Can I have MS & Rheumatoid Arthritis together??

Hi Folks,

I very rarely post but am pretty desperate at the moment & would appreciate any advice anyone can give me.

I have ‘probable MS’ (only probable because I’ve been too ill recently to have another lumbar puncture.) I had a serious heart op in mid February with a recovery of up to 6 months & the MS problem has been happening for 3 years although I think I’ve had it since around 1988. I’ve had 2 huge prolonged flare ups of ‘MS’ symptoms in the last 2 years & my neuro gave me the ‘probable MS’ diagnosis last February 2013 as I’ve been too ill with my heart to have the Lumbar Puncture. I can’t have an MRI because I have a Defibrillator in my chest which doesn’t allow MRI’s (more’s the pity!)

I’ve had arthritis pain in my joints for a few years but in the last 8 weeks it’s got much worse. These last 10 days have been very, very bad & the Rheumatologist thinks it may be Rheumatoid Arthritis as I have it in my family already.

Today, after being very tired when I woke up & then having a shower, I got caught by surprise by my MS symptoms that appeared from nowhere. I couldn’t co-ordinate my limbs, was swaying about like a drunk & my legs wouldn’t hold me up. I’m still unsteady now & can’t work out where it’s all come from!

I would so appreciate hearing from anyone else who has similar problems or knows that yes, you can have more than one condition. I am feeling so desperate at the moment.



Was you appointed an ms nurse. If not I’d go and see ur doctor tomorrow and explain to them. They might manage to get you to see neurologist Sorry I can’t be more help hope you feel better soon xx X

Hi Susie, Yes, you certainly can have more than one autoimmune disease. In fact, as several have been found to be related, having one slightly increases the chances of having another, I’m afraid. Having said that, joint pain has been a feature of my MS throughout. In fact, in the early days, non-neurological symptoms were my most prominent. I’ve undergone complete rheumatology screening twice, but never anything found. This was pre-MS diagnosis. I do think it’s an under-recognized aspect of MS that it CAN cause joint pain. Althought it does not attack joints directly, in the way any form of arthritis does, changes in balance, posture, strength and muscle-tone might all put extra strain on the joints. So although possible, I don’t think it’s inevitable that you have two conditions. I’d also see it as significant that you felt worse after taking a shower. This is very typical of reports from people with MS. Was it a warm/hot shower? Heat can worsen already impaired nerve conduction, so lots of people with MS report feeling worse in/after a hot bath or shower. I’m sorry you have so many other health complications that have ruled out a lot of the standard investigations. It is possible to be diagnosed without a lumbar puncture (I was!), and technically possible to be diagnosed on symptom history alone, although I think most neuros would hesitate to do so, in these days where so much weight is placed on MRI evidence. Yours might be the exceptional case where diagnosis based on history only is seriously considered. Tina x