How Rheumatoid Arthritis Impacts Your Health Beyond Joints



Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease causing chronic joint inflammation and damage. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) primarily attacks the smaller joints in the hands, feet, wrists and knees. Swelling, stiffness, pain and eventual joint destruction are common. However, Rheumatoid Arthritis inflammation that is not properly controlled will increase the risks for heart disease, lung complications, osteoporosis, eye issues and other problems.

This article will explore how rheumatoid arthritis impacts various body parts and organs over time when left untreated.

Osteoporosis and Bone Loss

Ongoing inflammation from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) activates cells called osteoclasts which destroy bone tissue. Cortisol released during chronic inflammation also depletes bone. This combination significantly raises osteoporosis and fracture risks.

Certain Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) medications like glucocorticoids also cause bone loss, especially with long-term high dose use. Make sure your bone density is monitored annually. Weight bearing exercise and calcium supplements help strengthen bones.

Muscle Weakness


Joint pain causes many Rheumatoid Arthritis patients to become inactive, leading to rapid muscle wasting. Inflammation can also directly attack muscle tissue. Some Rheumatoid Arthritis medications contribute to weakness as a side effect (e.g., hydroxychloroquine and prednisone may cause muscle weakness).

Staying active with Rheumatoid Arthritis helps maintain strength and function. 

Eye Problems

Up to 25% of rheumatoid arthritis patients experience some form of eye inflammation. Dryness, eye pain, vision changes and light sensitivity are common.

Scleritis, which is inflammation of the white part of the eye, requires urgent evaluation to prevent vision loss. Rheumatoid Arthritis patients should have routine optometry exams to monitor for eye disease.

Lung Complications

Several potentially serious lung conditions are linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis, including:

Tell your doctor about any new breathing issues, chest pain or coughing. Rheumatoid lung disease is treatable if caught early.

Heart Disease

Rheumatoid Arthritis patients have double the risk of congestive heart failure. Other cardiovascular issues like atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke also occur more frequently.

Powerful Rheumatoid Arthritis drugs can sometimes cause heart toxicity. Have your cardiac risk factors evaluated regularly and follow prevention guidelines to protect your heart health.

Skin Problems

Skin vasculitis, which is inflammation of blood vessels, can develop in rheumatoid arthritis patients. This causes skin discoloration, ulcers and itchy rashes on the legs and other areas.

Some Rheumatoid Arthritis medications also cause skin reactions. Look out for new skin lesions or changes and report them promptly to your doctor. 

Disability and Chronic Pain

Without effective disease control, rheumatoid arthritis causes progressive deterioration of joints leading to deformities and loss of hand function. Daily tasks become difficult.

Chronic inflammation also sustains pain. Take medications as prescribed and make lifestyle changes to prevent disability. 

While joint symptoms are most prominent with Rheumatoid Arthritis, it’s clear this systemic autoimmune disease can impact the entire body. Don’t underestimate how inflammation harms your overall health. Take charge of your rheumatoid arthritis through proper treatment and self-care.

At Rheumatologist OnCall, we specialize in delivering comprehensive rheumatoid arthritis care tailored to each patient’s needs. Our approach revolves around crafting personalized treatment plans that include crucial elements like nutrition guidance, physical therapy, and stress relief techniques. We foster one-on-one connections between patients and physicians to ensure your care addresses all aspects of rheumatoid arthritis, not just medication.

Our goal is to improve quality of life while effectively managing symptoms through individualized attention and care. With the right rheumatologist partner, embodying an uplifting mindset, and making positive daily choices, you can take control of your rheumatoid arthritis. Relief from pain is possible, activity goals can be met, and your aspirations in life can be fulfilled. Don’t lose hope – together, we will find the right solutions to start living your best life while managing Rheumatoid Arthritis.


All content shared on this site is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This site and its services do not constitute the practice of medicine. You should always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment regarding your specific medical needs. We don’t represent that any of the products or services offered through this site are safe, appropriate, or effective for you. We advise you to always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider regarding personal health or medical conditions. If you know or suspect you have a medical problem, contact a qualified healthcare professional immediately. If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 911.

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