Rheumatoid arthritis and lumps

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

About 20% of people with RA can have inflammation of small blood vessels which cause nodules, or lumps, under the skin.

They are about the size of a pea but can be much larger, and are often located near the elbow, although they can show up anywhere.

Nodules can occur throughout the course of the disease. Rarely, nodules may become sore and infected, particularly if they are in locations where stress occurs. These small lumps, called rheumatoid nodules, may form under the skin at pressure points, and can occur at the elbows, hands, feet and Achilles tendons. Rheumatoid nodules may also occur elsewhere, including the back of the scalp and on the knee.

On rare occasions, nodules can reflect the presence of rheumatoid vasculitis, a condition that can affect blood vessels in the lungs, kidneys, or other organs.

Formation of small lumps (rheumatoid nodules) in the lungs is not uncommon. These nodules are often associated with widespread joint involvement and nodules on other parts of the body, such as under the skin. A doctor may diagnose rheumatoid nodules based on a chest X-ray or computerized tomography scan.

Rheumatoid nodules may occur more often in patients treated with methotrexate. The reason is unclear.

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