Arthritis after Chemo?

Hi All,
I finished chemo last April, not on anything else as I am triple negative. I have been having a lot of join stiffness and ny thumb joint on one hand has grown what seems to be a bone spur.
Had a check up with my onc yesterday and he agreed with my suspicion that it might be arthritis brought on by my 'instant’menopause. He is referring me to a rheumatologist and also for a dexa scan.
Has this happened anyone else?

Thank you


Hi Katie!

A friend of mine has had real problems with arthritis caused by side effects of chemo and was referred to a rheumatologist. She has tablets now for the pain and stiffness as she found going up and down stairs really almost impossible. It has also affected her immune system permanently too, so lots of problems. The treatments seem almost worse than the disease! Don’t know if chemos are much stronger than they used to be as another friend had BC 18 years ago and didn’t suffer hardly any side effects from the chemo and certainly nothing once she finished it. Hope the rheumatologist can help.

Hi Katie
I have had rheumatiod arthritis for 18 years now, and must admit, during chemo, i never had any problems at all, but once finished, the pain came back with a vengeance! chemo can do a lot of things to our bodies, but i keep my fingers crossed for you that you dont have to suffer yet another setback. good luck
deb x

I have awful lumpy painful thumb joints too…thought it was the Arimidex?

Like deb I have had rheumatoid arthritis for years and yes, while I was on chemo things were great but now 18months on I am struggling at times with joint pain. Not sure if it is the RA or the femara.

I have stopped taking arimidex for a week just to see. All joint stiffness nearly gone, ut hte thumbs are really awful still. Big knobby bits at the base of each thumb. Anyone else got this? NOT recommending any one else to stop, just did it in desperation…Zoe x

Pain in hand joints began in Nov and getting worse by the day.
Worse in a morning and after afternoon nap - 2 fingers get locked in position.
Finished chemo Dec.
Taking Ibuprofen and codeine, but can’t crack the pain.
The Onc. thinks it may be connected to the menopause.
The Onc. has referred me to a Rhuemtologist, but there is a 6 week wait for an apponitment.
Rang to see if they could see me sooner and explained for last 11 months had cancer op., chemo and radio, and felt suffered enough, but didn’t work.
Would be interested to hear if anyone else in same position and if you took part in the TACT trial.

I have pain in my hands and fingers especially my thumb. Some days are worse than others. Sometimes it hurts to even lift a mug of tea. I also have trouble opening packets, bottles etc. Also pain in my shins can be really quite sore. No pain killers help. I saw my onc last month and was told that it was the chemo that was still in me (finished chemo in Nov). I’m at the end of my tether with this as it is stopping me from doing things.

It’s 3 years since I finished chemo. I changed to Arimidex nearly 18 months ago and have had pain in my wrists and thumbs ever since, getting progressively worse. My GP says it’s osteoarthritis and that nothing can be done. Nobbly lumps have developed on both my thumbs and somed of my fingers. No pain killer helps much and it does get me down.
I wonder why I have not been refered to anyone. I know it’s not rheumatoid as I had blood tests to rule that out.

It might be the arimidex rather than the chemo; I developed severe arthritic symptoms on both Arimidex and Femara, mainly in hands and feet. Eventually the oncologist put me back on Raloxifen and I had a major operation last april to reconstruct the large joints of my two big toes - it still hurts - They - doctors - say the evidence for a link between severe osteoarthritis and Aromatase inhibitors is “anecdotal” but women on these forums complain about arthritis all the time. Can we all be just unlucky? It’s worth talking to the oncologist about this and then you just have to decide how much you can bear, good luck.

Hello fellow thumb victims! All other symptoms nearly gone since stopping arimidex, except the thumbs. GP thinks it is trigger thumb, a disorder of the tendons etc NOT bones. He is referring me to a specialist, will try injections of steroids straight into thumb joints. If that no good its sugery, which I suspect will be the final answer because I get a lot of tingling in hands which I think is also connected to carpal tunnel swelling. Will keep you informed. Zoe x

I am 49 years old and am 2 years post treatment for breast cancer. So far I am considered cancer free. I had been developing arthritis before being diagnosed with cancer. Following treatment I feel that my arthritis is far worse and I don’t know if that would have happened anyway or is a result of the cancer and/or chemo. I just joined this website and am very interested in all the comments.

Any advice, suggestions or possible websites would be appreciated.

Hi Flame,I had chemo 5yrs ago and had awful arthritis afterwards.My onc put it down to the instant menopause the chemo had brought on(I was 45) The first year was the worst.I felt like an old woman with the feet of an 80yr old elephant - especially first thing in the morning when I’d a job to hobble down the stairs. But it did get better and after 2yrs I can honestly say I was back to my old self -apart from my feet (I have peripheral neurapathy)However I surprised myself this Christmas when I bought (and wore) my first pair of high heels in 5yrs. I kept them on all evening and my feet didn’t complain once!

Josie x

Hi Ladies

I have similar experiences to yourselves. Had arthritis before Dx in Dec 07, was told to grin and bear it by GP, was on Diclofeneac and Solpadol. I had 6 chemo in 08 and during that I was pain free with arthritis, was told it loves the chemo!!! I was then on Tamoxifen for 3 months but due to weight gain went onto Arimidex, I had told my ONC that the pain was getting worse after the chemo had finished she said it was the brain getting used to the pain again! I was on Arimidex for 6 months and I could’nt stand it apart from weight gain, joint pain, ,night sweats and carpal tunnel I could hardly walk. I hobbled into the onc again in March and requested she took me off the Arimidex and I’m now on Aromasin , I have found these much better. I asked if she would refer me to a DR about the pains which were excrutiating, I have just seen a rheumotologist and he has done X rays and is going to change my medication, I am also having injections in my knees which is where I am suffering , he is also doing a check about the carpal tunnel, I tried to convince him that I thought all these symptoms were related to the tablets but I do not think he was convinced. I actually found my Onc much more supportive than my GP and I got an appointment really quickly from March 5th to April 2nd.
It’s interesting isn’t it how one thing gets cured and another worsens, it’s also interesting how different people get treated by Oncs and Gp’s depending on where they live?

Hi, I am triple neg, so I had no hormone therapy following chemo. 2 Yrs ago before treatment I had bone scan and not a hint of degeneration anywhere. I am now confined to wheelchair/crutches, in constant pain, and my spine has crumbled,for which I have had several unsuccessful operations! Also now got further degeneration in both hips and ankles! I was on FEC and Taxotere and I am convinced that is cause, although this is obviously denied by oncologist. I thought I would get my life back after mast, chemo and rads, but the following year has been worse, far worse than I could have imagined. Hvae tried every type of pain relief known, in hospital they even tried morphine and pethedine drip to no avail. Morphine patches bring me out in a rash, so it’s basically cocodamol with the odd spot of Oramorph when i can’t stand it any more!
And I thought having cancer was bad enough!
Sorry about the rant,

I can hardly believe I am reading this. For the past 6 weeks or so I have been having increasing pain in my thumbs…it sounds similar to what you have all described. I hadn’t dreamt that itmight be connected. I’m on Tamoxifen rather than aromatase inhibitor but have certainly been thrust into my menopause. I shall have to talk to my onc about it.

Jax,I’m sorry to hear that things have been so very difficult for you.

I am totally agreed with you.
I lovegoogle

I have pain in my thumb joint and yesterday the rheumatologist did an ultrasound and showed me the bone spur. Just for the record I had my cancer treatments 10 years ago and have been taking Femara for the past 4 years or so. I have osteopenia in my hip and take Boniva for that. The doctor said the spur is probably from arthritis, but after listening to you all, I wonder…

I have terrible pains in my thumbs and middle finger, trou
ble is its spreading to the other hand too, never had anything like this before, I finished chemo last september and this started after I started taking arimidex,they say its the menopause but ask anyone not on arimidex and going through the menopause and they dont have any problems. Its so painful cant even press the buttons on the remote control my thumbs are so stiff, cant have injections on the side I had my mastectomy and lymph node removal so dont know what to do, but its really debilitating best wishes suzan

Thanks for all your comments.I finished chemo in Feb and radiotherapy in April.I have developed a sore, clicky thumb and ring finger.Feels like the ligaments.It began pretty much overnight. The onc. said it was caused by Femara and stopped it. I have been off it for a month but the problem is increasing and now I notice it in the other hand.It is not bad during the day but begins as soon as I lie down at night.My knees and feet began aching after chemo, too. I don’t think it is the Femara, myself. I hope I can find the cause and a cure sooner rather than later. I wish the same for you guys, too. By the way, I was already menapausal before the cancer.