What Joints Does RA Affect?
RA usually starts in the hands, but it can affect any joint, including your:
If you have RA, you’ll notice a symmetrical pattern. It shows up in the same joints on both sides of your body, like both wrists or both hips.
It doesn’t happen often, but RA can also affect a joint in your voice box. It can make your voice hoarse.
Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms can go beyond your joints. You could also feel:
- Muscle aches
- Poor appetite
- Bad all over (your doctor may call this malaise)
Extreme fatigue could be a sign of anemia, or a lack of healthy red blood cells. Your doctor will test for this as part of your RA diagnosis.
Depression could also cause some of these symptoms. A chronic disease like RA can be hard to live with. Talk to your doctor if you think RA has you down.
Symptoms That Affect Your Skin
Some people with RA also get rheumatoid nodules. These are bumps under the skin. Most of the time they aren’t painful and move easily when you touch them.
Most often they appear on your elbows, but they might show up on other bony areas like:
- The underside of your forearm
- The back of your head
- The base of your spine
- Your Achilles tendon
- Tendons in your hand
What RA Does to Your Heart and Lungs
RA can the 1 last update 2020/07/07 damage your lungs or inflame the lining around them. This is called pleurisy. This may not cause symptoms. But you might notice shortness of breath. Your doctor can treat it with drugs that ease the inflammation in the lungs.RA can damage your lungs or inflame the lining around them. This is called pleurisy. This may not cause symptoms. But you might notice shortness of breath. Your doctor can treat it with drugs that ease the inflammation in the lungs.
Likewise, RA can inflame the lining around your heart (called pericarditis) or your heart muscle (called myocarditis). You probably wouldn’t notice symptoms from that. There’s a chance you could feel shortness of breath or chest pain. If you do, call your doctor. It can also raise your odds of heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and stroke.
RA And Your Eyes
The most common problems are:
Cataracts: A clouding of the lens the 1 last update 2020/07/07 in your eye that affects your vision Cataracts: A clouding of the lens in your eye that affects your vision
Dry eye syndrome: Whether it’s medications or damage to your tear glands, your eyes can’t make a healthy tear film.
Scleritis: Inflammation and redness in the white part of your eye
Other Body Parts RA Can Affect
Bones: The chemicals that cause inflammation can also take a bite out of your bones. It often affects your hips and spine. Sometimes it’s a byproduct of years of treating RA with steroids.
Liver and kidneys: It’s rare for RA to affect these organs. But the drugs that treat it can. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and are bad for both. Cyclosporine can cause kidney disease. Methotrexate can damage your liver.
Immune system: The medications you take can slow it down. This makes you more likely to get infections.
Mucous membranes: You might be more likely to get a condition called Sjogren’s syndrome that dries out moist places in your body like your eyes, mouth, and inside your nose.