What’s rheumatoid vasculitis?

Print anything with Printful

Rheumatoid vasculitis is a rare complication of arthritis that causes inflammation and constriction of blood vessels, which can affect veins and arteries near the skin, eyes, gastrointestinal tract, and internal organs. It can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and surgery may be needed for serious complications. Symptoms include skin ulcers, changes in vision, and numbness. Diagnosis is made through examination, blood tests, and tissue biopsy. Treatment includes medication and surgery. Symptoms may not persist throughout life.

Rheumatoid vasculitis is a rare complication of arthritis that causes inflammation and constriction of blood vessels. The condition tends to affect veins and arteries near the skin, although vessels in the eyes, gastrointestinal tract, and near internal organs may also be involved. Most cases of rheumatoid vasculitis and underlying joint arthritis can be treated with prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs. Surgery may be needed if there are serious complications involving nerves, organs, or bones.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly inhibits healthy joint tissue, causing inflammation, pain and swelling. A very small percentage of rheumatoid arthritis patients develop signs of vasculitis, usually at least ten years after the onset of joint problems. The condition is more likely to cause problems in the arteries and veins near joints that are troubled by arthritis, but it can potentially spread. Inflamed blood vessels swell, thicken, and narrow, leading to a variety of noticeable and often painful physical symptoms.

A person who has rheumatoid vasculitis may notice tender, dark areas of skin around the nail beds of the fingers or toes. Open lesions called skin ulcers can appear on the skin over time as the localized inflammation gets worse. Blood vessels in one or both eyes may also be affected, resulting in redness and changes in vision. A person may experience numbness or tingling sensations in an extremity if the blood supply to major nerves is impeded. Less commonly, major arteries in the chest, abdomen, and legs can be narrowed and cause life-threatening blood pressure and circulation problems.

Most people with rheumatoid vasculitis are already aware that they have arthritis. Doctors can usually diagnose vasculitis by carefully examining the eyes and skin. Blood tests can help specialists rule out other conditions, such as infections, that could be causing symptoms. A tissue biopsy from an affected blood vessel is taken to confirm the nature and severity of the inflammation.

After making a diagnosis, a doctor can determine the best treatment option. In addition to taking medications to control joint inflammation, a patient may need to take specialized medications designed to keep blood vessels dilated and promote healthy blood pressure levels. Rheumatoid vasculitis of the eyes often requires surgery to prevent permanent vision loss. A patient may also need to use topical or oral antibiotics if they have open lesions to reduce the chances of infection. Rheumatoid arthritis is usually a lifelong condition, but the symptoms of vasculitis don’t always persist throughout life.

Protect your devices with Threat Protection by NordVPN

Skip to content