What Are Rheumatoid Nodules?
Rheumatoid Nodules are medium to large circular shaped lumps which are clearly visible in patients who have been diagnosed as having Rheumatoid Arthritis. These lumps are formed underneath the skin. The location of the lump in most of the cases is in and around the joints that are affected with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Rheumatoid Nodules are generally found in the fingers or knuckles, around the elbow joint, forearms, the knee joint, and behind the heels. In some rare cases, Rheumatoid Nodules are found in the eyes, larynx, or the lungs as well.
The size and shape of a Rheumatoid Nodule are significantly variable where a nodule may be very small or it could also be an extremely large sized rheumatoid nodule. In cases where many small nodules clump together and form large rheumatoid nodules then they are referred to as micronodules.
Micronodules are mostly found in the finger joints of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid Nodules are firm but they do not cause any tenderness with palpation or light touch, although some nodules may cause some pain to palpation but this cannot be said for all Rheumatoid Nodules.
Significant pain around the area of a Rheumatoid Nodule occurs when there is inflammation that occurs as a result of a flare up of rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid Nodules have a unique tendency that they tend to not be fixed at any particular joint and they keep moving around the arthritic joint; however, if some of these nodules join the tendons or ligaments around the arthritic joint then in such cases there is no movement caused by Rheumatoid Nodules.
What Causes Rheumatoid Nodules?
As to the root cause of a Rheumatoid Nodule, there has been no cause identified as yet and research is still going on to find the cause of Rheumatoid Nodules. Some researchers are of the opinion that these nodules develop as a result of consistent pressure exerted on the affected arthritic joint with activities that an individual does over the course of the day.
Elderly patients who are virtually bedridden because of some other medical condition along with rheumatoid arthritis tend to develop Rheumatoid Nodules in the hips, back, and legs as well. This favors the theory that consistent pressure put on an arthritic joint leads to the development of Rheumatoid Nodules.
Are Rheumatoid Nodules A Cause For Concern?
The answer to this question is no. In majority of the cases, Rheumatoid Nodules pose no health hazard for the affected individual. However, in some cases the skin surface on top of the nodule can become infected. This is usually seen in patients who are bedridden and develop Rheumatoid Nodules in areas in which excessive pressure is applied due to prolonged lying in bed.
In some cases, where Rheumatoid Nodules develops in the eyes then it may result in the patient having dry eyes and even have pain in the eyes. Also in some rare cases, the larynx and lungs are also affected by Rheumatoid Nodules.
The symptoms caused by these nodules are similar to many other medical conditions and hence it becomes extremely difficult to diagnose a Rheumatoid Nodule in the larynx or the lungs due to its rarity.
Treatment Of Rheumatoid Nodules
There is no specific treatment used for treatment of Rheumatoid Nodules as these lumps do not cause any symptom which can be debilitating for the patient and moreover it does not pose any threat to the overall health of the individual.
Treatment is generally required in cases where the nodules get ulcerated or the skin above them becomes infected. Treatment will also be required in cases where Rheumatoid Nodules are formed on the back or the heels as they may limit the mobility of an individual.
Antirheumatic medications have shown some efficacy towards decreasing the size of Rheumatoid Nodules. Other than this, steroid injections are yet another way of decreasing the size of the Rheumatoid Nodules, although this is not a permanent solution as steroid injections have their own side effect profile.
For cosmetic reasons such as development of Rheumatoid Nodules on the eyes, some individuals prefer surgery to remove the nodules but even after surgery the chances of recurrence is quite high.
To get rid of Rheumatoid Nodules completely, the patient needs to consult with the physician to discuss about the various treatment options that are available and take the most preferred and suitable route towards treating Rheumatoid Nodules.
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