Rapid development of osteoarthritis and impact on tendons/muscles

Hi I was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis in my left knee in December 2022; also developing in my right knee. I am self managing this pretty well at the moment. At this point I had no other problems /concerns

However since Christmas I have had increasing muscle/tendon problems which are impacting massively. Tendons/muscles in my hands, ankles, calves, thighs, arms and across neck feel like they are either too short or over stretched to the point that they feel like they could "snap". The problem is particularly marked in my hands and wrists. Since Xmas I have lost wrist flexibility to the point that I cannot lay my hands flat with my arms at a right angle, I can't bend my hand forwards more than @1 1/4 inches maximum. I have lost strength in my hands significantly. I can't open milk cartons or turn door handles, etc, can't cut hard food as no strength to apply pressure. I can no longer straighten my fingers and have continuous pain in the palms. I am told that this is all caused by MILD osteoarthritis in my hands but I have no swollen or inflamed knuckles and no bone pain. This has literally all happened since Xmas 2022 and by April all I describe above had happened. My wrists and ankles are swollen and discoloured.

I am being investigated for Rheumatoid Arthritis but have already been told that this is unlikely and that all my symptoms are likely caused by osteoarthritis

My question is can MILD osteoarthritis actually cause the level of problems I am experiencing in my hands? Also I have no obvious arthritis in my feet and can osteoarthritis in knees cause the problems with my Achilles tendons, to the point that I am having difficulty walking normally down stairs, having to go one step at a time because of muscle pain, NOT because of knee pain? All since Xmas

I feel that I am not believed when I try to explain that this has all happened since Xmas. Even my Physiotherapist was concerned by the deterioration in my hands between appointments and emailed the GP to suggest investigations into other possible causes, but my GP has dismissed this. I am really worried that something else is going on and that Osteoarthritis is being blamed. Which is why I need to know if these symptoms really are possible to this extent and at this speed, with just osteoarthritis.

Thanks for any advice


  • jonr
    jonr Member Posts: 356

    Hi AMT,

    Very sorry to read about your rapid deterioration, it's no wonder you're so alarmed.

    I am not a health professional so can only speak from personal experience. I'll start by commenting on the tendon and muscle pain.

    I have severe OA in both knees which are due to be replaced and I too suffered terribly with tendon and muscle pain plus stiffness and swelling. It was explained to me that the weakening of the joints caused these surrounding areas to pick up the strain. The answer was to build up strength via physio and exercise which is what I've done but it takes a lot of time. I found using a deep tissue massaging gun to be very effective in soothing the tendons and muscles, Amazon sell a good range at prices to suit most budgets.

    What is causing the seemingly rapid advancement in your condition I don't know but it certainly needs to be investigated so you can be prescribed suitable drugs to treat it.

    You don't say what you are currently taking in terms of meds and supplements but that could be useful to know as I found some supplements I took made things worse.

    Lastly, how the doctors determine whether a patient's condition is mild, severe or chronic seems to be down to personal interpretation based on assessing XRays, MRIs and symptoms but it is only the patient who can really classify how severe their condition is based on their own pain threshold and how it impacts their ability to lead a normal life. You have described a life which is heavily impacted by your condition and it sounds like it could be beneficial to be assessed by Occupational Health.

    All the best,


  • AMT
    AMT Member Posts: 9


    Thanks for your reply. I'm sorry not to have answered sooner but I haven't been well and have not been on line much.

    I cannot take any NSAIDs and have been told to take paracetamol and codeine 4 times a day. These have not eased the tendon pain and my bone pain is manageable without anyway. I have not been prescribed any other medication. I now have further tendon deterioration plus tingling in my hands wrists ankles and feet. I have managed to get a referral for n MRI and am waiting for that and hoping it provides further information.

    Best wishes

  • Baloo
    Baloo Member Posts: 358

    @AMT sounds like an attack. When mine came it took a week from being normal to being paralysed in hospital for four days, being allowed to go straight on steroids after some checks, then tested like the clappers and sent home as an out patient cus I was able to walk again. After that it started to become stable at half paralysed for a year or so and is still a bit of a wrestling match.

    For the milk bottle tops my weapon of choice is a pair of scissors with a serrated grip between the handle. Occasionally it rips the top off but most of the time it works ok.

    I don't like the sound of it being in your neck at all. Are you sure about that part, or is it just your shoulders. I would make a point of asking about your back and neck from the scan.