How Common Is Ra Back Pain
When back pain is RA related, inflammation in the cervical spine is usually the cause.
RA primarily affects peripheral jointssuch as in the hands, feet, and kneesbut the cervical spine is the second most common region that’s affected.
The spine is affected when RA progresses. In other words, inflammation in the back and spine may indicate a more advanced disease. However, the damage can be seen on X-rays as early as two years after diagnosis.
A 2015 report suggests that more than 80% of people with RA have some cervical spine involvement.
Although pain in the lumbar spine, or low back, is not commonly a part of RA, it’s associated with RA. This means that if you have RA, it’s common to also have low back pain.
A 2013 study reported that up to 65.5% of people with RA may experience low back pain. The researchers also noted that people with RA who had low back pain reported lower quality of life and had an increased risk for depression.
A 2017 report in the German medical journal Zeitschrift für Rheumatologie also found that low back pain in those with RA led to a higher degree of disability.
Rheumatoid Arthritis And Your Lungs
The most common RA-related lung complication is interstitial lung disease , a condition that causes inflammation and scarring of the lung tissue. This illness can be hard to detect but occurs when lung tissue becomes inflamed and eventually scarred.
Its unclear exactly how many people with RA develop it, but French researchers presenting an abstract at the American College of Rheumatology annual conference in November 2020 found that the prevalence of subclinical ILD was 18 percent in people who had RA for a dozen years. Other studies put the figure at over 50 percent.
This scarring makes it harder for oxygen in the lungs to enter the bloodstream and travel to other organs. The condition can cause breathlessness and coughing, but it can also be asymptomatic. If untreated, it can progress to pulmonary fibrosis, in which tissues are permanently scarred.
Research also shows that RA sufferers are at double the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD , in which the air sacs cant expand as easily and become clogged with mucus. There is no cure for COPD, although inhalers and steroids can help open airways.
Pleurisy is another condition with increased risk. Here, the pleura the tissue surrounding the lungs becomes inflamed, which can lead to fluid buildup at the base of the lungs.
People with RA may also develop nodules in the lungs, though they may not be bothered by them.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms In The Spine
Rheumatoid arthritis of the spine can lead to neck pain, back pain, and/or pain that radiates into the legs or arms. In advanced cases, the joint deterioration in the spine can lead to compression of the spinal cord and/or the spinal nerve roots.
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in the spine are generally similar to the symptoms of osteoarthritis . The range of symptoms is broad and can include any combination of the following:
- Pain is the most common symptom, especially pain at the base of the skull as rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the joints connected to the upper cervical vertebrae
- Swelling and warmth in one or more joints, may even be described as burning
- A feeling of local tenderness when the joint of the affected area of the spine is pressed
- Loss of flexibility of the joint in the affected area of the spine
- A crunching feeling when the joint is moved , particularly notable in the neck
- Headaches, related to cervical rheumatoid arthritis
- Pain that radiates down one or both arms, indicating that a cervical spinal nerve root is affected
Symptoms of bowel or bladder dysfunction or change in the ability to walk or move the arms are serious medical symptoms and immediate medical attention should be sought.
Diseases That Affect Shoulder Arthritis
Along with the five different types of arthritis affecting the shoulder, there are other conditions and diseases that can worsen shoulder arthritis and lead to complications. These include juvenile arthritis, gout, pseudogout, reactive arthritis, lupus, infectious arthritis, polymyositis, dermatomyositis, polymyalgia rheumatica, osteonecrosis, Lyme disease. Other conditions such as gallstones, liver abscess, angina or heart attack, or ectopic pregnancy can also result in greater pain and swelling experienced in the shoulder.
Typical Symptoms Of Spinal Osteoarthritis
The full range of symptoms that typically occur with spinal arthritis includes some combination of the following:
- The back and/or neck stiffness and pain tend to be worse in the morning , often called “first movement pain.”
- The pain will usually subside to a more tolerable level over the course of the day as the person carries on his or her activities.
- Pain and stiffness tend to get worse again in the evening.
- Pain that disrupts sleep is often an indicator of osteoarthritis.
- Swelling and warmth in one or more joints, particularly during weather changes .
- Localized tenderness when the joint or affected area of the spine is pressed.
- Steady or intermittent pain in a joint, which is often described as an aching type of pain. The pain may be aggravated by motion.
- Loss of flexibility of a joint, such as inability to bend and pick something off the floor.
- A crunching feeling or sound of bone rubbing on bone when the joint is moved , particularly notable in the neck.
- A sensation of pinching, tingling, or numbness in a nerve or the spinal cord, which can occur when bone spurs form at the edge of the joints of the spine and irritate the nerves.
How Rheumatoid Arthritis Can Hurt Your Heart
These heart conditions can also be more fatal. In people with systemic inflammatory diseases like RA, heart attacks in those under 50 are twice as likely to be fatal as for people without an inflammatory condition, according to a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in March 2021.
To lower your risk, youll want to get your RA under control and also reduce heart risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet will lower your risk of heart disease.
Finally, know that certain RA medications themselves have been linked to heart problems these side effects are rare, and are not a reason to skip drug treatment. The negative effects of not treating RA with medication are much, much worse than the side effects of RA drugs, cautions Greer.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Medication Treatment Goals
Pinpointing how to subdue an overactive immune system has stumped doctors for decades. Seventy-five years ago, one of the only rheumatoid arthritis treatments for patients was a weekly injection of gold into the gluteal muscle. Today, there are a plethora of treatment options.
Current treatments give most patients good or excellent relief of symptoms and let them keep functioning at or near normal levels, reports the website of the American College of Rheumatology.2
Since there is no cure for the disease, the aim of treatment is to reduce pain and halt joint breakdown. The goal is to not only control symptoms, but to prevent further damage and deformities, Dr. Chi said.
Many rheumatoid arthritis treatment drugs fall into a bucket labeled disease modifying antirheumatic drugs . While most patients receive some form of a DMARD, no single drug is a guaranteed solution as patients react to the drugs differently. Scientists designed some of the drugs to fight against certain immune cells, while other drugs reduce immune mediators or block immune cell functions. Patients may be treated with a DMARD in combination with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or low-dose corticosteroids, which reduce swelling and pain.
Common first line DMARDs include methotrexate, leflunomide, hydroxychloroquine and sulfasalazine.
If first line medications dont work, rheumatologists can pull out a list of second line medications called biologic response modifiers or biologics.
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Rheumatoid Arthritis In Toes Symptoms
Chronic inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis can lead to a number of serious complications if poorly controlled. A frequently asked question, which joints are usually affected? The symptoms can vary, but smaller joints are often the first to be affected for example, joints that attach toes to your feet. The affected joints can be very stiff, painful, and get swelled.
What Are Rheumatoid Arthritis Nodules
Rheumatoid nodules are firm, noticeable lumps that form underneath the skin of some rheumatoid arthritis patients. They generally form on or near the base of the arthritic joints.
Typically, rheumatoid nodules appear in the following locations:
- Fingers and knuckles
- Backs of heels
Less commonly, nodules may form in the eyes, lungs and vocal cords but these represent severe cases.
Furthermore, rheumatoid nodules can vary in size and shape. Most nodules have a circular shape, however, some can be linear in shape as well. Also, they can range from small and pea-sized to as large as a walnut. When rheumatoid nodules form a cluster of tiny nodules, they are referred to as micro-nodules. This severe, less common case of micro-nodules generally occurs around the arthritic finger joints.
Though nodules are firm or even doughy to the touch and dont cause any feelings of tenderness, they can occasionally be painful. Pain typically occurs when flare-ups are active and the joints become inflamed such that it impacts the nodules and the area around them.
Rheumatoid nodules are capable of moving around but some form a connection with the tendons or tissue beneath the skin and become fixed.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Spinal Arthritis
Symptoms of spinal arthritis may differ from person to person. In general, they may include:
Back and neck pain, especially in the lower back
Stiffness and loss of flexibility in the spine, such as being unable to straighten your back or turn your neck
Swelling and tenderness over the affected vertebrae
Feeling of grinding when moving the spine
Pain, swelling and stiffness in other areas of the body
Whole-body weakness and fatigue
Pain and numbness in your arms or legs if the nerves are affected
Although back pain is a common symptom, not all people have it, even those with advanced spinal arthritis. On the other hand, some may experience pain even before arthritis can be seen on an X-ray.
In certain types of spondyloarthritis, eye inflammation may occur, causing pain, watery eyes and blurred vision.
Most Rheumatologists And Public Health Experts Want People Living With Rheumatic Diseases Like Rheumatoid Arthritis To Get The Vaccine At The Soonest Opportunity
Learn more about our FREE COVID-19 Patient Support Program for chronic illness patients and their loved ones.
If you live with rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory and autoimmune form of arthritis, you may understandably have many questions and concerns about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Heres the bottom line: Especially if you have rheumatoid arthritis, most rheumatologists and public health experts recommend you get the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, guidance from the American College of Rheumatology states that autoimmune and inflammatory rheumatic disease patients should receive the vaccine when theyre eligible.
While getting the vaccine would ideally occur in the setting of well-controlled disease, you should get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible regardless of disease activity and severity, with the exception of extreme cases say, in the intensive care unit.
Heres everything you need to know about getting the COVID-19 vaccine if you have rheumatoid arthritis.
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How To Test For Rheumatoid Factor
Testing for rheumatoid factor is done through a blood test. The blood is drawn then analyzed for the presence of this particular protein. If the results show a certain level of rheumatoid factor, then the test is said to be positive. Rheumatoid factor tests can also detect lower levels of rheumatoid factor, but the test result is not considered positive unless it crosses that threshold.
Cervical Ra Diagnosis Is Complicated
Doctors may test to see if you have rheumatoid arthritis of the cervical spine by first performing a physical exam. Flexion, extension, and right and left lateral neck movements may be limited and painful if the atlantoaxial joint is involved.
When initially diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis, doctors may take blood as well, looking for C-reactive protein, rheumatoid factor, anti-citrullinated protein antibodies, antinuclear antibodies, and an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate. However, all this blood work could come back negative and a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis might still be made. Key questions and a careful exam remain crucial. Its a field where we still rely on a good history and physical to help make the diagnosis, Dr. Chi said. Up to 20% of patients can have RA and be seronegative.
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How Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect The Cervical Spine
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, systemic, autoimmune disease in which the immune system, which is designed to attack foreign bodies like bacteria and viruses, mistakenly attacks other healthy areas of the body, including the spines facet joints and even organ systems. Untreated, attacked joints can become deformed and lose their mobility.
When it comes to spine pain, a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis is limited to the cervical spine. People can have problems, such as facet joint arthritis, further down the spine, but this is likely not due to RA. It is possible to have both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis at the same time.
If you have RA, you are part of a group of 1.3 million other Americans who have the disease.1 The disease causes morning joint stiffness that can last one to two hours or the whole day. It generally improves with movement of the joints. Other signs and symptoms include loss of energy, low fevers, loss of appetite, and lumps in the elbows and hands, called rheumatoid nodules. About 75% of RA patients are women, but cervical spine involvement is more common in male patients and those with a positive rheumatoid factor.
When rheumatoid arthritis loosens ligaments, erodes bone or causes thickened tissue around the atlantoaxial joint, it can compress the spinal cord and brain stem, which can lead to paralysis or even death if the neck is moved in certain positions. Fortunately, there are many treatments to avoid these outcomes.
How Ra Affects The Hips
RA may initially occur in your smaller joints. Since theres no cure, the disease can advance to other parts of your body. When diagnosed with RA, hip involvement typically happens later in life.
Hip pain may start off as mild and intermittent. You may only feel discomfort with certain activities, such as weight-bearing exercises. This includes:
- climbing stairs
- playing tennis
Pain while completing these activities may come and go at first. But as the disease progresses and damages your hip joint, pain can become more regular or constant. Discomfort may continue while at rest or sleeping.
These parts of the body may also be tender to the touch or feel warm.
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What Are The Different Types Of Arthritis
Arthritis is a broad term that describes more than 100 different joint conditions. The most common types of arthritis include:
- Osteoarthritis, or wear and tear arthritis, which develops when joint cartilage breaks down from repeated stress. Its the most common form of arthritis.
- Ankylosing spondylitis, or arthritis of the spine .
- Juvenile arthritis , a disorder where the immune system attacks the tissue around joints. JA typically affects children 16 or younger.
- Gout, a disease that causes hard crystals of uric acid to form in your joints.
- Psoriatic arthritis, joint inflammation that develops in people with psoriasis .
- Rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that causes the immune system to attack synovial membranes in your joints.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Causes Symptoms Treatments And More
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory type of arthritis that can causes joint pain, swelling and damage. Learn what causes RA and how to treat it.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes joint inflammation and pain. It happens when the immune system doesnt work properly and attacks the lining of the joints . The disease commonly affects the hands, knees or ankles, and usually the same joint on both sides of the body. But sometimes, RA causes problems in other parts of the body as well, such as the eyes, heart and circulatory system and/or lungs. For unknown reasons, more women than men get RA, and it usually develops in middle age. Having a family member with RA increases the odds of developing RA.
In a healthy person, the immune system fights invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. With an autoimmune disease like RA, the immune system mistakes the bodys cells for foreign invaders and releases inflammatory chemicals that attack, in the case of RA, the synovium. Thats the tissue lining around a joint that produces a fluid to help the joint move smoothly. The inflamed synovium gets thicker and makes the joint area feel painful and tender, look red and swollen and moving the joint may be difficult.
Researchers arent sure why some people develop RA. They think that these individuals have certain genes that are activated by a trigger in the environment, like a virus or bacteria, or physical or emotional stress or some other external factor.
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