Why do I have such severe pain in my upper arms between my shoulders and my elbows?Why do I have such severe pain in my upper arms between my shoulders and my elbows?

About 1 1/2 years ago I was diagnosed with R.A..

I have been on Methotrexate, Enbrel, Celebrex and prednisone. I am now currently taking Cimzia. My problem is that I am not sure if it is working due to the fact that I suffer from excruciating pain in my upper arms between my shoulders and my elbows. It seems to subside during the day, but in the evening and during sleep hours, it is borderline unbearable! I am not able to lift my arms up, or even lay on them.

I have weakness and soreness that is awful. (Feels like when you get a TB shot and you can't move your arm.)
I do not know if I can take Celebrex and prednisone to relieve the pain (nothing else seems to help) while taking the Cimzia.
What is causing this pain, and how can I control it or rid myself of it? Would cortisone injections help?
Thank you and I look forward to some possible answers.


Answers from our Doctors

Dr. Ted Mikuls says:

There are some features of your current symptoms that differ from what we typically expect from active rheumatoid arthritis (RA); these include pain that is worse at night (in RA, perhaps as you have experienced in the past, symptoms are typically worse in the morning), and the 'widespread' nature of your pain (whereas, pain and stiffness in RA are more typically isolated to the joints).

Potential causes of more widespread pain in the arms could include several different entities (things like fibromyalgia, neck arthritis, among others). In the end, the source of your current symptoms will require careful consultation from your rheumatologist and other providers. I would suggest that you discuss these symptoms further with your providers.

Answered on: Monday, September 27, 2010 - 10:56


Commenting: Guest
10/13/2010 - 13:35

I have extreme itching and pain in my muscles across the shoulders down the upper arms. The only thing that eases it, somewhat, is using an ice pack. I have both Fibromyalgia and RA. I have mentioned this to every Rheumatologist I have had in the past 7 years, only to get a shrug and no answers. One even suggested I needed to see a psychiatrist (don't see her anymore). It varies in intensity from low itching to extremely high. I am chemically sensitive so don't use fragrances or products with fragrances. Please help. I wonder if the arthritis in my neck is affecting the nerves that run through this area.

Commenting: Augustine Bono
10/22/2010 - 11:57

When you hear these words run away from that MD as fast as possible. Are there any large teachibg hospitals in your area? A good place to look for a new MD.

Commenting: Guest
08/13/2012 - 04:11

I have exactly the same problem as you Christy and am in agony in the morning and during the night with severe pain in my upper arms. It slowly subsides after I take my usual dihydrocodine and 2paracetamols(every 4 hours)I have been diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis and have already spoken to my doc about this flare up with upper arms and he said to take 2 dihydrocodine at night but it has made no difference. Any advice anyone??

Commenting: Guest
11/06/2012 - 22:25

what medications are you taking? some have nerve pain effects

Commenting: Guest
12/10/2012 - 16:31

I just started on methotrexate 5 weeks ago. I'm up to 7 tablets (17.5mg) once a week. Today I started having severe pain in my arms from the elbows to the shoulders. It's nearly unbearable. Yes, it's like you can't hardly move your arm. And it's the whole arm, like it's radiating throughout, not just muscle or bone or nerves. It's like someone took a baseball bat and beat the heck out of my arms.

I've been diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis and fibromyalgia (myofascial syndrome?)

And you know the usual kinds of pain you have and this is NOT like anything I've experienced before.


Commenting: Guest
12/15/2012 - 22:24



Commenting: Guest
02/09/2013 - 09:00

I too had the upper arm pain and was eventually diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis. I began my treatment with anti inflammatory drugs and Methotrexate and progressed to Humira. Today, I am in remission and have been for several years. The best advice I can give anyone is to start making changes in your lifestyle. Begin with exercise, then make changes in your diet. Are you eating or drinking things that you know are toxic and have no nutritional value? I exercise M-F for 1hour each day. I no longer drink diet soda, I am very careful in how much processed foods I eat and if I start feeling bad I go all fruits and veggies and proteins until I feel better. I take a multi vitamin daily and always get 7 to 8 hours sleep. I am a true believer in listening to body. When you have inflammation that causes pain, you have to figure out what is causing it, drugs should only be temporary to get you through figuring it out. It takes time but is well worth it!

Commenting: Guest
05/07/2013 - 13:19

The pain wakes me up at night. It feels like being stabbed in the shoulders and beaten with a bat all at the same time. I stopped taking my cholesterol medicine and the pain decreased tremendously.

Commenting: Guest
08/30/2013 - 19:00

I have experienced bilateral upper arm pain for 3-4 months now, alongside my diagnosed Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnosed 6-7 years ago. I am on Humira (not the "wonder" drug I had been waiting for after having been on it for over a year .... .?? Previously just on methotrexate injections (which made me feel totally sick AND in pain for 6-7 days a week) then on Methotrexate with Humira (didn't feel any changes at all other than still feeling sick after methotrexate !) now just on Humira but disappointed that I have these "new" upper arm pains ever since!?! Especially bad during evening and night and first thing in the morning, although strangely keep waking up with my arms up either side of my head, as that seems to be the only way I can get to sleep, as lying on either arm is painful enough to wake me up after a few minutes. Do I have fibromyalgia on top of the rheumatoid??? Seeing my rheumatoid nurse next week but afraid they might say it is because I have stopped the methotrexate (little do they know I stopped it LONG before I was "officially" released from having to take it and I felt no difference between then (stopped it over a year ago) until about 3 months ago when the upper arm pains kicked in. I thought they would just go away gradually, but feel like I have had a "dead arm" both sides for months now. Also experiencing an almost "freeze" feeling to my right shoulder when I try to pick up anything slightly heavy (I.e. the iron) and literally have to ease my shoulder socket back into place. Any feedback would be appreciated. Degenerating RA? Fibromyalgia? ??? Just need to know I'm not the only one suffering these weird "extras" to my already flipping awful RA symptoms in my hands, feet and knees. I have just "celebrated" my 46th birthday and feel about 95 in my body! Xxx

Commenting: Guest
12/29/2013 - 20:57

I been having these problem not all at once but painful wben I do havnt been diagnosed yet lately it's been my biceps in pain that i cant reach are hold my hand out straight im scared because I dont want to hear the worse any advice. H_town girl

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