Painful Elbows & Forearms

I would like to know if painful elbows and forearms are a symptom of scleroderma. About 1 1/2 months ago I woke up one morning with the worst pain and stiffness in both elbows and both forearms. I had no clue what had caused this condition. After a few days my left elbow and arm seemed to get much better. But my right side would not respond to any type of treatment that I could use at home. My strong pain medication and heating pad didn't come close to stopping the pain. It hurt to try and pick up anything. Even lifting a coffee cup was painful. Went to my chronic pain management doc who diagnosed it as tennis elbow. I've gone through 4 weeks (twice a week) physical therapy and although it makes my arm/elbow feel better for the first day, it just returns the following day. My doc did offer me a cortisone shot into the elbow itself if the physical therapy didn't work, but I'm a little unsure if I want to go that route. Can folks share with me their experience having this type of pain and what they did to get rid of it. Also, if it is a symptom of scleroderma, what exactly causes it? Thanks for any input you can give me. Memere

Report post

8 replies. Join the discussion

Hi I have something very similar. My pain is in both elbows and wrists and hands and fingers. It has now started in my shoulders too. When it starts the joint gets really swollen and red and extremely painful (inflammed) then I cant use the affected arm,elbow wrist etc for a few days till it subsides. I cant weight bear at all so lifting carrying etc is out of the question. I also tried to use a pincer grasp with my right hand when the right right wrist started and I couldnt it was excruciatingly painful. When the inflammation subsides Im left with a slightly swollen joint and chronic dull ache. It never really goes away. Ive been given anti inflammatories but they dont really help. Ive also got tendon friction rubs in both knees and the back of my neck, which feels horrible when I turn my head! Im waiting to see if my knees,hips or ankles will be next! Dont know if my experiences help you at all but good luck!

Report post

I've had a lot of elbow pain (the rest of my joints are good), and my GP and rheumatologist both said that this is very common in scleroderma (I have limited systemic). It's generally worse for me in the morning, and gets much better later in the day.

The only advice they gave me was to never, ever rest my elbow on an unpadded surface. It sounded like a dopey put-off, but I'm pretty sure it actually helps.

I had the same problem with the coffee cup--I switched from a heavy mug to a delicate china cup. Pathetic, but it turns down the OW.

Report post

I have had several episodes of tendonitis in my elbows, and in between they don't feel normal either. What I mean by that is that when I try to roll over in bed, I have pain in the tips of the elbows. When I reported it to my doc, he said where does it hurt, and I had a hard time finding the spot, but it was a very tiny spot that was there if I really searched, that was sensitive to pressure.

There have been times when my wrists made it painful for me to even turn a doorknob or turn the key in the car ignition. And I feel my hand grip strength is less than it use to be, even though the docs don't seem to have good ways of measuring it. When my wrists and elbows were at their painful worst, I also had an episode of about 2 weeks duration in which lightly brushing or blowing on my forearms would cause the skin to burn!

Incidentally, Dr. Wigley, commented that I have some dry "alligator" skin on my left elbow. So I tried to become more aware of what I was doing with it, and discovered that at my computer desk, I sometimes lean on that elbow, but not the right. I don't feel I was really doing it excessively, but I am trying not to do it at all anymore.

I have also had tendonitis in both shoulders, one of which became so painful I could not move it, and it was classified as a frozen shoulder.

Report post

Hey I know what you mean bout the skin issues. Mine has become so sensitive I was red raw after my bath just because i rubbed with a sponge a little too hard. I also briefly touched a lamp bulb by accident and had an enormous blister which has heald but scarred. The slightest scratch leaves a huge red weald on my arms or legs thats stays for days. My fingers are so swollen that I cant make a fist but i cant straighten them either! I get blisters just from using a screw driver and I cant rake up my garden leaves as my elbow is so sore just now.

Report post

I've had it in both shoulders, one so bad that they did an MRI to rule out a torn rotator cuff. Yes and sometimes my forearms hurt so badly I can't pick up the coffee. Painkillers don't seem to help it much and neither does the chiropractor except when he showed me some accupressure(sp?) points. Now when it seems to be starting again, I apply pressure regularly throughout the day, take ibuprofen, do gently stretching, keep moving, and just wait for it to go away (sometimes right away and sometimes it takes weeks). I did get a shot (steroid and a numbing agent) in my shoulder twice, once it helped and once it had not affect.

Report post

While we're talking about such things as weird inflammations, if you look at my profile picture, you'll see what looks like a bruise on the lower left calf. That really did start out as a bruise LAST November. The picture was taken this summer. It's still there. When Dr. Wigley saw it in June, he pointed out to me that it blanches with pressure, and so it has turned into a telangiectasia, though it's much larger than most telangiectasias of scleroderma.

Report post

Thanks for all your input! Elbow pain sounds like it is rather common in this disease. Guess I'll end up getting a cortisone shot. Although just the thought of a needle being placed in my elbow makes me shiver.

Report post

Memere_The cortisone shot doesn't necessarily have to hurt. Mine have never hurt me and I've had them in each hip at different times (I have bursitis in my hips). For my mom, they hurt, but go in with the attitude that maybe you'll get lucky. If you're really miserable, then I'd say it's worth a try.
My elbows don't hurt, but my feet hurt, my hands and wrists hurt, and my knees hurt occasionally.

Report post

This discussion is closed to replies. We close all discussions after 90 days.

If there's something you'd like to discuss, click below to start a new discussion.

Things you can do

Support the Scleroderma Foundation

Help the Scleroderma Foundation reach its goals and support people like yourself by making a donation today.

Donate to the Scleroderma Foundation

Discussion topics

From the Scleroderma Foundation

Community leaders