Rheumatoid arthritis nodules are the usual indication of the ailment after the joint symptoms arise. As an autoimmune disease, the immune system wrongly attacks the normal body cells, resulting to inflammation. If an individual has rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammation occurs in the lining within the joints or synovium. Nevertheless, the inflammation can also lead to the formation of hard lumps or nodules beneath the skin. In most cases, the nodules arise after the joint pain have developed.
Only a small percentage of individuals develop the nodules. Those who are using methotrexate are at higher risk for developing nodules which is a medication of the condition. Based on the studies conducted, the newer medications specifically disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are lowering the risk for the nodules.
Indications of rheumatoid arthritis nodules
Remember that one can develop one or several rheumatoid arthritis nodules. These nodules are usually firm and painless and move around beneath the skin. The skin over the nodules do not change color but they appear shiny.
The nodules typically form over the pressure points and areas of the body that are subject to wear and tear such as the hands, elbows and heels.
Other signs and symptoms might be present such as:
- Nodules linked to methotrexate are smaller and usually form in the elbows and fingers
- Most of the nodules range in size from a pea up to a golf ball or lemon
- The nodules can be painful or sore if they press on a nerve or become infected
- The nodules can cause discomfort if large or positioned on sensitive areas such as the soles of the feet or palms of the hand
How are rheumatoid arthritis nodules treated?
Treatment might not be needed for the rheumatoid arthritis nodules. Nevertheless, if they become unsightly, trigger discomfort, disrupt activity or if infection develops, treatment is required such as:
- Switching to a different drug for rheumatoid arthritis if the nodules are caused by methotrexate
- An injection of a potent anti-inflammatory steroid medication but there is a risk for infection
- Surgery to get rid of the nodules that are infected or cause discomfort but there is a tendency for recurrence