate other potential causes of your symptoms; they are not tests used to determine an MS diagnosis.


When you had the MRI, did they scan both your brain and your spinal cord?  Since you are reporting bladder/bowel incontinence (which can certainly be caused by MS), it would seem reasonable to MRI your entire spine (not just the cervical spine).  Did they inject a contrast agent (gadolinium) into your veins halfway through your MRI procedure?  This is protocol when MS is a possibility.


I have both MS and RA, and sometimes it can be difficult knowing which disease is causing certain symptoms.  If you did have MS and were also diagnosed with RA/PA, that would affect your choice of disease-modifying treatments. 


If you do end up with multiple diagnoses, your doctors will need to work together and be in close touch regarding your treatment, response, and symptoms.  Very important.




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By amiew, Community Member— Last Modified: 08/19/12, First Published: 08/03/12