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Tendon and Ligament Pain

Can RA make your connective tissues – like tendons and ligaments – painful and swollen?

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Q: I know RA affects my joints, but my tendons and ligaments are sore, too. What’s going on?

A: It’s important to see your doctor to find out for sure, but there are at least a few possibilities. First of all, soreness of tendons and ligaments may be a part of your RA, because the inflammatory process that damages the joints in RA can also affect the connective tissues (e.g., the tendons and ligaments) in and around the joints.

Another possibility is that your pain is related to fibromyalgia, a condition of widespread muscle pain that is common in people with RA and other forms of arthritis. Although there is no inflammation with fibromyalgia and it does not affect the joints, it may be felt as pain in tissues around the joints.

Finally, your soreness may not be related to RA at all. People with RA are not immune from the types of problems – including inflammation of the tendons, ligaments and bursae – anyone might experience as a result of an major injury or minor repetitive injuries over time.

David Spalding, MD

Rheumatologist

University of Alabama at Birmingham

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