Long-Term Rheumatoid Arthritis Effects and Who's at Risk

Long-Term Effects on Other Parts of the Body

As rheumatoid arthritis progresses, the inflamed synovium invades and destroys the cartilage and bone within the joint. The surrounding muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support and stabilize the joint become weak and unable to work normally. This leads to the pain and joint damage often seen with the disease.
Researchers now believe that the disease begins to damage bones during the first year or two that a person has the rheumatoid arthritis. This is one reason why early diagnosis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis are so important.
Some people with rheumatoid arthritis also develop anemia, or a decrease in the production of red blood cells. Other effects that occur less often include neck pain and dry eyes and mouth.
Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause more generalized bone loss that may lead to osteoporosis (fragile bones that are prone to fracture) -- see Osteoporosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.


Very rarely, people may have inflammation of the blood vessels, the lining of the lungs, or the sac enclosing the heart.

Who's at Risk?

It is very difficult to predict the effects of this disease in individual cases. However, some factors that have been shown to increase the chances of having some type of disability or deformity as a result of rheumatoid arthritis include:


  • Advancing age
  • Being female
  • Having severe bone damage seen on x-rays
  • Having rheumatoid nodules, which are small lumps under the skin
  • Having high levels of rheumatoid factor or C-reactive protein (see Diagnosing Rheumatoid Arthritis).


Top Foods to Fight Inflammation

Information About Rheumatoid Arthritis

Terms of Use
Advertise with Us
Contact Us
About eMedTV
Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2006-2021 Clinaero, Inc.
eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind. Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click Terms of Use for more information.