Searching for proof for Rheumatoid Arthritis joints
Several people have recently asked me questions about which joints can be affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis. Cindy’s post is a typical example. People write that they are worried because when they complain about an RA symptom, a doctor has told them something like this: “You cannot get Rheumatoid Arthritis in that joint.”
People ask me which joints can be affected by RA and how they can prove it to their doctors. I’ve never had much luck proving anything to doctors myself, but I’ll give this my best shot.
My short answer: I have Rheumatoid Arthritis in every single joint. Two good rheumatologists and my general practitioner have told me, “Any joint can be affected by RA.” So, I know it’s possible. However, I don’t expect you to take my word for it.
My longer answer: There is a list below with lots of cool links to check out. It might also be interesting to read the posts and comments: What Is the First Symptom of Rheumatoid Arthritis? and Is There a Typical Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Often requested list of Rheumatoid Arthritis joints
List of specific RA joints, with links to the most frequently questioned:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis can affect every joint and most organs or systems. Joints include all in hands, all in feet, ankles, wrists, knees, elbows, hips, spine, jaw, vocal cords, sternum, and heel. There is a more detailed list of the ways RA can attack the body in RA 101 here.
- Spine: RA spine is so frequently discussed, it has its own post already here.
- Fingertip or distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint. An article about DIP’s in November 2005 Arthritis and Rheumatism states, “DIP erosions occur frequently.” I have found many other articles which discuss cases of DIP RA. If you are wondering why so many RA specialists are confused about this, I found a neat explanation in 1966 issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism. Antique, but fascinating.
- Feet and toes: Check out the Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction with a sad photo showing destruction typical in RA feet.
- Hip: 1995 Annals of Rheumatic Diseases report: “CONCLUSIONS — Early hip joint destruction giving symptoms mostly at a very late stage is frequent in RA. Ultrasonography rather than signs or symptoms could identify patients with hip joint involvement and provide a rationale for early treatment.” Nuff said.
- “Ribs”; actually, sternum: A Medicine Net .com article says, “Costochondritis is a common form of inflammation of the cartilage where ribs attach to the breastbone, the sternum.” Read details of this condition. It can occur with RA or other autoimmune arthritis such as psoriatic arthritis or Ankylosing Spondylitis. For a little more on RA rib pain, read this vintage 1986 newspaper RA article in New Kentucky Era.
- Lower back: See this 1964 Annals of Rheumatic Diseases article: Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Lumbar Spine. It’s a detailed article with lots of x-rays of the RA lumbar spine.
- Vocal cords: RA in the larynx is called Cricoarytenoid Arthritis.
- Shoulder: University of Southern California San Diego Medical Center detailed discussion of how to treat RA shoulder.
Bottom line about RA joints
- Rheumatoid Arthritis in the spine is not rare. RA in the DIP joint is not rare. And Cricoarytenoid Arthritis is not rare. It’s frustrating to hear how people are doubted because the symptom they claim to have is thought to be rare.
- Even if a symptom were rare, how does that help if it is you that has it? I hope you will always tell your doctor where RA hurts or disables you. It may require treatment.
- I have read several books and magazine articles with lists or diagrams which restrict RA to a limited number of joints. It was discouraging to see that doctors were writing these books. They seemed so confused that I quit reading those lists a long time ago.