Rheumatoid Arthritis Complications

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)  is a disease that can put you at risk of developing serious complications, particularly if it’s poorly controlled.

If RA is not managed well, the inflammation in joints could lead to significant and permanent damage. Your joints can become so damaged that you develop permanent joint deformities. This can make it very difficult to carry out your daily activities at home and at work.

In addition to joint problems, RA can affect multiple organs. These include:

  • Skin and blood vessels – red nodular rash, nail changes, ulcers, gangrene of the fingers or toes
  • Eyes – dry and painful eyes
  • Digestive system – symptoms usually occur due to side effects from medication
  • Lungs – usually damage to the lining of the lungs, causing breathing difficulty
  • Heart – increased risk of heart disease, including heart attacks
  • Kidneys – long-standing inflammation can eventually lead to kidney failure
  • Nerve damage

You can reduce your risk of developing these complications by ensuring that your condition is well controlled. Make sure to prioritize the following:

  • Stop smoking
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Take your prescribed medication and do not miss doses

Speak to your doctor if you are struggling with uncontrolled symptoms or side effects of your medication. Do not stop your treatment unless recommended by your doctor.


Written by Dr Ruusa Shivute | Health Window

Reference: Scott DL, Wolfe F, Huizinga TW. Rheumatoid arthritis. Lancet. 2010 Sep 25;376(9746):1094-108

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