Rheumatology is the branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatoid diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a condition that belongs to this category, and its prevalence increases with age. You must also know that the prevalence and incidence of RA are higher in women than in men. It is an autoimmune condition that not only affects the joints, but also other organs in your body.
Arthritis & Rheumatology
Typically, rheumatoid arthritis begins with minor symptoms that develop into more evident signs over weeks or months. In most cases, patients begin to experience stiffness in one or more joints. On movement, this causes pain, and there will be tenderness in the joint. Furthermore, the most important characteristic of RA is the symmetrical swelling of joints that is persistent for a while.
Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Although RA primarily affects joints, there can be extra-articular manifestations. This is because rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues of the body.
The most common extra-articular manifestation of RA is the subcutaneous nodule and occurs in about 20 to 30% of the people suffering from this condition. Typically, these nodules develop in the arms, elbows, and pressure points like feet and knees.
Some of the pulmonary manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis are intrapulmonary nodules, pleurisy with or without effusion, and diffuse interstitial fibrosis. They are diagnosed with the help of a pulmonary function test. Atherosclerosis is a cardiovascular manifestation of rheumatoid arthritis, and it is a leading cause of death. This can be avoided, or the risk for fatality can be reduced with early detection and aggressive treatment of RA.
The most common ocular manifestation due to rheumatoid arthritis is keratoconjunctivitis due to Sjogren’s syndrome. One of the complaints among RA patients is sicca or dry eyes; this is due to reduced tear production.
Sensory peripheral neuropathy is the most common neurological manifestation of rheumatoid arthritis (RA); this is usually experienced in the lower extremity. Besides, entrapment neuropathies like tarsal tunnel syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome can occur in patients with RA. This happens when the peripheral nerve is compressed by inflamed edematous tissue.
Usually, in rheumatology, the course of rheumatoid arthritis in a patient cannot be predicted; this is because various factors must be considered. We hope that this article gave you a good understanding of extra-articular manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis.