Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is known to cause pain in the joints of the fingers and wrists. But it can also affect other parts of your body such as your neck. If your neck feels stiff and you have pain when you turn your head, it could be your rheumatoid arthritis.
Effects on the skin
- You might develop lumps of tissue called rheumatoid nodules. They usually appear on your skin, especially on the elbows, heels , forearms or fingers. They can appear suddenly or grow slowly. The nodules may be a sign your rheumatoid arthritis is getting worse. They can also form in other areas of the body like the lungs and heart.
- Vasculitis, which is rheumatoid arthritis-related inflammation of the blood vessels, shows up as spots on the skin which look like ulcers.
- Other types of skin problems related to RA may appear, so always let your doctor know about anything new that pops up or breaks out.
- People with RA have an elevated risk of developing anemia. This is due to a decrease of red blood cell production. They also have a higher risk of blocked or hardened arteries.
- A rare but serious complication of RA is inflammation of the blood vessels (rheumatoid vasculitis). Inflamed blood vessels weaken and expand or narrow, interfere with blood flow. This can lead to problems with the nerves, skin, heart, and brain.
- In rare cases, pericarditis, or inflammation of the membrane that surrounds your heart, usually develops during flares. Flares are times when your RA is worse.
- RA increases the risk of inflammation or scarring of the linings of the lungs (pleurisy) and damage to lung tissue (rheumatoid lung). Other problems included are 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.
- Even though RA can damage the respiratory system, not everyone has recognizable symptoms whereas some may experience shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pains.
It’s possible that you may get more infections if you have rheumatoid arthritis. This could be due to the condition itself or the immune-suppressing medicine that treats it.
The pain and discomfort from RA can make it difficult to sleep. Many people with RA feel overwhelming fatigue and a lack of energy. In some cases, RA flare-ups cause short-term fevers and lead to the lack of appetite and lack of exercise, which may contribute to poor overall health.
Pain in the neck
Rheumatoid arthritis is known to cause pain in the joints of the fingers and wrists. But it also affects other parts of your body, like your neck. If your neck feels stiff and you have pain when you turn your head, it could be your rheumatoid arthritis.
Early diagnosis and treatment can help slow the progression of the disease. Disease-modifying medications, symptom relievers, and lifestyle changes can greatly improve the quality of life for people with RA.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: December 4, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
THE EFFECTS OF RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS ON THE BODY. http://www.healthline.com/health/rheumatoid-arthritis/effects-on-body. Accessed 15 November 2016.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Complications. http://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/guide/rheumatoid-arthritis-complications#1. Accessed 15 November.