The most characteristic feature of rheumatoid arthritis is the chronic inflammation of the joints in the body. Moreover, autoimmune disorder may cause inflammation in different parts of the body, in addition to the immune system attacking other tissues in the body. This may result in many other symptoms that may be significant, but remain neglected. Some of these symptoms might become a problem at a later stage as the disease progresses. Severe rheumatoid arthritis may lead to a number of medical complications.
The most important symptoms that one should watch out for include:
- Chest pain – Shortness of breath and chest pain might be symptoms that arise as a result of the disease because it affects blood vessels or the muscles of the heart. Rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of cardiovascular conditions, like heart attacks and heart failure. Extreme fatigue may also be a warning sign of lung infection or inflammation.
- Numbness – Numbness may be caused by the inflammation of the connective tissues that press against a nerve. This may lead to nerve damage and weakness. Connective tissue damage may happen in any part of the body, but is most often found in the wrist area, which causes a numbness or a tingling sensation in the hands.
- Inability to move arms or legs – Inability to move hands or legs complications can occur, which can result in nerve damage. If left untreated, it may lead to paralysis.
- Spots on fingernails – Small spots may form on the fingernails or in the surrounding tissue when inflammation of blood vessels results in tissue death. This is often seen in advanced stages of inflammation, and should be treated immediately to prevent the loss of extremities, such as the affected finger.
- Inflammation in eyes – In serious forms of rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation may affect the blood vessels in the eyes. This may result in pain and reddishness in the eyes.
- Upset Stomach – Excess use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may lead to ulcers in the stomach. This is characterized by black stools, abdominal pain, and nausea.
- Fever – Many biological medications used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis may result in infections. These infections may cause symptoms, like high fever, reddish and painful skin, and a sudden cough.
- Fractures – Fracturing one's bones is often common in people with osteoporosis, particularly among women. Inflammation may lead to bone loss, which increases the risk of fracture.
None of the above symptoms should be neglected, as it may lead to further medical complications. Most of them require immediate medical attention. Although it is mostly seen in people with severe forms of rheumatoid arthritis, these symptoms may also develop in people with mild forms of the disease.