THE EFFECTS OF
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RHEUMATOIDARTHRITIS ON THE BODY
SKELETAL SYSTEMOne of the first signs of RA is inflammation of the smaller joints in the hands and feet. Most of the time, symptoms on one side of the body correspond with symptoms on the other side of the body. Common symptoms include pain, swelling, tenderness, and stiffness, which is more pronounced in the morning. Some patients may feel a tingling or burning sensation. And symptoms can come and go in “flares” followed by a period of remission. Symptoms can occur in any of the body’s joints, including shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and ankles. People with RA often develop bunions, claw toes, or hammer toes. As the disease progresses, cartilage and bone are damaged and destroyed. Eventually, supporting tendons, ligaments, and muscles weaken. This can lead to a limited range of motion or difficulty moving the joints properly. In the long term, joints can become deformed. Having RA also puts you at greater risk of developing osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones. People with osteoporosis are at increased risk of bone fractures and breaks. Chronic inflammation of the wrists can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, making it difficult to use your wrists and hands. Weakened or damaged bones in the neck or cervical spine can cause chronic pain. X-rays can illuminate the extent of the damage. EndFragment
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SHOULDERINGTHE PAIN A common symptom of RA is aches or pains in the shoulders. The pain is usually felt on top of the shoulder and may radiate to the neck. Damage to the shoulder joints can limit your range of motion. Some people often hear a popping or cracking sound when they move their shoulders.
IT'S ALLIN THE WRISTChronic inflammation of the wrists can lead to pinched nerves or carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes numbness and tingling in the wrist and hand. Your bones may appear more prominent and you may even hear a squeaking sound when moving your wrist.
RA IN THE FINGERSInflammation of the finger joints causes stretching of the ligaments and tendons. This leads to the erosion of bone and cartilage and deformity of the joints. Sometimes, joints appear red and feel warm to the touch. They can become tender and painful.
TOE TROUBLERA can lead to many problems with the toes and fronts of the feet, such as claw toes and bunions. In some cases, the toes may cross over each other or stick out so that it’s uncomfortable to wear shoes. Some people with RA feel pain under the ball of the foot.
FALLEN ARCHESWeak supporting ligaments can cause the arch of the foot to fall, forcing the front of the foot to point outward. As the disease progresses, bones will continue to shift out of place. Walking, especially on uneven surfaces, becomes more difficult and painful. You may need special shoes to make being mobile more comfortable.
RA IN THE ANKLESRA can affect the joints of the ankles, making it difficult to navigate uneven surfaces. Eventually, standing for long periods of time or walking can become painful.
WEAK IN THE KNEESPeople with RA often experience stiffness and swelling in the knees. It’s generally worse in the morning or after a period of being sedentary. Straightening or bending the knee properly may be difficult, hindering actions like climbing stairs or walking. Your doctor can see your knee damage through X-rays.
RESPIRATORY SYSTEMRA increases the risk of inflammation or scarring of the linings of the lungs (pleurisy) and damage to lung tissue (rheumatoid lung). Other problems include blocked airways (bronchiolitis obliterans), fluid on the chest (pleural effusions), high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension), scarring of the lungs (pulmonary fibrosis), or nodules on the lungs.  Although RA can damage the respiratory system, not everyone has symptoms. Those who do may experience shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pains. EndFragment
BLOCKED AIRWAYSPeople with RA may experience shortness of breath due to inflammation of the airways.[if gte mso 9]> 0 0 1 13 74 Ernesto Olivares Visual Information 1 1 86 14.0 Normal 0 21 false false false ES-TRAD JA X-NONE
TAKE A LUNGFULRA causes damage to the lungs, which can lead to chest pain.Your doctor may notice a crackling sound while listening to your breathing with a stethoscope.EndFragment[if gte mso 9]> 0 0 1 13 74 Ernesto Olivares Visual Information 1 1 86 14.0 Normal 0 21 false false false ES-TRAD JA X-NONE
BLOOD VESSELSA rare complication of RA is inflammation of the blood vessels (rheumatoid vasculitis). This can lead to problems with the nerves, skin, heart, and brain.EndFragmentEndFragmentEndFragment[if gte mso 9]> 0 0 1 13 74 Ernesto Olivares Visual Information 1 1 86 14.0 Normal 0 21 false false false ES-TRAD JA X-NONE
CIRCULATORY SYSTEMRA can affect the system responsible for making and transporting blood throughout your body. A simple blood test can reveal the presence of an antibody called the rheumatoid factor. Not all people with the antibody develop RA, but it’s one of many clues doctors use to diagnose the condition. People with RA have an elevated risk for developing anemia. This is due to a decrease red blood cell production. They also have a higher risk of blocked or hardened arteries.  In rare cases, RA can lead to inflammation of the sac around the heart (pericarditis), the heart muscle (myocarditis), or even congestive heart failure.  A rare but serious complication of RA is inflammation of the blood vessels (rheumatoid vasculitis). Inflamed blood vessels weaken and expand or narrow, interfering with blood flow. This can lead to problems with the nerves, skin, heart, and brain. EndFragment
IT’S IN THE BLOODAn antibody called the rheumatoid factor is found in the blood of some, but not all people with RA. Having the antibody doesn’t always mean you’ll develop the disease. RA can lower the production of red blood cells and lead to anemia.EndFragmentEndFragment[if gte mso 9]> 0 0 1 13 74 Ernesto Olivares Visual Information 1 1 86 14.0 Normal 0 21 false false false ES-TRAD JA X-NONE
AT THE HEART OF ITRA increases the risk of blocked or hardened arteries. In rare cases, it can lead to inflammation of the sac around the heart (pericarditis) or the heart muscle (myocarditis), which can cause congestive heart failure.EndFragment[if gte mso 9]> 0 0 1 13 74 Ernesto Olivares Visual Information 1 1 86 14.0 Normal 0 21 false false false ES-TRAD JA X-NONE
IT’S IN THE BLOODAn antibody called the rheumatoid factor is found in the blood of some, but not all people with RA. Having the antibody doesn’t always mean you’ll develop the disease. RA can lower the production of red blood cells and lead to anemia.EndFragmentEndFragment[if gte mso 9]> 0 0 1 13 74 Ernesto Olivares Visual Information 1 1 86 14.0 Normal 0 21 false false false ES-TRAD JA X-NONE
AT THE HEART OF ITRA increases the risk of blocked or hardened arteries. In rare cases, it can lead to inflammation of the sac around the heart (pericarditis) or the heart muscle (myocarditis), which can cause congestive heart failure.EndFragment[if gte mso 9]> 0 0 1 13 74 Ernesto Olivares Visual Information 1 1 86 14.0 Normal 0 21 false false false ES-TRAD JA X-NONE
BLOOD VESSELSA rare complication of RA is inflammation of the blood vessels (rheumatoid vasculitis). This can lead to problems with the nerves, skin, heart, and brain.EndFragmentEndFragment[if gte mso 9]> 0 0 1 13 74 Ernesto Olivares Visual Information 1 1 86 14.0 Normal 0 21 false false false ES-TRAD JA X-NONE
SANDPAPER EYESPeople with RA often have extremely dry eyes, creating a sandy or gritty feeling. Chronically dry eyes increase risk of eye infection.EndFragmentEndFragmentEndFragment[if gte mso 9]> 0 0 1 13 74 Ernesto Olivares Visual Information 1 1 86 14.0 Normal 0 21 false false false ES-TRAD JA X-NONE
DESERT MOUNTHA chronically dry mouth can make eating and swallowing difficult. It can also lead to gum disease, cavities, and infections in the mouth.EndFragmentEndFragmentEndFragmentEndFragment[if gte mso 9]> 0 0 1 13 74 Ernesto Olivares Visual Information 1 1 86 14.0 Normal 0 21 false false false ES-TRAD JA X-NONE
BUMPY SKINSkin nodules are hard bumps that form under the skin on the arms, especially around the elbow.EndFragmentEndFragmentEndFragmentEndFragmentEndFragment[if gte mso 9]> 0 0 1 13 74 Ernesto Olivares Visual Information 1 1 86 14.0 Normal 0 21 false false false ES-TRAD JA X-NONE
SKIN, EYES, MOUTHRheumatoid nodules are hard lumps caused by inflammation that appear under the skin, usually near joints. They can be a troubling, but usually aren’t painful. As many as four million people in the United States have an inflammatory disease called Sjogren’s syndrome, according to the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation. About half of those people also have RA or a similar autoimmune disease. When the two diseases are present, it’s called secondary Sjogren’s syndrome.  Sjogren’s causes severe dryness—especially of the eyes. Patients describe it as a burning or gritty feeling. Prolonged dry eyes increase the risk of eye infection or corneal damage. It’s rare, but RA can cause inflammation of the eye. Sjogren’s can also cause dry mouth and throat, making it difficult to eat or swallow, especially dry foods. Chronic dry mouth can lead to tooth decay, gingivitis, and oral infections. Some patients experience swollen glands in the face and neck, dry nasal passages, and dry skin. Women may also feel dryness in their vaginas. EndFragment
IMMUNE SYSTEMYour immune system acts as an army, protecting you from harmful substances like viruses, bacteria, and toxins. It does this by producing antibodies to attack these invaders. Occasionally, the immune system mistakenly identifies a healthy part of the body as a foreign invader. When that happens, antibodies attack healthy tissue. EndFragment
THE IMMUNE SYSTEMIn RA, the joints are under attack. The result is intermittent or chronic inflammation throughout the body. Autoimmune diseases are chronic and treatment generally focuses on slowing progression and easing symptoms. Some people have more than one autoimmune disorder.EndFragmentEndFragmentEndFragmentEndFragmentEndFragmentEndFragment[if gte mso 9]> 0 0 1 13 74 Ernesto Olivares Visual Information 1 1 86 14.0 Normal 0 21 false false false ES-TRAD JA X-NONE