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Mysterious Injuries

I am prone to mysterious injuries. By that I mean aches, pains, swelling, and issues separate from (but certainly related to) my rheumatoid arthritis. This has been a problem ever since I can remember, but it continues to this day.

For example, my right ankle recently developed a new pain on the side and increased in swelling throughout the day. I don’t remember hurting it (though my husband Richard thinks he remembers me hitting it on something). The symptoms sound like RA, but they are new and feel different so I don’t think it is. My right ankle rarely ever swells — it is usually my other leg that regularly (sometimes on a daily basis) swells up. The pain is also different, like a soft tissue injury.

It has gradually been getting better over a few weeks, so I know that I am healing and my rheumatologist is not worried. But it is a funny thing and could be very inconvenient.

Does RA make us more prone to injuries?

Increased injuries risk

My experience is that my RA puts me at greater risk for injuries. I think it is a combination of having weaker bones, but also weaker soft tissues (muscles, tendons, and ligaments). My body cannot resist a bump or a twist because it is weaker. Additionally, it takes me longer to heal and recover. It’s also exacerbated by the fact that I cannot move as much as other people so my circulation is not as good for healing.

To compensate, I do try to be extra careful and mindful that a simple bit of clumsiness on my part can result in an injury that may take a while to heal. But I can’t not be human! I am going to get hurt now and then.

Maintaining strength through exercising

I have also been really focused on exercising in the last several years. My goals are to exercise every day, to vary my routine, and to challenge my body safely to build and maintain as much strength as I possibly can.

When I recently explained to a nurse that my exercise is usually at least an hour a day, she was shocked and a bit alarmed. She asked if I had checked this with my doctor (which I had). It may seem like a lot, but because I use a wheelchair it is actually not as much movement as I truly need. I just try to do as much as possible but have to cut back according to how my body feels at times.

Injuries from daily life activities

Of course, I also get injuries doing seemingly normal activities. Like I will bend my arm or lean on my elbow and it will suddenly feel slightly out of joint and hurt. It recovers, but it is painful and I know is a problem related to my RA-afflicted joints. The bones just don’t always stay in place or are inflamed by the erosion of the disease. For these unpredictable issues, I just have to be gentle with myself and be patient with the time it takes to heal and feel better.

Unknown bruises

Bruises can also fall into the mysterious injury category. I’ll often look at myself and wonder: “How in the world did I get that bruise?” I know it is also a side effect of the prednisone that I can bruise easier and they may last longer. But it also happens if I lean on a cabinet or bump my leg while walking, which seems to happen all the time.

When I was younger, I used to get more upset by my mysterious injuries, but I guess I’ve come to accept them as part of my RA experience. They seem innocuous compared to the trials and tribulations of surgery, recovery, and rehabilitation. As long as I try to be careful and stay patient while I heal, I can handle a few bumps in the road.

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.


  • justjoany
    4 months ago

    Well, yes. Easy bruising is a daily part of my life. The slightest rub against something can leave one of those bruises (especially near my wrists on my forearms)that are just underneath the skin. I have several right now. They are also a part of the aging process and having lost a great deal of muscle mass and subcutaneous soft tissue related to joint damage and the inability to move some joints, especially my wrists.
    The fatigue is also very real. I have explained to several persons that at times the fatigue is about as debilitating as the pain.
    I have discovered that vitamin D deficiency causes fatigue and a tremendous lack of motivation. If you haven’t had it checked please do so!!! Getting mine up from 13 to 45 has been a game changer for me. The pain is no less, but i don’t i don’t feel as sad or hopeless and I have more motivation and stamina.

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    2 months ago

    Glad the vitamin D is helping justjoany! I have been taking that for a long time too. Hang in there! Best, Kelly ( Team)

  • BeccaFloyd
    4 months ago

    I can attest to the correlation between RA and easily bruising or injuring myself! This past weekend while walking through a cedar forest, there was a huge hollowed out cedar, that you could get inside of by crawling on your hands and knees. I knew better, but reaaaally wanted to see the inside, so in I crawled. Within an hour, the most glorious shades of purple, red, and green covered my knees! Just from crawling on them for 10 seconds, at most. My husband was alarmed, even suggesting a visit to the doctor, but I chuckled and reminded him that my newly multi-colored legs were par for the course, in this RA journey of mine. Not a day goes by that I don’t have at least one small bruise on my body, and during warmer weather when I’m more active, it’s not unusual to have many. It’s a bit embarrassing when someone points one out in horror, with a “what happened?!” and I can’t even remember what caused it, they happen so easily. Bruising easily is just another chapter in my book of living with RA.

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    2 months ago

    Hang in there BeccaFloyd! Sounds like you have the right attitude. These weird bruises can be difficult, but you have the right mindset. Best, Kelly ( Team)

  • Cynthia Ventura moderator
    4 months ago

    Perfect timing to see this article today. I am all too familiar with the nonjoint odd pain, bruise, and discomfort that accompanies my RA and Fibro. But recently I have been having increased pain in my right thigh and foot to the point where I’m either icing or using a heating pad hourly for relief. My first thought is to feel isolated, alone in my pain. Reading these words and the comments helps me recognize nothing in this disease occurs in a vacuum. It is more common than not. In a strange way it eases my mind. I abhor that others know this pain too but understanding its cause and that I am not alone is comforting. Thank you for this timely article.

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    2 months ago

    Thanks so much for the kind words CynthiaV. Glad you can find support and community here. 🙂 Hang in there. Best, Kelly ( Team)

  • Dolores
    4 months ago

    Have the same issues you mentioned above!
    Finally found a exercise program that is helping me tremendously called Emily Lark Back to Life. Begin with gentle stretching exercise and it works on muscles, tendons etc to strengthen the core, as ya grow stronger etc the exercises become more helpful with strength etc. I have many problems with spine so these exercises keep my core strong and spine aligned which makes a great difference. Helps with pain very much, some do stop pain in it’s track and can repeat thru out the day anytime and anywhere.
    Might be something you want to check out
    Thanks for your article, Dolores

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    2 months ago

    Thanks for the tip Dolores! Glad that it is working for you. 🙂 Best, Kelly ( Team)

  • amypollock82
    4 months ago

    I’m just so tired to fight yet

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    2 months ago

    Hang in there amypollock82! Best, Kelly ( Team)

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