Everything You Need to Know about These 11 Arthritis Comorbidities

Arthritis Comorbidities
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Arthritis is associated with a wide array of comorbidities. Comorbidity means that more than one condition or disease is present in the same person at the same time. Comorbidities usually include chronic and long-term conditions that are able to make a significant impact on person’s quality of life. Other names used to describe comorbidities include multiple chronic conditions and multimorbidity. In this article, we’re going to provide a useful insight into 11 arthritis comorbidities.

1. Arthritis and Depression

Arthritis is strongly associated with depression. In fact, a study conducted by Louise Murphy, PhD, director of the Arthritis Program in the Division of Population Health at the CDC and team of researchers. The study included about 1800 people who were 45 years of age or older. All participants have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis.

Results of the study, published in the Arthritis Care & Research, revealed that 31% of participants had anxiety, while 18% had depression. However, less* than half of all people who reported depression sought after professional help to resolve their problem. According to scientists, depression and arthritis are related because mental health problems are quite common in people with chronic diseases.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, and hopelessness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Changes in sleep pattern
  • Anger and irritability
  • Self-loathing
  • Fatigue
  • Reckless behavior etc.

2. Arthritis and Diabetes

Arthritis and Diabetes

People who suffer from diabetes are twice as likely to get arthritis as well. It happens because diabetes causes musculoskeletal changes which lead to symptoms like stiffness and joint pain, swelling, nodules under the skin etc.

Additionally, years of suffering from diabetes can also lead to diabetic athropathy which is a joint damage.

3. Arthritis and Obesity

Obesity increases* risk of getting arthritis. For example, according to CDC 1 in 5 Americans has been diagnosed with arthritis. This number is 1 in 3 among obese people. Even more concerning is the fact that 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight or obese. The reason why arthritis and obesity are linked is because excessive weight puts a huge pressure on weight-bearing joints. If these joints were healthy, the constant pressure weakens them and causes pain. Large pressure on already affected joints can cause unbearable pain which is why doctors always recommend weight loss* as one of the most important aspects of tackling arthritis.

4. Arthritis and Sleep Problems

Although it was previously thought that arthritis joint pain causes insomnia, scientists suggest two conditions coexist. According to scientists, lack of sleep triggers inflammatory pathways that exacerbate arthritis pain. Furthermore, sleep deprivation can also make you more sensitive to feeling of pain.

5. Arthritis and Heart Disease

Arthritis and Heart Disease

Having osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, and psoriatic arthritis put you at a greater risk of getting heart disease which includes high blood pressure, heart attack, irregular heartbeat, stroke etc.

According to review of studies published in the Nature Reviews Rheumatology more than 50% of premature deaths of people with rheumatoid arthritis are caused by cardiovascular diseases. Why this happens? It’s because arthritis is defined as inflammation of joints. Inflammation, regardless of where it comes from, is one of major risk factors that contribute to heart disease.

6. Arthritis and Eye Conditions

Arthritis can affect your eyes in the following ways:

  • Dry eye syndrome associated with Sjorgen’s syndrome, RA, and scleroderma
  • Scleritis due to thinning of the eye wall or sclera or cornea in patients with RA
  • Uveitis which is defined as inflammation of the uvea and is linked with psoriatic arthritis, juvenile arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis etc.
  • Glaucoma which is associated with akylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and many other types of arthritis.
  • Cataracts which are defined as inflammation in the eyeball and are usually associated with people who are diagnosed with RA.

7. Arthritis and Hearing Loss

Several studies have associated hearing loss with rheumatoid arthritis. In some cases, hearing loss occurs due to disease itself, while in others it is a reaction to the treatment. For example, one study from 2006 discovered that 42.7% participants with RA also had hearing impairment.

8. Arthritis and Gum Disease

Arthritis and Gum Disease

Rheumatoid arthritis has been linked with periodontal disease (gum disease) in a wide range of studies. At first, it was widely believed that periodontal disease occurred due to RA or treatments used to relieve it. However, scientists also pointed out that periodontal disease has been linked with other types of arthritis at the same time. Latest researches indicated that relationship between two conditions is more complex which is why scientists are still conducting studies to inspect the link between arthritis and gum disease. For instance, in some cases periodontal disease precedes arthritis.

9. Arthritis and Kidney Disease

According to scientists, arthritis might increase* risk for kidney disease in two ways:

  • Due to inflammation that affects tiny blood vessels in the kidneys
  • Medications – Although they generally aren’t harmful for kidneys, some of them can cause problems if person’s kidney function is already reduced*.

10. Arthritis and Skin

Some types of arthritis don’t only affect your joints and internal organs, but your skin as well. For example, red or purplish rash across the cheeks and bridge of your nose usually occurs in people with lupus. On the other hand, scaly skin is characteristic for people with psoriatic arthritis.

Arthritis can also affect your skin by making it more sensitive to sun thus causing it to burn more easily than before.

11. Arthritis and Lungs

The most common lung problems linked with arthritis include:

  • Scarring within lungs due to inflammation
  • Formation of small lumps in the lungs
  • Pleural disease or inflammation of tissues that surround your lungs.

It is recommended to consult your healthcare provider immediately if your have arthritis and also start experiencing breathing problems.

Conclusion

Arthritis is associated with a wide spectrum of chronic diseases. In some cases, these diseases can occur as a result of some type of arthritis while sometimes they are result of the treatment used to alleviate* symptoms of arthritis. Scientists are still working on studies that are aimed to inspect arthritis and its comorbidities in detail. You should consult your doctor as soon as you experience severe pain, heavy breathing or other symptoms along with signs of arthritis.

Reference:

  • http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/comorbidities/

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Author

Expert Author : Dr. Ahmed Zayed (Consumer Health Digest)

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain shams University.