Autoimmune Arthritis: What Is It?

Complications

Complications of autoimmune arthritis vary. For example, RA complications include carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoporosis, and deformity of joints. RA may also lead to lung complications such as:

  • tissue damage
  • blockage of small airways (bronchiolitis obliterans)
  • high blood pressure of the lung (pulmonary hypertension)
  • fluid in the chest (pleural effusions)
  • nodules
  • scarring (pulmonary fibrosis)

Heart complications of RA include:

  • hardening of your arteries
  • inflammation of the outer lining of your heart (pericarditis)
  • inflammation of your heart muscle (myocarditis)
  • inflammation of your blood vessels (rheumatoid vasculitis)
  • congestive heart failure

Lifestyle tips

Excess weight stresses joints, so try to maintain a healthy diet and perform gentle exercises to improve your range of motion. Applying cold to joints can numb pain and ease swelling, and heat can soothe aching muscles.

Stress can also intensify symptoms. Stress-reducing techniques like tai chi, deep breathing exercises, and meditation may be helpful.

If you have RA, you need 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night. If that’s not enough, try to nap during the day. You also have an increased risk of heart and lung diseases, so if you smoke, you should consider quitting.

Outlook

Your outlook depends on many factors such as:

  • your overall health
  • your age at diagnosis
  • how early your treatment plan begins and how well you follow it

You can improve your outlook by making smart lifestyle choices like quitting smoking, getting regular exercise, and choosing healthy foods. For people with RA, new medications are continuing to improve quality of life.