How to view Rheumatoid Arthritis complications
Typically, Rheumatoid Arthritis has extra-articular manifestations. That means it attacks the body outside of the joints. Seems like RA doesn’t know how to be only arthritis.
In RA 101, I wrote that Rheumatoid Arthritis complications are secondary symptoms of RA. I’ve wondered whether the word complications serves us well since we want people to understand that RA is a complex autoimmune disease. I once said “stop saying complications of Rheumatoid Arthritis; Rheumatoid Arthritis is complicated.”
The way we view the secondary symptoms of RA may make a difference in how we treat them. Often, patients discuss whether to be treated for a condition or whether it’s just RA related. It seems only right that the condition should be treated just as urgently if it is a Rheumatoid Arthritis complication. The effects are the same.
Complications of Rheumatoid Arthritis can be serious
There’s nothing funny about an autopsy. Well maybe there is if you watch NCIS, I guess. But seriously, it is often the complications of Rheumatoid Arthritis that end up listed as a cause of death for RA patients. Most often that is heart related, but there are many other less critical dangers.
Rheumatoid Arthritis can also cause serious problems in the lungs, eyes, vocal cords, veins, nerves, or spinal cord. RA can lead to things such as anemia, carpel tunnel syndrome, Felty’s syndrome, Sjögren’s syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis, and loss of muscle strength. That is not an exhaustive list so you might add anything I missed in your comments.
We need to do all we can to fight RA “complications.” Hopefully, it will help to make extra efforts to make healthy choices about things like smoking, eating, and getting prompt medical attention. I have not seen proof that the new medicines we take for RA have greatly impacted extra-articular manifestations of RA in a positive way, but that is our hope.
Some lists of secondary RA symptoms:
- Medline Rheumatoid Arthritis complications list
- British National Health Service Rheumatoid Arthritis complications page
- RxPG Online list of Rheumatoid Arthritis complications
- 3 Reasons to Stop Saying “Complications of Rheumatoid Arthritis”
- Pyramid Approach to Rheumatoid Arthritis Trashed
- Cricoarytenoid Arthritis in Rheumatoid Arthritis, Part 1
- What is Sjogren’s Syndrome?