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Rheumatoid arthritis can put you at a higher risk of developing other conditions, particularly if it's not well controlled.
Some of these conditions are described below.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common condition in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
It's the result of compression of the nerve that controls sensation and movement in the hands (median nerve) and can cause symptoms such as:
Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can sometimes be controlled with wrist splints or corticosteroid injections, although surgery to release the pressure on the median nerve may be needed in severe cases.
Read about treating carpal tunnel syndrome.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition which can cause inflammation to develop in other parts of your body, such as the:
However, thanks to early treatment, inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis affecting other parts of the body is becoming less common.
If rheumatoid arthritis isn't treated early or isn't well controlled, the inflammation in your joints could lead to significant and permanent damage.
Problems that can affect the joints include:
These problems sometimes need to be treated with surgery to prevent loss of function in the affected joints.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you're at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) than the population at large.
It's not clear exactly why people with rheumatoid arthritis are at an increased risk of these problems. You can reduce your risk by ensuring your arthritis is well controlled and by reducing the impact of other factors that contribute to CVD, such as:
Read about preventing CVD.
If you've had rheumatoid arthritis for some time, you're at increased risk of developing cervical myelopathy and you may need a special assessment of your neck before any operation where you're put to sleep.
This condition is caused by dislocation of joints at the top of the spine, which put pressure on the spinal cord. Although relatively uncommon, it's a serious condition that can greatly affect your mobility and can lead to permanent spinal cord damage if not treated promptly with surgery.