Unusual Symptoms Associated With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Otherwise known as RA, rheumatoid arthritis is a type of autoimmune disease, meaning the body's immune system attacks its own healthy cells. The resulting pain, inflammation, and damage can have a devastating impact on a person's quality of life. If you are in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis, you might experience some strange symptoms that you wouldn't associate with an autoimmune condition.

Here are a few of the unusual symptoms that are often associated with rheumatoid arthritis.  

Unexplained Skin Rashes

Because RA is an autoimmune disease, you might experience inflammation in your skin, as well as your joints. Unexplained hives, rashes, bruising, and small reddish or purple spots on the skin are often associated with rheumatoid arthritis. If you experience these symptoms, visit your doctor to determine if there is another underlying cause of your skin issues.


The pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis can often make it difficult to sleep. Additionally, if you are stressed about a recent RA diagnosis, it might also impact your ability to get a good night's sleep. Talk to your doctor about ways you can treat your insomnia.

For example, if you are experiencing severe rheumatoid arthritis at night, your doctor may recommend taking any pain relievers or prescription medications before bed. Ask your doctor about safe and effective ways to help with your stress levels, which can also help you fall asleep.

Lung Issues

Often, one of the first and alarming symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis is new and unexplained lung issues. After your diagnosis, the medications commonly used to treat RA can increase a person's risk of developing chronic lung infections.

Some of the most severe lung issues associated with rheumatoid arthritis include pulmonary nodules, bronchiectasis, and pleurisy.

Eye Pain and Irritation

The sclera is a specialized connective tissue in the eye that can be impacted by rheumatoid arthritis. This can lead to several alarming eye-related symptoms, including:

  • Dry eyes
  • Pain and irritation
  • Blurry vision
  • Watery eyes

Because RA impacts the connective tissue in your eyes, you might even experience eye inflammation. This can be very scary and painful, so if you experience inflammation, talk to your doctor right away.

Digestive Problems

Finally, in addition to impacting your joints, RA can also cause a variety of digestive issues, including chronic diarrhea, stomach ulcers, bleeding, inflammation, and chronic gastrointestinal tract infections.

From chronic lung infections to insomnia or eye pain and irritation, there are several unusual symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.