Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

I was just told that I have rheumatoid arthritis. I'm only 36 years old. So far, only my hands are affected. What other joints will develop symptoms?

Answer:

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic disease, which means it can affect many parts of the body. Joints are often involved including the wrists, knees, and hands. Any joint can become involved. There can also be changes in the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys, and other soft tissues.

In 90 per cent of patients with RA, shoulder symptoms begin after five years. Tissue swelling and inflammation damage the cartilage, bone, and muscles. For many patients, early treatment with drugs and physical therapy is helpful. Treatment can help prevent RA from causing permanent damage.

Andrew L. Chen, MD, MS, et al. Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Shoulder. In Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. January/February 2003. Vol. 11. No. 1. Pp. 12-24.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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