MS and rheumatoid arthritis

I was diagnosed with MS in 2009 and today my identical twin sister has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Has anyone heard of a connection between the two?

Hi Moss,

Well, they are both auto-immune conditions, or at least, RA is accepted as being so, whilst MS has compelling evidence.

Also, they do tend to co-occur in families more often than chance alone would dictate.

So yes, I would say there’s a connection, although it’s not yet clear exactly what it is. MS also seems to be statistically linked with certain other diseases, including Crohn’s, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and Type 1 Diabetes.

It’s not all bad news, though. MS seems to be protective against certain other diseases. MS and gout are virtually mutually exclusive, with hardly any cases of anyone having both. And I seem to remember reading that people with MS are at lower risk of certain kinds of cancer, notably colon cancer. Of course, it’s only a lower risk, not a cast iron guarantee. It doesn’t mean people here positively can’t get colon cancer, and symptoms should never be ignored. But we’ve got better odds than Joe Average.


Hi all

I was diagnosed with r/r MS about three and a half years ago and have been on Copaxone for three. I have recently been getting joint pain and saw on the forum experience with this by other people. We know it’s a major side effect (why do neuros deny this?). However, I am also a 45 year old woman wondering if she isn’t getting a bit of arthritis. It’s just … these aches are just so wide spread. Back in March I got it for a few weeks (and I had had it before but not sooo noticable). First the neck, backaches, hips, fingers, (then whole hands) and toes (then feet and legs). I have had some pain in hands, feet and hips with my original relapses but this creaking and aching is something else…and seems to occur when I’m quite stressed. Anyone else experience this? Is this MS or Copaxone? I don’t want to come off it but i would like to know if it’s the culprit. Am quite healthy and hike and swim a lot and eat well.


My mum had Rhematoid arthrits and I have been told that there is a genetic connection with MS. I was surprised as I thought my paternal grand father’s Parkinson’s disease would have been the connection. This was told to me by a professor from the MS research team.


Hi Bienenstich,

Just posted on another topic about this exact problem.

My neuro is also dismissive, and claims none of the joint stuff has anything to do with MS.

I’m starting to be suspicious I have something else serious, but en route to diagnosis, I had full rheumatology screening - twice - and none of it revealed a thing.


Sorry Moss if this is hijacking your thread,but I spoke to my copaxone nurse again yesterday about my super stiff hands that seemed to get worse with the copaxone.

I have had to increase the baclofen as no one will say whats causing it,but to me its my joints that feel athritic not muscles etc which the baclofen does work well for in my legs.

Docs,ms nurses,copaxone nurse…not one of them can give me answers.


Both autoimmune and I suffer both, getting worse as I get older. Perhaps the suseptibility is there, hence ms and rheumatoid arthritis? I also know a few who suffer lupus & ms.

As a twin you must have both been suseptible to auto immune diseases.



My eldest sister has RA, she lives in Australia and has been told by more than one specialist there is a link between RA and MS. More than that I don’t really know but when I’ve mentioed my sister havin RA to doctors here, they either nod or ignore it.

Hi I have most of the MS symptoms, however not yet been told.Today I have had all over backache, and my left arm has felt weak and numb. I would like to hear from anyone , I feel I am going crazy.


Now you mention it, my nan had terrible RA. Her hands were like claws bless her. I still don’t know how she managed to look after a home, cook, clean and look after my lazy grandad who did nothing to help out. Amazing lady!

Hope this study helps x