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How Arthritis Affects the Body

How arthritis affects the body? Well it’s different for everyone, but arthritis is a systemic disease that is painful and uncomfortable, affecting the joints and causing swelling. While many people initially think of the fingers and knees in regards to rheumatoid arthritis, there are actually a number of other areas of the body that can be affected. In fact, what many are unaware of is that the eyes, lungs, and skin all have the potential to be affected by arthritis.


How Arthritis Affects the Body


Often the beginning signs of arthritis include pain stemming from inflammation in the small joints of the feet and hands, and often affect both sides of the body.


While pain can be more prominent in the morning and last for longer than a half an hour, pain, swelling, stiffness, and sensitivity show up in flares.


The first stages of flares can last for up to six weeks and are followed by remission, until the time when another flare appears.


Symptoms include pain, swelling, stiffness, burning, and tingling in various parts of the body. These include:


  • Knees
  • Ankles
  • Toes
  • Hips
  • Fingers
  • Wrists
  • Shoulders
  • Elbow


Other Symptoms


As a chronic inflammatory auto-immune disease, arthritis sets the body on defense against healthy joints, causing inflammation, joint pain, and other symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can affect various areas of the body other than the joints, including:


  • Skin


Rheumatoid nodules can develop under the skin. These are lumps of tissue that form over bony areas such as the toes and fingers.


There are also RA rashes caused by vasculitis, which is inflammation of the blood vessels.


  • Bones


Inflammation can cause a loss of bone density that leads to thinning bones.


  • Eyes


People with RA can experience dry eyes, as well as blurred vision, sensitivity, redness, and pain.


  • Mouth


Dry mouth can be a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis, caused by inflammation of the mouth.


  • Lungs


Rheumatoid nodules can form on the lungs, and long term inflammation can cause pulmonary fibrosis.


  • Blood


Anemia and blood clots can occur in patients with RA.


  • Kidneys


Arthritis treatment can cause problems in kidneys, so it is essential for your doctor to monitor you during treatment.


  • Liver


As with the kidneys, arthritis treatment can cause liver problems. Appropriate monitoring is necessary to prevent problems.


Each of these areas can experience varying types of pain and damage. Awareness of these problem areas and early detection can help to prevent long term effects and side effects of Rheumatoid arthritis.


Effects of RA


Overtime and without an appropriate treatment plan, rheumatoid arthritis can cause wear and tear and joint damage. This happens if bone and cartilage become damaged, also causing tendons, ligaments, and muscles to weaken.


Damage can lead to difficult joint movement and a limited range of mobility, as well as deformed joints over the long term.


Treatment can slow and even prevent the potential damage and long term effects of arthritis.


Without proper treatment, patients may eventually notice a severity of symptoms in their joints, as well as other parts of the body. They may experience less time of remission between flares, and an increase of pain during their flares.


There are a number of other long term effects of arthritis, such as:


  • Hammer Toes
  • Claw Toes
  • Bunions
  • Osteoporosis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Anemia
  • Inflammation of the eye
  • Oral Infection
  • Tooth Decay
  • Gingivitis
  • Chest Pains


Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis


There are a number of options for treating RA. Rheumatologists will work with each patient to determine the best course of treatment for their condition.


Combinations of various treatments and therapies can help patients with their arthritis. These treatments and therapies will often focus on pain management, helping patients with their mobility, as well as slowing the disease’s progression.


With proper and effective treatment, patients can work towards managing their rheumatoid arthritis and minimizing potential damage.


Suffering from rheumatoid arthritis is hard and can be very discouraging. However, early detection and appropriate treatment can help those suffering to live happy, full, and relatively pain-free lives. Our residents at Laurel Parc Assisted Living have full lives- even when they have arthritis.


Make sure and see your doctor at the first sign of RA. They will help you to find the treatment and therapies that are right for you.