MS and Arthritis?

Hi everyone,

I’ve had RRMS for many years now, but over the last few months I’ve become aware of joint pain which I think could be arthritis; it is quite different to the neuropathic shooting pains that I’ve had for so long.

These new pains are in my knee, wrist and thumb joints, the latter particularly felt when I hit the spacebar on my desktop PC. (I do a fair bit of typing).

I’ve also developed a lump, or swelling, over one of my thumb/wrist joints, and another beside my big toe.

I guess it’s time to see my GP but I thought I’d just run it past you guys first.

Does anyone here have both conditions?


Hello Ben

I don’t have a diagnosis of arthritis, either osteo or rheumatoid variety. But I’ve been tested for both since I have painful hands and the kinds of lumps & swollen joints typical of arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is another autoimmune disease (like MS) and the two often occur in the same person. For some reason, autoimmune conditions tend to come in certain groups. So along with autoimmune thyroid disease (both over active, Graves Disease, and underactive, Hashimotos) RA is frequently seen with MS. (There are others in the same cluster, but these are the most common).

RA is tested for via a blood test, there are a number of different tests, but it can be difficult to get a diagnosis because not everyone with RA tests positive to the same tests. I tested negative to it, but it’s still possible that I have it (my hands look and feel like it as do my eyes - dryness and blurriness).

Osteoarthritis is not an autoimmune condition. It looks quite similar to RA, but typically affects more joints, hips, knees, back and others. It’s visible on x-ray. I’ve had my hands x-rayed but definitely don’t have OA.

It’s definitely worth seeing your GP about possible arthritis.


Hello Sue.

Thank you so much for your detailed reply. I’m sorry to read that you have arthritis, diagnosed or not, on top of your MS; it does seem that these dammned conditions can gang-up against us.

My symptoms seem to have gently crept up on me and then pounced, although I suppose they could have been masked by the MS. I called my GP’s surgery and have been given a telephone appointment next week with an Advanced Practitioner. On top of that, I am now due my annual MRI and neuro appointment, so another opportunity to discuss things there.

What you say about autoimmune conditions is interesting, I had a family member who developed extensive RA in her teens, consequently spending the rest of her life in care. Also, just about all of my maternal relatives had thyroid problems, and most of them had vitiligo, some quite extensively. I have inherited the latter of those two conditions, but thankfully am only slightly affected.


Hello Ben

Why not take some photos of your knobbly bits (ie hands & feet :smirk:) and send them to your surgery in advance of your phone appointment? It would be difficult for a Practitioner to comment on your symptoms without seeing the affected joints.

Btw, I had autoimmune overactive thyroid (Graves Disease) in my 20s. It was cured by surgery, but I subsequently developed an underactive thyroid - a completely expected result of the surgery.

I’ve done a fair amount of reading about the immune system and autoimmunity over the years.


Hi Ben

I have both MS and RA and they said that when you have an auto immune, it’s easier to have another as they can group together.

As if one isn’t enough!!

Take care

Pam x


Thank you so much, that’s a brilliant idea! I shall be taking selfies of my ‘knobbly bits’ in the morning.

It sounds like you’ve been through it with thyroid disease so I’m not surprised you’ve been reading-up on the immune system, a bit of knowledge undoubtedly helps. I don’t think any of my lot had problems until their middle years, and none had surgery. They all took thyroxin and swore by it.

I’ve not heard of any relatives with MS, so on that score I’m an original.


Hi Pam

It’s looking like I could be joining an exclusive group.