Rheumatoid Arthritis in the knee, rest? using hot or cold?

Diagnosed with RA January 2021 I am 78 and otherwise very healthy and fit. I have a pacemaker since April 2021. So far I have only had bad RA in my hands and shoulders. It wanders and sometimes I have it in my neck and find it difficult to turn my head, then that goes away and I have had it my yaw too Burt suddenly I also have it now in my LH knee. Knee is very swollen and hurts very much when I walk. I am on Biological medication Adalimumab Amgevita, injecting ev 2 weeks. I have so far injected 4 times.

Should I rest the knee? Or can I cycle? Should I use hot or cold on the swollen knee? I was very happy that it had not affected my knees and now....!

Please advice.


  • anneb82
    anneb82 Member Posts: 317

    Hello @bikingviking

    Welcome to the online community and thank you for joining us. Please feel free to join in any conversations that are of interest to you. We are a friendly bunch and always looking to make new friends.

    So you were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in January 2021 in your hands and shoulders. You sometimes suffer with it in your neck and jaw but it goes away quite quickly. You have now noticed that your left knee is becoming more swollen and hurts very much when you are walking. You are taking biologics and have so far injected 4 times. You dont know if you should rest your knee, if youre able to still cycle, and whether you should be using hot or cold therapy.

    So, I do not think there is a standard answer to you queries because it is so individual. With regards to all of your queries, it all depends on what works best for you. For example, I have RA in my knees and would only use cold therapy on myself but that might not be the right thing for yourself. It all depends on how your RA reacts to heat and cold. As for knowing when to rest and when to go out on your bike, in time you will be able to read your body and know what is best for yourself. All is would say, it that if your knee if feeling sore or particularly out of sorts to not go out on your bike, or if you do, take it very easy.

    Ive included a couple of links below for you that I think you may find of interest.

    I hope that they are of help to you.

    Im sure that other members will also comment to give you more examples of other peoples experiences in these areas.

    Take care

    Anne (Moderator)

  • Thank you for your reply. I did go to see my physio therapist yesterday just to see if she could help. She did do some manipulation thinking that I could have some loose cartilage exacerbating the problem. Perhaps that was not the right thing if it is RA associated. Maybe I should be patient and hope that it moves on and gets better quickly.

    I agree with you, ice seems to be better for me. I am Swedish and have done quite a lot of sea swimming in cold water, and I always end my shower with ice cold! It seems to feel good for me.

    I shall try the ice .....


  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 29,204

    For me it's cold for the RA pain, but heat for OA pain if that makes sense.

    I always try to do my range of movement exercises even if a joint (or more) is (or are) flaring too.

    Sending ((())) hope your knee feels better soon.

  • Thank you for your response. Yes I think I would prefer cold too for my RA.. I shall try it today. Tried het pad yesterday and it feels slightly better but still swollen.

    Birgit x

  • Arthuritis
    Arthuritis Member Posts: 440

    @bikingviking I use cold too for my knees & elbows, I use a gel wrap that I keep frozen at -22C, which when inserted into its cotton bandage does not directly touch the skin but provides 2-3 hours of cold, enough to calm it down. This works but its annoying having to keep swapping it.

    I am also testing a Finnish-German contraption that can keep a knee wrap chilled all night. Let me know if you would like to be posted on the results.

  • Hi @bikingviking

    Thank you for posting on the helpline forum. I'm sorry to hear you have a flare of your rheumatoid arthritis in your left knee.

    @anneb82 has given very good advice. It is impossible to say for certain what will work best and it’s only by trial and error you will find what suits you best. As @frogmorton says we would also suggest you continue to do even the smallest of movements to ensure your knee doesn’t get too stiff.

    You can find out more about this here:


    You are very welcome to call us on our freephone helpline: 0800 5200 520 so you can talk things through with one of our helpline team. 

    I hope this is helpful.

    Best wishes


    Helpline Team