How Rheumatoid Arthritis Can Affect All Parts of Your Body

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects various joints in the body. However, it is a systemic disease that can also affect other parts of the body, such as the eyes, lungs, heart, and skin.

In this article, we’ll discuss how RA can affect the entire body and what you can do to manage its symptoms.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)?

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a complex and debilitating autoimmune disorder wherein the immune system, designed to protect the body, mistakenly turns against itself, targeting healthy tissues, especially the synovium (the lining of the joints). This hostile immune response triggers a persistent and intense state of inflammation in the affected joints.

The early stages of RA typically manifest in the small joints of the hands and feet, causing swelling, pain, and stiffness. As the disease progresses, the inflammation can spread to larger joints, such as the knees, shoulders, hips, and even the spine. This widespread inflammation not only impacts the joints but can also affect other organs and systems in the body.

One of the hallmark characteristics of RA is its chronic and progressive nature. Over time, if left untreated or not effectively managed, the disease can lead to irreversible joint damage, deformities, and significant loss of function. It is crucial to diagnose RA early and implement appropriate treatment strategies to mitigate the potentially devastating long-term effects.

Aside from joint-related symptoms, individuals with RA might experience fatigue, loss of appetite, low-grade fever, and overall malaise due to the systemic nature of the disease. The severity of symptoms can vary from mild to severe, with flare-ups where symptoms worsen and periods of remission where they improve.

Common Symptoms of RA

The main symptoms of RA include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, particularly in the hands, wrists, and feet. However, there are other signs and symptoms of RA that you may not be aware of, which include:

Fatigue: This is a common symptom of RA, and it can be extremely debilitating and affect your ability to perform everyday activities.

Fever: Some people with RA may experience a low-grade fever that comes and goes, usually during flare-ups.

Loss of Appetite: RA flare-ups can cause a loss of appetite, which can lead to unintended weight loss over time.

Anemia: RA can cause anemia, which is a deficiency of red blood cells, leading to fatigue and weakness.

How RA Can Affect Other Parts of the Body

While RA primarily affects the joints, it is a systemic condition that can also affect other parts of the body. Let’s take a closer look at these areas and how they may be affected by RA.

Eyes: RA can cause a condition called Sjogren’s syndrome, which is characterized by dry eyes and mouth. It can also cause inflammation of the sclera, which is known as scleritis, and uveitis, which is inflammation of the uvea.

Lungs: RA can cause inflammation in the lungs, which can lead to shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain. It can also lead to a condition called pulmonary fibrosis, which is scarring of the lung tissue, leading to breathing difficulties.

Heart: RA can increase your risk of developing heart disease due to inflammation throughout the body. It can also cause pericarditis, which is inflammation of the lining of the heart.

Skin: RA can cause various skin conditions, such as rheumatoid nodules, which are firm lumps that develop under the skin, particularly over bony prominences. It can also cause a rash known as rheumatoid vasculitis, which is a type of small vessel vasculitis.

Blood Vessels: RA can cause vasculitis, which is inflammation of the blood vessels, leading to reduced blood flow and increased risk of blood clots. This can lead to problems such as strokes and heart attacks.

Managing RA Symptoms

While there is no cure for RA, there are several ways to manage its symptoms, which include:

Medications: Your doctor may prescribe medications to reduce pain and inflammation, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Celecoxib is one such NSAID that is used to treat pain and inflammation associated with RA. You can use Celecoxib Coupon to save on prescription costs.

Exercise: Regular exercise can help improve joint flexibility and strength, reduce fatigue, and improve overall health and well-being.

Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help you learn exercises and techniques to manage pain, improve muscle strength, and increase flexibility.

Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce stress on the joints and improve overall health.


RA is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects more than just the joints. It is a systemic disease that can affect various parts of the body, including the eyes, lungs, heart, skin, and blood vessels. By understanding RA’s impact on the entire body, you can work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and improves your quality of life.