Woman comforting elderly man

When to Go to the ER With Arthritis


As the number one cause of disability in America, arthritis is a debilitating condition that is surprisingly prevalent. Over 50 million adults in the United States suffer with arthritis. If you or someone you know has a form of arthritis, be aware of these symptoms that may require emergency medical attention.

Shortness of Breath

Rheumatoid arthritis can affect blood vessels and the heart, which increases the risk of heart attack. Be sure you know the signs of a heart attack. Because arthritis medications can decrease immunity, lung infections are also common. If you or someone you know experiences chest pain or has difficulty breathing, head to the nearest emergency center.

Severe Stomach Pain

Some medications used to treat symptoms of arthritis can cause bleeding stomach ulcers. If heartburn or stomach pain becomes a problem, you may need to seek emergency medical attention.

High Fever

Biologics can prevent long-term joint damage for those with arthritis, but they also can increase the risk of infection since they suppress the immune system. Fevers higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit can signal an infection. When a fever is accompanied by nausea, fatigue, chills, and severe joint pain and swelling, it could point to septic arthritis. If you suspect an infection, visit your nearest emergency center.

Fractures

Those with arthritis have an increased risk of osteoporosis. Unless diagnosed by a doctor, it is difficult to determine if you have osteoporosis due to its limited obvious symptoms. Therefore, the first sign you may have osteoporosis could be a broken bone. Limit your chances of breaking a bone by having your doctor check your bone density. If you experience a fracture, head to the ER.

Extremity Immobility

Although rare, inflamed vessels can limit the blood supply to nerves in your hands or feet, causing the inability to move them. If you have arthritis and cannot move your hands or feet, go to the nearest emergency center for treatment to help the nerves recover.

Spots on Fingers

Also rare, people with arthritis may get small red or black spots on fingers or toes around the nail. This means that the tissue has died due to the inflammation of blood vessels. Go to the ER to seek treatment.

If you have arthritis and are concerned with your symptoms, visit your nearest St. Luke’s Health emergency department.

 

Sources:
Arthritis Foundation | Arthritis Facts
10 Serious Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms

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