Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), self examination

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a multifaceted autoimmune condition that not only targets joints but also extends its influence to various organs and systems in the body. Recognizing the potential impact on organs is essential for comprehensive RA management.

  • Skin:
    RA can manifest in the skin through rheumatoid nodules, firm lumps beneath the skin, usually near affected joints. While not always painful, these nodules signify the systemic nature of RA.
    Regularly check for unusual lumps, especially around joints prone to RA symptoms.


  • Eyes:
    Inflammation of the eyes (scleritis or uveitis) is a potential complication. Ocular symptoms range from redness to severe conditions affecting vision.
    Be attentive to changes in vision, eye redness, or discomfort. Regular eye check-ups are crucial.


  • Heart:
    RA heightens cardiovascular disease risk due to chronic inflammation affecting the heart and blood vessels.
    Monitor blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and be aware of heart issue symptoms.


  • Lungs:
    Interstitial lung disease, seen in some with RA, causes inflammation and scarring, leading to breathing difficulties.
    Pay attention to respiratory symptoms like persistent cough or shortness of breath.


  • Blood Vessels:
    Vasculitis, inflammation of blood vessels, can occur, affecting various organs depending on involved vessels.
    Report skin changes, discoloration, ulcers, or pain in extremities.


  • Nervous System:
    RA may lead to peripheral neuropathy, causing numbness, tingling, and weakness.
    Be aware of changes in sensation, especially in hands and feet.


  • Salivary Glands:
    Sjögren’s syndrome, more common in RA, affects moisture-producing glands, leading to dry eyes and mouth.
    Assess moisture levels in eyes and mouth regularly.


  • Bone Marrow:
    Anemia can occur due to inflammation impacting bone marrow’s red blood cell production, resulting in fatigue.
    Monitor energy levels, seeking evaluation for persistent fatigue.


  • Digestive System:
    Gastrointestinal issues, like stomach lining inflammation, can occur.
    Pay attention to abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, or persistent discomfort.


  • Kidneys:
    RA can affect kidneys, leading to conditions like glomerulonephritis, often symptomless initially.
    Monitor blood pressure and kidney function through routine check-ups.


Aging and RA Progression:
As individuals age, RA’s impact on organs intensifies. Chronic inflammation, decreased regenerative capacity, and immune changes contribute to complications. Regular check-ups, self-awareness, and proactive management are vital, especially as one ages.

RA’s reach extends beyond joints, affecting vital organs. Self-examinations, regular check-ups, and early intervention are crucial for managing RA’s complexities on organs, particularly as aging amplifies these challenges. Awareness and proactive healthcare contribute to holistic RA management, promoting overall well-being and quality of life.