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Arthritis Can Be a Systemic Disease and many organs may be affected. When you think about arthritis, you think of a joint disease. But some types of arthritis may have symptoms in other parts of the body. When this happens in multiple organs the arthritis is said to have systemic effects.


  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus erythematosus
  • Juvenile arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Vasculitis
  • Scleroderma
  • Sjogren's syndrome

Osteoarthritis is not considered a systemic disease because it affects only the joints and not other organ systems.


When arthritis affects the whole body, people may experience a wide range of symptoms. Examples of extra-articular involvement include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Anaemia
  • Nodules
  • Dry eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Pleural effusion
  • Nerve problems
  • Gastrointestinal complications
  • Skin complications
  • Kidney disease

That’s just a short list. There are many more possible systemic effects which can occur with arthritis and related rheumatic diseases. In fact, extra-articular manifestations can develop even when there is little active joint involvement. People may experience minimal joint pain, yet also experience a number of system-wide symptoms.

Risk Factors

Not all rheumatoid arthritis patients develop complications outside of the joints. Patients are more likely to develop systemic complications if they are strongly positive for rheumatoid factor. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis may also experience symptoms that involve the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

As you might expect, rheumatoid arthritis patients with systemic complications suffer more morbidity than those without other organ complications.


There are over 100 types of arthritis. While we do not know for sure why some people experience joint pain and others develop systemic disease, we do know that systemic involvement is more likely with inflammatory types of arthritis.


  • Pain and swelling relieving medicines
  • Physiotherapy
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Surgery

While arthritis which involves other organs needs the expertise of a Rheumatologist, osteo arthritis can be best treated by joint replacement surgery, especially in the knee and the hip joints.


Mean total knee replacement surgery and total hip replacement surgery. As the names indicate, these super major surgeries reduce pain to zero and bring about mobility in the joint as before.

DHS hospital has special operations theatres and surgeons who conduct such surgeries in the most efficient and pain free manner.

Dr Hardik Shah heads the joint replacement surgery team in DHS hospital.