Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Muscle madness

Muscle madness

It never ceases to amaze me how many aspects there are to this disease of Rheumatoid Arthritis. I have lately been plagued with some significant muscle cramping in my feet, calves and thighs and I wondered if there was a relationship to my RA.  Research has shown that muscle pain often is a lesser known but, nonetheless, real part of RA.  Often it is overlooked unless connected with vasculitis, neuropathy, etc.  That said, I think it needs to be acknowledged as yet another symptom we recognize.  Coping with it can be yet another challenge as we manage the many nuances of RA.

I spoke with my Rheumatologist about this during a recent visit and he agreed that all else being fine, there likely is a connection.  My RA joint pain is minimal at this point in time, thanks to the effectiveness of my latest medication protocol, but now and then I get mild aching in my muscles, especially in my legs.  He suggested that because the musculoskeletal organs are so closely intertwined, this may just be my body’s latest way of getting my attention!  Well, it worked.

Relieving muscle pain

So, how to relieve it?  Well, one way is to not stop exercising if you do and start exercising if you don’t.  I am a swimmer and the days when it was most troubling I actually pushed myself to get in the pool and water jog and do some aqua aerobics and it really did help.  Over time I am noticing the duration and intensity decreasing so hopefully this is helping.  Walking and not remaining in a stationary position for too long is also a good idea.  Sitting for too long makes our joints stiffen up anyway, so by getting up and moving we are addressing two issues at once.

Another strategy is to get a massage.  It is amazing how helpful it is to have someone gently knead those sore muscles.  It is incredibly helpful both physically and mentally.  I also take some OTC pain relievers and that helps.  For me, heat is a sure fire way to get some relief as it improves circulation to the sore area, often providing some comfort and pain relief. A hot bath with Epsom salts is amazingly helpful as it soothes those sore muscles. I also recently purchased a “kneading stick”, which looks a lot like a rolling pin with nodules.  Rolling this across my feet, calves, and thighs feels great.

A strong word of caution here about all of this.  It is crucial that you not assume this is just something you can handle yourself.  Given the many possibilities for muscle discomfort it is absolutely essential that you share this with your medical team.  As I briefly mentioned above, there are a variety of potentially more serious causes for muscle pain.  Determining what may or may not be connected to RA is, and always will be, challenging.  It is imperative that we discuss any new or ongoing symptoms with our medical team and have a dialogue about what may or may not be the cause.

If we follow some of the tips offered to get some relief, we CAN overcome this muscle madness!


Please consult with your rheumatologist and medical team if any of these tips may be helpful to you before implementing them.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • jeannettevance1
    2 years ago

    Thank you for your article on muscle pain. I had a lot of muscle pain in my legs along with cramping when I had my first big flare up 8 months ago. I came to the conclusion that since RA can run systemically or go straight to attacking your joints, that if you get it more systemically you will have more pain or problems throughout your body. I have no idea if I’m correct, because I am just starting my journey with this disease, but it’s a good thought. What is interesting is that I had unexplained cramping in my legs for about a year before I had my big flare up. Prednisone did help the muscle pain and cramping, so it has to relate to the inflammation. When I first went to the doctor he put me in the fibromyalgia category, but I knew I was to sick for it to be that. Plus I had anemia. One thing I learned from my doctor is that if it is fibromyalgia prednisone will not help. I went 3 months in severe pain because my regular doctor didn’t believe me that it was not fibromyalgia. Finally I saw a great rheumatologist and he knew it wasn’t fibromyalgia and treated me for RA and I was finally able to walk again. I feel like there is so much miss communication out there on RA and that I have to educate almost everyone except those who have RA or a rheumatologist. It’s frustrating!!

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    2 years ago

    I enjoyed your blog. I recently got a massage, my first ever. I found that it was ok, but well, I think I will abstain from here on out. Sheryl had been after me to try it for years. I suppose it worked, but maybe I am a little too old fart for my own good. Who knows maybe sometime in the future, provided the wife still approves of course.

    Next up find an acupuncture clinic that works on old farts

  • SusanHU
    2 years ago

    Thanks for your comment Lawrence! Glad to hear that you’re trying new things but sorry to hear that you didn’t fully enjoy the massage. I know that sometimes it takes me some time to find a masseuse whose style works with what I’m looking for – they’re all a little different! Definitely let us know how the acupuncture goes! 😉

    – Susan ( Team Member)

  • Poll