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Rheumatoid nodules

What is a rheumatoid nodule?
Rheumatoid nodules are firm lumps that grow under the skin in a person with rheumatoid arthritis. They range in size from a few millimetres to centimetres in diameter. They commonly occur in areas prone to pressure/ irritation -elbow, back of the forearm, metacarpophalangeal joint & heel. They are generally seen in chronic active rheumatoid arthritis patients.
They are generally associated with a positive rheumatoid factor & a more agressive arthritis (more joint deformity & extra articular manifestations affecting the lungs & eyes).
What are the complication of a rheumatoid nodule?
These nodules are generally benign. However, they may ulcerate; get infected & occasionally put pressure on the nerves. an ocassional patient may have a nodule on the vocal cord & cause hoarseness of voice. Nodules in internal organs (lung/ heart) may affect the function of the organ.
How is a rheumatoid nodule treated?
In most patients, specific treatment of the nodules is not required as they are not painful & do not interfere with daily activities. Anti arthritis (DMARDs) may reduce the size of these nodules.
For those with painful nodules, injection of corticosteroids into the nodules helps reduce the size & pain. However, the steroid injection may lead to ulceration of the nodule.
An occasional patient with complicated nodule may require surgical excision.

rheumatoid nodule rheumatoid nodule in lung
Rheumatoid nodule on the back of the forearm & a lung rheumatoid nodule.

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Created on: April 2007
Last updated on: Feb 2015
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