Can Arthritis Cause Neuropathy?

Can Arthritis Cause Neuropathy?

Nearly 60 million Americans have arthritis that’s been diagnosed by a doctor, and many more suffer from the symptoms without seeking medical care. More than 20 million American adults have some form of neuropathy, which is nerve injury or damage that causes pain, tingling, numbness, and other nerve-related problems.

Both arthritis and neuropathy can occur alone, and both can have different sources or causes. But there are some patients that have both conditions, and, in fact, there’s medical data that shows that for many people, the two conditions can be related.

As a leading pain management specialist in Pembroke Pines, Florida, David Berkower, DO, is skilled in managing complex pain conditions that involve multiple medical causes. If you have neuropathy and arthritis, here’s how the two could be related.

Arthritis and neuropathy 101

Arthritis and neuropathy can both cause acute and chronic pain, but the way they cause those symptoms is very different.

Arthritis

Arthritis is a major cause of joint pain and stiffness, occurring when the joint’s protective cartilage layer is damaged or destroyed. Most people think of arthritis as one condition, but actually, there are different types of arthritis. 

The most common type is osteoarthritis (OA), which is arthritis that typically happens as a result of wear and tear that causes cartilage to break down in your joints. More than 32 million Americans have OA.

Although less common, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) also causes joint damage. But instead of being caused by wear and tear, the damage caused by RA is associated with an irregular immune system response. In RA, your immune system attacks healthy joint tissue, resulting in pain, stiffness, and joint disfigurement. About 1.3 million American adults have RA.

Neuropathy

Neuropathy is a term that’s used to describe damage to nerves that reside outside of the brain and spinal cord. Neuropathy, also called peripheral neuropathy, often causes symptoms that radiate in the limbs. These symptoms include:

Without medical treatment, nerve damage can become permanent.

The link between arthritis and neuropathy

Even though arthritis and neuropathy affect different “components” of your body — your joints and your nerves — for some men and women, there’s a definite link between the two. 

Rheumatoid arthritis and neuropathy

Arthritis-related neuropathy is most often associated with rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, as many as 85% of RA patients also have neuropathy. 

Researchers aren’t exactly sure why these two issues are related. They do know nerve problems tend to be more common in people with more severe rheumatoid arthritis and among those who’ve had RA for a long time. 

Some nerve symptoms may be related to joint deformity associated with RA, or to nerve pressure caused by nodules that form in some people with RA. In addition, some medicines used to treat autoimmune disorders have also been linked with nerve symptoms and nerve damage. 

Osteoarthritis and neuropathy

Some people with OA may also develop nerve problems. In these patients, it’s not always the disease process that causes neuropathy, but the symptoms, as well. 

For instance, if you have arthritis in your knees or hips, you might alter how you walk, putting more strain and pressure on your other limbs. This shift in pressure and weight may wind up irritating nerves or causing swelling that crowds nerve pathways. In this way, osteoarthritis can cause some degree of nerve problems, as well.

Finding relief

Chronic pain can take a big toll on your quality of life, but finding long-lasting relief can be difficult, especially if you’re dealing with two conditions. The key to relieving your persistent symptoms is to work closely with a pain specialist, such as Dr. Berkower, who can tailor your treatment to your needs, even as those needs change over time.

If you’re suffering from arthritis pain, nerve pain, or both, take the first step toward finding relief. Call 954-430-9972 or book an appointment online with Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Lesser-Known Causes of Neuropathy

Diabetes is a common cause of peripheral neuropathy, but it’s not the only cause. If you have nerve-related symptoms, here’s a quick review of some of the other causes you need to know about.

Low Back Pain? Your Diet May Be to Blame

There’s a lot of truth in the old saying, “You are what you eat.” This can be especially true when it comes to low back pain. Here’s how your diet could be contributing to your painful symptoms.

Help! I Have Whiplash

Whiplash is a common type of neck injury, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a doctor’s care. In fact, early medical intervention is essential for preventing long-term complications. If you have whiplash, here’s what you need to know.

A Closer Look at Your Nerves

Nerves make up your body’s electrical system, controlling everything from simple movements to automatic functions you don’t even think about. This quick primer offers an overview of the nerves, along with a review of some nerve problems and symptoms.