Dr. Arthritis Warns: Arthritis Affects More Than Just Your Joints
Arthritis affects your joints–you know this. But did you know that arthritis can also wreak havoc on other parts of your body? Sometimes, it’s due to the disease itself; other times due to the side effects from the medications used to treat it.
The worrying thing about this is that symptoms aren’t always so evident, making it easy for you or your doctor to overlook them. In some cases, it may seem like these symptoms are completely unrelated to arthritis, which makes you think that it doesn’t even merit a mention.
That said, it’s important that you know what to look out for. So we’ve run down some of the most common symptoms—outside of joint pain—that you should watch out for:
Around half of people with rheumatoid arthritis developed rheumatoid nodules—lumps of tissue that form under the skin. These develop after bony areas are exposed to pressure. There are cases that nodules disappear on their own, but it usually requires treatment.
Arthritis-induced inflammation can affect blood vessels, which in turn, affects the skin. It can manifest in small red dots that creep across your skin. This can be treated by treating and managing the underlying cause of inflammation.
The inflammation caused by arthritis will eventually lead to loss of bone density—not just around your joints but all over your body. Corticosteroids, typically used to treat the symptoms of chronic pain, can also cause bone thinning. This results in weak, brittle bones. To treat, regular exercise, vitamin D and a calcium-rich diet is essential.
Inflammation and Scarring
Have you noticed symptoms like pain, redness, light sensitivity and blurred vision? This might because of inflammation of the scleritis (the whites of the eyes). While treatable, it’s important that you get this checked as soon as possible as this may lead to permanent damage.
Inflamed joints can also affect your eye’s tear producing glands. If you notice that your eyes are starting to feel dry and gritty, be sure to speak to your physician about it. You’ll probably need medication plus eye drops to help manage the dryness.
The same inflammatory process that affects your joints has also been known to damage your mouth’s moisture producing glands. This results in dry mouth. If you start to notice unusual dryness in your mouth, see your doctor and maintain good oral and dental hygiene.
Severe and long-term inflammation caused by arthritis can affect the lungs. It’s usually harmless, but prolonged inflammation can lead to pulmonary fibrosis, which can interfere with breathing.
Arthritis doesn’t directly affect the liver, but specific medication used to treat arthritis can. One example is the constant and long-term use of acetaminophen, which has been known to cause liver failure.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make sure you speak to your doctor about it immediately. Ignoring these symptoms could only make your condition worse.