Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the synovial fluid surrounding joints. This condition can range from mild to severe, and can cause permanent joint damage. Rheumatoid vasculitis is a complication of rheumatoid arthritis, and has its own set of symptoms.
What is Rheumatoid Vasculitis?
Rheumatoid vasculitis causes blood vessels to become inflamed, which in turn causes them to weaken, sometimes stopping blood flow altogether. The vessels most often involved are ones that bring blood to the nerves, internal organs and veins. This condition usually develops in those who have been suffering with severe rheumatoid arthritis for at least ten years. Those who develop vasculitis often have a high count of swollen joints and high blood concentrations of rheumatoid factor.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Vasculitis
If vasculitis is present in small blood vessels, small, pain-causing sores can develop on the fingertips and around the fingernails. If large blood vessels are involved, tingling, numbness or loss of function of hands or feet can occur. In some cases, vasculitis of large blood vessels can cut off blood supply to large areas. This can cause gangrene of fingers and toes, chest pain, heart attack or stroke. Sufferers of this severe form of vasculitis complain of weight loss, loss of energy and fever.
Rheumatoid Vasculitis Diagnosis and Treatment
In order to diagnose rheumatoid vasculitis, your doctor can perform an EMG test that measures nerve function. A biopsy of the skin or organs can also be performed if necessary. Your doctor may order these tests if you are experiencing numbness and tingling of the hands or feet, skin ulcers, chest or abdominal pain and have a history of rheumatoid arthritis.
If you receive a rheumatoid vasculitis diagnosis, treatment will depend on which vessels are affected. For mild cases, pain control with over-the-counter pain relievers and antibiotic cream to heal rash may be sufficient. For more serious cases, it is important to treat the underlying rheumatoid arthritis more effectively in order to alleviate the vasculitis.
If you are experiencing symptoms of rheumatoid vasculitis, it is important that your condition receive proper treatment. Contact the offices of Dr. Benvenisty today to schedule an appointment.
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